Pages, and their connection to your site:
As I explained in earlier portions of the “Life After Design” series – Pages are an integral portion of your website, the canvas upon which you will display your work. I made the analogy that your website is a house, and the pages are the rooms – their structure should not be altered unless you know what you’re doing! Here’s a start to you web-design/carpentry career.
If pages are the rooms, we can infer that everything will be contained within a page on your website, just as everything in your house is contained in the rooms, the connected rooms compose a house, just as the connected pages make your site. With this in mind, we need to make an important connection: You wouldn’t build or alter a house without a plan, you should not build or alter your site without a plan!
Most sites that we are seeing now are composed in one of two ways:
The first, and most common is “Multi-Page”. In this setup, we see one main homepage that visitors see upon typing in your URL (your web address); upon visiting your site, the users will be prompted to visit different pages of their choosing (About, Contact, Portfolio, etc…). In the multi-page setup, users will be sent to a different page based on their navigation choices. For example, if we clicked on a link in the header (top navigation bar of your website), we would be sent to (YourDomain.com/Specific-Page). This is a great option when you want to keep your sections separate, and is often the best choice for corporate websites, e-commerce, and restaurants.
The second, and my personal favorite, is “single-page”. Single page sites are very useful for creative projects; by displaying the page in a simple and easy format, we are able to focus on the content, rather than the layout. You will often see these used by small creative studios, artists, food trucks, or companies with very little information to share.
It should be noted that it is possible to have a “hybrid” page in these terms. 11eleven Studio‘s homepage utilizes the “single-page” layout, while some options link away from that page.
The layout of your page will decide how you setup your content, how your users view the information, and it will drastically effect their experience; it is for these reasons that you should always have a plan before getting to work on your site! If you’re working with 11eleven Studio, this will most likely be the first thing that we cover.
As an example, we worked with the guys over at Edgework Entertainment to build their first site when they had limited information to share, we ended up using a single page layout. As they grow, we are transitioning over to a multi-page layout for organizational purposes. If you think that your business will need to expand out of it’s current layout, let us know as early as possible!
Ahh now the fun (and potentially confusing) part! As I stated many times in the “Life After Design” series, it is very important to have a plan for your pages, and you should know what you’re doing BEFORE you start changing anything. If your site was designed by 11eleven Studio, make sure that you are taking advantage of our “Automatic Site Backup” option, so that if you accidentally change something important, we can recover the previous version!
To start a new page, there are several options. You can access this option from your “Dashboard” – which is the screen that you see upon first logging in to your website, however, I would recommend navigating via your left menu:
In that left menu, you will see a button that says “Pages”. You can usually hover over the option, and more options will appear – or you can click “Pages” and it will take you to a different section of the site. From either of these points, just click the button that says “Add New”
Depending on the setup of your site (all sites are different), there will be a variety of options for you to edit the layout and content of your pages. I often use the WordPress Plugin Visual Composer when the theme allows it, and I know that the owner of the site (you) will want to make edits. Sometimes Visual Composer can be a bit “quirky”, if this happens, contact me and I will be happy to help you out.
Regardless of whether you are using Visual Composer or not, the first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the layout of the interface.
On the Left:
- On the Left and top we see the navigation menus, these will almost always show up in the same spot no matter what you are doing in this user interface.
- An important note: do not click on anything in this area without saving your content as a draft, or publishing first – this will navigate you away from your current page and may alter your content if not saved first.
In the Middle:
- At the top, below the upper navigation area – any pertinent updates will appear – contact your webmaster (me if you’re an 11eleven Studio client) if you have any concerns about the messages shown here. You can see that at this time I needed to update my version of WordPress – we will cover this later in the blog series.
- Moving down from there we see the “Title Area” which is the upper area of our main editing window.
- Below this is your “Toolbar” which is similar to any text editing program (Word, text edit, etc…) This is where you will have the option to change the layout and appearance of your text.
- Directly below the Toolbar, we see you main content window: this is where you will add content that you want to appear on the site. You will link to other pages, add shortcodes, separate content into columns, and utilize a variety of options available to you.
- Anything below this area will vary depending on your current setup, but most things are labeled pretty well.
- On top, you will see the “Publish” window, here you can save your work as a draft to come back to later, preview the content before publishing, change who can see the page, schedule a time to publish, move the page to the trash (delete it) and of course: Publish the page.
- Below the publish window, you will see “Categories”, “Tags”. and “Featured Image”, which will help organize your content – these are mainly used for “Posts” which we will get into later in this series.
I would highly recommend not “Publishing” a page, until it is ready for public viewing. All mistakes should be fixed before your audience has a chance to view the page. I personally always use the “preview” option; this will enable you to make edits and view the content before making it public – a new tab will open with the preview of the new page.
Some pages you will want to be visible to everyone – “Public”, others may need to be “Password Protected” so that only certain people have access, and some pages will need to be “Private” so that only yourself or members of your team have the availability to view them.