I finally found the time to create a new website for seven clicks away. So yet another website on the web, so what? Well, I think it is an important step for 7 clicks away. My main problem was and is the recognition of the game. With a small fanbase after the release of the public beta I’m now hoping to get more recognition by running this website with a regular dev-blog. This way I can also give journalists easy access to the presskit.
I want to start my blog with an overview of how I made the website. This should not only be a place for me to write about how awesome 7 clicks away is, but also a place for showing the work behind the game. I want to transport knowledge through the blog. That being said, here are the key components of the website:
The website is built on the content management system (CMS) wordpress. WordPress is a very popular software with a huge community behind it and therefore also tons of plugins and themes. This is also the biggest strength of wordpress; If you have a problem, somebody else probably had it as well; If you need a feature you will probably find a plugin for it; If you want a certain layout you normally will find a theme that does what you need, you don’t have to do everything yourself. This strength can also be a weakness, there are so many plugins and themes out there that it is hard to tell what you really need and what will slow down your website. Before I dig deeper into plugins I first want to start with the theme, because that’s what you will need in the beginning.
You can find tons of themes on the official wordpress site: https://wordpress.org/themes/ There is also an excellent filter for specific features of the themes. For me it was important, that the theme is full width, has a mobile version and can be easily translated. I ended up with the theme AccessPress Parallax by access. For this specific theme it is important to note, that most of the customization happens through Appearance->Theme Options. Once you get used to that, the theme is easy to handle and creates some beautiful effects without much effort.
Here is a list of the plugins I use and recommend:
- All-in-One WP Migration: This is a very handy plugin for moving your website from one server to another or also to create live backups. It is extremely simple and yet powerful. You can create the whole website on a local Server (e.g. XAMPP) and then move the website to the server once you are finished. I also use the website to create backups which I then import on my local server. That way I can test, if updates create problems or not. I call those live backups, because you can always test them, and see if everything is backed up correctly.
- Column Shortcodes: This is a rather small plugin that helps you create columns very easily. Websites often lack of good layout, with this plugin I try not to get to this problem. One example where I used this plugin is the presskit.
- Contact Form 7: A plugin for creating contact forms. I chose this one, because it got a large user base and is also supported by my theme. Here you can see the plugin in action.
- Login Security Solution: This plugin helps you to secure your wordpress login. You can prevent bruteforce-attacks with this plugin. I would recommend to create another admin account for yourself if there are more than one users, just so you can always login with your account if someone changes the password of the shared account.
- Recent Posts Widget Extended: Widgets help making the blog more interesting and easier to use. This plugin helps to add an overview of all posts of a certain category. You can see the widget in action if you take a look at the right side of the page. The widget with the title “Recent blog posts” is made from this plugin.
- WordPress SEO: This is one of the most important plugins for me. It helps you add metadata to your sites for a better ranking in search engines like google or yahoo. This plugin has a lot of features and does require some work to add all the data for your site, but it really does pay off. On my personal website I get about 75% of my traffic through search and I think that is mostly because of this plugin. So do take care of SEO, it will pay off.
- WP Super Cache: This plugin creates preloaded sites, so that the loading time of a website gets smaller. There are quite a few plugins out there, that do that. I found this one to be working the best. I recommend to add this plugin once you are happy with your website, not while you are developing. Due to the caching you can run into problems when updating the website frequently so it does not help while adapting the theme.
Other things you should consider/think of when creating a website:
- Web development tools: It might be necessary to change a bit of code or work on the CSS files you got. There are beautiful editors out there for doing exactly that. For windows I really like notepad++, otherwise sublime text is also extremely beautiful.
- Analytics tools. For easy reliable data I recommend Google analytics. If you want to keep all the data to yourself there is also an open source project called piwik.
- Images: A website can become way more interesting with images. There are a few sources for public domain images. I really like pixabay for its high quality photos and images. For vector graphics I recommend taking a look at openclipart.