Welcome to the forum! It sounds like you're off to a good start, and it just gets better.
Williams can be a difficult soap to use, but lots of folks use it, and I'm one. It's particularly difficult if you have hard water. Either hard or soft water though, load the heck out of the brush. Then hydrate it enough. Make test lathers as though you're a student, which you are right now. You won't waste much soap and you'll learn a great deal. Add small quantities of water at a time to your lather and when you think it's hydrated enough spread some on your arm to see how long it lasts. I like it to last for at least one pass, some would say 8 minutes. When you have good lather with microscopic bubbles that lasts, continue to add water in small amounts to take it too far. That way you can see what too much water or not enough product looks like. Lather is a basic building block of a great shave and it must be mastered. The good thing is you don't need to wait for a shave to practice it.
Bigelow is a nice cream. When you want some others that you can probably find locally, there is Kiss My Face in a pump bottle and VDH Deluxe. The VDH isn't much for scent, though I don't find it unpleasant, but they both work far better than their price would suggest. KMF is in the same league as Bigelow IMO. Both also can be used w/o lathering. They give up some cushioning unlathered, but gain lubricity. I like them best lathered with a brush.
I have used generic Witch Hazel and still use it from time to time. It's hard to beat $3/pint witch hazel for an after shave splash. The little scent it does have fades extremely rapidly. Some folks hate the scent, some like it.
If you can't find what you like in an after shave you can always make your own. That's what I did with my own bay rum. I spent hours researching it and made many batches formulating it, but now I have something that I like enough to use most every day. It puts most commercial bay rum formulas to shame for skin care and scent. No it's not for sale. Anyway, you can do the same... make your own.
Maker of Kramperts Finest Bay Rum and Frostbite http://www.krampertsfinest.com/
Or find it here: Italian Barber, West Coast Shaving, Barclay Crocker, The Old Town Shaving Company at Stats, Maggard Razors; Leavitt & Peirce, Harvard Square