There are several steps in the WordPress web design and development process. From gathering initial information, through to the creation of your site, a lot takes place before the launch of your new website.
While the exact process varies slightly between projects, the basics remain the same.
Step One: Discovery & Gathering Information
The first step in designing a successful web site is to gather information.
Many things need to be taken into consideration when designing the look and feel of your site, so you are first asked a lot of questions to help get a clear understanding of your business and your needs in a web site. Things to consider are:
What is the purpose of the site? Do you want to provide information, promote a service, or sell a product? What are your key messages?
What do you hope to accomplish by building this web site? Two of the more common goals are either to make money or share information.
Is there a specific group of people that will help you reach your goals? It is helpful to picture your ideal customer. Consider their age, gender or interests – this will help determine the best design style for your site.
What kind of information will the target audience be looking for on your site? Are they looking for specific information, a particular product, service, etc.?
Branding, logo, colours, graphics
Do you have existing branding in place? What is the ‘look and feel’ that connects to your industry and communicates your specific services or products? With ‘look and feel’ I mean anything from the main colours used, to the images, fonts & sizes of text throughout the website, and overall styling of your content.
Re-design or new website
Establish whether and how much content can be taken from an existing website. Do we keep the same messages, the same images of services, or products? Do we redesign certain page layouts, and come up with new images, a new navigational menu?
Step Two: Planning
Using the information gathered from Step one, we put together a plan.
Here we develop a list of all the key messages, your main topics and sub-topics for your web site. This serves as a guide to both of us as to what content will be on the site, and is essential to developing a consistent, easy to understand navigational system.
This is also the point where we decide what functionality should be implemented to meet any specific requirements – think of contact forms, image sliders, event plugins, the WooCommerce plugin etc.
Based on the above, I then research and come up with a selection of WordPress Themes that are the best fit for your new website. When I research WordPress themes, I take a lot into account, from the way the theme has been developed and is updated, to specific plugins that are required and/ or integrated. I look at the technical specs, like browser compatibility, or backend functionality, as well as the design and frontend look.
Step Three: Design & WordPress Theme
We determine which WordPress Theme would work best for your site
A site aimed at teenagers, will look very different than one meant for a financial institution. To help strengthen the branding and identity of your company, the use of certain colour schemes, the styling of the text and graphic elements will all set your website apart from others. These elements are all part of the design. There are hundreds of thousands of WordPress Themes out there and some of them will match your profile much better than others. I will take you through a selection of Themes to show you the differences in their design and functionality.
In this step, communication is crucial to ensure that the final web site will match your needs and taste. We work together in this way, exchanging ideas, until we arrive at the selection of the Theme for the site.
Step Four: Development
This is where the functional web site itself is created.
Once we have determined which WordPress Theme gives us the best start to achieve your goals, I start by installing the WordPress package – the software & database – at your hosting provider. I will then install and configure the theme we decided on. Once the theme is set up, you will be able to view your project throughout the design and development stages. Most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to express any likes and dislikes on the design.
I take all of the individual graphic elements from the preliminary design and incorporate them into the functional WordPress theme – which will establish the look and feel of your site. This includes not only the desktop view, but also the mobile views, ensuring that your site is fully responsible and accessible from all devices – monitors, laptops, ipads, phones etc. I also take your content and distribute it throughout the site in the appropriate areas.
This entire time, you will continue to be able to view your site at a temporary url, and suggest any additional changes or corrections you would like to have done.
Step Five: Testing and Delivery
Attending to the final details and testing your website.
I test things such as the functionality of forms or other scripts, last minute compatibility issues – viewing differences between different web browsers and devices-, ensuring that the site is optimised to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions.
Once I receive your final approval, it is time to deliver the site. I ususally add a core set of essential plugins to help enhance the site on your server. Here I quickly test again to make sure that everything works correctly, and that the site is fully functional.
The temporary domain can now be switched to your proper domain name – which usually involves a DNS change – and marks the official launch of your site. Your website is now viewable to the public.
Step Six: Maintenance
Once your site is launched, the development stage is not necessarily over.
One way to bring repeat visitors to your site is to offer updated content on a regular basis. And as new versions of WordPress and any installed plugins become available, those should be upgraded, as well.
If you don’t feel comfortable running the upgrades yourself, and/or just prefer to better spend your time running your business instead of worrying about the technical aspects of your web site. I will be more than happy to continue working together with you to keep your web site up to date.
There are several maintenance plans available for existing clients at reduced rates, based on how often you anticipate making changes or additions to your site.