My favourite part of any project is the very start of the website build. I’ve got a glistening new web design sat in front of me that’s been lovingly crafted by an expert designer, and it’s my job, correction, MY MISSION, to make the finished website perfect. I strive for a pixel perfect finish every time and if it’s not pixel perfect… it’s not finished.
Obviously any project I get to work on has time frames and budgets that need to be stuck to; sometimes that’s easier said than done. I also believe wholeheartedly in making sure that every project I turn my hand to is a joy for our client to use. I want them to easily add new content and keep their site updated.
How do you make sure you deliver top results time and time again, stick within the budget and time frames, and still deliver ‘joy’ to your client?
Well, like I said, my favourite part of any new build is the start. I begin by setting up the CMS I’m going to be using, and as I wrote in a previous blog, WordPress as a CMS, WordPress is our choice of CMS. One of the things I do right at the beginning of a project is make sure I put everything in place that I can to maximise the use of my time. My starting point is to install all the plugins I will need during the course of the build.
Advanced Custom Fields – The next time I build a site and don’t heavily utilise this little gem will be the first time. It allows you to add specialist fields anywhere on your site, whether it’s a checkbox to control a static element in a page, or a second thumbnail image on a post. Advanced Custom Fields can save you time and many headaches.
Option Tree – This plugin allows you to reuse information all over your site but only enter that information once. If you want to display a phone number in different places you could always enter the number individually everywhere it needs to be. But what happens if the number needs to change? You end up changing it in 30 different places…OUCH! Enter option tree.
Post Types Order – Anyone who has ever worked with WordPress will know that, fresh out of the box, the only way to order posts (i.e. a blog post or news article) is using the publish date and changing it into the order you want your posts to appear. Post Types Order frees you from publish date manipulation and gives you a simple drag and drop type tool to order the posts easily… cool huh?
Of course, each build is different, but these are the plugins I find I use the most. I’ll go through a design and plan how each part will work and then, if I need them, I will find the plugins that will help me achieve my goals and get them installed.
So, all my plugins are installed, time to get coding right? NO, well not for me at least.
Something else that we do here at WDL is use a pre-built template set on all WordPress based sites that we build. This is singularly the biggest individual time-saver that we have up our collective sleeve.
The template set we start with is very basic, but it’s got it all there, including a full CSS already in place and the pages already structured. The time this saves in the long run massively outweighs the time spent making a “starter” template.
WordPress comes with some very pretty templates already installed (the latest version includes has a very nice template indeed), but if you want a bespoke site you can’t use the pre-installed template very easily. Therefore before you get to write a single line of code you will need to strip everything you don’t need; unfortunately it’s time that is wasted.
We’re a close team here at WDL so we often share our skills and experience while sat around the “collaboration station”. If anyone has come across a new, must-use plugin, it’s not long before we all know about it.
Forward-thinking and planning are the key to saving time and achieving top results every time, and WordPress also has some fantastic plugins that help to achieve these goals.
Working smart with a site build gives me more time to focus on the custom parts of the site that make it unique.