ORANGE PULLEY PROCESS

I imagine every one has their own method, but this is (more or less) mine. The following is generally how I deploy a project, soup to nuts, and should provide an framework for value. Alternatively, this could serve as a very useful do-it-yourself guideline.

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Step 1

Setup Project Management

I use Trello for my workflow. Depending how involved a client is, I invite them to join my Trello project, but either way, it keeps tasks organized and ensures nothing is forgotten. It’s an optional step in theory, but I view it as a required step in practice.

Other workflow management tools include:

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Step 2

Build a Staging Site

This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Hosting server configuration/setup
  2. Installation of WordPress
  3. Installation of Theme
  4. Installation of core Plugins
  5. Installation of custom Plugins
  6. Any relevant licensing

NOTE – if this is a Premium hosting solution, this staging site will live forever

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Step 3

Image Compression

Image Optimization is a big deal when it comes to page speed, which impacts SEO performance. I have tested several image compression plugins and ended up paying for a wpmudev membership so I can get WP Smush Pro.

  1. If the site is part of my Standard hosting solution, then enable WP Smush Pro.

Other wise, it is up to the client to optimize images.

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Step 4

Nail the Landing Page

First impressions obviously matter so I find building out the landing page is a critical onramp for the rest of the project. The process going something like this:

  1. Shell out a landing/home page concept
    1. Time varies substantially depending on
      1. Content existence
      2. Image existence/procurement
      3. Branding
      4. Colors
      5. Etc

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Step 5

Build the Content (Infinite Iterations)

This is where the magic happens. Technically, it’s not infinite, but only because we have to have a stopping point for everyone’s sanity. When complete, the site will ‘feel’ like it’s ready to go…but we’re not.

Given we adopt lean/agile principles, the ‘feedback loop’ is critical to success and, as such, client feedback is continuously present throughout the build, ensuring the project is headed in the right direction (which means it’s done right the first time, which means it’s done in less time, which means it’s less expensive…)

Items include:

  • Content
  • Images
  • Custom CSS
  • Email Signup
  • Etc…

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Step 6

Search Engine Optimization Framework

If a Professional hosting engagement (or, possibly, a design line-item), then enabling a framework such as the ever popular Yoast SEO or, my preference WPMUDEV’s Smartcrawl, occurs here. Ensuring relevant tags are setup is obviously important, but ensuring the build has a framework that allows easy content/seo management going forward is the goal.

It’s worth stating this is only 1 piece of the SEO puzzle. Nothing substitutes having meaningful content, contributing meaningful content, having a speedy site, and, most importantly, being a good business.

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Step 7

Introduce Training

“Handing off” a web project can be as simple as ‘you don’t have to worry about it, we got it all covered’ to ‘here is how you blog, manage portfolio, upload image/audio/video, manage content changes/revisions, manage seo tags, etc’

It’s incredibly difficult to quantify how much time this will actually take, but it’s also the kind of thing that cannot/should-not be rushed.

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Step 8

Build Production Home

Setup the production environment includes the mysql database configuration, file transfer, url swapping, etc. There are lots of tools that can assist this process (my favorite is iThemes BackupBuddy, but I also have used UpdraftPlus and, of course, manual migrations…)

Several of the remaining steps can be done on the staging site, but I tend to want to make them on the final environment.

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Step 9

Setup Caching

There is perhaps no greater bump to page speed than a solid caching solution. It’s critical to a speedy website, which is critical to user performance, which is critical to search indexing.

I have used the ever popular W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, but am starting to look more at a premium (i.e. paid) plugin like WP Rocket.

I include caching in all of my hosting plans, however, I tune it for Professional and Premium clients.

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Step 10

Security

The downside to building on such a popular framework like WordPress is it is also constantly threatened by hackers.If a site is not properly secured, it’s only a matter of time before it is either defaced or becomes part of a spam network.

While there are some ‘tricks’ that can help hide things, nothing beats standard strong security passwords and continuous updates; which is why I offer a Premium hosting plan.

Site Maintenance and Updates is a forgotten/overlooked/taken-for-granted.

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Step 11

Backup Solution

It has been said a security solution that does not include a backup strategy is no security solution at all. Indeed, I cannot count the number of times ‘something’ happened and I was asked for a backup. There are lots of ways to think about backups, but whatever the process, be sure it’s in place

If a Standard hosting solution I will automate the process and save the backup locally (on the server)

If a Professional hosting I will also setup offsite cloud storage which is invaluable in a hacked or disaster (server down) scenario.

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Step 12

Page Speed

While design and content decisions matter, there is no single factor that will ruin your site’s ability to drive business than if it load slow. User Experience matters. Don’t skimp on this addition.

If a Professional or Premium hosting, I ensure the site has solid site performance.

Popular testing tools are:

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Step 13

Enable Analytics

There is not a website I can think of that does not benefit from traffic analysis and 100% of websites I work on absolutely benefit from it. You have to understand how people use your site to make data driven decisions on where to improve and what to build.

Google Analytics has become the de facto standard way of doing this and it is enabled on all of the sites I host.

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Step 14

Go Live

One would think this is a 100% project milestone, but not quite. Going live is no doubt a big event, but there is still work to be done. Not just in the short-term, but long-term iterations, content updates, blogging (if applicable), site maintenance are all items that need to be continually considered.

But, we’re almost there!!!

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Step 15

Register Sitemaps

Sitemaps are a big deal and surprisingly often overlooked. I like to add them at the very end, after go-live, as by then almost all major content changes (and SEO strategy) in typically in place. Checking in the site, then, with Google is simply a mere formality, but one that is sure to boost your search profile immediately.

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Step 17

Continuous Site Review

At this point all of the major milestones are complete. No matter how hard you try there will always be a handful of post-deployment changes that will come up. Make those, but more than that, be sure to put a business solution in place to handle the following:

  • Site Maintenance and Updates
  • Backups
  • Content Changes
  • Analytics Reports/Review
  • Social Media Integration

I handle several of these with my top tiered hosting plans. Be sure to check them out!

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