There are a lot of steps involved when it comes to creating a professional WordPress website for a business. Knowing what the steps are, and carefully planning and executing them, makes all the difference between a successful project, and one that ends up causing lots of problems.
Listen to the audio from the podcast or read on – episode 43:
Here, I will take you through my step-by-step website creation process so that you can apply it to your own web design and development project.
Whether you are doing this for yourself, hiring a professional to do it for you, or doing a project for a client, this should make your life easier by bringing you some clarity around how to approach each step.
I’ll be breaking things down into 4 phases which will cover around 20 steps. These are the same steps used when creating a professional website for a client in my WordPress website business, and I also apply them to my own projects.
A Step-By-Step Process
The phases are:
- Strategy and Planning
Below we will go through each phase in order and explain all the steps.
PHASE 1 – Strategy and Planning
This is by far the most important phase as this is where the project needs and expectations are decided, and research and careful planning is done in order to have a solid blueprint for the rest of the project.
Skipping this and jumping ahead typically lands you into trouble, as you may end up going down the wrong path, or using the wrong tools and ultimately having to redo a lot of work which costs you time and money.
Here are the steps in this phase:
- 1) Initial Meeting – We talk about the project goals and needs.
- 2) Price Quote/Proposal – A price quote in most cases is provided via email which gives a total estimate based on what’s been discussed before. In other cases a full proposal is done (it depends on the complexity and size of the project).
- 3) Statement Of Work (SOW) – A breakdown of everything to be included in the price. Website pages and other details are mapped out here.
- 4) Contract Signed Off – This must be signed off to agree to project terms and the scope of the project.
- 5) 50% Deposit – This is absolutely required before committing to a project, and is non-refundable if a client decides to cancel the project for any reason.
This is because we divert our resources (time, money to any project we take on and there must be compensation for lost opportunities because of the commitment.
- 6) Strategy – Deep dive into goals based on project scope. This makes sure that the project is planned out and executed properly to meet needs.
PHASE 2 – DESIGN
This can be a fun part as you get to craft what the website will look like. Now, it goes without saying that a nice attractive design is important (and this should be done by default), If you want to have people coming to the website and actually enjoying it.
However, I find that oftentimes people get caught up in the intricacies of fancy design, with lots of bells and whistles and actually lose focus on the more important aspects of the website, such as user experience, functionality, and marketing/sales conversion principles.
To combat this, I tend to have two approaches.
One way is to use a pre-designed layout template that is already well designed and has a balance between functionality and appearance. It is then customised to the brand while keeping in mind the target users.
The other way is to do a completely new design layout based on a set of criterias for the brand and the end users. This process is more involved and is normally reserved for projects that need this and have a higher budget.
Here are the steps in the design phase:
- 7) Design (Template or Custom) – We show 3 to 5 suitable design templates as examples to choose from.
For custom designs, we do sketches & mock-ups of the home page and 1 other page then get the client to approve the design. We complete revisions where needed before moving to the next step. Also, if included, we do mock-ups of other pages after approval of the first 2.
- 8) Content Gathering – Request content (text, images, logo, etc) from the client which can then be incorporated into the design.
The content is super important at this stage as it will help shape to look and the experience of the site. It is what will ultimately make the website unique to the business/brand.
Content must be uploaded through our cloud link into designated folders for each page or item category.
*If the content is not ready at this point, we can still proceed using placeholder content until the client provides content.
PHASE 3 – DEVELOPMENT
Development phase is where we actually build the website by setting up all the technologies, pages and features to get everything working as they should.
At this point we are simply implementing all the things we’ve already planned out from the Strategy and Planning phase. Then, everything needs to be thoroughly tested to make sure they are working fine.
Here are the steps:
- 9) Website Setup (on our hosting) – The website is set up on a development server and checked over internally before being shared with the client.
At this point, the client needs to review it on desktop (mobile responsiveness is not checked at this point) and provide revisions in one single document.
- 10) Client Review/Revision Request – The client gets to see the website live on a special link for the first time and decide whether revisions are needed.
*If revisions are needed, they must be put together in one list and sent as 1 document equaling one round of revisions.
- 11) 25% Progress Payment Due – A second payment is now required before the revisions are taken care of.
The project will be placed on hold until this progress payment is made.
- 12) Complete Revisions – We go through each revision step by step on the list and make sure they are understood and done correctly.
- 13) Client Approval Request – Ask for a review and do a follow-up round of revisions based on our agreement.
- 14) Final Client Check – Ask for a final check of the entire site to be done by the client to make sure everything is done as expected.
- 15) Mobile Responsive Adjustments – Make adjustments to the layout to fit multiple screen sizes for mobile phones and tablets.
- 16) Internal Mobile Checks – Have someone else internally check over the website on mobile to make sure user experience is fine.
PHASE 4 – LAUNCH
After all the hard work, this is where we get to the new website out into the world wide web. Launching is about going life and telling people that your website is open for visitors.
However, It is important to realise that a website is never “done”. It is alway going to be work in progress because it is something that you will need to continue to grow and adapt to your business.
That being said, don’t get caught up in perfection before launch, as done is better than perfect! Changes can always be made later.
The launch steps are:
- 17) Final Payment – Request payment for any outstanding balance including extra amounts for any additional work.
- 18) Handover Prep – We prepare the site files for handover by doing one of the following:
Move the website from our hosting to the client’s hosting. If the client does not have hosting or their hosting is not up to standards, we will recommend our preferred hosting.
- 19) Documentation – All important details are handed over to the client such as account details, login information, plugin documentation.
Links to free website training resources are also provided. If needed clients can book our paid training to receive individual training.
- 20) Aftercare – 7 days monitoring for sites not hosted with us:
We check for errors and fix any issues caused by us within seven days of hand-over. Anything else is chargeable to the client.
For Care Plan Clients: We deliver ongoing monthly services as per our Care Plans.
And that’s it. I hope this insight is super valuable to you and you can apply it to your website project.
If you need my help to further guide you or if you need me to take care of your next website project see how we can work together here. I’ll be happy to help.
Watch the video from Future Steps Creative podcast episode 43:
Need ongoing help?
Check out the resources I have on futurestepscreative.com including online training and ongoing support, to help you build and grow your website and audience with content marketing.