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Web Designer Must-Haves

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This is an article I wrote for WPHosting. You can read the full article on their website.

Here are my tips for speeding up your website builds

Use a consistent theme

Upon receiving a brief from our clients, we used to search high and low for templates that would work for their content and that were well-supported. This process was time-consuming. We would find templates, mock them up for the client using their images and content, only to have them rejected. And we’re right back at the start again.

Using a consistent theme has also helped when it comes to support and training for our clients. We are now able to create “how to” contents and videos outlining the systems we have built for them, and making sure they are relevant for all our clients.

Don’t cut corners, design a concept

Don’t cut corners and start building directly into your browser. We start with wireframes then we design the overall look and feel and layout. We create a single “designed” page to show layouts for our homepage designs, static pages and any additional pages required that vary from the main ones above (e.g. blog, projects, portfolios, etc.). Allotting time into this stage of the project really pays dividends to your time spent designing. By creating concepts, you can get your clients to approve the look and feel / text styles / colours and images before you have even touched a single install of WordPress. It’s quite a time-saver in the long run.
Master files save you time

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To streamline the process once we have received approval for a design, we have a master folder that contains a zipped copy of all the files we use in our builds. This includes a fresh copy of WordPress (the latest version), a copy of the regular plugins we use, and a copy of the Avada theme and child theme. This means we can quickly upload all the files to their hosting. Along with this, we have a file that contains all the master settings we like to use in Avada. Once we have installed our child theme, we can then import these settings to save us time in setting them up in each new installation.

Some of the plugins we use in every build are;

  • WPHelp – We use this to create detailed, hierarchical documentation for the site’s owners, which is viewable in the WordPress admin. We include details about what plugin they need to keep, what licence keys we may have purchased for them, even what colours we used in their site.
  • Gravity Forms – It’s a paid plugin but worth every centre in my opinion. We use this plugin for things like newsletter integrations, taking payments, contact forms, surveys, etc..
  • Yoast SEO – We take the time to do this setup before we hand over to our clients to ensure the site they receive is set up as best as it can be for SEO.

Help your clients understand what you need

Clients can sometimes be the reason a build hits a wall. For many, building a website and creating the required content can be very overwhelming and, at times, out of their comfort zone.

Some of the reasons a client might stall a project:

  • They are not a copywriter and struggle to write the content.
  • The don’t have any images of the business / products / people.
  • They don’t understand what you are asking for. (What is CPANEL access??)

Another thing is never start a build until you have all the images and texts from your client. We have all been there, clients deliver content for their site that hasn’t been proofed or edited, and all of a sudden, we are expected to become a copywriter. So, make it clear to your clients that you only start the build when you receive these items, and editing them afterwards may cost an extra charge.

Lastly, one of the best ways to speed up your builds is to ensure you keep the communication open with your clients. If you keep them in the loop, there is less of a chance of delays. Make it clear to them how long they have to provide feedback or content to you. If they have requests that are out of the agreed scope, let them know straight away and give them options on what you can offer. If you find yourself getting busy and needing to move onto another project while you wait for their feedback or content, be clear with them that you are doing that. Most times, clients appreciate your honesty.

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