Step 1: Discovery and Planning
#1 is to give me a clear idea of what you’re wanting, and your budget. Start by filling out my brief questionnaire here.
Many brand new businesses do not know exactly what they want out of a website, because they’re just starting out and haven’t figured out their brand identity yet. It can be overwhelming!
Many established businesses just know that they don’t want what they currently have as far as being dissatisfied with their current site. The awesome thing about WordPress is that it can be easily changed, added to, and even redesigned in the future! Unfortunately, I cannot read minds (or I’d be making a killing on the stock market).
To keep me from pulling out my hair and to keep your site within your budget, you will have to have a general idea of what you want (even if that changes 2 months after your site is launched). Hopefully my questionnaire helps you put into words what you’re wanting.
Step 2: Agreeing to details and deposit
After I have a very clear idea of what you’re looking for, I’ll write up a contract and specification document, clarifying in detail exactly how I’m going to help your business while staying within your budget.
The contract and specification sheet protect both of us: you will know exactly what you’re getting for what you’re paying, and exactly what will cause you to incur additional charges so that there are no surprises. Knowing what’s expected of me, I won’t pull my hair out trying to read your mind! 🙂
After receiving the signed agreement, website specification document, and a 50% deposit, I’ll start building your website!
Step 3: Design and Colors
Depending on your budget and the specifications, your site may be a simple WordPress theme with limited customization options, a totally customized couture child-theme with different layouts on different pages, or an advanced and complex design.
I’ll put your site up on a test server, so that you can check the link styles, color accents, fonts, etcetera.
Step 4: I need all your content (so I can create the best layouts)!
Step 4: Content time! Ideally, it is best to have the content first, and design around the information and content you have. This is why, even if you don’t yet HAVE the content 100% ready, you should have a good idea of what information you want on your site. I am happy to provide content writing and creation at extra cost.You can always add or modify content on your own (or have me do it), after your site is launched.
Ideally, I will fine tune the page layouts that we’ve agreed upon, based upon the content that you give me, so that it looks superb. Un-ideally, you’ll be late giving me content and I’ll build the page layouts with placeholder text and images, which can be filled in with the content you give me any time (or worst case, even after launching, since you will have the ability to make content changes anytime on your own).
This is where most new websites stall, in my experience. Writing and figuring out photos and graphics can be surprisingly difficult! Luckily, it just needs to be “good enough”, as you can easily change text and photos once your site is launched.
Think of a WordPress website as a living, constantly evolving, being. THIS site, KMurrayCreative.com, has undergone at least 5 different designs since 2011, and I tweak the wording and graphics a few times a month as I gain new experience, my business grows, and I decide to try new things.
Redesigns are easier in this aspect of providing content, because it is easier to edit content that you already have, than create all new content.
Again: You can always add or modify content on your own (or have me do it), after your site is launched.
Step 5: Launching your site!
The color scheme and layouts are finalized, the content is on your site, and you’ve paid the remainder of the amount due!
You will point your nameservers to my host, or I can login to your domain name registrar and point them. After this, it can take up to 24 hours for the domain name to “propagate” – or be “seen” when you go to yourdomainname.com. Usually, pointing your domain name servers the night before, and then scheduling the migration from test server to the “live” site in the morning, works perfectly.
Among the final “tasks” that I do at this point before emailing you that your site is functioning and launched:
- set up email addresses
- integrating email lists and any other code that requires permissions/generated APIs and yoursite.com specifics to function
- add social sharing (i.e., FaceBook Like button, Twitter, etc.)
- testing to make sure your site shows up with an image and correct description when sharing on FaceBook
- testing to make sure that the migration was complete, and that no files or links are still pointed to the development server
- setting up search engine optimization structure, analytics, and crawling
Assuming that it all goes smoothly, which 99.9% of the time it does when using my server to host, you will be emailed with the awesome news that your site is launched, given admin level access so that you can add or change any content you wish (at any time, from almost any web-accessible device), and given email account access instructions (for accessing via any device, or on the web).
Last (but not least): Maintaining your site
Maintenance: WordPress sites need maintenance to stay secure and function properly! As of 2016 all my new designs include maintenance and hosting plans for the first year. Your site will be backed up weekly, and code updated at least monthly. Any code malfunctions will be taken care of, free, by me (as long as nobody else modified the code). You can “roll back” your site to the most recent backup, at any time and for any reason (i.e., if you let your new employee add a page, but they accidentally deleted the home page).
If you are NOT hosting with me, and if you do NOT have a maintenance plan with me, you won’t have this free support and will have to perform updates and backups yourself. It’s easy, stuff rarely goes wrong, but it’s worth the peace of mind and faster server to host and have maintenance with me.
I provide free email support on using your site will be provided for after your site is implemented. Free support includes things like answering any questions on how to use your site or any of the included features. I’m available at an hourly rate for in-person and more in-depth training.
I’m also available to write blog articles and content production if you don’t have the time to do it yourself!
*** All site related communication will always be confirmed and primarily conducted via email. After any phone call discussing details, I will follow up via email. Having a written record helps avoid miscommunications and allows me to offer you the best price and customer service possible.
Step 7: Optional but nice...
Hopefully, you will be so pleased that as #7, you will refer your colleagues, friends, and other businesses to me. I always appreciate a nice email that I can post publicly, or a recommendation on LinkedIn.
I’m also available as a content/blog writer, Youtube video producer, to fine tune your site’s search engine optimization (SEO), and to assist your business with all other aspects of Internet Communication.
After a year or two, you will probably want to redesign your site or refresh the look. I hope you use my professional services again!