In this blog article, I want to describe my proven process for developing WordPress websites, from conception to implementation and maintenance.
In many agency projects, I am involved early on, during the conception phase. Here, I can contribute my experience in terms of strategy, page structure, and scope.
The design usually comes from the agency or an external screen designer. For this, I have a detailed checklist of the required data:
- Basic styles and components (buttons, text styles, colors, …)
- Assets needed (e.g., favicon, OG-image, fonts, photos)
- Format of the screen design (Adobe XD, Figma, Sketch)
- Screen sizes required for responsive styles
- Design of different states (hover states, forms, filters, …)
If I’m not involved from the beginning of the conception, I receive the final design and concept as the basis for estimating costs.
During the design phase, I often coordinate with the screen designer to clarify technical feasibility and effort.
Based on the conception or briefing, I can provide an initial cost estimate for the technical implementation. My cost estimates are very detailed and include a side letter outlining the planned scope, requested features, provided services, and information about the quality of the result: How technical SEO will be done, which accessibility standards (A11y) are essential, which browsers are supported, possible data privacy issues, costs of third-party plugins, etc.
With the final design approved by the client, there might be an updated cost estimate from me.
While the design is being developed, I work on the technical conception. For each project, I focus on adapting the technical implementation to the requirements. Although I mainly work with WordPress, it’s not always the best choice. Therefore, questions arise like:
- Is WordPress the best choice for the application?
- Does it make sense to integrate a second system for a specific part (e.g., Shopify)?
- How should external systems be connected (e.g., merchandise management, APIs)?
- Should the data be available in applications – does a REST-based/headless variant make sense?
And when using WordPress:
- Is it beneficial to make everything editable with the block editor?
- Is a page builder (e.g., Elementor) a better choice for the client?
- Which shop software (WooCommerce, Shopify, EDD) is suitable?
- Which functions will be solved through third-party plugins, and which ones will I develop myself?
- How does the architecture and data model for custom developed functionality look?
- Which hosting provider makes sense (e.g., server location + CDN connection important for international companies)?
Only after the design is approved, I start with the technical implementation, which is divided into several steps:
- CMS setup + basic configuration
- Theme setup & basic design
- Implementation of templates/content modules (blocks)
- Implementation of specific functionalities (e.g., forms, multilingual support, shop, …)
- Testing: cross-browser compatibility, accessibility, performance
For more extensive projects, I sometimes begin with a static frontend (HTML + CSS + JS) or have another developer deliver it. Only after that, it is integrated into editable, dynamic content modules (using custom blocks).
I try to utilize the WordPress Block Editor (“Gutenberg”) as much as possible, adapting via core blocks and styles/variations rather than building custom blocks.
Depending on the requirements, I rely on plugins or develop custom functionalities. I use as few well-programmed and tested plugins as possible. All functions are put into a “Core Functionality” plugin.
I place great emphasis on a good “Editor Experience,” meaning editors should be able to edit content easily. I want the client to be able to manage the website themselves, including any code I write, which I document and comment on thoroughly, so the client/agency is not tied to me.
Handover & Go-Live
The first test version is sent to the agency or screen designer. If the client wants to handle content loading themselves, I provide training. I show how WordPress and the block editor work, how to edit content, and how to use special features. I also provide a detailed manual with screenshots for documentation purposes.
The client can then fill the content themselves. After the initial content loading, I retest all pages and modules.
In the case of a website relaunch, I provide the client with a checklist, including necessary DNS changes, required access for Search Console/hosting, and a timetable for the transition to avoid downtime. Additionally, a redirection list is created.
After the go-live, I monitor the site for a few weeks and provide support for the client.
Once the go-live is completed, and the website is operational, my work is essentially done. However, I offer all my clients a “maintenance contract.” This includes ongoing monitoring of the site for errors, uptime and security monitoring, backups, updates, and support. Additionally, I offer technical changes or more comprehensive support (e.g. for content changes).
My process, from conception to maintenance, ensures that I can develop high-quality websites that meet the needs of my clients. By using proven tools, plugins, and libraries, I am able to create websites that are technically robust, visually appealing, and easy to maintain.