Building a website can be a daunting task. It’s especially difficult if you’re not familiar with the technical aspects of web design and development. However, don’t let that stop you from creating a website that meets your business needs. Enter WordPress; a versatile platform that allows you to create any type of website, even with a limited amount of digital experience. In this article, we’ll outline seven steps to building your enterprise-level website on WordPress. Let’s get started!
1. Create a list of desired functionality
This can begin several ways. With an existing website, begin by taking note of all existing functionality and rank the priority of its importance. If you do not have an existing website, start by browsing competitor websites in your industry. These features will vary depending on your industry, service or product. For instance, an e-commerce website will likely be cart and purchase related functionality. A service-based company will tend to use more forms that aid with your sales and marketing process. If you’re having trouble starting this process, try our free template to log your desired list of features and improvements.
2. Research WordPress built-in features and plugins to support your desired functionality list
There are an incredible number of plugins that are almost as popular as WordPress itself. Plugins are critical in allowing a basic WordPress website to flex as a content management system, ecommerce site, and more. For example, the top three plugins we use on every website are Yoast SEO, Yoast Duplicate Post, and Advanced Custom Fields. These plugins take a base WordPress site and transform it with easy to use SEO options on the admin side, online store, or marketing funnel to feed your CRM. With those three plugins alone, you can build yourself the foundation of a great enterprise-level website.
3. Define your core audience and build your user experience design around this group
User experience design is all about creating content that caters to your primary user. You want this person, or perhaps they’re a certain group of people – to get what they want from your website without thinking. A user-experience document is often created in this step to help visualize how the user will experience the site to reach the end goal. A common mistake in this step is to generalize content for any user that might happen across your website. This is a sure way to fail at reaching your audience. If you have an existing website, assess your current audience by checking your website analytics. If you need help making sense of your current website traffic, please reach out to us for a free 30-minute assessment.
4. Identify key contributors to help migrate or build content
This may only be you and that’s OK. If you have additional teammates you can lean on, have them assist you in building, reviewing, and editing content. Have team members take ownership over sections of the website they may be more experienced on. Do not get hung up on the minutiae of every detail that will be on every page. Try by writing general content that pairs with that part of the site without worrying how exactly it will lay out. In the later steps, you’ll find that it’s easier to shorten paragraphs and titles than to custom write everything as needed. Your future collaborators will thank you if you write your content to be flexible.
5. Design Concepting
First and foremost, we highly recommend using a design professional if you have no prior design experience. Using the WordPress ecosystem gives you access to thousands of pre-existing themes to get you close to a desired look for your website. This can be a gift and a curse because it allows those who are not designers the ability to completely customize a website. If you’ve ever let a salesman create his own Powerpoint, then you know exactly how this could negatively affect a brand. However, with a talented designer and front-end developer, many of these themes can be completely customized to fit any major brand. With the design disclaimer out of the way, our process involves designing two to three concepts of just the homepage to define a creative direction. Once a direction is chosen, we’ll design three to five key internal templates that will later be used to build out the entire website.
6. Production – Putting together your design, user experience and content
Now that you have everything needed for the website, it’s time to put it all together, and the easiest place to begin will be the templates created from the design concepts. These already have the look-and-feel of the brand. Focus on filling in these concepts with content prioritized to the target audience identified in the user experience process.
A common misstep here is to concept out all pages to continue the process noted above. The most efficient way to proceed is to have WordPress administrators work in tandem with designers and content developers. Team members should work in an iterative process where everyone collaborates and offers suggestions in their area of expertise. We use many different tools and project management softwares to inspire collaboration including Slack and Jira. On smaller, agile projects, we rely on launch checklists to help push websites live.
7. Quality Assurance Testing
Quality assurance testing is often the overlooked portion of the project. Once the first round of production is complete, the website should be thoroughly vetted before it’s released. Your testers should be reviewing the website for broken links, spelling, grammar, and testing across various devices, operating systems, and browsers. If you’re like us, you don’t have every system readily available, especially with how often new devices are released. Because physically owning all devices and operating systems is a logistical nightmare, we use tools like BrowserStack to help with this process. BrowserStack allows us to test websites across over 3000+ real devices and browsers. Write a test plan for your quality assurance team to ensure every test will hit key components and functionality within your website. Then, have quality assurance log any bugs using a system, like Jira, or a spreadsheet.
You’ll find these seven steps apply regardless of what platform your website is built upon. The goal is to ultimately create a website that is easy for your customers and partners to use. Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that WordPress offers many tools that can help accomplish this goal. As you build, if you run into roadblocks along the way, let us do the heavy lifting by setting up your new site or updating the one you already have! We offer complete digital marketing services with expertise in all aspects, from SEO and analytics, to design and content creation.