I made an hour long presentation on WordPress CMS based website development at the WordCampUK 2009 conference. This focused on the development cycle of a WordPress CMS based website, from planning right through to go-live.

Final comments

There is a couple of things I’d like to pick-up again briefly that doesn’t really come across from just viewing the presentation:

Getting sign-off at certain stages before proceeding will help the client understand where the project is at and save you time. Trying to get ahead of the game on web development projects often doesn’t help and can waste a-lot of resources.

Defining roles early on, and ensure clients responsibilities are being fulfilled as well as your own!

SEO is something that every web developer has a responsibility to understand to a reasonable level. The structure of code and content can have a large impact on this, so it’s important that you get this right in the planning/proposal stages. Well structured websites with good content that are updated regularly are always going to index better!

Remember to comment out your code whilst in the flat XHTML/CSS stages of the website design. If you put in comments like ‘sidebar start’ and ‘sidebar end’ it will make it easier to edit and really quick to move your design into a WordPress theme once the client has signed this off.

The job doesn’t end when the site goes live – it’s actually only just begun! Checking everything is working correctly (ie search engine indexing, client using WordPress/CMS functionality correctly) early on can save a-lot of issues, and the first quarter review is the perfect time to revisit the project with the client and assess how it is being used (ie refine structure, content and functionality).

Links and resources

  • Blueprint CSS framework – Think you don’t need a framework for CSS… think again! Using Blueprint will save you a-lot of time and be very flexible.
  • BOKS – A fantastic new Air application that helps setup custom Blueprint grids (main site down at moment).
  • CSS Edit – The ultimate MacOS CSS editor – perfect live editing, great functionality.
  • VMWare Fusion – The most robust way to run multiple operating systems on a Mac (great for testing Windows compatibility or running IETester etc).
  • IE Tester – Test your website CSS in multiple versions of Internet Explorer in one simple application – essential for all web developers.
  • Firebug – A Firefox add-on for diagnosing issues with web design/CSS/coding.
  • Web Developers toolbar – Another Firefox add-on for web design analysis.

WordPress reference

Essential plugins

  • Maintenance Mode – Only allow logged-in users to see WordPress site, can be easily adapted to show any alternative content or site.
  • Role Manager – Powerful role management.
  • Role ScoperMichael Kimb Jones suggested this plugin, looks very promising allowing control of category/post edit privleges.
  • WP‐CMS Post Control – My own plugin allowing admins to simplify the write post panel for authors.
  • WP‐DBManager – An automated database backup tool, with email capabilities.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – Essential SEO optimisation for deep content indexing.
  • Cforms – A flexible multi-form generator, including attachments.
  • Akismet – The best anti-spam tool for comment moderation.