WordPress Development Checklist – Build Your Own Website: Part 1

WordPress has simplified web development so even novice users can now put together a quick blog or full site to promote their business. However without any guidance, there’s always a risk of missing out on something important. Use our WordPress development checklist, and you can guarantee your website works properly.

UX, page speed and overall functionality are all manageable, but even veteran developers can make simple mistakes. Your online presence success revolves all around continuous tweaking. By using a checklist, you can understand every single phase of your build.

WordPress is the single best online tool for small business owners. Forget high running costs, complicated coding and hours wasted stuck at a screen. If you want to have a clean, modern and performing site, there’s simply no better option to manage your development.

Our WordPress development checklist will be delivered over multiple parts to ensure you have everything you need to know. In conjunction with WPMUDEV, we’ll leave no stone unturned. If you’re not convinced by the power and benefits of WordPress, check out this introduction to change your mind. Otherwise, let’s get started and get you on track to building the ultimate website.

WordPress Development Checklist: Getting Started

Your website doesn’t begin by just adding content to empty pages – it requires some preparation. Before you focus on the development of your actual site, make sure you’ve researched the following:

Choose the Right Hosting Company for Your Site

Various versions of WordPress offer hosting facilities for a price. Manage your own! There’s cheaper and better options in nearly all circumstances.

There are endless opinions on which services are best, but just find a reputable provider that can offer sustainable traffic at a good price. We offer competitive hosting services specifically geared towards small to medium businesses.

Speed, security, and reliability are all important factors you need to consider when choosing your WordPress hosting. However, the most important factor that you should consider is your needs. Evaluating your needs before purchasing can save you hundreds annually.

As we have mentioned above, there are different types of web hosting options available such as free, shared, VPS, dedicated and managed. Consider your own needs and research each of these to determine which is best solution for you.

Purchase or Gain Access to Your Domain

Make sure you acquire all domains you’ll need for launch and potentially in the future. It’ll potentially cost you bigtime down the line if you don’t secure everything early on. You’ll need access to DNS entries for your site before your launch.

When you want to create a new website setup, you’ll need to configure a new domain. This is a pretty straightforward process, but you’ll need to take note of the following details:

  • FTP or subdomain username.
  • Domain password.

Create a New Database for Your Website

Reusing databases is possible, but it’ll leave you vulnerable to past security threats. Previous breaches can move across your sites, impacting anything else hosted on the same database. It’s just wise to start fresh and ensure you’re safe.

You should also by the same logic create new database users for each build. NEVER re-use passwords – it’s just common sense. Don’t lose all your important work on behalf of lax security practices.

Use as convoluted passwords as possible and store all your info in a safe place. You can use services like LastPass to protect your details if you want, but a diary that doesn’t leave the office is basically impenetrable.

There are constant threats to your site, regardless of the platform. We’ll talk about security in a later edition but for now, put in that little extra effort and you’ll minimise the risk of being caught out.

Download WordPress.org, NOT .com

The difference between these two largely goes back to hosting. If you’re building your own site, make sure you have the latest version of the WordPress software and manage your own hosting with the .org version. Opt for the .com version if you want but you’ll easily find a much better option with some quick window shopping.

There are some other differences in what each product offers, but everything you’ll need is available with our .org pal.

Once you’ve downloaded, upload the archive file to your domain root folder. Don’t decompress the files on your local drive. This will take a ridiculous amount of time, compared to uploading just the archive file. Ensure you’re actually decompressing to the root (domain.com), rather than a subdirectory (domain.com/wordpress) unless you have a specific reason to do so otherwise.

Run the WordPress 5-minute installation. If you haven’t already performed the DNS changes you’ll have to access the folder through the temporary installation address provided by your web host. If you’ve changed the DNS settings and they’ve propagated already, you should be able to run the install just by hitting the domain name.

Ensure General Settings are Correct

After your setup, review everything to make sure all details are as you wish. Be particularly diligent of the tagline, email address and URL entries. This will make or break SEO efforts, so don’t get it wrong.

Next, focus on the less important stuff. Time zone, membership criteria, language, date and time format and any other similar settings aren’t as detrimental, but still have to be correct.

Choose Your Desired Permalink Setup

This is another big one for everything SEO. Go to : “Settings > Permalinks” and make sure you understand how you’re going to format all your permalinks. We’d recommend choosing the post name option, and then tweak the slug for keywords as necessary in each of your posts. The remaining settings can be left as default unless you have specific reasons to change them.

From trial and error, we’ve also found that hyphens are more receptive to SEO than underscores, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Just make sure you’re consistent to start with and tweak for improvements down the line.

Delete Sample Content and Setup Your Own Welcome Post

It’s always the sign of a novice or lazy developer to leave placeholder content from a theme on a website. It means they either didn’t understand what they were doing, or they were too lazy to review everything properly.

Most WordPress installations come with some sample content. Remove this to clean up your site and create a short “Welcome to your website post” if you wish. we personally just fill everything with Lorem Ipsum rather than waste our time writing something we’ll most likely delete later.

Dummy text is a great way to manage where content will be without having to come up with it as you go.  If your site is live with this text, at least headline a “Coming Soon!” or “Under Development” message on the homepage so potential customers can make sense of it.

Setup the WordPress Dashboard to Suit YOU

One of the greatest aspects of WordPress is in its versality. You can change the configuration of nearly every element within it to improve your UX. Before you focus on building your site, make sure the dashboard is setup as you need.

Use WPBeginner’s guide and their video below to gain a better understanding of how you can do this. Don’t waste time constantly searching for the same function and streamline all your development processes.

Starting to Make Sense?

The WordPress development checklist is only here to help you. Although we’d love to help in you, this resource is here to empower you.

Stay tuned for future editions as we’ll explore security measures, basic builds techniques and everything else you’ll need to get your site up and running. In the meantime, why not check out our other great content and equip yourself with the essential tools to improve your digital strategy.

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