I’ve lost count of the number of website owners who have come to me for help after rushing into making a website without proper preparation.
I also have to admit making mistakes as a webmaster myself. After a quick chat, requirements seem simple, and I have deployed WP sites in the past without a plan. It is so easy to install and get started with WordPress, but rushed deployment can be a disaster waiting to happen.
The Webmaster Role In WordPress Preparation
Actually, the webmaster role in preparing for WordPress is the same as any other platform. You must insist that the owner has a deployment plan, even if the owner is yourself.
A deployment plan describes the scope of the website project, and a schedule of tasks required to complete it. Though it describes the specific tasks you need to take to install and configure WordPress, it goes beyond that. By making the boundaries and expectations clear, your deployment plan stops you wasting time on tasks that are not relevant. What is the point of configuring spam filters and discussion settings if the owners have no intention of inviting the community to deface their creation with comments?
There are hundreds of decisions to be made when you deploy a website, and thousands more when you operate and improve it. If the purpose of the website is clear, you can make these decisions easily.
Now, it is mainly a management task to complete the deployment plan, and so I cover most of the detail on Shrewdies Web Business Management website. However, the plan will be better if you are involved in the preparation of it. I will link to relevant pages on that website that every webmaster should be aware of.
WordPress Preparation: Webmaster Tasks
Assessing Server Requirements
From the deployment plan, you can work out planned traffic numbers and the bandwidth you will need. Server disk space is not usually an issue on a WordPress website, but beware if your plan indicates the need for user upload of media or other files. Storage and bandwidth are cheap these days, so buy more than you think you will need.
Your best approach is usually to use a service that automatically handles extra usage, and allows you to move to a bigger hosting service. Avoid cheap shared hosting. This includes those recommended by WordPress. At my last look, they included Justhost and Bluehost. I can tell you from personal experience that both these companies will let you down as soon as you start getting busy. I have found Dreamhost to be reasonable, though I do not recommend their shared hosting plan. It is best to opt for their VPS service. This ensures a very responsive website with low monthly outlay. The basic configuration is excellent for one WordPress website. Make sure you get VPS SQL server as well as VPS hosting server.
Preparing Website Structure
The website structure comes from your deployment plan. As site structure fundamentally relies on what your visitors, and potential visitors, are looking for, this is essentially a keyword research exercise. Keyword research is definitely a combined webmaster and business owner task. It controls your deployment plan, and we return to it when we consider ongoing improvement to the website. I mention it frequently here, and I mention it frequently on the management site, but I cover it in detail separately on Shrewdies Web Traffic website.
Please note that there are two distinct approaches to structuring a WordPress website.
- A planned structure is particularly useful, though not essential, if your website is supporting an extant business. A website that supports your existing range of products and services usually works best if it is structured around those products and services.
- Recently, I have accepted that planning a complete website structure is hard work, and often not ideal. The weaknesses lie in it’s reliance on historic data, and your guesstimate of how much of your anticipated traffic you can capture. I have moved towards a more organic approach, starting with one or two keyword targets. As real traffic develops , I extend the scope to complement that traffic, and introduce a structure that reflects actual traffic density. This has the exceptional benefit of making the planning phase very short. We will focus on WordPress Hosting – end of meeting.
Registering Domain Name
I will introduce articles about selecting a good domain name on the management website. Once the management team decide which name they want, the webmaster often gets asked to complete the registration process. If you are hosting your site with Shrewdies, we register your domain for you, and keep it renewed. Assuming that you’re helping yourself, most hosting services will also include the domain name.
If you just want a domain name, I recommend GoDaddy.com, with some reservations. Don’t get me wrong, as a domain registrar, I know of none better, but they have one of the most aggressive upsell policies I have ever seen. If you can stick to your guns, and just pay for the domain, then you will get very fast service. Eventually, I’ll do a full run down on all GoDaddy.com services to help you pick some of the more useful extras. In the meantime, why don’t you just ask me to do it.
WordPress Preparation: Next Steps
As I am relaunching Shrewdies, there is a lot of information missing or hidden. It is not very well hidden, and easy to find using the search box near the top or bottom of every page. Of course, you will not find the missing articles, but you can be informed when they are available. Just subscribe to our free update service to make sure you do not miss any vital information.
If you have questions about preparing for your WordPress website, please ask in the website support forum. You can also use that forum to share your opinions and experiences of preparing your own website.