WordPress Website – Tasks and Timescales

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So you need (want?) a website. Lots of ways to do it aren’t there! Creating one with WordPress is one way to simplify what can be a daunting and time-consuming task. I’ve attempted to simplify it even further by summarising the typical tasks involved and give you an idea of the time and hence the cost of each. You can then use this to help you decide how to proceed, how much of the developing you want to take on and how much to outsource.

I’ve included the time I would typically take for each task. I’ve measured this in hour chunks when some jobs might only take five minutes, but I find this all balances out in the end. Also some of these development tasks are very open-ended: you might want a large, complicated site that requires a lot of testing and customisation when that’s obviously going to take a lot longer than a simple straight-off-the-shelf blog, but this will give you somewhere to start from.

Looking at the table of contents below, a basic site with a handful of pages takes about three days work. To create an accurate estimate for a more complex site I’d sit down with the client and make sure the brief described precisely what the site will ultimately look like: how many and the content of each page, which plugins and any customisation that would be needed, etc. That is I’d try and capture as many development decisions up front as possible.

This task list is based on developing a WordPress site hosted on GoDaddy, although a lot of it would apply to using any CMS.

You can also see the task list organised in a Trello board. Note this uses the Plus for Trello Chrome extension to allow building the website to be managed as a Agile/Scrum project.


Prepare Website Brief/Design – 4 hours

Time: 4 hours + depending on the complexity of the site.

The first stage in developing a website is deciding on some of its basic properties: the purpose it is going to serve, the target audience, the overall look of the site, and the kind of pages it’ll have. This website brief template can help you think about the kind of questions you need to answer.

Buy and Configure Domain Name – 1 hour

Time: 1 hour for one or two domains.

You buy your domain name (e.g. handygadgets.com) from a company that acts as “domain registrar”. The company you use to store your website on the Internet is called your “web host”. They don’t necessarily need to be the same company. Once you have decided on your domain name, and the top and second level domains (.com, .org, .co.uk, etc.), they need to be pointed at your web host. If the domains are bought through GoDaddy and the site is also hosted there then there is nothing else to do.

Email Setup – 1 hour

Time: 1 hour (another hour for email client setup if needed).

Now you have a domain name you’ll want to be able to use that as your email address. You can set up a separate mailbox for this or have it forwarded to your existing account. You may need to do some configuration of your email client if you are using a local email client like Outlook or Thunderbird, or having the email forwarded to your online GMail or HotMail account.

Set up Hosting/WordPress – 1 hour

Time: 1 hour

I use GoDaddy for hosting. They have a one-click installation for WordPress, so all you need to do is register for a hosting package. I usually recommend the cheapest one to start with (£2.99/month – including a domain name) and then upgrade if necessary.

GoDaddy do provide a specific WordPress hosting (£4.49/mo) which could be considered, although personally I’d be worried about being locked into WordPress.

Pick a WordPress Theme – 4 hours

Time: 4 hours +

Once the basic WordPress installation is complete and you have proudly gazed on your new empty website you will want to start playing with the various designs that are available. The default installation of WordPress will start with the twenty fourteen theme. As pretty as it is you are probably going to want to choose a new theme for your site (there were 2,327 at last count).  You will be looking for a compromise between how you want it to look and how easy it is to change.

One of the most important things in this age of mobile devices and their tiny screen is choosing a “responsive”ly designed theme; one whose layout takes account of the size of the screen it is being viewed on. To see an example of a responsive theme open up gb-trees.com and then reduce the size of your browser and see how the design changes.

Another thing I look out for is a menu that allows sub-menus. This allow for your sites growing and the main menu getting too big to hold all of your pages.

Customise/Configure WordPress Theme – 1 hour

Time: 1 hour for basic configuration

Customising the theme involves changing the actual source code to alter the look or the behaviour of the theme. Configuring the theme involves changing settings available to the user via the WordPress control panel, or dashboard as it’s called.

If the theme is not exactly as you want it, as a web developer, I can provide as much or as little customisation of the theme as you like. Or there may be sufficient configuration options that we do not need to poke around in the code. Keep in mind that if the code is changed these changes may need to be re-applied if the theme is updated (the theme designers release bug fixes and new features for their themes).

Install and Configure Important Plugins – 4 hours

Time: 1/2 hour per plugin

WordPress functionality is added via “Plugins”. I have listed a standard set  but you can obviously choose any of the 29,901 available! Follow the links for more information.

Probably the most essential plugin, providing an easy way for people to get in touch with you without exposing your email address. But also essential – as there are a lot of people out there looking for unprotected contact forms and comments boxes is spam protection.

This will get the user to read and then enter a piece of obscure text to prove that they are human as spam comments are the bane of the phenomenally popular WordPress.

This is another essential plugin. Although GoDaddy do do their own backups it is always nice to have a local copy just in case! This plugin can be set to automatically backup your site and then put a copy on your online storage (GDrive, Dropbox, etc.), which can then be backed up locally.

Google provide a very comprehensive set of statistics of things like number of unique visitors, pages viewed, new users, keywords used, etc. which you are going to want to have to be able to track the success of your online marketing.

During the development of the site a banner can be displayed to the public that the site is being worked on. Logged in users will be able to see the site allowing me to show you the site before it is available to the general public.

A lot of thought has already gone into making WordPress as online marketing friendly (aka Search Engine Optimisation or SEO) as possible. There is lots of technical stuff in the configuration, but what I really like is the little traffic light warning system as to how well you’ve ‘SEO’ed every page. WARNING: Trying to get a green SEO light on every page is very addictive!

This plugin will continually check your posts, comments and other content for broken links and missing images, and notify you if any are found.

To comply with EU legislation the site has to warn the user about cookies it is using and ask for their consent to continue. This can automatically be done with this plugin.

You are going to want to create a buzz around your new site and get people talking about it. This plugin provides icons to allow users to easily share your content on the popular social media sites.

Install and Configure Optional Plugins

These are interesting possibilities but not something I always use:

Rather than an online, shared spreadsheet the issues with the site – bugs, new features, development progress – can be accessed from within the WordPress dashboard.

Displaying a gallery of images with easy uploading and editing.

This plugin does lots of clever stuff to get your site to load faster, apparently it can shave a second or two off.

This can be handy when there are more than one user administering a site so you can track who has been up to what.

Set up Online Shop – 1 hour +

Time: 1 hour +

This would be done with a plugin but with the scope for growth and the fact it is not always going to be needed I have split this out from the other plugins. I’d recommend WooCommerce if you are wanting to sell anything on your site. It is by far the most popular online shop plugin, allowing you to do things like list and categorise sales, track customers and their purchases, set specials, etc.

WordPress Updates/Housekeeping – 1 hour/6 months

Time: 1 hour every six months

Everyone once and while the developers of the WordPress code will release updates containing bug-fixes and new features. This is could be the core WordPress code, the Themes or the Plugins. It is advisable to apply these updates in case they contain security updates. With automatic backups running (it is always a good idea to backup the site before applying updates) updating is a trivial process that just involves clicking the various update buttons. WordPress will clearly indicate that updates are available. There are various other housekeeping tasks you can do to keep your site running smoothly.

Create Pages and/or Posts – 1 hour +

Time: 1 hour +

Finally, after all that configuration you can get down to creating some of that all important content!

WordPress was originally conceived as a blogging platform but has since evolved into the most popular way of developing a website on the whole Internet. So its backend (where you configure the site, rather than the frontend that the world sees) does make it very easy to create blog “posts” and static pages. In your brief you would have chosen whether the site would have more of an emphasis on news type “posts”, or less frequently changing and multiplying “pages”. Whichever you do choose there is practically no limit to the number of pages or posts you can create. You just might have to think carefully about the design and layout of your site once your pages start multiplying so users can easily find the ones you want them to find.

SEO/Marketing – 2 hours/wk +

Time: 2 hours a week +

Although WordPress is built with SEO in mind there is no getting away from the fact that your site is not going to get to number one in Google without a little effort. I only offer a basic SEO service as that is not my speciality (I am more of a programmer than a marketeer). But my general advice is to try and make your website the best for your topic on the Internet. This is what Google are looking for whenever someone makes a search. Also make the most of as many opportunities to get links back to your site as possible: hang out in (relevant!) forums posting comments that will link back to your site, facebook, old-school media, etc. But do it in a genuine way based on your enthusiasm for the subject, because Google will always get wise to you eventually and drop your ranking or exclude you altogether!

Web Standards & Accessibility – 2 hours +

Time: 2 hours +

The standard technologies that websites are built on are HTML and CSS. There are standards for these and how well your website complies to them is going to determine how well your website will look on the tens of browsers out there and how accessible the site will be. HTML and CSS are simple enough to check, and hopefully WordPress and your chosen Theme will already conform only leaving your personal content to check yourself. Using the HTML and CSS validators the site can be checked, and if required the “validated” icons can be added to the site.

Accessibility is a little trickier as it requires user testing to be fully comprehensive. This would need to be talked about in more detail if you wanted to take it further.

Browser Compatibility – 2 hours +

Time: 2 hours +

Hopefully meeting the above web standards would ensure your site displays well on all of the major browsers for laptops, PCs. tablets and phones. I’d spend a couple of hours checking that.

Site Testing – 1 hour +

Time: 1 hour +  (possibly requiring a test doc)

Before the site goes live we are going to want to be sure that everything is working! If it is a basic site this will simply involve checking links and proofreading the site. For a larger site with more features it would require a testing document to make sure the site was consistently tested and the results recorded.

Training – 1 hour +

Time: 1 hour +

Depending on how hands-on you wish to be would determine the amount of training. Once set up, administering a WordPress site is no harder than using a word processor but everything takes time.

General Admin – 2 hours +

Time: 2 hours +

This would cover things like emails, phone calls and any other admin jobs involved with developing the site.

Release – 1 hour

Time: 1 hour

The big day! Once all of the testing is complete the site can be released to the world.