4 Things To Do To Speed Up The Process Of Building A New Web Site
Whether they say it aloud or not clients are always thinking, “When is my web site going to be finished?” Or sometimes it comes out a little harsher as in, “What’s taking so dam long to make this thing?”
Assuming there is not a drop dead deadline anyone who works with me knows I never answer that question because it can’t be answered with a reliable response. There are so many factors – known and unknown. But yes, dear clients and readers, here is the dirty little secret.
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Usually delays in web site production is caused by you. And if it isn’t it’s time to find a new web site developer.
Over the years I have learned that there are many factors which cause needless delay in producing a site. The common denominator is that not enough time was spent in the discovery, pre-production and early design phases because there was a rush to production as in, “Let’s make pages so we can see it.”
Whether there are only two people or a big team that is pushing the site’s development forward I urge the consideration of the following so that you will expedite the production process and increase the likelihood of building a logical site architecture that works.
Develop A Common Language
In all cases, when people endeavor to build (or rebuild) a site they do some coming from different experiences and expectations.
But what is often not expected is that members of the team (2 or more people building the site) will hav a different “web site vocabulary” or maybe not much of one at all.
One may say, “I want that part of the page to be fullwidth” intending that the referred to section will stretch only within a containing element and not from side-to-side across the browser window. Or, one may refer to something as a landing page when a more accurate description woful be an active page. Or, I may say, “Let’s use an accordion for that UI rather than a toggle” and forget that my audience may not know what I just said. (Let’s hope I don’t do that.)
What I’m getting at is do not assume that the terms you or others use are understood the way you think they are or should be. Especially in the realm of web side design and development which is still new to many we need to precisely define what we mean. I suggest that a glossary of common used terms be kept as the projects and moves forward. This would be a reference for people working on the project to help them stay on the same page.
One could argue this will take a lot of time. It won’t. It will save time as it reduces the chances of misunderstanding which will cause delay. Many projects develop their own vocabulary and this is what should ben the glossary.
Create A Style Guide
Too often designers start designing a home or an interior page to see how things might look and get ideas going. That makes sense but to a point.
An early step in site design should the establish of a Style Guide. This can be very simple. Create a page and leave it in draft mode. Then, think of all the elements you are likely to use such as…
to cite the most common. Then define the font face, size, width and style for all text elements with examples. Do the same kind of thing for non-text elements like forms, images and videos. Define the startle and create some use cases.
As you build the site you should be referring to the Style Guide and making changes to it as needed. That way you will ensure a uniform design across the site.
If you are using page builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi and the like this will be pretty easy to set up.
Your Style Guide can be as impel or complex as needed. Hare are some interesting exams of Style Guides.
Perfect Your Templates
Web sites today are made with templates. Whether you use Elementor, Beaver Builder even the WordPress Block Editor (aka Gutenberg) templates are used to speed up the process of making pages, posts and other content types.
Templates work in different ways. Some, when changed, update the content throughout the site. This is very handy when building sections of a page – like headers and footers – which are the same across the site. Other templates don’t change a page’s content when the template is changed.
No matter which type of template, it is critical that you (or your web designer or agency) perfect templates before they are used to build pages. This is especially true in cases where a template is used to create pages and when the template is change it does not affect pages made with that template.
This is because updating the template will not fix or change pages already made. If the template is not correct that will mean you or your web designer will need to go back and edit every page made with that template. This could mean a serious delay in launching your site and is always a tedious pain to remedy.
By perfecting a template I mean making sure that all design and functional elements of the template are as you want them BEFORE you use it to make your pages. Here are some of the things you will want to check:
Plan Your Taxonomies And Custom Post Types
One of the most powerful features of WordPress is the ability to group content using categories and tags. This makes it easy for users to discover your content provided that categories and tags are used in a logical and consistent manner.
As part of your development process decide how you will use categoies and tags. Categories are the more useful of the two in that they allow for a hierarchies (sub categories) while tags are “flat” in that no sub tags are possible.
And if necessary you may need to decide which content needs to be created as a custom post type.
What Is A Custom Post Type?
Let’s start with what you may already know. WordPress has, by default, 5 Post types, 2 of which are Pages and Posts. (Yes, I know it’s confusing but Posts – the content for your Blog – are a Post type.)
What if you want something like a blog but not to be a part of the blog. (Remember, posts are the “pages” which make up the blog.) Say you have a site where you do Conferences and Events. You may want to organize the content into past, upcoming, and future events by having pages for each. You can also assign categories and tags for the content in your Conferences and Events section.
Think of this as having a separate blog for your site that is just dedicated to Conferences and Events. Depending on your site, you can create different “blogs” for Our Team, Testimonials, History of the 1960s, Podcasts, etc. You name it. Any group of similar content can be created as a Custom Post Type.
One huge advantage of creating content as a Custom Post Type is that you’ll be able to style that part of your site and provide functionality which is different than your blog.
How do you do this? With the fantastic and easy to use
Custom Post Type UI plugin.