My First Website Build
May 2, 2017 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I've just got my first freelance job redesigning and optimizing a WordPress site. What should I do first and what are all the elements that need to be considered?

So this was originally meant to be an SEO-only job for a nonprofit website that one of my relatives is involved with. I work in digital marketing so this was just fine. However, during our discussion, it was decided that the current WP theme wasn't robust enough and the website needed to be redesigned. I'm trying to learn and build a portfolio so this is a perfect starter project for me. I've got a handle on the content and seo side but what technical and design considerations must I be aware of? What are great themes to try? The website has a couple requirements:
--it has to be responsive (a given, I know)
-- accept donations
--have a member login section for gated content
--preferably have slider images on the homepage
--load quickly
--include a photo, media gallery

I know I'll need plugins for some these, so recommendations are greatly appreciated. Lastly, it is a nonprofit genealogical society so themes relating to that would be ideal, although I haven't had luck
finding many myself.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 to Technology (5 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
ThemeForest has quite a few themes for non-profits. For more flexibility, check out a multi-purpose theme like Avada--it offers a ton of templates, shortcodes and elements. You can use a plug-in like Charitable or Give for donations.

As for hosting, I've found Stablehost to be very fast and reliable, with built-in Wordpress staging.
posted by prinado at 11:21 AM on May 2, 2017

Start learning the basics of WordPress security. OWASP has a guide. Consider a hosting service that specializes in WordPress that offers security management - a good one can take care of much of the things on that list for you automatically (and help check your work).

accept donations

I would strongly urge you to outsource the part that handles actually doing credit card transactions to a service that specializes in it. There's lots of ways to do it wrong and a breach could result in financial and reputational damages to the nonprofit and you.
posted by Candleman at 11:29 AM on May 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Similarly, though this may be obvious, make sure you create a child theme, thus ensuring key updates. I didn't do that for my first gig and it bit me in the ass, understandably.
posted by knownassociate at 12:30 PM on May 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Browse the plugin directory and look at the ones that have the highest number of installs. Those ones will cover the major functionality that isn't built in.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:00 PM on May 2, 2017

Do you have a budget for plugins/themes? I have a toolset I prefer to work with for these requirements, but they are full featured, and not shoestring budget.

- theme/builder plugin: Beaver Builder (responsive, optimizable, supports galleries and sliders; has a lot of templates for a beginning designer/developer)
- membership content: MemberPress
- accepting payment: Stripe (plus SSL, obviously)
- make sure you set up security and backups (I like WordFence and Updraft Plus). You might also want to set up automatic updates for your client- if their site isn't super active, Updraft Plus and Easy Updates Manager can get you most of the way to a safe backup/update for free (can do both daily, and for an extra fee you can set them up to backup right before updating, which is the best setup; you should store backups offsite, such as on your Google drive or Amazon Web Services).

There are lots of different ways to do this, and if you're going to do it a lot investing in good tools will save you in the long run.
posted by instamatic at 7:39 PM on May 2, 2017

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