I have had several requests as of late to post the slides and a recording of the presentation that Tiffany and I gave on the opening day at NamesCon on how to rapidly get moving with WordPress. Although we do not have an audio recording of the session I can post the slides here as I have loaded them up on Slideshare. The session was only an hour long so we were limited in what we could cover so our goal was to give the attendees (a full room!) what they needed to know to take something from a pre-installed free WordPress blog site to something more full featured and useful. For those wanting the slides, read on, the slides are at the bottom.
In many cases someone has a very limited amount of time to develop their site but still wants to create something of more value than a simple lander, or maybe you do have larger plans for a site and want to use WordPress as the initial platform to create the base functionality from and then add content and more complex features as time allows, either way the tips we had presented can help.
We are also happy to announce we have been invited to do an encore of our session on Brand.Bar hosted by Angela St. Julien. Tiffany and I will be live discussing WordPress, site development, and giving our thoughts on things we run into while working with customers, we have worked on hundreds of actual paying customer websites and have heard it all, learn from our pain:)
Also, during the session I am happy to take any questions on the rapid launch of Credit.Club, how the initial path was chosen, where it is headed, and discuss how product roadmaps work when working with limited sets of time.
A few other things, based on the several requests we had during the presentation and since then, before the embed of the presentation from NamesCon.
First off themes, most domain developers as well as small and medium size customers do not have the budget (and to be quite honest, the need) to create a WordPress theme from scratch. It is very seldom that need exists today and, as such, that allows WordPress developers to keep cost down as quality options exist that can then be customized (sometimes visually, sometimes feature wise). We tend to use themes from ElegantThemes.com, ThemeForest, and at times WrapBootstrap (Bootstrap is a topic for another day and just as important as WordPress these days). Yes those links are affiliate links, only because we actually do use the products.
You will find in each of those sites a wide variety of themes, we use these for our small business customers on a day to day basis. It is very important when selecting theme providers that you check out their support, forums, and actually pay for themes that provide a high level of support. You will find bugs, and they will have to be fixed, that 50 dollars for the theme will save you thousands of dollars in lost time. Guaranteed.
Plug-Ins are another topic, we have several that we have standardized on, our selection is based on using them on real sites that are used by real businesses, there are plenty of other options out there but here are a few. Also, in future posts I will list specific feature focused plugins (i.e. database integration, etc).
Contact Form: Gravity Forms or Contact Form 7 depending on need
Sitemap: Google XML Sitemap
This is the base set, there are plenty of others, as mentioned, that I will list in future posts. But based on the questions from the NamesCon sessions and messages I have received since the base Plugins seems to be of particular interest. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments.
Here are the slides from the NamesCon WordPress 101 Session:
As much as I try not to put to much structure in place and cause headaches when first launching this little thing called Missouri.me there are certain concepts and ideas that work well no matter how large or small your enterprise/product.
The one that I think is of the most value is the idea of having a product roadmap when developing your product, in this case a website. When developing any major site the first thing that you need to understand is that it will never be done, EVER. If you are dealing with people outside the tech world this may be a new concept to them. But if you think that you are going to wait to have every feature you will ever think of before you promote or sell product on your site you will NEVER make it to market because you will run out of money before you make it to revenue.
What we did was developed a phased approach, where phase 1 was based on core features, phase 2 on major core changes (speed, etc), and phase 3 on nice to haves.
Now within each of those phases we had a point by point description of what the feature would do, complexity, etc. Thats all fine and great but what happens next is once everyone involved starts seeing that their features are pushed out to later phases people start wanting to pull things into to phase one. Let me give you an example of this happening. Last year I was consulting for a group of doctors in the area I live in, they were starting a company and had a rather ambitious plan for a product they wanted to create. At one point in the process I stopped them and said ok, next meeting we have one item on the agenda, we are going to build a road map, I told them up front what would happen, they would all list features, they would agree to structure it in phases but then I let them know everyone was going to ask for their feature to be in phase one. So what happened, you can guess, out of all the post its we stuck on the wall (I used them to make a point), a total of 3 out of 50 or so were not in phase one. Hows that for making a visual impact of the problem.
So, how do you fix this, its natural to think your feature or idea is the most important, but you need to take the personal emotion out of it. Numbers work best. For the first few months of development I spent the largest portion of my time managing the expectations and requests from the sales side of what was being created (I was part of the sales side which makes it real interesting). I always laid out that if X feature was added then Y feature would slip and then did my best to show how revenue timelines or amounts would be impacted. So how do you balance when to add features and when to make a change in the road map, prove how many customers or how much more revenue could be added.
At some point you have to put a line in the sand though and say that phase one (launch product) is locked down, if you do not do that you will never get to revenue and your business will fail before it starts. That happened with that group of doctors, they never could get to launch because they wanted EVERYTHING day one. They could not prioritize features that were required vs nice to have.
At the end of the day your product should always be improving and growing, it should never be done, you need to have a plan and realize that you cannot have your developers changing course everyday, nothing will ever get done. Structure your development plan to get the most bang for your development buck and you will be successful.