It's always a great day when I partner with new clients and make WordPress sites great again. Getting an inherited website usually means that the last partnership did not work with the client. And so to start the relationship right we need to set expectations, so neither of us feels like we're the last to the party and all the fun has happened.
Inheriting a WordPress website can be stressful and put some pressure on me to make sure you feel like a kid in a candy store with the decision you've made to work with me.
I remember when I build my very first campfire without the aid of cheaters like kerosene or a road flare. There were a lot of steps to getting it right. The right amount of kindling, the right amount of air, the right amount of paper and of course flame.
Before I began with any website, I make sure that I have everything to get that dang thing started and to keep it going. And that's the same approach I take to inherited WordPress websites.
But before taking on an inherited website, I take these three steps:
- Assess the site in its current state and where to go from here
- Review the needs of the client to make sure they are realistic, and we are on the same page
- Decide the best way to move forward in the relationship
And then I can kick this flame into high gear, and it's time to make sure I have the big picture on the website.
Step 1: The Deets
This step is all about client on-boarding so that all the expectations are laid out, and a game plan put into action that will make it easy for all involved. I'll need to know:
- How old is the current site?
- What is the purpose of the site?
- Who is it intended to attract?
- What are the future goals of your business?
- What is and isn't working for you?
The deets stage becomes the perfect time to put my project management system into play and set the goals for moving forward.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Granting access to an inherited website is a hard step for many especially if you've been ghosted or burned by your last web person. But to move forward, this is a necessary step in the process.” quote=”Granting access to an inherited website is a hard step for many especially if you've been ghosted or burned by your last web person. “]
Step 2: Gain Access to Everything
Granting access to an inherited website is a hard step for many especially if you've been ghosted or burned by your last web person. But to move forward, this is a necessary step in the process.
You'll need to grant access to:
- WordPress as an Administrator
- Web hosting control panel
- FTP or SFTP access
- Doman registrar
- Email marketing provider
- Google Analytics account
There may be more like your payment processor, licensed products, and social accounts but during onboarding, we talk all about those details.
It's also essential that you verify the logins work and admin access is available. When sharing logins, you should use a service like LastPass or secure server email.
Step 3: Review the Hosting Plan and Domain Registration
Hopefully, you have full access to both, and the accounts are registered under your business name. There are times that developers set up hosting using their servers or resellers which we'll address if needed but never should you let your developer register your domain name. And if that's the case, we'll discuss that too.
At this point, I'll review your hosting plan type looking for things like SSL certificates, firewall protection, CDN and other protection. I'll also review the following:
- FTP access account and remove any that are unnecessary
- Review your domain records to be sure they reflect your information and business
Step 4: Confirm Google Tool Configuration
Having a Google Analytics account doesn't mean that you have analytics installed on the inherited website. So that's the first thing that gets checked. Then its time to move on to testing some other configurations like goals and filters and spam traffic.
Google Analytics only tells half the story so I'll also check Google Webmaster Tools to be sure:
- The website in the Search Console and Google Analytics are one in the same
- The site contains the correct HTTP version
- There are no security issues
- There are no crawl or site errors
- Sitemaps submitted to the search engines
Once we know the settings are correct and can see the data I can dig deeper into any issues, Google is reporting and get those fixed to gain back the Google love.
Step 5: Create a Backup
We all know the importance of a backup and no other work begins on an inherited website before a current full site is available. We wouldn't want to alter anything on the site without assurance that if something would go wrong, we can be back in working order within minutes.
Not only is the backup run but I'll move it off-site so that we have it for safe keeping always.
[clickToTweet tweet=”You wouldn't want to alter anything on the site without assurance that if something would go wrong we can be back in working order within minutes.” quote=”You wouldn't want to alter anything on the site without assurance that if something would go wrong we can be back in working order within minutes.”]
Step 6: Review User Access Accounts
Once the preliminaries are complete, it's time to see who has access to your WordPress website. Reviewing these accounts is an essential part of keeping your site secure.
- Create an author account and assign pages and posts to the account.
- Delete any users no longer with the business or on the team and assign their content to the author account.
- Review remaining accounts and see if roles and permissions need to be adjusted or reassigned.
- Reset the passwords for remaining accounts
- Review third-party applications (contact forms, pop-ups, integrations) and update to the email addresses attached to them.
Step 7: Check for Available Upgrades
Running the upgrades is an easy step to complete. If the update can be safely done, then it will be run and taken off the list. All other updates will be noted so that the walk-through can begin.
Step 8: Do a Walk-Through
Now that the general steps have been taken care of its time to do a full walk-through where I check all the other site elements, pages looked at; and performance review run. An extensive website audit is performed that will give me a comprehensive list of all areas of your website to see what areas need improvement, fixes for detected issues and troubleshooting information.
On the backend of WordPress, the following will be done:
- Review current theme files and check for child theme
- Review the theme for responsiveness and clean code
- Review existing plugins
- Review of all settings
Step 9: Create a Staging Area
When making significant changes to your site or implementing changes that will affect the usability of the site a staging site is essential. Having a staging area will allow for making adjustments and major tweaks without disturbing what is there now.
It doesn't matter where your site came from, who build it and the state of affairs right now, what is essential are addressing problems, getting issues resolved and more importantly, that you are happy again with your digital space. This list of prep work is a one-time thing to ensure that we are addressing and anticipating any problems that may arise.
More importantly, this is an insight into the process so that you can see what obligation your will need to make and what obligation you can expect from me.