How To Create A WordPress Project Plan Using Three Milestones
Building a website is no different than building any major project. There are many people involved, time is crucial and mistakes can be costly. The better you preplan the better the project will go. It also gives us as developers, a client agreed upon plan to move forward with.
Using three milestones to encapsulate the project will help visualize a time line and the big picture. From there, break down each of the smaller steps into sprints.
I would have the client approve of, and sign off on, each of the steps before starting a project.
These are example time lines you can use, and I also labeled the steps with the expertise that will be needed from the team. I primarily use these steps on most of my projects, but feel free to adjust them to your own workflow.
By following the below steps and milestones you can be more confident that your project will be a success.
Give a brief description of how the project is going to be using style tiles, wireframes, design prototype or static html.
Touch on what benefits the WordPress CMS is going to bring to the clients website. It could be as simple as how the admin user will be able to update and manage there content.
Proposed Changes From The Current Website Or Design
This section gives you the chance to talk about how the clients current website or design can be improved upon. These changes can be integrated into the new WordPress site. Things like the URL and sitemap structures or user experience are common issues.
Milestone 1: Kick-off Discussions – Week 1
The first milestone should be mainly about the planning part of the project.
Building a sitemap for pages, posts, categories and subcategories in Google documents. This will give you the url structure and how the content will be categorized or paged for the WordPress environment.
We will also need to show if the page titles are different than the page url’s. Posts will need to be listed from oldest to most recent, so they are archived chronologically. (sitemap document)
2Custom Fields Content Sections
Name and document all the content sections for the content that will need to be accessible in custom fields. Following this naming convention will save time and effort as each custom field created in the admin will have a specific slug. (custom field document)
3Expectation and Live Example
Set expectations with the client for the WordPress admin user interface features to be built using custom fields on posts and pages. Advanced Custom Fields plugin or the CMB2 Toolset should be considered for this and are good options.
Show a live example of a WordPress post using the ACF plugin features. Get feedback from the client. It is important that the client understands and is in agreement with how the WordPress admin features will look and work.
* Note: Some clients are fine with using the classic or block WordPress editors with custom fields to edit there content. Some clients want a front-end editor like Elementor or X theme were they get a visual interface to work with.
I have seen many drag and drop visual editors come and go and know the pitfalls that they can bring. So personally I am not a big fan of that approach. I have also notice some clients that are not willing to learn how WordPress works via categories and posts. These clients are usually a lot harder to work with as the project gets going.
Many times there will be client admins and designers that will also be apart of managing content during the project. This may require some time to set aside for training, procedures and videos to assist with managing the content.
Setup a enhancement request backlog document for any request beyond the initial design. If there is a current working site there should be a date set for a code and content freeze for the old site. These updates can be put into the enhancement request document to minimize having to make changes multiple times during the new site build.
6Target Launch Date
Set target dates for final UI swarming and website launch. This will set a goal date to work toward and help to choose a code freeze date as well.
Milestone 2: Build & Review – Week 2 Through 4
Setup the development environment on the subdomain at "devops.client-domain.com". Install WordPress and make custom configurations. (Apache, phpMyAdmin, php)
Talk about the type of building process and workflow that will be used like, building a custom WordPress theme from scratch and use Docker if multiple developers will be working with the theme. Build out the custom WordPress theme Post Types for categories and pages. (php, html, css, js)
See my blog post on WordPress Team Workflow for an example of a team workflow using Github.
3Site builder Workflow
Separating the theme development with the admin site building will help keep the development and the admin site building processes moving forward simultaneously.
Create all the WordPress admin pages, categories and custom fields. Move onto posts after pages and categories have been created. (WordPress admin, sitemap document)
Build out the WordPress admin custom fields based on the static HTML frontend. (custom fields document, WordPress admin, php)
Add and configure all WordPress plugins as needed like Classic Editor, Advanced Custom Fields, Loginizer, Yoast SEO etc…
* Note: All plugins are subject to change as needed. We want to use the least amount of plugins as possible, also use plugins that are lightweight and not overly built. We want to do as much custom coding as possible using the core WordPress syntax for website sustainability.
This is where you will start to focus on web application features like Woocommerce, subscriptions options or ajax integrations. (php, js, jquery, ajax, html, css)
6Bug Fixing and Optimizing
Add the rest of the posts content and finish building out the site. Troubleshoot any issues like pagination, dropdowns, responsiveness. (content management, js, ajax)
Optimize the site for production. (Google Speed Test)
Do cross browser testing, isolate chosen bugs and target specific browser issues. (defect tracker, BrowserStack, css, responsive css)
Milestone 3: Website Launch – Week 5 Through 6
Change the development url to live url throughout files and database, replace static HTML site with the new WordPress site – move WordPress to the root folder. (phpMyAdmin, php)
Setup client admin logins.
A lot of these steps and processes can be done on the fly and as developers we have much of this in our heads. But having a document that you can use as a check list so that everyone is on the same page, will help streamline the project and keep it moving forward.