You may have heard about WordPress. It is an open-source website development tool and content management system. With origins in typography, WordPress software has come a long way since 2003. Although its strength is in its roots as a blogging system, it has evolved — with the help of thousands of plugins and themes — to be a capable website platform.
There are two aspects to WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a service: your website is hosted on the WordPress.com server and uses their installation of WordPress software. (If you like that idea, go to WordPress.com to register for a service-based website.) WordPress.org is an application: your website is hosted on a hosting provider you choose and WordPress software is installed uniquely for your website. I provide consulting services for WordPress.org.
WordPress Consulting Services
My WordPress services, listed below, are available independently or in combination with each other. The first step for any of my WordPress services is to get familiar with your specific situation. My goal is to partner with you on a website you can be proud of. Contact me to find out more about how I can help you.
- Deciding on WordPress — I'll help you evaluate WordPress as a platform for your website.
- Adapting a Theme — Based on what you like and what makes sense for your content, I'll select a theme that can be adapted to your website vision and tweak it to display a custom design appropriate for your needs.
- Selecting Plugins — Because out-of-the-box WordPress is incomplete; plugins are essential to add functionality. I recommend, install, and configure plugins to round out the functionality of your website.
- Migrating Content — Once a streamlined design is in place with the appropriate plugins, I can get your content into the updated WordPress environment so you can manage ongoing content changes.
- Troubleshooting & Coaching — WordPress is a complex tool with lots of capabilities and sometimes you need help fixing a problem or understanding how to accomplish a task. After spending a little time to learn the specifics of your implementation, I can offer advice and general training as well as coach you through a stubborn problem.
- Updating — Continual updates of the WordPress core code, and the thousands of plugins and themes dependent on that code, mean that the underlying platform of your website requires frequent updates. I evaluate updates, provide update procedures, and address problems if updates cause unexpected results on your website.
Read the rest of this page or go to a specific section to learn more about my WordPress Consulting services.
Deciding on WordPress
How do you know if WordPress is the right platform for your website? I'll ask you some questions about the features and capabilities you want in your website. Then, based on my experience with WordPress and knowledge of alternatives, I'll recommend whether WordPress fits your needs.
For example, if you tell me you want a blog on your website, I'll probably recommend WordPress. WordPress was originally built for blogging and makes it exceptionally easy. Of course, blogging has its own set of issues, so I'll also recommend some plugins and maybe suggest a theme to round out your website platform.
If you don't need a blog on your website, WordPress could still be a good choice for you. For example, it has a word-processing-like interface, it is web-based so you can update your website from anywhere, and the huge number of plugins give you added functionality you may need (like photo galleries).
On the other hand, WordPress has some limitations and requires frequent updates. After we chat, if I think WordPress is not a good fit for you, I'll tell you that. Where appropriate, I'll offer alternatives that might better match your objectives.
Adapting a Theme
There are hundreds of themes available with WordPress. A theme (also called a template) controls how a website looks (page layout, colors, fonts, menu placement, mobile device compatibility, etc.), some of the features it supports, and how content is presented. Some themes are free while others are purchased.
Even with all the variety of themes, you may want a custom look or custom features for your website. Because of the complexity of WordPress, adapting a theme requires some programming skill and an understanding of how themes work with WordPress. I can do this for you.
Often, my clients begin with a general idea of what they like and a limited understanding of how to get there. We'll review your musts and wants for the website and I'll recommend a theme that gets us 80-90% of the way. Then I'll add the other 10-20% of the design by adapting that theme specifically for your website. Finally you'll have a unique website based on a strong foundation.
There are thousands of WordPress plugins. A plugin is a small piece of application software that works together with WordPress to add functionality not built into the WordPress core application. Some plugins are free while others are purchased.
All WordPress websites I've worked with require plugins. Evaluating plugins means comparing the functionality needed to what's being supplied. Luckily, there are only a small set of plugins that are typically needed for WordPress websites. Once I'm clear on the features you want for your website, I can recommend specific plugins to enable those features on your website.
Some of the criteria I use for evaluating plugins include: ease of use, support status, popularity, author credentials, and WordPress compatibility.
I can help you select plugins for a new website, a migrating website, or an existing website. Once a plugin is selected, I can also help you make the most use of it.
There are a couple of scenarios where your website might need content migration: changing the website platform to WordPress or significantly changing the WordPress plugins affecting how content is entered.
While WordPress is intended to separate content — your text and pictures — from the underlying software, not all website platforms follow that model. And other platforms that also separate content from software may not have a compatible content structure to make it easy to move to a WordPress environment. If you decide to change to WordPress as your website platform, you can re-enter all of your existing content or you can migrate it. Since migrating content takes some knowledge about PHP and MySQL, it's usually a good idea to get technical assistance for this task. That's where I come in.
I have experience migrating content into WordPress from non-WordPress platforms as well as from an existing WordPress platform consisting of a different mix of plugins and themes. Each case is different. The end goal is to preserve your existing content while letting you focus on adding and updating new content.
Let's talk about your situation and figure out the best way to handle it so your existing content is available to your website visitors in your new/revised WordPress environment.
Troubleshooting & Coaching
A common answer to WordPress problems is to disable all plugins and see if the problem persists. Of course, if you disable all plugins, you also disable the full functionality of your website. So how do you troubleshoot?
For many of my WordPress clients, I set up a parallel implementation on my development server so I can do some basic troubleshooting and testing. Not only does it make finding a problem faster, it makes fixing the problem easier since I don't have to disable everything on the live client website. I can do this for you, too.
And what if you have a question? Most of us do a Google search. When that doesn't work, who do you ask? Once I've become familiar with your WordPress environment, I can answer most questions. I can coach you through tasks as needed and help you be as productive as possible. In spite of the hype, WordPress is not always intuitive. A little coaching can go a long way.
WordPress is hugely popular. Over a million websites are built on this platform. Of course, that much interest attracts a lot of attention. As a result, the WordPress core software is continually being updated to plug security holes and add funtionality. Plugin developers are continually updating their plugins to expand their functionality and remain compatible with the latest version of WordPress. Theme developers frequently update their themes to address WordPress issues and new features. All of this updating means the software underlying your website is like shifting sand.
When WordPress needs to be updated, you need a procedure to follow that will allow you to revert to an earlier version if something goes wrong. That procedure should also allow you to confirm that updates will work before you apply them. And finally, understanding the new features and how to take advantage of them should be part of the updating procedure.
Updating procedures require a bit of technical know-how. If you don't have an updating procedure for your WordPress environment, I can suggest one. For particularly complex installations, I can do the updates for you. We can discuss which option makes the most sense for your website.