A Guide

Website Project Process

There is more to having a public website than just the design and development of the website itself. This guide is intended to give you an overview of what considerations and stages are involved in bringing your website to the World Wide Web.

The main considerations

Initial Consultation

Once you have contacted me with regard to having a website developed I will arrange an initial consultation with you to discuss your requirements. By mainly working with clients local to my base in East Kilbride I am able to visit your premises in person to discuss your project.

So that you get a website that meets your requirements, it is important for me to get an idea about you and your business or organisation. This way I will have a better understanding of what you would like to achieve with your new website and may allow me to suggest ideas that you haven’t yet thought of.

Designing your website

The Purpose of Your Website

If you already have a website then you probably have a fair idea of what you want to improve? Maybe it simply looks out-dated and needs a refresh or you want more functionality?

If you don’t yet have a website then the following should be considered :

What do you want from a website?
  • Just an online presence
  • Sell products or services
  • Photography or design portfolio
  • Content management
  • Social media portal
  • On-line Blog
Choosing a theme
  • What colour scheme
  • Included Functionality
  • Layout Options
  • Customisation limitations
  • Free or Commercial
  • User memberships
  • Content management
  • Keep a blog
  • Social media integration
  • E-Commerce functionality
  • Offer downloads
  • Host videos
    And many, many more…

Developing With WordPress

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a complete Blogging and Content Management System (CMS) that allows users to update content with simple IT skills.

Check out this short video for a quick overview of WordPress  or view it on YouTube.

WordPress is classed as Open Source software. The Wikipedia entry for Open Source software describes it as:

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.

This means that thousands of people worldwide are actively developing WordPress themes and plugins that extend the core WordPress system and this is actively encouraged.

WebSmart TV basics of the web

Theming your WordPress website

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme determines the overall look of your website,  it determines the main layout elements including the page headers, sidebars, footers, and navigation elements.

The theme can also determine whether you can

  • add only a single or multiple menus to your site
  • add your logo into the header
  • add slideshows above or below your main header area or menu
  • fully or only partially customise your colour scheme and font styles
  • and many more considerations……

To give you an idea, take a look at themes on wordpress.org, take note of the Feature Filter that allows you to filter themes by colour, layout, functionality and a few limited subject areas.

Alternatively try a Google search for free wordpress themes or commercial wordpress themes

Selecting a Theme

Free V’s Commercial Themes

Free WordPress themes are widely available and despite being free can still offer all the customisation options you require. The downside of some free themes is that they may not be well maintained, provide limited support if any, and can be quite limited in customisation options. There are however many superb themes available, again it comes down to suitability.

Commercial themes are still restricted in what can be achieved, this is due to the nature of what a theme is. Commercial themes are usually professionally maintained and offer support as part of the licence fee, others provide additional customisation options and features on top of the free version of the same theme, if available.

Theme Limitations

When choosing a theme it is important to understand the limitations of that theme, whether free or commercial.

For example a particular theme may have only a few options when it comes to background colours and font styles. Another theme  could have an image slider underneath the main navigation menu, the slider can’t by design be moved above the menu. In order to achieve this the theme would need to be modified becoming either a custom theme or supported by what is known as a Child Theme.

It may be easier and more cost effective for you to choose an alternative theme that gives you what you want ‘out of the box’.

Deciding to change the theme that a website has already been built on can be a costly decision. It should’t be a big issue for a basic website, but more advanced sites may require a lot of re-working to suit the new theme.

Enhancing your website with free and commercial plugins

WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins add additional functionality to a WordPress website.

There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress in various categories such as, slide shows for images and video, administration, E-commerce, WordPress Theme Enhancement, Communication, Social Media Integration etc.

Many WordPress plugins are free and others cost from a few pounds upwards.

WordPress.org is the official Wordpress repository for free plugins, at the time of writing there were 42,468 free plugins available. Many of these plugins are fully functional, while others have limited functionality or customisation options. A licence will need to be purchased to unlock any additional functionality and customisation options.

When developing your WordPress website for you, I will endeavour to use free plugins wherever possible to give you the functionality that you require.

Where the free plugins don’t quite meet your requirements we can discuss either upgrading the free version of a plugin to give additional functionality / customisation, or replacing it with a commercial alternative.

Getting your Website On-Line

Hosting Costs

For a website to be available to the public it needs to be hosted on a server that is accessible on the World Wide Web. To achieve this a web hosting account needs to be purchased.

There are free web hosting accounts available but they are usually very restrictive and often embed adverts in your site that cannot be removed.

Prices for shared hosting, where your website shares the host’s resources with other sites, on average cost up to £6/month (or cheaper if you pay up front for 1 or more years).

A dedicated hosting service gives you access to the full resources of the  hosting server but this can cost around £300/month. This type of service would be used for larger critical websites, websites that attract a large amount of traffic, or websites that allow users to download large amounts of data.

I can manage the hosting of your website for you. I use tsoHost UK Cloud Hosting to host my websites, with their developer licence I can host multiple shared hosting websites allowing me to offer savings back to my clients.

If I host your website for you then I can offer you a maintenance package. The cost of website hosting will be covered in the cost of this package.

Domain Names

A website’s domain name is the address of your website, for example: www.my-website.co.uk

Types of domain name are .co, .co.uk, .com, .net, .name etc.

Domain names need to be registered with a Domain Name Register, Nominet is the official UK registry for domain names.

There is a recurring yearly cost for the use of a domain name, the cost is dependant on the type of Domain name chosen.

tsoHost’s Domain Name Price List will show you the yearly cost of different types of domain name. At the time of writing these ranged from:

  • £4.49 for .co and .co.uk
  • around £25 for .london and .scot
  • around £30 for .fishing and .guitar

More expensive domains are available but some are restricted:

  • only academic institutions can use .ac
  • only charities and not for profit organisations can use .org.uk
  • only government institutions can use .gov.uk

My Costs

If I host your website I will include the yearly cost of domain name registration and renewal within our agreed maintenance package.

If you host your website elsewhere you will be responsible for the yearly renewal of the domain name. I can still register your domain name for you as part of the building your website.

Maintaining your website

Maintenance Package

Whether you have a small simple website or a more complex site we can discuss whether a maintenance contract is appropriate for you.

The maintenance requirements will vary from one website to another but all maintenance packages will include:

  • Installation of available updates to the WordPress core system. These updates can fix bugs, address security issues or provide additional functionality to the main WordPress system
  • Installation of available updates for installed Plugins. These updates can fix bugs, address security issues or provide additional functionality for the plugin
  • WordPress database and website backups in case of issues with your website
  • Trouble-shooting issues with your website, including dealing with any issues with your website hosting
  • An agreed number of modifications to your existing website content
  • The maintenance package will also include you annual Domain Name renewal and Web Hosting costs

Don’t worry, if you decide not to go for a maintenance contract, you can contact me anytime during the life of your website to discuss one-off assistance.

My Costs

The cost of the basic part of a maintenance package will be determined by the time allocated per month.

I will allocate an agreed amount of time each month to the regular maintenance of your website and will charge an hourly rate of £24 for this maintenance. Small websites will require 1-2 hours of regular maintenance per month.

Regular maintenance:

  • WordPress and Plugin updates
  • Database and website backups
  • Trouble-shooting issues with your website, including dealing with any issues with your website hosting

Site Modifications

We can either agree a time allocation or number of updates that I will perform on your website each month. The cost of this work will be agreed with the client.