I didn’t know what to do with either of my hands.
I had this amazing instrument in my hands that the greats like Eddie Van Halen, Ace Frehley, and Paul Gilbert could make sing in ways I couldn’t even imagine and I felt like Ricky Bobby.
“You mean I’m supposed to press down with this hand and pick with this one?” It was completely foreign to me.
Ever feel that way?
The first time I picked up a guitar I was completely lost.
But I figured out how to practice a little, and learned a few things, and learned how to play some of the songs I love to play.
I learned some techniques that I couldn’t even begin to think about when I was just starting.
I learned how to learn and it helped me take big steps forward in my ability as a guitar player.
When it comes to doing web design and development there comes a time when you leave the newbie stuff behind.
You start to feel the constraints of the super basic ways you were doing things before wondering if there’s a better way.
The short answer to that is yes.
And as you grow as a web developer and you start tackling bigger and more complex projects you need to figure out some of those things you didn’t even know you would need to know, when you began.
I’ve got several tools and strategies I use to build out new website projects I start now – stuff I never even dreamed of when I started.
Today I’m going to outline some of them and show you how you can use them for building out your website projects.
If you want to learn more of the tools and strategies I use to build out new WordPress sites then you need The Ultimate WordPress Start-Up Checklist to get your website started the right way.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an aspiring web designer who wants to learn more, or just want to start a new WordPress site. If you struggle with figuring it all out by yourself, my guide will help you get your WordPress site done the right way, and fast.
Set up your local development environment
Working on live sites isn’t always a good idea, especially if you’re not sure what the outcome of your edits might be while you’re working on it. I always set up a local copy of the site to do all my work.
Turn on debugging for your local
wp-config.php file by changing ‘false’ value with ‘true’ for your testing site. If you’re editing a live site, make sure you set it back to ‘false’ once you done making changes.
Setup Git for your project
If you’re used to using FTP for everything, there is a better way. Learn how to use Git for version control. If you’ve not used Git before there is a great getting started guide on codeschool.com.
Make any and all theme modifications in a child theme
Virtually all themes can be set up to use a child theme, and that’s where you want to make any changes and perform any experiments. Otherwise you run the risk of losing your work if the core theme is updated.
Turn off ALL caching – everywhere
Turn off caching. Deactivate all caching when working on your site, unless you like driving yourself crazy!
Use development mode in CloudFlare
If you use Cloudflare, turn on the development mode so you can view your work as soon as you’ve moved it to your live site.
Regenerate thumbnails after changes
Don’t forget to regenerate your site’s thumbnails if you change the dimensions, either in Settings > Media or directly in the theme file.
Validate HTML and CSS output
Make sure your code is clean by using the W3C Markup Validation Service.
Check cross-browser compatibility
Make sure your site looks right in all the major browsers, and yes, even as much as I hate to say it, you need to check Internet Explorer too.
Your new WordPress site should function fully on mobile devices of all shapes and sizes. My favorite tool for this is the Developer Tools in Chrome, but there are equally great tools in Firefox, and Opera as well.
Collect all your documentation
Gather all your documentation in one secure place. I’ve learned the hard way that having this stuff in various different places can be a pain. This includes:
- WordPress username and password
- Relevant hosting information (IP address, database info, etc.)
- Hosting login
- Repository info, or FTP info
- Marketing account login info
- Renewal dates for any paid/subscription plugins or tools
- User guide if you’re handing off the site
- Maintenance schedule
Looking for more resources?
I’ve got seven primary strategies and steps I use to build out new website projects, from big sites with custom post types, custom fields and fully bespoke custom themes, to small sites and personal blogs.
If you’d like to learn about how I implement all seven strategies and steps to build a new WordPress site then you will definitely want to download the Ultimate WordPress Start-Up Guide here.
In this guide, I show you the behind-the-scenes things I use every day as a web developer so you can see all the things you need to start a new website project with WordPress right at your fingertips.