Because sometimes you wish you could do it faster.
Whether you are working with your team or working individually, estimating the timeframe to finish a web development project is crucial. This task requires many things, including careful evaluating, discussing with your teammates, predicting the problems that may arise, and knowing your strengths as well as using your experience on previous projects.
If you are a novice WordPress developer, this task doesn’t sound easy at all, since you may lack the experience that allows you to deal with the project smoothly. But, even if you’re an expert, there are still many things to do that drive you nuts.
Most importantly, our life is too short to do things over and over again knowing we can improve it.
There are numerous ways to help you hasten your development process for a WordPress website. Here are the top 7 tips I have.
1. Discuss Carefully About Project Requirements With Your Client
To have a fast web development without stumbling, you’d better draw the line clearly between your client’s requests and your responsibilities. Plus, do consider your ability as well as the practicalities of their requests, and give them your advice.
Let’s face it. Your clients usually expect a load of bells and whistles in their website. Some are rational, but some are not. Some nice-to-have functionality may bite most of your time-budget cake. Learn to say “No” and give explanation to your clients. Even if it may drop the overall price of the project.
I dare to say this, because money is not all you work your ass off for. Simply put, you want to create a beautiful and well-functioning website. So, ensure your “final product” is focused. Unnecessary stuff for a website just to please your client, or to have a higher price for the project, is not the way professional website artists work. Plus, it might involve a lot of hard work and slow you down.
Takeaway: Take time evaluating your client’s requests before starting your WordPress website development so you save time by not doing unnecessary things.
2. Plan Your Workflow
Of course you do this. But remember to divide the big cake into the smallest pieces possible. Literally, break every task into small phases. This is the easiest way to track inefficiencies in a project. For example, your main process is like:
Plan –> Design –> Build front-end templates (HTML) for all pages –> Integrate WordPress –> Install plugins –> Launch
Okay. Now let’s dive into the main process and break each stage down into smaller phases. For instance, for the design stage, you may list out the main ideas for the homepage, which style should be used to fit with your client’s business website and how you will develop it, which font will serve that best and how you will arrange the text, etc.
Or, for building templates, you might have to select the must-use queries or functions for the page you’re building. At first, it may take you 30 minutes to do so but doing the same thing the next time will only take a few seconds.
There is no doubt that there are places where you might get stuck, but sorting out things clearly for each phase allows you to estimate the exact time you need for that phase as well as optimize your process.
Takeaway: What really speeds things up in web development is having a set way of doing things. Plan your workflow as detailed as possible.
3. Spend Enough Time On “Never-Done-Before” Tasks
Not all projects are the same. The hard and time-consuming parts can come from having to create something you or your team has never done before. You have finished thousands of business websites with portfolio galleries or sliders, so building one more like that should be done in no time. However, if it’s your first time crafting a responsive one-page WordPress theme, it might take longer.
Look at your client’s requirement list and pick out the “new things” and then invest more time to solve them. If it’s new and hard, call for help. Don’t save the hard for last just because you hate to face it.
Takeaway: To speed up your web development time, spend time tackling the things you’ve never done before so your project won’t be held back.
4. Keep A Project Tracking Report
They say “forget the past and look forward to the future”. I agree. But in this case, you must look back at what you have done to gain a better result for your future projects.
Get yourself into the habit of making a report whenever you finish a project and taking the report out when you are about to start new project. Why do you have to?
When estimating time for a project, you are always making assumptions. But if you have reports of projects you’ve done in certain time, like a year, you will get a more exact number for the different phases of a project. That’s why you need to track the time spent on every website you have built. Over time, you will get a better idea of where the bottlenecks are when estimating new builds.
Takeaway: Time track all projects you have done in the past and these reports will help you effectively in estimating time for new web development projects.
5. Keep A List Of WordPress Plugins
Surely, any WordPress website builder has listed their regularly used WordPress plugins.
Different website purposes will require different WordPress plugins, but there are plugins that any site should have. For example, I can name Askimet the made-by-WordPress comment and trackback spam protection, WordPress SEO by Yoast, or W3 Total Cache the best solution for WordPress caching, as just a few.
Create a list of your favorite WordPress plugins and if possible, categorize them for different website purposes so you won’t waste time finding them when building a new website.
Takeaway: Create a list called “My essential WordPress plugins” and save them somewhere to use for website building when you need to.
6. Utilize Project Management Tools
We used to rely completely on paper and pen to draw out our ideas. Now, we still use them (like me; I like to pour out my ideas onto plain paper before putting them all together on my computer), but we now have much more convenient and efficient tools to do this.
What do you think they are called? They’re called Digital Technology.
Just joking. As we now often use handheld devices as well as doing things on our computers, we need computer/mobile apps to help us.
For me (and for many of my developer/designer fellows), I like to use Evernote and Remember The Milk for gathering up ideas, planning, and sharing with other team members. You can create your favorite queries, functions, or WordPress plugin lists with these tools.
Takeaway: Utilize project management tools to help your project run smoothly.
7. Stay Focused
One important thing about productivity is to concentrate on your work once you start. Apply any methods that you think are most effective for you to remove distractions from your work. For example, shutdown Facebook or any other social media channels, turn off Skype chat notification, listen to music while working, etc. Oh, and maybe a clean workspace can help you with concentration and inspiration too (however, I do know some people prefer a messy table to be more focused).
(Aww, I love how he has the green tree right next to his work table)
Takeaway:Shut down anything that drags you out of the focused working zone. Nothing is more time-saving than staying concentrated on what you are doing.
I Did All That And It Still Takes So Long?
If you follow all these tips, but it still takes so long, and your clients keep complaining about overdue deadlines? Then improve your skills, dear. It could be your skill-set for website building, or your skills for evaluating your project, or both.
Share Your Tips
I’ve shared with you some good tips for you to reach the final stage of your web development as quickly as possible (but don’t sacrifice quality just to finish faster). Of course I can’t cover all the good tips out there. So, share your own tips and experience below. Let’s see who’s got the best practices!