WordPress Mashup – 10 questions answered about design and development for WordPress

Graphic Design for WordPress

  1. As WordPress (WP) evolves in 2015 to be more responsive, what are the best techniques for graphic design to create “cutting-edge” sites?
    1. Start with a responsive template, doesn’t necessarily have to be a pre-built theme. I prefer Bootstrap. Trust me, save yourself hundreds of hours of frustration trying to get responsive actions correct. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  2. What are your best tips for designing for speed?
    1. Save for images web – down-size images. Make sure you are using 72 dpi.
      How to save for web (In photoshop – File: Save for web.)  If you are doing anything with web development, invest in the program. The basic version is $60 on Amazon.
    2. Combining CSS files – by combining the CSS files you speed up every action. You could do this through Speed plugins, but is usually cracks your theme if it wasn’t made properly.
    3. Using gradient CSS colors instead of images, use as little of images as possible. Need help? I like this tool. http://www.colorzilla.com/gradient-editor/
    4. Design for speed – using minimalist styles. You are in luck, “flat” themes are “in” for 2015. Take advantage of their load time.
  3. How to design in WordPress for Google’s new update and guidelines?
    1. Make sure everything is responsive – images as %, buttons in CSS, etc. Google will penalize you for everything that doesn’t shrink or expand basically. Their new update only says you have to be mobile, but they have not told you all the “tricks” that they want you to conform to yet.
      1. hide majority of images on mobile
    2. If your site isn’t responsive (and it should be), but you have a mobile site – add Google robot tag for mobile device switch. This is an awesome tool for making sure you have the right crawler code: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1061943?hl=en
    3. For the web developers out there. Have you seen this? http://www.google.com/design/
      “At Google we say, “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” We embrace that principle in our design by seeking to build experiences that surprise and enlighten our users in equal measure. This site is for exploring how we go about it. You can read our design guidelines, download assets and resources, meet our team, and learn about job and training opportunities.”
  4. What are your predictions for WP design?
    1. More HTML5 – more object movement. Then eventually, designs for wearable media (glasses, watches, etc…)
      For the Developers – Have you seen this, anyone tried it yet? https://www.google.com/webdesigner/
  5. What are the best design practices for WP? (Contributed by Matt Pendleton from Oyova)
    1. Good designers put a lot of research and testing into the design process. It’s important to know your audience and WP is no exception. Here are a few tips for variation designing.
      1. You can subconsciously lead the prospect, by following the eye path. The average person read from top left to bottom right. So you would be better off putting your Call To Action (CTA) on the bottom right of the screen.
      2. Younger audience prefers more whitespace
      3. Older audience prefers larger fonts (16px vs 14px)
      4. Younger audience prefer visual content, when older will want more text
      5. Orange buttons are statistically more of an effective button color


Business Development for WordPress

  1. Because WordPress is an open source platform clients think they can do everything themselves. How do you manage your and their expectations?
    1. I don’t stop them. I give over any access they request (with good backups) and let them “try”. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that they can’t figure out how to do anything but post/edit. I also charge for training outside of an agreement.
    2. I’m a big advocate for not holding client data hostage. If I’m doing my job right, I have nothing to fear. I always have plenty of work.
  2. What is the worst mistake you have ever made in WP development?
    1. Building too large in WordPress. – WordPress can be used as a large platform, but I don’t recommend it. I know the New York Times uses it, but it just was not made to function efficiently with that much data and images.  You will pay a fortune in hosting to stabilize the environment.
    2. Ie..We had built an 86,000-page site in a WordPress. We had to have 3 dedicated servers (1 base and 2 load bearing server), CDN and major on-site cache to support the load time, and we still couldn’t get it under 12 second load time.
    3. I also tried building a 15k product e-commerce in WordPress. A bit easier to manage load time, but still buggy. – Ended up having to change platforms only 1 year later. womp womp.
  3. What is the biggest issue with WordPress in 2015?
    1. Security. Hands down, it is one of the most hackable platforms out there. Western Groups are even told to exploit WP vulnerabilities to hack faster. I spent a big chunk of time this month cleaning WP sites and adding better security.
  4. What predictions do you have for WordPress in 2016?
    1. Other CMS platforms will begin to have better weight on Google rankings. Sad to say, but the more widely used the platform becomes, the more vulnerabilities it has, and Google is well known for adding factors that move away from the general “norm.” If this happens, make sure to start hiding your WordPress tags.
  5. When do you know when you should update WordPress, plugins and theme?
    1. There is no special trick to this. My philosophy for upgrading is “stay up-to-date, and you will have fewer cracks” You have to think of it like an earthquake. Things have to move and shift around…All you can do is be prepared, and fix when damage is done. Of course, that’s easier for a web-developer.
    2. I setup auto-backups, and set my server to allow WordPress to auto-update when there is a “stable” release. The first release is almost always buggy. A few weeks later they will release a less buggy upgrade. I buy into that version. My security plugins, and server alert me when a file is changed. I then check the site to see if anything has “cracked.”  It’s rare that something “cracks”, but if it does I fix it free for clients that host with me. Their business is worth a little trouble.
    3. For those of you that don’t have a web developer on call. Maybe be a bit more conservative. Upgrade everything one to three times a year, etc.. But, don’t go under that.
    4. I rarely upgrade themes, unless something buggy is happening. It’s rare that it would break. It’s almost always plugins that cause issues.
      1. When in doubt, start deactivating plugins one by one.

By Erin Gordon of http://creativee.co