EP46 – Future-proof: How do I make sure I don’t have to re-do my website just months after its done? – WPwatercooler – August 5 2013

Today’s topic is Future proofing your WordPress website. The topic was suggested to us by Julie Kuehl.

How do you keep a website up to date?

It’s a misconception that once the website is built it’s done. A website is not set it and forget it. It’s a relationship that you have to nurture and take care of it.

You need to articulate to your customers that the expectation is they need to invest not only in their content, but consider a refresh in the future be it a month, a year or several years.

With WP it isn’t just about content upgrades, but security updates. It’s like a car, you have to get the oil changed or even a new car.

The 1st rule of future proofing a site is Don’t Touch Core!

Se: It’s not possible to future proof a website. you can upgrade the website, you can add in new coding, you can revise some things, build a whole new theme… but it’s not possible to make a set it and forget it website that will withstand upgrades. If you make a themes, you’re going to have to revisit that code in a year or 2.

Jeff: Stay on track and watch the release candidates so you know ahead of time what will come out.  Then you can be ready for your clients and let them know a change is coming because of A B and C.

Explain to people you get what you pay for. If you wanted a ferrari but paid for a yugo, you get a yugo.

With WordPress, there is no “stable”. Plugins and themes are constantly being upgraded. We need to make clients aware that this is not a one time fee thing. They will have to update their website.

Chris: At the core of it, defining what success is and building towards success rather than what’s beautiful is core of how you stay in that middle ground. Clients: If the website is consistently delivering customers, even if the site begins looking dated, you’re in a good spot.

Customers may not be as interested in having the latest and greatest upgrades are you are. If their site works well and they are happy with it, sometimes it’s best just to leave it be.

Clients often only care about the look of the website. They need to know that even if they don’t want to change the look of the website, they still have to be made aware that they still have to update the backend of the website or the entire foundation is going to crumble.

When you decide what plugins to use, having a conversation with your peers is key. Make sure you use plugins that are from reputable people. Ask the community what plugins they work with. Ask around and find out who you should be working with and who won’t burn you down the road.

Whenever you pick any platform and build on it, you want to be thinking about what happens in the future when stuff changes.

If you can make your content portable and keep your content separate from the look and functionality of the site, you should be ok. You’ll always have your data and can save your data and import it into something else.

Tell clients that you can’t make a 100% guarantee that plugins will always work. You don’t control WordPress or plugins. Updates will be made. It happens and it’s not in your control.

A maintenance agreement does NOT have to equal monthly payments. It’s an agreement about what is included in maintenance and it’s a description of what you will charge and what rate they will pay to get that maintenance done.

The group agrees there is no way to absolutely “future-proof” a website, but you can be prepared.

Products we mentioned

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One response to “EP46 – Future-proof: How do I make sure I don’t have to re-do my website just months after its done? – WPwatercooler – August 5 2013”

  1. Michael Caputo Avatar

    Super useful and interesting talk, this is something that comes up all the time – and shame on me for not being better at it by this point!

    Also, just wanted to give you a few suggestions:
    Your post title is too long (makes sharing on Twitter more difficult)
    The comment form that i’m writing in skips around the page when you tab through the fields.

    Not trying to be critical, just trying to make your site better!

    Thanks again!


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