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WordPress Design, Implementation & Development

SEO & SEM

We are not in the business of providing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Services per se.  SEO is comprised of many different components, and some are required for inclusion with the creation of any website.  There is also a big difference between SEO and SEM (Search Engine Marketing).

Creative by Clark routinely installs and configures Yoast SEO plugin on all sites.  We integrate minimally with Google Search Console to ensure your site XML Sitemap is properly submitted for indexing.  Our SEO efforts give you the initial set-up for organic performance.  It is incumbent on site owners to continue content management best practices and potentially exploring additional SEO services.

Creative by Clark does not provide direct SEM Services.  SEM utilizes such tools as Google® AdWords™ and other pay-per-click and advertising mechanisms.  We do not provide these services, but will happily provide supportive assistance and referrals.

Our WordPress Design, Implementation & Development Service Offerings:

What do you need?

We build WordPress websites of varying sizes and types to address the business needs of any company or organization.  There is virtually no design that cannot be implemented effectively, and we see this platform as one that has incredible longitudinal promise for continued growth and improvement.

WordPress websites are considered to be ideal for SEO because of their hierarchical and flexible structure, potential for rich taxonomy, well written code out of the box and dynamic MySQL database connection.  While Google tends to reward larger websites containing rich, compelling content, this is also a perfect platform for a smaller website.  And it’s not difficult to start small and inexpensively expand to a deeper site over time.  WordPress can even be structured for the popular longer, scrolling pages or bona fide landing pages used in e-marketing.

While the traditional WordPress model assumes there will be a “blog” — these are purely optional, but the technology can be repurposed for non-blog content, too.   WordPress sites can be public or private (password protected), member only, or a mixture.  In addition to the standard WordPress look and feel, it’s also possible to create a site around such tools as BuddyPress for community sites.

Because of the robust plugins that are available to extend functionality, WordPress can be used as already mentioned for membership sites (or those that limit some or all premium content), property managements, marketing events, complex registration systems, standard business brochure sites, portfolio galleries, e-Learning sites, e-magazines and other dynamic communication models that sync newsletter content and social media, and of course online stores.

Google expects website owners to place a priority to content enrichment/refresh—a fact regardless of whether a static website or one built in any CMS.  But WordPress is especially robust.

Do you have an existing site built using a different platform?

Creative by Clark has experience converting existing websites – from static HTML sites (such as those built in Dreamweaver) to those built with other dynamic CMS or site builder platforms (i.e, Drupal, Joomla!, Wix, etc).

Often there is interest in retaining historical content— even when it will later undergo considerable editorial scrutiny.  Data and content to include featured and gallery images can often be imported from old to the new WordPress platform utilizing specialized software tools.

While a new visual design and layout options can be deployed with the new WordPress site, it is possible to convert from the following platforms (and more):

  • Static (X)HTML sites or those with an RSS feed
  • Blogs from wordpress.com
  • Drupal
  • Joomla!
  • Weebly
  • Magento (moving to WooCommerce)
  • Blogger
  • Plone
  • PrestaShop (moving to WooCommerce)
  • Tumblr
  • TypePad

There are a few options when it’s necessary to present a website in multiple languages.

Google Translate:

For sites that don’t want a heavy investment, there are third-party plugins that enable inserting a Google Translate module into the site.

PolyLang:

PolyLang is a plugin available in a free and pro version that allows creating a bilingual or multilingual WordPress site. You write posts, pages and create categories and post tags as usual, and then define the language for each of them. The translation of a post, whether it is in the default language or not, is optional.

WPML:  WordPress Multi-Language

WPML sites involve installation of the premium WPML.org plugins that provide considerable options to generate third-party translation integrations or manual translation.  WPML sites can be very complex and robust.  The plugin triggers the built-in translated content modules that exist within WordPress and most high-quality themes and plugins.  This means that it is possible to display WordPress admin and output from elements like widgets in pre-existing translations so that default content like labels are available in numerous foreign languages.

WPML does not translate content itself, but it provides a mechanism to identify content elements and either seek an outside service to provide assistance through linking an account OR to manually provide translated material in a Translation Management Editor system.  It’s elegant but tedious.

Quite often we are asked to merge several sites together.  This is especially true when a client might have separate brochure websites and blogs.  Often this type of project involves a combination of WordPress Conversion and Redesign to meet a new standard for excellence.

We also frequently create Networks (using WordPress MultiSite) bringing an unlimited number of WordPress websites together with a singular installation.  See Networks below.

While there are numerous WordPress compatible e-commerce plugins, WooCommerce is by far the most powerful and extensible.  The base plugin is free and is suitable out of the box for a simple shop using standard PayPal.

However, there is a huge commercial industry for WooCommerce extensions that provide:

  • integrating Wholesale, Retail or even Member pricing
  • linkage to all payment gateways
  • shipping scenarios from flat to complex table rates or
  • sending the order feed directly to FedEx’s robust system for direct calculation or sending a feed to a third-party service such as ShipStation
  • managing the pick and ship process with packing slips, invoices, etc.
  • providing a mechanism to accept telephone orders or the store owner shopping as the customer online
  • complex reporting – inventory management, tax reports, etc.
  • managing special needs that an online business might have such as allowing a customer to pick their delivery date and time
  • and so much more

Plugins purchased through WooThemes can add up to a considerable amount of extra expense for year one.  Typically, annual renewals of their plugin licenses enable ongoing updates and support at about 50% of the original cost if done prior to expiry.  However, there are also many other plugins available that have a one-time license purchase.

WooCommerce has become a core strength, although quite honestly we have completed the majority of those development efforts working as a developer for other agencies. We cannot publicly share those projects on our portfolio, but can discuss them a bit more freely in a meeting scenario with true prospective clients.

We have done our share of plugin customization and creation.  And we are devoting more and more of our “spare” time to learning to accomplish even more.  However over the past 18 months, we have developed some very strong relationships with some renown developers (those highly regarded in the world).  Therefore, if a specific project exceeds our technical bandwidth requiring truly customized plugin development, we have trusted contacts who have proven to us not only their technical expertise, but also their values.  It’s just too vast a field to know everything.  And that’s where we are very honest.

Just this year, a landmark case tested the waters of WCAG 2-AA Accessibility Compliance.  Now, all businesses and organizations need to take notice of their sites and the potential legal liability involved by continuing to ignore compliance.

It’s a lot of painstaking effort to retroactively make a WordPress compliant with WCAG 2-AA standards.  It is far easier to build a new site with that mandate.  There are more robust accessibility standards that must be adhered by certain sites — especially anyone legally bound to Section 508.  To be honest, we have not recently completed a 508 project, but do have several successful certified WCAG 2-AA compliant sites (including our own) under our belt.

Some websites might require considerable redesign / re-theming for this type of work.  However, any expense involved in addressing compliance would be far less than coping with the legal expenses of a lawsuit.

What we can do:

  1. WCAG 2-AA Audit Assessment

Scan an existing WordPress website to provide an overall assessment of WCAG 2-AA compliance and provide a detailed Error Report and Remediation Plan.  Assessment will include manually testing your website with several devices and software.  Our Remediation Plan can be taken elsewhere for execution and be used as a basis for further discussion and provide valuable information for decision-making. The written report will be very detailed with images and technical citations, as appropriate.

  1. WCAG 2-AA Audit Assessment with Remediation Plan and Execute Remediation

For those who decide in advance that they want Creative by Clark to both provide the Audit, Remediation Plan and Execute the necessary website fixes.

  1. WCAG 2-AA Accessibility Plan with WordPress Website Design & Development

For those who want to start from scratch or convert an existing website to WordPress, Creative by Clark will build a new WCAG 2-AA compliant site from the start.  This can involve considerably more expense than typical bespoke construction, but our existing knowledge of requirements will enable a more efficient and compliant construction process.  In some cases, it might be less expensive to rebuild than retrofit.

 

 

In addition to online stores using specialized tools such as WooCommerce, WordPress is incredibly versatile.  It may not be the only solution for every need.  However, there is such a commitment to the development of robust software for the platform that WordPress deserves a good look for appropriate applications for:

  • Membership Websites
  • Event Websites
  • Intranets
  • Extranets
  • CRM platforms
  • Communities
  • Forums
  • Interactive Education

Remember that many of the above can be combined functionalities in any single WordPress website or as a Network.

Do you need to rearrange the structure of your website and its content without changing a visual design?

Revisions are called for as interim solutions to refresh a site and align it to business needs.  As with brands, we recommend that owner’s self-audit their websites regularly.  It is a best practice to have an external audit performed at least every three years, but to self-audit in conjunction with alignment to a marketing plan and strategy on an annual basis.  Owners should evaluate site performance in conjunction with Google Analytics and consider revising their site structure and content for usability and more intuitive access.

This is a more inexpensive approach to a total redesign—albeit that might be justified in time.

Redesigns can be minor or major and involve as much work as a totally new website build.

Sometimes a redesign will rinse and re-use all existing content and structure but a new theme and visual design implementation.

Redesigns should be approached strategically and with great attention to structure and usability. The existing website should be analyzed in a thorough audit to assess what works and does not meet target audience needs and why.  When a large project, we strongly encourage the use of in-depth discovery that can include interviewing customers.  Focus groups themselves can be employed for large projects when there is sufficient budget.  However, for moderate budgets, often having a conversation with a trusted customer is very inciteful in addressing website failures and targetting needed improvements.

There are many reasons why a specific WordPress Functionality/Feature might need to be improved.

  1. The current plugin tool in use while somewhat adequate might not possess the full range of features required to meet business needs
  2. The current plugin may be a free version that has more advanced features enabled in a paid/premium version
  3. The current plugin may no longer be supported.  This is not uncommon with free plugins available through the WordPress Plugin Repository.  Developers are excited to offer their expert tools and secure critical acclaim for some period of time, but then there is a realization that they must provide an ongoing development cycle to keep up with WordPress advances, security threats, and then offer support that can include resolving conflicts with other popular plugins and themes.  It’s a lot of work, and because it’s unpaid, sometimes a great plugin suddenly goes dormant.

For major functionalities, we often recommend

What is WordPress MultiSite?  How is WordPress used in a Network?

While a well-known configuration amongst more advanced WordPress developers, most don’t realize that it’s possible to create very, very complex WordPress networks.  This is done with a complex configuration of one WordPress installation versus having several separate WordPress installations on the same hosting account.

This specific WordPress configuration is called MultiSite.  It’s not for amateurs, but it is a powerful way to create a mixture of websites for one or more customers.  If familiar at all with wordpress.com – the blog service that enables a huge number of individual blogs to exist, multisite affords an even more powerful potential when put in place for a business or organization.

Behind the scenes, there is a new role introduced over standard, single WordPress sites:  the SuperAdministrator.  This is the guru who manages the entire network from one dashboard to control WordPress core, themes, and plugins, but then each individual site has its own standard administrators who have privileges to turn some features on and off and keep their information separate.

Additionally, it’s very easy to add a new site to the network.  Whether a utility websites – such as one for support, training & documentation or others for private member activities.  Security levels for public visibility can easily be set through appropriate plugins.

Use Case Scenario #1:


Use Case Scenario #2:


Use Case Scenario #3:

  • Do you have a misbehaving WordPress website?
  • Does your site have the “white screen of death”?
  • Do you have an Error Connecting with Database message?
  • Do you have another fatal server error?
  • Have you been hacked?
  • Do you suspect a malware infection because of Google warnings?
  • Is your domain blacklisted?
  • Are you encountering problems with your hosting provider?
  • Are you in violation of your hosting provider’s Terms of Service (ToS)?
  • Is your site slow?

WordPress is a very stable and safe platform, but as a dynamic content management system (CMS), regular and proper maintenance must occur.   WordPress websites require an appropriate host to ensure optimal, predictable performance.  We bring our excellent troubleshooting and problem resolution skills to resolve broken sites or those that are not behaving as intended.

Emergency services during non-standard hours are subject to additional charges and higher hourly rates.  Further, even if we clear our schedule to address problem resolution during regular business hours, rush fees may be incurred.  We handle each situation on an individualized basis.

WordPress Maintenance is more than pressing “update.”

Our Maintenance Care Plans are tailored for the needs of each client.  We include one year of Maintenance Care as standard in our new website builds.  But we do separate out the cost as a line item so our customers can learn to budget for year two and onward with renewals.

We provide several types of Care Plans – from those that are “Bare Bones” to those that include some additional discretionary time to be utilized for content management, SEO management, or perhaps even adding a new feature.

Our Care Plans are a type of Retainer Agreement.  As such, when we agree mutually on the number of hours required per month for the specific site, we provide 2-3 options for Care Plans and then execute an Agreement (one year) with payment terms delineated and we send a batch of invoices at once for each installment (kind of like a coupon book).  This keeps our administrative overhead lower and gives us more hands-on time on the technical side.

Payment is made in advance to purchase a block of hours on or before the 1st of the month for which services are to be rendered.

Payments are accepted by Check, Bank Direct Deposit, Chase QuickPay, or by PayPal (can use any credit card desired) with a 3.5% surcharge to cover the fees PayPal deducts.  Payments should be scheduled 3-5 days prior to actual due date to allow for the extra time required for PayPal to credit our bank account.  We cannot afford to extend credit terms.

We offer an incentive to our customers to pay early, and those who do so, on or before the 25th of the month before the 1st when due, receive some scaled bonus time as a thank-you.

We refer to the block of hours purchased as ‘burn hours’ and they never expire.  If not exhausted within a month, the remaining time rolls over.  However, we still expect receipt of the monthly payment per our Agreement even if there is a credit balance on burn hours.

When there is a problem or we are asked to perform services in a month that exhausts the available bank of ‘burn hours’ we produce an invoice to resolve the overage and expect payment within 5 calendar days unless otherwise agreed on.  Normally we do not allow borrowing future time to cover shortages that may occur.

Our Care Plans are normally on a one-year term.  Payments can be made monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or in one lump sum at the start of the year term.  We offer perks to those who pay in larger chunks – a combination between discounted hourly rates and bonus hours.  And all is scaled according to the number of hours required per month.

We have several clients who have multiple websites that we manage.

What’s included in the Care Plan?

For all our clients in good standing to include those during the first year post-launch while on the included Care Plan and in subsequent years on a Care Plan, we provide complimentary access to those Developer / Premium Plugins in our library that we are authorized to install ad lib.  This presently includes access to our annual investment that is in excess of $1000 in value:

  • WPMU Dev
  • iThemes
  • Gravity Forms Developer Edition
  • Comet Cache
  • and more

With maintenance we watch several areas of a website’s performance:

  1. Front End – making certain pages load correctly and there are no issues we observe
  2. Server – we monitor the hosting plan from utilization of resources to managing the MySQL Database there, checking logs (access/errors), tweaking server scripts like PHP
  3. WordPress Dashboard (Back End):
  • Updates
    • WordPress  Core when stable
    • Theme (when stable and compatible in the core version)
    • Plugins (when stable and compatible with other vital plugins, core and theme)
  • Monitor security – watch for malware / bruteforce attacks / block IPs as needed
  • Monitor form performance
  • Monitor SEO and tweak
  • Ensure the site is resubmitted to search engines after major updates
  • Monitor Google Analytics / Webmaster accounts as agreed
  • Monitor Optimization / Cache / Speed Performance

As WordPress is one of the most widely used CMS, there is an overwhelming amount of information about the platform online.  However, sometimes there is just enough customization on a website that using a theme, page builder or specific features may need some direction if the site owner plans to manage some or all of their content.

As such, quite a lot of the training and documentation materials we develop are custom.  We also have some terrific generic resources we can provide.  We do provide a core set of documents with each new website.  If a unique application requires instructions, we provide basic “How To” documents.  Expanded project scope and corresponding costs add for detailed training manuals and hands-on or remote training.

It is not uncommon for personnel to change.  Websites change too, as plugins used for specific applications are improved.  While the front end of a website might not change in appearance, often how a plugin operates on the back end will change.  Hopefully for the better.

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