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How Do You Manage the WordPress Project Development?

Project management for WordPress websites varies across web development companies. Their business model determines the average duration of the project, the size of the implementation team (including designers, managers, QA), and the ongoing workflow both internally and with customers.

5 Types Of WordPress Outsourcing Projects

Over the past 9 years as a WordPress development agency, we’ve experimented and partnered up with agencies offering web services in several different ways:

  • One-off project development
  • Maintenance contracts
  • Ongoing development (retainer) jobs
  • Leasing developers part-time or full-time
  • Ad-hoc requirements for small, measurable iterations

We have offered the first three, including a hybrid of WordPress retainers including marketing and growth consulting services. This is our preferred approach at the moment, allowing us to continuously iterate and improve digital solutions, scale complex platforms north of 100M monthly views, and incorporate design, UX, marketing considerations into the regular workflow of an application.

What Roles Are Needed In A WordPress Project?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Maintenance-driven contracts are shorter and accumulate up to 10-15 hours a month. Assembling a professional team at first is challenging, which is why this is a preferred approach for freelancers and small teams.

Maintenance companies also niche down and focus entirely on maintenance. While this can be a plus, it does limit your options on building complex features, migrating platforms from proprietary systems, integrating 3rd party CRM or ERP solutions.

Projects over $10,000 or $20,000 traditionally involve a team of several experts depending on the project complexity, its urgency, and duration. A standard eCommerce build or a SaaS application will require:

  • A project manager
  • One or two back-end engineers
  • One or two front-end developers
  • A designer
  • A QA expert

Other roles may chime in on the business end, along with system and networking engineers for server setup and infrastructure maintenance. Senior management is involved in larger contracts with a promising potential of ROI (return on investment) and higher lifetime value of a customer.

At DevriX, the majority of our WordPress development projects fall in one of the four categories:

  1. WordPress SaaS/Multisite Development
  2. Scaling WordPress Magazines and Blogs
  3. Large WordPress Website Development
  4. Extensible WordPress plugin/framework Development

WordPress SaaS/Multisite Development

Our WordPress SaaS and Multisite development projects require the largest number of server and development environment customizations and initial time for setup.

A Professional Technical Setup

Our code is on GitHub or another VCS provided by our client. We do provide the server architecture on Amazon or Digital Ocean and include the full stack, including:

  • nginx
  • php-fpm
  • MySQL
  • email setup
  • iptables

We do integrate Zabbix as a monitoring platform in order to keep an eye on the server utilization and potential peaks in memory consumption.

We use custom local development environment or VVV (Vagrant-based) in order to operate and develop locally.

We set up a staging server that replicates the server stack provided by our Ansible development scripts so that we could verify the latest changes before deploying to production. Additionally, we can integrate an additional test server if we need to integrate 3rd party APIs that don’t behave properly locally (or just require an existing domain name).

The deployment happens via Capistrano which allows us to prevent large commits from overriding the website partially over time. Also, Capistrano allows for a very quick rollback so reverting to the previous version is instantaneously.

We can use the production database copy for staging testing, or a clone of it as needed. Also, for Multisite we strip down the large database copy (for size reasons) so that the local environment is faster and easier to work with. The media is deployed on S3 or another 3rd party server as read-only so that everyone can use sample media.

Scaling WordPress Magazines and Blogs

WordPress is best known for its publishing capabilities. Initially started as a blogging platform back in 2003, the system evolved as a content management system (CMS) currently powering 33% of the Web.

A good chunk of our portfolio is comprised of publishers generating millions or tens of millions of monthly views. Some of our project managers engage in high-scale operations with over 100M monthly page views.

Our services are sought after by successful publishers struggling at scale. Our business development and management workflow goes through the following stages:

  • A thorough code review and an analysis of the user stories (by both editors/writers and users).
  • Reviewing existing layouts, such as galleries, full-page articles, infinite scroll stories, quizzes, including cornerstone pages and other archives receiving plenty of traffic.
  • Assessing performance and stability problems that need immediate action.
  • Suggesting a hosting vendor known for successfully scaling high-traffic publishers (Pagely being our primary recommendation).
  • Analyzing the monetization model — often driven by ads, and opportunities to integrate or optimize programmatic solutions for higher profitability.
  • A couple months of hot fixes, setting up a version controlled repository, a migration if needed, and other priority issues to take care of.
  • An ongoing plan for maintenance, ongoing development, layout creation, automating editorial workflows, increasing scale through technological and digital marketing techniques.

A more refined overview of our publishing experience is available at WordPress For Publishers.

Large WordPress Website Development

Our large WordPress websites are built with a Production and Staging servers, similarly to the SaaS working model. We do provide a main GitHub repository for the project or a root repository with submodules for any additional plugins or add-ons that need to be synced in the main environment.

Design-wise we have a /static folder with all of the static resources that we could refer to (and need a sign off on) before starting the frontend work. This prevents us from applying additional features later in the process, and avoid regressions and unexpected bugs.

Our staging server is password protected which prevents any search engine bots from crawling it, or users potentially accessing the test version of the portal.

We also add monitoring services for uptime and file updates on the file system. Backup is included either via our automated tools, or from the hosting provider that we use.

Extensible WordPress Plugin/Framework Development

When we work on extensible solutions – modular plugins or frameworks – we do provide a core version with the essential features on GitHub. Add-ons and extensions are provided separately, each in a separate repository or in a collective one (if needed) with all extensions.

We use a master GitHub branch for development and feature branches for any major changes during the development process and post-launch. Also, we tag the releases so that we could ship different versions when needed, or merge specific branches and updates to older releases as well.

Our modular solutions include a lot of WordPress hooks – actions and filters – so that the main components are easily detachable or modifiable. This allows for editing dropdown values, adding extra metabox options, or interfering with the standard flow from external extensions.

Some of our frameworks include a library-based modular infrastructure that allows for drop-ins – code snippets placed in the /modules folder that are activated by default, which prevents them from being disabled by mistake or overridden after an update.

Project Management

Our work process includes a percentage of project management and QA work for each of our projects. Our dedicated PM makes sure that the resources that we need are available, the team is working as per the requirements and we follow the time frame as expected. Our QA is iterating through the project requirements and the project milestones and reports side effects or additional features that need to be fine-tuned.

If you are looking for a professional WordPress solution for your business, let’s discuss it.

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