Building a well functioning and well designed WordPress site involves so much more than I had ever anticipated. We are adding more knowledge to our arsenal every day, and that means every evening I go home and work some new element into my sitemap and design.

This last week we have continued our discussion about SEO and analytics, and are now using available online tools to determine keyword optimization for the pages on our sites. SEO is a fast evolving science, and accordingly the online resources and plugins to assist developers is growing. SEO consideration can change your entire approach to a project. This happened to me today. What started out as a 6 page site, has now grown by 10 more pages. Why? When looking at keywords and making determinations about what users would search, I realized that my content needed to be broken down more into unique channels of information. Walking through a typical user experience on paper essentially determined the new sitemap. So actually, looking more closely at SEO optimization led to insights about user experience – kind of a win – win situation. We were taught how to explore a workflow diagram and tweak the wireframe accordingly, turning towards a more user centred design.

The list of plugins being added to my site is growing exponentially on a daily basis. Yes, “there’s a plugin for that”, is a common phrase. Plugins are becoming very sophisticated, and can take the design, marketing capacity, and user experience of your site to a whole different level. Today we installed and worked with Gravity Forms. This plugin is very robust. It doesn’t just build nice looking forms. It actually has capacity to integrate “conditional responses”, meaning that the users input will determine a next action. So, instead of a customer filling out a contact form and then forgetting about their interaction with your site and business, they would for example receive a custom thank you, and at the same time be reminded of some other action they might like to take on your site. There are a myriad of add ons to the Gravity Forms plugin which are too numerous to list. Suffice it to say that the functionality of it is vast.

We have covered so many important topics in the last week, but one other I would like to mention is site security. Site security is of utmost importance, but apparently too often overlooked. And again, there are plugins to assist the developer with getting this right. We installed 2 this week  – Wordfence and iThemes security. The options and settings on these will take a good while to get through, but should be considered an essential necessity for any website. The higher the risk that activities carry on a site, like e-commerce of example, the more tight the security should be, with extra secure parameters being set, and possibly more security plugins with overlapping functionality.