Let’s face it, you do not always inherit a mine of gold! There’s also a sinister side of genetics, like the flu gene that you acquired from your dad or your grandpa’s aversion to nuts! You know what we mean, huh?
You are surely not a novice to the not-so-cool side of inheritance as a WordPress Developer, too. Especially when a WordPress site is inherited! Hey, we’re not suggesting that doing it would always be a tough task, but the reasons that you inherit it are typically nasty.
You might get a headache from inheriting a site:
For one thing, you’re not clear about the state the previous developer left the site in! You may either have your work clearly cut out for you, or you may have to hack your way to build a semblance of presentability across miles of overgrowth a la Rambo!
However, it’s not true to always blame the developer-it may be that the user wanted to build the site himself and struggled. Or are only trying to rebrand themselves, and thus want to update their website!
Fine… so, have you inherited one? Don Fret!
Since you now have no choice but to kill the dragon, you have one step at a time to take. What you need is, if you inherit a website, a rundown of all the things you have to do. Following these measures would actually make it much simpler to navigate a web! However, not paying attention to them could give you a spot on the client’s hitlist.
13 things to review before a platform is taken over:
Assess what already exists:
Establish a call with the customer or the previous creator before you start testing the website yourself. And have a more accurate view of what functions, and what can be done away with.
In the future, this could save you a lot of hassle! If you take stock of what you have before you practise your magic, the customer will not hold you accountable for the defects that occurred before you took care of their precious infant…
Start by raising questions such as:
- Why was it built and what kind of audience does it serve?
- How has it performed until today?
- What are the goals the site is expected to meet?
When you have the essence of what has been achieved before and the status of the website in general, you are in a stronger place to grasp the scope of your engagement (and the damage). If you are supposed to update the whole website or merely take care of parts of it, this will also be the stage where it is decided! If the client prepares a rebranding operation, the next step will be the most important one!
Get all the materials for the brand… ALL of them!
So, you’ve got a sense of things (‘coz you’re cool like that) and you know what needs to be done. Make sure you’re still expressing this to the customer! You’ll need all of their brand materials if you are going to perform any significant damage management, or a complete overhaul. Right from the original files with the logo, to the style guide, to font types.
This will give you an amazing glimpse into the type of consumer you are working with. You know you have to keep your ‘intelligent quotient’ sharper than ever if they grumble, and crib, and grumble even more about handing out their brand materials! The longer the pause in submitting the items you need, the greater the determination to stop taking up the project at all.
You’ll be happy on the way to the next move if you’re lucky and the customer is desperate.
Anything that reads ‘username’ & ‘password – get ‘em!
Ask the customer to allow you access to everything in the scope of your job you may require. This requires links to the WordPress website, Control Panel for Web Hosting, Domain, Email Hosting, and SFTP. Make sure the passwords and usernames are all valid. And you’ve got control privileges for admin to all! Yeah… so, now you’re the master of what you’ve got to do… Time to crack those knuckles and take over the ship!
Mark your territory – update user roles & permissions!
Do you recall hearing,’ so many admin control users breach the WordPress site’? Huh? No?
Ok, we just said that… Everyone on the web might make improvements. And you will have to channel your inner Sherlock Holmes to find out who is in charge of them, or at least keep working through the records of the operation.
If you are….
- For anything, reset the email address and passwords.
- Remove people who are no longer part of the customer’s business.
- Review the function and relevant permissions of an account, and reassign them if necessary.
- Make changes for each position to the access rules, if required.
- If there are some third-party apps or plugins like communication forms, payment gateways, pop-ups, CRM integration, etc., they can have individual users’ email addresses attached to them. Update them as needed.
Make sure you show this one in neon yellow (or pink, or any colour that will catch your attention) if you have the checklist pinned to your board. Miss this move and you leave the web exposed to several people being abused, without any control over them. So you’re held accountable for it all!
Run a check on EVERYTHING!
You may want to take a look at the login process in general while cleaning up the account access! You don’t want intruders creeping in and adding anarchy to the order. Protection is paramount. Make sure that you verify that the wp-admin page is secure and that authentication is allowed for protection.
It should be a priority to add a protection plugin (if it isn’t already in place)! And, that that the warnings and updates are received by you. Even, if it’s a luxury add-on, you need to get out of the way for a whole other box of surprises-we’ll come to that in a while!
In reality, a sweeping check on all areas, such as efficiency, security and SEO, will help. Using a method like WP Checkup, which gives you the lowdown on what the site works for, and what updates will be required. This will build a lot of tips at your own convenience that you will use to troubleshoot problem areas!
The WordPress Firewall from MalCare is also a perfect way to protect the website from bots, hackers, and other malicious traffic.
Tune into ‘the plugins’!
Without its extensions, what is WordPress? Yeah, we could laugh about them all we want, but they’re making our lives simpler! But going overboard could make your site a nightmare of Elm Street-safety violations, site collapses, poor results, slow loading speeds, and everything else that Catastrophe spells!
Did you sense a chill going through your spine? Time for those plugins to be tested!
- Check the installed ones. Remove any that have been switched off or are not in service.
- Understand what function each plugin serves-to make a note of it if there is anything that seems repetitive.
- Check if plugins were much more relied on by the previous developer or the client than required. If a code or a lighter weight addon will reproduce the same characteristics, you consider swapping them out.
- Make sure the security plugins, efficiency plugins, and SEO plugins are the plugins that are important for site performance.
You’re still going to need to list the premium extensions, features, and find out who has the licences.
If they are held by the customer, then you can move to the next stage. However, if they are owned by the previous developer, and you may not get in contact with them, you will need to think about a re-purchase strategy and speak to the buyer about it. If you are operating at the same time on several WordPress pages and need support handling multiple themes and plugins, you might want to opt for a plugin for management!
Phew!-Phew! You should go ahead and pay more attention to the theme now that you’ve got the plugins fixed… The client said he was proud of the way it looks! But hey… there’s more to a web than mere good looks now, isn’t there?
Does the theme reign supreme?
A theme may not be the best, only because a fashion magazine looks right out of it! Before going on, you will need to carefully examine it. Request the client to hand all the original theme files over and search for the following:
- Check the WordPress registry for the prestige of the theme or whatever place it comes from.
- Making sure that the design is sensitive and well-performing.
- For added assistance, consult with the theme maker.
- Verify if a child theme has been created (used when you choose to customise an existing WordPress theme without missing the right to update it).
- Review the theme code consistency, using a plugin called Theme Search.
It goes without saying that, despite your findings, you ought to keep your client in the loop. When it comes to the theme, you don’t want a surprise to spring on them… (trust us, you don’t!)
You should go ahead and only do a quick ‘upgrade’ search now that the plugins and the theme have earned proper consideration! Nothing fancy… just make sure it is updated to the newest edition (WordPress Central, themes, and plugins). Don’t make any improvements yet, just get a hint where it all stands!
You will also want to get the following two steps out of the way in addition to these steps, even though they may not feature explicitly in your area of responsibilities.
Does ‘the host’ have the most?
You are well aware of how the web hosting option will impact the site’s efficiency. So, if you have questions on whether or not the existing hosting plan is effective, check it as well. There are three things to check on that you may need:
- Speed (also known as load time)
- Uptime (needs to be at least 99.94%)
- Customer Support (to help with all WordPress related questions)
Is it frugal on Google?
You should be sure to see Google Analytics (and a related dashboard) mounted on it if the site has been designed by a developer. If not, make haste and let the customer realise that it is important for the web! And if it is installed, check it to verify that all the appropriate features are allowed.
Google Search Console or the previous Webmaster Tools are another Google app that should preferably be installed.
For you, here are some fast checkpoints:
- In the Search Console, the website is the same as the one in Google Analytics.
- The site has an installed SSL licence.
- Access to the web is only open to you, the client, and other registered users.
- Send and index the XML Sitemap.
- Google crawls through both the website’s online and smartphone versions.
Document it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly!
Make sure you note and log your impressions and read about the web before you go on your ‘site renovation’ spree. This will include snapshots, videos, written comments, practically everything that can attest to what the website looked like before you reached the image. You might speak about the interface, the sort of bugs you found with communication types, CTAs or other interactive components, load time speed, readability, desktop and mobile experience discrepancies, and so on…
Now, we’re not just doing this to give you a headache… There are two really valid explanations for doing this:
- Customers can be an exhaustingly vexing animal! They could want to fault you for something long before you inherited it, which was present on the web. When such a thing happens, BAM! You shove these documents and notes and walk out unscathed.
- No one was ever harmed by a touch of ego. The site’s visual archives now allow for a perfect “Before” shot, which you can use later when you construct a case study of the work you have performed on the site (and bedazzle future buyers with the “After”)!
Keep those reminders handy, if you find the customer suffering from a retrograde amnesia over something that did not work before you ever got on board! We bet you are able to put your alchemical skills to use now that you and the customer are on the same page… but, wait! One note of advice before stepping into the groove…
Backup… then, backup your backup!
Does it have a backup plugin for the site? Install one if not! When you make any adjustments to the website, you don’t want to be left high and dry, which… err, you didn’t want in the first place! You should still return to the original site with a copy, then silently hyperventilate on the nearest call!
A piece of advice here… if the previous creator or the client already has a backup plugin installed, make sure you figure out where the backup files go! It’s ideal to have them in a position you can quickly and conveniently reach!
We would suggest taking BlogVault’s WordPress Backup Services for a spin if you are looking for zero-load, stable, and scalable WordPress backups!
Caution: work in progress!
Oh, actually, you started working on the web… which is in pretty poor shape, to be honest! You’re going to make some very dramatic changes, and this could make the website look a little unruly…
Now, you don’t want clients of the client to log on to a faulty website and get turned off by it… yeah, brokenness!
You will discourage users from encountering the website while you are working on it by keeping the site in ‘maintenance mode’ and spare the customer’s blushes, provided it won’t take forever… Now, if you feel you’re going to take long to redo the website or repair it sufficiently for a good user interface and then keep enhancing it in the backend, it’s OK to keep it in Maintenance mode for a while. However, if the business of your client relies on it, you might choose to focus on an example of the live site and leave the original site be in its current state before you have a workable platform redesigned to communicate with the users.
The upgrade shouldn’t be a reason for the lack of revenue for your customer.
Before you jump, measure!
Another crucial move is to establish a staging area, especially if you work with a large customer. This is to guarantee that, before moving things live, you can try stuff safely.
For one-click, automated staging, with password protection, you can try BlogVault Staging.
You go there… that’s the long and the short of it! Not too short, you say… well, then, here’s a rundown for you to go back to when you’re not in a reading mood…
One thing is for sure, the inherited WordPress platform is now your responsibility, no matter who has built the site or the state it is in!
Not poor anyway, eh?
Since assessing what you have on your desk, what you need to do is take decisions carefully. And hey… we’re hoping this checklist can prove to support you! You should still do this with some support as a developer with many items to do! You will want to review WordPress-related solutions for BlogVault – recovery, staging, recover, migration, and management!