With limited documentation and layers of custom features, I took on the challenge to conduct a comprehensive audit of a WordPress site, paving the way for a seamless redesign.
I had a client come to me shortly after inheriting a feature-rich WordPress website from another WordPress agency. This site had several custom post types, integrations with dozens of different plugins, and a few connections with different internal REST APIs. This agency was tasked with creating a new website design for their client, and realized that they needed technical assistance due to the complexity of the site.
- Lack of Context: The site, previously managed by another agency, had missing or unclear documentation.
- Need for Clarity: The client needed insights on the website's structure, plugins, and custom theme modifications.
- Fear of Modifications: The client was concerned about potential disruptions caused by site changes, and as a result was wary of making changes.
After taking over the site from the previous agency, the client faced a daunting situation. The site came with a lot of features and no clear instructions. This lack of clarity made the client hesitant to make changes - and that's a problem since they were planning on re-doing the entire site! They were worried that even a small adjustment might crash the site or cause other issues. It was clear they needed a better understanding of the site's structure, roles of various plugins, and custom modifications to confidently proceed with their redesign plans.
To help them out, I suggested a thorough audit of their WordPress site. They needed to know their site inside and out - from the roles of different plugins to how custom features were integrated. With this audit, I aimed to provide them with a clear picture of their website. This would allow them to make informed decisions, confidently apply changes, and handle any issues that come up during the redesign process.
Solution - WordPress Code Audit
- Comprehensive review: Went deep into the structure and functionalities of the WordPress site.
- Plugin Analysis: Assessed all plugins, their interactions, and potential performance or security concerns.
- Theme Examination: Evaluated the custom theme, its modifications, and its interplay with plugins.
- Actionable Insights: Paired my findings with clear, implementable recommendations.
When I got started, my initial focus was creating a comprehensive review. Given the website's layered customizations and a plethora of features, gaining a holistic understanding was crucial. This foundational knowledge would serve as the anchor, ensuring every subsequent action or recommendation was informed and strategic, minimizing unforeseen issues. A lot of this research happened collaboratively with the client, where we discussed key features the site had, and what they knew needed to exist moving forward.
From there, I did a plugin analysis. By identifying the role and significance of each installed plugin and their interconnections, I was able to pinpoint not only how these plugins were used by the site, but also determine if there were any better alternatives. In general, fewer plugins result in fewer touchpoints. By removing unnecessary plugins and understanding the importance of the others, we created a robust foundation for the redesign. This was vital not just for the immediate project but for the long-term stability and efficiency of the site.
During the theme examination, I meticulously evaluated the custom theme and its numerous modifications. Recognizing how it interplayed with the assorted plugins was pivotal in predicting and preventing potential conflicts. This deep comprehension facilitated smoother integrations, ensuring the site's behavior remained consistent and predictable throughout the redesign phase.
Lastly, throughout each phase, my focus remained on providing Actionable Insights. The intent was not just to identify but also to provide clear directions on how to elevate the site's performance and functionality.
- Actionable Roadmap: Presented the client with a concrete list for site improvement, ensuring the seamless migration of customizations during redesign.
- Clearly Defined Role: The audit cemented my position and scope in the subsequent redesign, streamlining the project's direction.
- Minimized Surprises: Established a clear collaboration strategy, promoting informed decisions and predictable outcomes.
- Streamlined Performance: Identified optimization opportunities, leading to a reduced plugin count and the removal of redundant code.
- Future-Proofing: Ensured the site's code remains robust, accommodating future theme changes without extensive overhauls.
The audit's outcomes provided immediate clarity and actionable insights. By furnishing the client with a detailed list of improvement areas, we not only enhanced the site but also crafted a clear strategy for migrating customizations to the redesigned platform.
The results of the audit, combined with my expertise, defined how I could participate in future site improvements. This provided the client not only with clarity on ways I can help improve their site, but did not require that I was the person to implement every change, or any of the changes for that matter (although, I did end up implementing most of them in future projects.)
The focus on optimization led to tangible site improvements, such as reducing extraneous plugins and pruning unnecessary code segments, but the intangible benefits were a key improvement. Equipped with the knowledge in the audit, both the client, and I felt more confident in making changes to the site because we understood it better. This allowed us to make immediate site improvements, while it also laid the foundation for a more efficient and adaptable future.
The audit's thoroughness ensured the site was future-proofed. Understanding its intricate details allowed us to make decisions that would stand the test of time, accommodating theme changes and future enhancements without the need for drastic revamps.
Navigating a feature-rich WordPress site can pose significant challenges, especially when inheriting a site. With a meticulous audit and actionable recommendations, I was able to demystify the complexities of the client’s website, streamline its functionalities, and lay a solid foundation for future redesigns. The client not only gained clarity and context but also experienced immediate and long-term improvements in the site’s performance and maintainability. This case study exemplifies the importance of a well-conducted audit. Through it, we unraveled the complexities of a WordPress site, enabling informed and strategic decisions for its advancement.