The same steps over and over again - a tiresome evil for agencies, even when developing WordPress . How do others optimize their tasks? And which tools do they use? 10 questions for our customer and agency partner Daan Bachmann from stark.marketing.
Fast project start
Daan, your WordPress agency manages numerous projects throughout Germany. Which features from our WordPress hosting or from our Dashboard help you in particular?
The features support every phase of our projects. The dashboard as an entry point is clear and easy to use. The DEMO BOXES offer an absolute quick start into the development on a LiveServer. Not every project has the budget for elaborate creative brainstorming and layouting phases with numerous correction loops.
Many websites are created entirely in the DEMO BOX phase based on customer wishes. The content of these websites, even if sometimes only with placeholders, is quickly online and can be viewed on different end devices. This enables many customers to move with other parts of their process.
The automatic, regular backups have saved me many a client project - both during development and afterwards. Passing on the hosting contract to the customer after the project is finished, if desired, is done in a few minutes. And so far, every layman has managed it without instructions.
Another point that makes our daily work much easier: Even after handing in the contract, I still have admin access to BOX for its entire administration. Your WordPress Staging allows extensive adjustments and changes, while the website remains available unchanged for the end customer.
Specialisation in WordPress Hosting
One of our agency clients said, "Your Dashboard saves us a full-time sysadmin position." Is that an exaggeration from your point of view?
It definitely makes everyday life much more pleasant for us. The navigation and the entire interface are clear, logically structured and you reach your goal in a flash. Setting up a new BOX including domain and emails is done in minutes. Uncomplicated access to all information and functions of a modern hosting saves a lot of time with the necessary administrative tasks.
(De)activating or deleting the cache, enabling SSL, FTP access details etc. - these everyday tasks are done with two clicks. Many more settings for servers and WordPress can also be found neatly arranged in the menus. Your specialization plays a big role here: the standard parameters are so well tuned that I rarely have to change anything.
How do you calculate the added value that our hosting offers you? And what role does our support play in this?
In terms of saving me time and nerves - your support is priceless. The support can be reached quickly by chat, the team members are friendly, competent and have been able to find a solution to any issues I've had so this far - absolutely world class. Once, I accidently sent out too many competition emails from the WP backend and nearly had a heart attack because nothing was working while ads were running on the site. Support took care of it and five minutes later everything was back to normal.
From your point of view, how does the "performance" point look at Raidboxes ? Do you have any comparative values?
WordPress with multi-purposethemeincluding page builder and numerous plugins is a killer for the loading time. The fact that our pages still load fast enough is thanks to your hosting. Fast response times, our own caching, WebP support and servers set up precisely for WordPress: We are always surprised what a difference a hosting change to Raidboxes makes. It's not for nothing that we recommend your hosting to all our customers.
How do you make your projects as performant as possible, even outside the hosting factor?
There are many factors that influence the loading time. Tools like GTmetrix give a good estimation and a few instructions. The most important factor are actually always the images. My tips from practice:
- Fit the images exactly into the layout, i.e. they shouldn't be overly large
- Reduce image quality to the necessary minimum (manually in the image processing program or automatically via ShortPixel)
- Offer the .webp format
- Enable lazyloading (Native lazyloading is now well established on the browser side)
Fonts are also one thing. Not only typographically, it makes sense to commit to a clear set of rules and to use only a few different fonts and styles. This is also particularly important for the loading time: Each font style (thin, bold, etc.) is a separate file, as are all the italics. If these are loaded by Google Fonts, as is often the case, then these are several requests. So ideally you should clearly define the typo in the style guide and then host the selected font files on your own server. For example via FTP upload in wp-contents/fonts.
You say: "Backups have saved me many a customer project". What does your backup workflow look like?
For example, it saved my bacon during the development of Lehner 's new website. Our task was the technical implementation of a wonderful screen design by headtrick including the development of an easy-to-use WordPress backend for the customer. New equipment, accessories, vacancies, trade fair dates etc. were to be maintained by the customer himself after completion.
I decided to use various custom post types, which are filled in the backend with a few fields and output in the frontend as laid out. This worked satisfactorily so far - until it came to the translation. There were problems, because some database entries could not be translated by WPML. And in my attempt to get incompatible WordPress Plugins to work together, the entire database went hopscotch. Fortunately, I was able to blindly rely on my automatic backups, restore a matching version, and start working from scratch with a compatible Plugin .
As everyone knows, we learn from our mistakes. But the safety net in the form of backups is a blessing. Since a backup is automatically created every morning, our workflow only provides for backups at certain milestones that are relevant for longer than 30 days. After completing the project, for example, before the start of the translation, or before staging.
DevelopingWordPress and WooCommerce without a test environment can be grossly negligent. How and for which use cases do you use our Staging?
As a far better alternative to showing an Under Construction page. When you create new pages, blog posts, or products are created, you can usually do this with a clear conscience on the live site. Even if the design of the site is not yet perfect when caching, no one notices because it doesn’t appear anywhere.
The situation is different for the revision of global modules such as the header or the footer. Or for adjustments that affect several sites . So that the customers do not notice anything, we activate the Staging. At Lehner, for example, we have a graphical navigation in GridLayout on the home page. When a new product was added, I updated this navigation and other affected sites on Staging and then went live at the same time with one click.
With WooCommerce and other Plugins, which store orders or other data in the database of WordPress , one must be careful however: Before the live-switching of the Staging-changes a backup of the live-data should absolutely take place - otherwise for example orders are lost, which arrive between the activation and the deactivation of the Staging .
Multilingualism with WordPress
stark.marketing also takes care of international projects. The point "multilingualism" is often criticized with WordPress. How and with which tools do you proceed here?
This depends on the requirements of the customer. The site should be understood in different languages, but the quality of the individual translations is not important? Then we are happy to use Plugin GTranslate. Quickly installed and set up, it offers international customers the possibility of having texts translated automatically. However, this occasionally results in incorrect translations, including unintentionally comical errors.
If the translation should be perfect and we need full influence on the content - for example different images per language - then the best Plugin is still WPML. With it, it is possible to translate any WordPress site - as long as the Plugins used are compatible. This point should definitely be checked beforehand.
We often work with several people at the same time on the translation of a website, because individual sites and posts can be split up with the translation management or even assigned to external translators. The nice side effect of a manually translated site : There is a small SEO boost.
WordPress and Toolset
You use Toolset for some of your projects. What for and what makes the plugin collection easier for you
Toolset is not really a collection - it extends WordPress beyond the boundaries of pages and blog posts. The first step is to create new custom post types. Using Lehner as an example, these are products, accessories and mounts. Afterwards these can be filled with custom fields (name, description, picture). Logical relationships between the post types can be added (product A has bracket B and accessories C, D and E).
Finally, the results can be output in the frontend as desired. For example, an overview of all available accessories for product A with pictures and descriptions. If other products now also use Accessory D, then an update of the description in Custom Post Accessory D is sufficient to display this information on the product pages for all connected products. This allows much more complex connections and/or simpler user input. In addition, Toolset is compatible with WPML because it comes from the same developer.
A few words about you and stark.marketing?
stark.marketing has been around for seven years and was set up as a performance marketing agency (SEO/SEA/Ads) from the beginning. However, since there are many companies whose old website would still not achieve ROI (return on investment) with a lot of traffic, I joined four years ago as creative support.
Our main goal is to bring our customers a measurable additional profit. A great, well-converting website is always the linchpin of all online marketing activities. We're also happy to take on corporate design, print, and marketing automation for our customers. They don't have to worry about their online marketing anymore. Thank you very much to RAIDBOXES for taking over so much technical stuff and being always there when we have questions or a burning issue - it means we can concentrate fully on our core business!