February 26, 2018

The 6 Critical Components of WordPress Training

Your new website is nearly ready to be pushed live. Your team of Designers, Developers, Creative Director, and Project Manager have all tested the site extensively across browsers and devices. Animations are flawless. Forms are successfully synced with third parties. Hosting has been secured. Not a drop of Lorem Ipsum can be found. Are you ready?

Why Client Training?
Before the much anticipated launch commences, one of the most important and occasionally perilous aspects of the web development process must be completed: the client handoff.

As an agency, it is our responsibility to empower our clients with the right tools to properly implement basic changes to their site independently by conducting thorough training sessions with our clients. We use this time to not only build our clients’ confidence in maintaining key functions of their WordPress site such as content updates, plugin usage, and security, but to allow an open space where clients can ask questions and voice concerns that may otherwise impede their comfort using the site moving forward.

It is especially important for clients unfamiliar with WordPress to feel self-assured in how to maneuver through the backend. If you’re working with an agency and are looking forward to maintaining your site, here are the expectations you should have in regards to your client training:

Who Should Be Involved in Client Training?
Anybody that will be regularly updating and maintaining your site should be involved in your client training exercises. This may include an IT professional, content contributors, or sales/ marketing members that need to access leads or tweak SEO efforts.

From an agency perspective, typical team members involved in client training may include the Project Manager, Account Manager, and the developer(s) directly involved with the build of your new website. A SEO specialist could also be involved to provide insight into ensuring your website will be found post launch.

When Should Client Training Take Place?
Each agency will have their own rule of thumb as to when to introduce a client to a new website. Oftentimes, client training takes place either during a Beta site presentation or after all testing has been completed.

Some clients may require a more hands-on approach, especially if the site has extensive functionality that is better explained in person. Be sure to let your agency know your preference of training style. Would you prefer to practice first hand throughout the course of your training? Does your team digest information better through written examples? Your agency should be flexible in how training is presented.

At a minimum, your agency should provide a screen share to clearly demonstrate where and how actions on the site take place. If possible, ask for a recording of the training so you can use this a as a resource in the future.

The more interactive your training, the higher the level of comfort you will have performing these actions on your own.

What Should Be Included in Client Training?
Client training types can vary depending on a) the clients’ prior knowledge of website maintenance and b) the size and complexity of the website (think eCommerce sites versus one-page, long scroll sites). However, the fundamentals of website maintenance should always be covered and expected.
Below are key areas that the majority of website owners will need to know how to utilize on a daily basis. You should be certain to ask about these items during your training experience:

1. Admin Panel and WordPress Jargon Explanation:
For those new to WordPress, a basic walk through of the Admin Panel and common WordPress terminology you may run across on a regular basis should be the first step to any client WordPress training.

Ask questions — big or small; your agency is there to provide support during the transition. What may seem self explanatory to the agency may sound like a foreign language to you. Explaining the 101’s of WordPress will save time and resources down the road for both teams.

2. Image Optimization:
One of the areas we spend a significant time explaining to our clients is imagery optimization. The images chosen for your website will have a major impact on the user experience and load time of the site. Be sure your agency explains the following during training:

  • Selecting the proper image size
    • Poor imagery as a result of sizing issues has been shown to decrease user engagement. When an image is selected that is smaller than the specified size, it can lead to pixelation or stretching. If an image is too large, either in file size or dimensions, it can lead to slow page loads or cropping issues.
  • Choosing an appropriate file type for your image
    • For line art and icons, images should be saved out as vector files, such as SVG format. Vector images scale nicely and are small in file size. If formatted correctly, they will appear sharp on all screens.
    • PNG format should only be used for images that need to preserve transparency, due to the fact that these images can be large in size.
    • For remaining images, JPEG is the best bet. JPEGs take up very little storage space and support a wide range of colors.
  • SEO for Images
    • All images should be compressed to help reduce site speed.
    • All image file names should be keyword driven.
    • All alt text should be descriptive of the image it represents and ideally keyword driven.

3. Content Management
Most clients spend the majority of their time updating, editing, and maintaining content on site — whether this be adding new blogs, employee photos, or announcement/alerts. All basic content management functions should be covered, but it’s important to pinpoint those which you will be utilizing the most often and are unique to your website.

During training, we spend time showing how to utilize WordPress’s full potential. The most important areas in which to expect demonstrations from your agency are:

  • Page creation from various templates that have been designed
  • Custom Post Type creation and how to assign posts to Parent pages
  • Creation of different text styles including headers, adding links, inserting media (video embed, images) and more specialized content such as pull quotes and intro styles.

Additionally we will show our clients how to edit and optimize content for stronger SEO such as proper meta titles, enticing meta descriptions, optimized permalinks, and appropriate usage of keywords within their content.

4. Form Creation and Integration
Adding and editing forms on the site is one of the most important aspects of training as this is oftentimes where you gather leads and receive direct feedback / inquiries from your customer base. You should feel comfortable making adjustments to these forms and understand any third party integrations involved with platforms such as Mailchimp or Salesforce.

Ask your agency to demonstrate how to connect these forms to forward to your various lists to allow you the ability to troubleshoot issues in the future.

5. Security
In order to keep your site up to date and secure, you will need to understand how to update WordPress itself as well as plugins when those updates become available.

WordPress frequently updates its core to provide security enhancements and features. While no site is 100% hack-proof, we encourage our clients to do their part in protecting the site.

Commonly Questions Addressed in Client Training
Your training session should be unique to your particular set of needs, issues, and goals surrounding the functionality of your new site. Some other areas that we often receive questions on include:

  • Broken Pages / Redirects
    As with any newly launched site, broken pages are bound to occur. However, the more prepared you are with redirects prior to the launch of the site, the less likely you will be to have to find and catch these pages in the aftermath. Ask your agency to walk through clearly identifying what pages need to be redirected and where, and map out how redirects are easily rendered through a csv file into WordPress.
  • Third Party Integrations
    There are a vast amount of third party integrations that may be specific to your new site. Ask your agency to give an overview of these integrations (social media feeds, image galleries, translations) and to provide an understanding on how to utilize each.
  • Media Library Facets
    Many clients may be unfamiliar with the functions of the Media Library. Take time to make sure you understand how images, PDFs, and videos can be uploaded to the Media Library, edited, and shared across the site.
  • Hosting
    Typically, a hosting platform is chosen well in advance of client training to allow us time to troubleshoot possible issues that may arise. However, if a hosting platform has not been chosen, client training is a great opportunity walk through the pros and cons of different hosting platforms and the importance of choosing the right one. Some clients tend to try to opt for the most inexpensive provider thinking they will save money, but experience has shown that they may end up spending a lot than bargained for. Many inexpensive hosting platforms don’t contain the necessary tools to efficiently host a client’s site. Always be sure to ask about the risks associated with using a shared hosting platform (like GoDaddy) as your issues can be magnified.

In Conclusion
While every agency may have their own unique strategy, successful client training should always ensure that clients have the tools and knowledge they need to wield their website in impactful ways. Through comprehensive customized training, we can both solidify our relationship with clients and set them up for abounding success.

At Push10, our hope is to not only build websites that achieve organizational goals, but to ensure that our clients have the necessary training to maintain the momentum of their new site well into the future. Questions? Contact us for more details on our development process.