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The Development Life Cycle of a Brand New WordPress Website

Building a WordPress website from scratch is an exciting journey that involves several key stages. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or a beginner exploring the world of web design, understanding the development life cycle of a WordPress site is crucial.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through each phase, from initial planning and design to development, testing, and launch. Our goal is to provide you with valuable insights and practical tips to help you create a website that not only looks great but also functions smoothly. So, let’s dive into the world of WordPress development and bring your vision to life!

A WordPress development project can typically be broken up into seven phases:

  1. Project initiation
  2. Design
  3. Data migration
  4. Development
  5. Quality assurance and user acceptance testing
  6. Site launch
  7. Support

Let’s examine each of the development phases in more detail.

WordPress is an open source content management system (CMS), based on the PHP programming language and the MySQL database management system. It’s known for being user-friendly, allowing amateur developers to build and manage blogs and websites. Basic WordPress development requires little to no coding knowledge. It’s an extremely popular platform among professionals and DIY developers.

To give you some insight into how widespread the popularity of WordPress has become: Since 2024, WordPress is used to power around 14.7% of the top 100 websites in the world. More than 409 million people view more than 20 billion WordPress pages each month, and approximately 17 new WordPress site posts are published every second!

While some business owners do take the DIY approach to creating their WordPress website, many others turn to a professional team for the development work. This initially costs more, but in the long run it can save a lot of time and effort, and will also mean the final website functionality is much smoother. So, what goes into the development cycle of creating a new WordPress website?

Design Project Initiation of client PromptGlass

1. Project Initiation

Once the client and the agency have agreed upon and sign a contract, the project can begin. Normally, representatives from the agency will meet with the client multiple times in order to get a detailed understanding of what the client wants to achieve with their WordPress site. This includes:

Once this has been established, a project plan can be put in place This project plan will specify the client’s design and development requirements.

For those looking to do their own project management, there are some useful WordPress project management plugins available too. Here are some examples:

WP Project Manager:
The free WP Project Manager plugin can be used to manage projects within your WordPress system. The plugin allows you to keep your PM functions in-house, instead of having to log into an external site whenever you want to check on your project status.

CQPIM WordPress Project Management:
This is a premium full-feature project management plugin, available on CodeCanyon. The tool is designed for everyone from small freelancers to major agencies, helping them to organise their tasks without having to navigate away from WordPress.

Project Manager by UpStream:
Another free PM plugin, Project Manager by UpStream makes it easy to manage any type of project from within the WordPress website.

Smarty Pants Client Project & Document Manager:
Smarty Pants is a robust plugin with administrator features and client features.

Kanban Boards for WordPress:
This agile project management plugin offers multi-site support, and “edit-in-place” functionality.

Project Panorama:
This is a WordPress project management and communication tool designed to keep everyone involved in the project in the loop. Most notably, the Project Panorama plugin has a visualisation feature. The overall look, complete with beautiful and simple progress charts, makes tasks and milestones easy to track.

Design example of Architect Website Design for Arc

2. Design

The visual look and layout of the site is naturally a very important component in the site’s success. The design team works to bring the client’s vision to life.

The visual design requirements will have been established during the project initiation phase. Usually, the designers will create mock-ups to show to the client. These will be reviewed and revised as needed, before being finalised and signed off.

A good design team will bring a combination of technical know-how and creative flair to the table. They will make use of the latest web design elements, and will also make sure that the website is responsive (mobile-friendly).

Here are a few key elements that make up a beautiful, functional WordPress website that will appeal to site visitors and take them through a smooth user experience:

When it comes to site layout, less is more. Avoid clutter and keep your layout clean and simple. This will allow your visitors to focus on the content, without unnecessary distractions.

Advertisements, pop-ups, animations and excessive buttons are all examples of clutter. Don’t bombard your visitors with unnecessary sights and sounds. Make sure any ads on your site are placed in a way that they don’t detract from the content, and only make use of ads if they are generating significant traffic to your site.

The right images can really enhance the appearance of a website. It pays to invest in good quality images, taken by professional photographers.

Free image resources:

Paid image resources:

A logo is a vital representation of your brand or business. It should be instantly recognisable to site visitors. Often the designers on an agency’s team will have some logo experience, but you may prefer to hire a graphic designer specialising in the creation of logos.

If you don’t want (or can’t afford) a visual logo at the moment, you can use a good font like Helvetica to create a type logo instead.

A good font choice will ensure that website copy is legible, and make the site overall appear more professional.

There are only a few core fonts that can be viewed universally on the web. Helvetica, Arial and Georgia are all known as legible, aesthetically pleasing fonts; they are timeless choices.

Online font sources:

When it comes to a colour scheme, simpler is better. Try using two neutral shades (like black and white or grey and white), with a brighter highlight colour to complement them

Online colour scheme sources:

Data Migration

3. Data Migration

In some cases, a client may be migrating from another content management system, or looking for a new WordPress install. In this case, data migration will be a part of the development cycle.

The data migration process typically starts with the client providing the development team with access to their database files. The team then pulls together a data mapping document and writes a data migration script, and then begins the import process. After completing the initial import, the team will perform a quality assurance review against the data mapping document to ensure that everything has been done correctly.

If you are doing your own data migration, here are some tips to make sure it goes smoothly:

There are a number of WordPress migration plugins available too, including:

Development Design Phase

4. Development

Once the final designs are approved, the active development phase will begin. The developers will build the site functionality and custom features based on the client’s requirements.

Theme / Design

The developers and designers work together to create the new site based on the design signed off by the client. Dependent on budget, either an entirely bespoke theme can be built, or an existing theme from the WordPress marketplace can be edited and configured to fit the project.

A custom-built unique theme is always recommended in order to effectively market your brand and products / services, while if an existing WordPress theme is used you run the risk of your site looking very similar to thousands of others.


Implementing custom functionality is made easier through plugins, but installing too many plugins can negatively affect the performance of your website.

Each plugin has to effectively fetch its relevant data from the site database, and when you have a large number of them trying to perform its own task at the same time – it can cause some conflict and slow everything down. Some plugins can also cause security risks, and paid plugins are generally more secure than the free variants.

For this reason all custom functionality is reviewed, and recommendations are made as whether to create a plugin from scratch, or download / purchase from the WordPress Plugin marketplace.

Quality Assurance of the website

5. Quality Assurance (QA) and User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

Once all the development tasks have been completed, it’s time for the QA and testing phase to begin. This is to ensure that all functionality is in place before going ahead with the site launch.

The development team performs cross-browser and device testing to ensure responsiveness and accessibility is in place. We run your new custom theme through our WDS theme check plugin. Our development team also runs a query monitor and report to ensure that the site is performant prior to launch.

There are a few phases of quality assurance and testing.

Functional Testing:
This is the first and most important step in the WordPress quality assurance process. This process confirms that all functional requirements are satisfied. Functional testing includes:

During functional testing, the developers must verify the main functions of the site, the links and forms, and any animations that appear on the site, as well as how it handles errors and how data is stored in the database.

Usability Testing:
This phase focuses on the user experience. The site must be user-friendly and make a good impression.

Testers must consider the following:

Compatibility Testing:
This phase analyses how well and efficiently the website can perform when it runs on different operating systems. Some operating systems are more likely to have issues (bugs) than others.

The compatibility testing phase includes the following checks:

Performance Testing:
This is a non-functional testing phase that is primarily about the client’s expectations. A successful site should have good speed, responsiveness and stability. QA during this phase should include the following tests:

Security Testing:
This phase is used to confirm that the site will protect any confidential data, and will not be vulnerable to hacks and security breaches. Naturally, this is a critical part of the testing process. Any potential threats to the system must be analysed and addressed.

During security testing, developers doing QA must verify the following:

Cleanstate Website Design for Client

6. Site Launch

Each new website will have its own unique launch plan. Typically, the launch process includes the following steps:

7. Support

A good agency will also provide clients with a support phase for a specified period of time after launch. During this time, the client can bring any bugs or issues to the agency’s attention, and the developers can address them, making sure that the client is 100% happy with the way their site is working. Some clients will also opt for extended support and maintenance plans.

A WordPress website is an affordable, flexible and long-lasting way to establish an online presence for your business or brand. Speak to the Lilo team about starting your new WordPress project, and we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements.

Five FAQs: Development Life Cycle of a Brand New WordPress Website.

1: What are the initial steps to start developing a WordPress website?

The initial steps include selecting a domain name, choosing a reliable hosting provider, and installing WordPress. After that, you should choose a theme and install essential plugins for functionality and security.

2: How do I choose the right theme for my WordPress site?

Consider your website’s purpose, desired features, and user experience. Look for themes that are responsive, well-rated, and regularly updated. Free and premium options are available, each with unique benefits.

3: What plugins are essential for a new WordPress website?

Essential plugins include security plugins (like Wordfence), SEO plugins (like Yoast SEO), caching plugins (like W3 Total Cache), and backup plugins (like UpdraftPlus). These enhance security, performance, and search engine visibility.

4: How do I ensure my WordPress website is secure?

Use strong passwords and update WordPress, themes, and plugins regularly. Install a security plugin, enable two-factor authentication, and regularly back up your site. Consider using a secure hosting provider.

5: What are the key stages in the WordPress website development process?

The key stages are planning and research, design and prototyping, development and customization, testing and quality assurance, and finally, launch and maintenance. Each stage is crucial for a successful website.


Creating a WordPress website involves a detailed development cycle from project initiation to post-launch support. Each phase, from planning and design to data migration and development, ensures the site meets the client’s requirements and performs optimally. Rigorous quality assurance testing is crucial before the site goes live to catch any issues. A smooth launch and reliable post-launch support maintain the site’s security and performance. Partnering with a professional WordPress design team can provide invaluable expertise and ensure a successful project.

Posted on 24 June 2024

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