How to deploy your ideal WordPress install to make your development process quicker and easier

 

What is a cloned WordPress install bundle

The concept is simple. Rather than creating a basic WordPress install and having to monotonously install all the same plugins every time you  start a new web project, why not have a pre-rolled version of your ultimate WordPress install, fully loaded with your must have plugins, themes and modifications in one install package?

Why do you should create a cloned install bundle

This is an exercise in pure efficiency. Designed to save you hours, maybe days of repetitive work over the course of a year. While every website is different there are many requirements common to all. For instance security, conversion tracking, site speed and best SEO practices. We all have our favourite plugins that take care of most of these things for us. There may be particular themes you like to work with and setting up a child theme is a must for every WordPress site. Conversion tracking is an important factor in my projects so a thank you page template, ready to drop conversion tracking into is standard. My proposition is this, just do all the above once by creating your ideal install bundle and then reproduce that install for all future projects. Here’s how.

What you need

  • A new install of WordPress
  • Duplicator plugin by Snapcreek
  • Hosting environment
  • A new database installation.

 

Getting started

This article will presume you are comfortable creating WordPress websites from scratch. If this is not the case then please head over to wordpress.org and read their codex on How to Install WordPress.

So now you should have a WordPress install either running locally on your Mac / PC or setup on your hosting server environment. For the purpose of this exercise, lets call this Site A. Now go ahead and kit out Site A with all your must have plugins. Here is a list of some of our must have plugins that we start pretty much every project with:

Backup and Security

  • Wordfence
  • WordPress Backup to Dropbox

Lead Capture

  • Contact Form 7
  • Contact Form DB

Site Speed Optimisation

  • W3 Total Cache
  • WP Smush

 

On-Page SEO

  • Yoast SEO

Social

  • Fuse Social Floating Sidebar

 

Thank you page

Another thing I like to do for every build is to set up a thank you page ready to drop in conversion tracking code. Conversion tracking code is unique to every project so the code is added after each project is set up from the cloned bundle deployed. Once the thank you page is set up. I set up a redirect to said page when an enquiry is submitted to trigger conversion tracking. For more info see How to install google adwords conversion tracking on WordPress.

Your favourite WordPress themes

Don’t forget to install your favourite themes. It is considered best practice to set up a child theme from you main theme. A child theme inherits all the features and appearance of its parent theme. You can customise it without affecting the parent theme. This allows you to easily update the parent theme without worrying about losing your changes. For more info read How to Create a WordPress Child Theme.

Install Duplicator and Create Your Archive File

Dive back in to the plugin installer and install Duplicator. Duplicate is used to clone, backup, move and transfer an entire site from one location to another.
Once duplicator is installed navigate to the Duplicator plugin admin page and select ‘Create New’.


All setting in the Archive, Storage, Installer setup will be ok as they are. The installer will pick up and apply the required setting from the end hosting environment.

 


Now Duplicator will perform a scan to determine whether there are any issues with your WordPress install. If the scan identifies any problems you should take the recommended action to fix them. The goal is to have green lights across the board here. when complete, press ‘Build’. Duplicator will build a package and install file. Download both and archive locally in safe place on your PC. These files will be your master install files for all your future relevant WordPress projects.

 

Deploying  a cloned instance

Upload both the archive and installer file to the root of  your new hosting environment via ftp. Lets call this Site B. Now create a database via your hosting control panel. This process varies depending on the type of hosting you have. Refer to you hosting provider’s documentation on how to create  a database. Make a record of the database name, username and password. Allow all privileges.

Now, from your browser, type the url of your Site B, followed by /installer.php (ie. www.yoururl.co.uk/installer.php) in to the url bar. You will be directed to the following page:

The next few pages are quite self explanatory. Add your new database details and click on ‘test connection’ to see if everything is ok or not. In majority of the cases, your host would be localhost and the rest of the database detail will be from the database you just created. Choose ‘Run Deployment’. From the update page, the settings should already be set to your liking but you might want to go ahead and choose ‘Add New Admin Account’ to setup new WordPress login credentials. Make a note of these credentials. You will need them to log in to your new website admin. Now run the update.

 

The test screen informs you of the next steps which is to Save Permalinks, Test Site (for broken links mostly) and Security Cleanup. All which have to be performed manually. Just follow the instructions provided.

Check your website looks correct from the front end and that’s it. Next time will be a cinch. So that is how you setup, clone and deploy your ideal WordPress install to make your development process quicker and easier. What plugins would you add? What other mundane tasks could we include in the setup process. What have we missed out. Let us know in the comments below.

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