Customization is a key value for web agencies that specialize in WordPress. Every client wants their website to speak to their unique needs perfectly.
Because of this, many WordPress agencies shy away from automation. The fear is that automation might prevent you from making a personal connection to your clients – for instance, by replacing carefully crafted web layouts with basic, bot-driven templates.
But that’s not what code automation is really about. With the right tools and strategies in place, you can deliver more value to your clients in less time. Modern website development workflows include tons of complex, repetitive steps that code automation can readily simplify.
It’s already a well-known fact that automated backups and security tools are valuable assets since users don’t always remember to use them. But there are some additional key areas where development automation can make a huge difference, and most web developers are missing out.
Read on and learn about some of the ways our white label WordPress agencies use code automation to deliver higher-quality websites to clients in shorter amounts of time. These tools will improve your efficiency, free up valuable development time, and mitigate the risk of human error affecting your websites.
Four Main Areas Where Code Automation Tools Can Help
The goal of automation is to optimize the development workflow. Tasks that require hours of repetitive labor can – and should – be automated to take up mere minutes.
This approach puts a premium on creative thinking, which is actually the primary value-contributing factor your work offers in the first place. You can leverage automated tools in four areas of web development to enjoy greater project efficiency:
- Automatic Image Optimization
- Social Media Automation
- WordPress Auto Deployment
- Theme Automation with Gulp
Let’s look at each one in turn, and see how modern automation tools can help web developers save time on repetitive low-impact tasks.
Automatic Image Optimization
We’ll start with an easy one. Image optimization is a must-have for any modern website. It ensures that your website loads quickly reduces the costs of server data storage, and improves your Google ranking.
The average online shopper expects pages to load in two seconds or less, and 40 percent of users will abandon a website that doesn’t load after three seconds. As a web developer, you have a clear incentive to optimize large images through resizing and compression.
This is especially true if your clients typically want image-heavy websites. Considering the trend towards illustrations in web design, you are probably spending a significant amount of time optimizing images for your clients.
This is a perfect example of a low-impact task (nobody will pay you based on the number of images you optimize) that is nonetheless important (nobody will visit a site with big, unwieldy images). Therefore it’s a perfect example of an excellent opportunity for automation.
If you want to get started with automatic image optimization, the EWWW Image Optimizer is a great tool to start with. It supports unlimited file sizes and features parallel optimization, eliminating time-consuming upload delays.
Social Media Automation
Another low-impact-but-necessary task that takes up a lot of developers’ time in social media posting. If you don’t use social media to drive traffic to your website and generate leads, you are letting lucrative business opportunities pass you by.
In our industry, it really doesn’t matter if you have 100 followers or 100,000 followers – what’s important is that you use social media to inspire trust in potential clients. Even if you focus on word-of-mouth references, it is overwhelmingly likely that your future clients are looking for your agency up on social media.
But posting regularly to even one social media platform takes time, diligence, and creativity. You can’t just share pictures of cats like everybody’s aunt does. You need to create content, which takes up even more time.
Thankfully, there are ways to lower the impact of social media marketing so you can focus more time on doing what your business is actually all about – developing websites.
For social media, tools like JetPack make sharing your blog posts across multiple social media accounts intuitive and easy. It lets you publish content directly from WordPress, eliminating the need to go back-and-forth between multiple platforms.
WordPress Auto Deployment
Updating the code on a client’s WordPress site can be stressful. You never quite know what you’re going to get.
Maybe the update finishes successfully and the website runs just fine. Maybe something goes wrong and page elements no longer load. Maybe you get the WordPress White Screen of Death and spend hours verifying themes and plug-ins for compatibility issues – not fun.
Automated WordPress deployment is a lifesaver for web developers and white label WordPress agencies alike. Investing in an automated tool for WordPress deployment lets you increase the level of communication and collaboration between your team and the people running your server.
You can use a tool like DeployBot to automate the deployment of WordPress updates from your git repository. Alternately, if you use Subversion or Mercurial for version control, you can use DeployHQ. The concept is the same, and the reward is well worth it.
Open-Ended Automation with Gulp
Gulp is a big deal in the world of WordPress automation. So far, we have only dealt with specific low-impact tasks that you can automate with purpose-built tools. Gulp is a full-fledged toolkit for automating a broad range of tasks.
If, after reading this article, you decide you only have room for one workflow automation tool, make it Gulp. It can handle anything from image optimization to Sass compilation; from CSS compression to browser reloading.
Gulp features a minimal API surface and is designed to favor coding over configuration. This makes it a robust, flexible platform for creating fast builds without writing intermediary files to disk – a perfect solution for any busy, agile web developer.
Here’s an example of how Gulp can help you save time creating website builds. Let’s say you spend a lot of time using Sass files to write CSS. You could have Gulp automatically compile and output CSS files every time you save a Sass file.
You could program Gulp to optimize every image in a particular folder and to output the resulting optimized image to a new, dedicated folder. This turns image optimization into a one-click, drag-and-drop affair.
Want to talk to an experienced white label WordPress agency about task management and automation techniques? We’re here for you!