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10 Things You Should Do When Inheriting a WordPress Site

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10 Things You Should Do When Inheriting a WordPress Site

Are you a developer who just inherited a WordPress site? Inheriting an existing WordPress site comes with a lot of responsibilities. In this article, we will highlight 10 things you should do when inheriting a WordPress site.

1. Password Vault – Get All Access

Password Vault

When inheriting a WordPress site, the first thing you must do is gather all the username and password information. This includes your web hosting password, FTP password, CDN password, domain management password, password to all third party premium plugins, and basically anything else that you need.

From our experience, scheduling a skype call with the old developer works best because they can explain everything in details.

For developers working with multiple clients, our friend and expert WordPress consultant, Remkus De Vries, suggest that you create a Password Vault using 1Password or LastPass.

Both of those platforms allow you to securely store and organize passwords in groups. We use LastPass for our internal use.

2. Change All Admin Password and Emails

Once you have received all the passwords, it is best practice to change all of them. This ensures that the previous developer or site owner cannot modify anything.

Another thing you want to do is update all admin contact emails. According to Steve Mortiboy of SemperFi Web Designs, often people forget to change the admin email in WordPress settings page. By updating the contact details, it ensures that the correct person is getting all the important notifications.

3. Take Notes and Familiarize Yourself

Take Notes on your Current WordPress Theme

Before you make any changes to the site, it is important to take notes and familiarize yourself of the website. If you’re not familiar with WordPress, then we recommend that you watch our videos.

It is very important that you understand the importance and functionality of each plugin. It is also important to take note of the theme and the widgets you’re using.

4. Backup!!

Backup your Files

Before you start changing anything on the site, it is very important that you create a backup. This ensures that if anything breaks, you can easily revert back to the original version.

5. Update User Roles and Permissions

One of the first thing we do when inheriting a WordPress site is that we work with our clients to see which user needs what permissions. Our primary goal here is to limit the administrator user role to only those who really need it.

Depending on the site and needs, sometimes you may want to reset passwords for all users.

6. Run Security and Performance Scans

Since this is a new site, it is important that you run a security and performance scan. For security scans, we recommend using Sucuri. If you’re not familiar with the development, then you can also ask your web hosting company to run a security scans. A lot of them offer this as a free service when you ask for it.

For performance, Tim Carr, an expert WordPress consultant, recommend using Google Page Speed. It offers plenty of insights and recommendations.

It is also important that you check to see that caching is configured properly. If the site is not running a CDN, then you should consider adding that in (see why you should use CDN).

7. Check for Proper Tracking and SEO Integration

Often beginners add their Google Analytics tracking in their themes. It is best to move that into a site-specific plugin. If the site does not have any tracking turned on, then it is highly recommended that you setup Google Analytics.

It’s also important that you make sure that the site is properly submitted to Google Webmaster Tools. Make sure that your sitemaps are functioning properly, and they’re submitted to webmaster tools.

You should also make sure that the site has verified Google Authorship.

8. Implement Version Control

If you’re a developer, then it is highly recommended that you implement version control for the site. It is fairly easy to use GitHub or BitBucket. It is also recommended to create a staging site to ensure that you have a stable testing environment before pushing things live. Although this is recommended for all sites, it is a must if you’re working with a larger client.

For those who’re scared to set this up, then WPEngine a managed WordPress hosting provider offers a robust staging environment and git version control integration.

9. Spring Cleaning

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the project, it is best to clean out all the unnecessary things. Delete all inactive themes and plugins. Delete all user accounts that are not needed.

Login to your WordPress database and optimize the database. Some bad plugins leave their database tables even after they’re deleted. If you notice any of those, then it is best to delete them. Read this beginners guide to WordPress database management.

10. Improve, Improve, Improve

Communicate with the client and see how you can improve the site. Andrew Norcross, an expert WordPress consultant, suggest that you do a thorough code audit to see how you can improve. An easy way to do this would be to turn on debug mode and check for scripts and code all around.

We hope that this article offered some insights on what you should do when inheriting a WordPress site. Do you have tips and suggestions? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress lovers led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  • saymay

    Thanks,
    I’m about to takeover a site now and this is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I’ll probably have lots more questions to come!

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com/ WPBeginner Support

      Sure we would love to help out.

  • adolf witzeling

    Very helpful tips.

  • Connie

    This is really a good post. I never got any relevant info from former webmasters when taking over a wordpress installation (other projects as well)

    I use to write docs with all necessary info, and send them as PDF to the site owner and the new webmaster (if I have contact info)

    by that, you can always point to that info when questions arrive…
    whith this policy I earn money, as any help, where the info is in the doc, brings cash…

  • Penelope Cruz

    Very real usefull information about inherit WP websites.. I’ve had bad experiences. Tks a lot!

  • Conrad

    I would immediately generate new WordPress security keys, like you explained here: http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/what-why-and-hows-of-wordpress-security-keys/

  • RW

    Great post. The thing I notice most often are the obvious ones. Leaving wp version there for all to see, old version of wp and plugins, and as you suggested, having admin as the user name for admin. I also recommend scanning the theme for base64 code, links to external sites using TAC plugin.