How To Avoid These 12 Common Mistakes
How To Avoid These 12 Common WordPress Mistakes
WordPress is a great platform to build your website with. However, since it has a relatively low knowledge barrier to create a website, a lot of beginners make the same mistakes. In order to avoid frustration in the early stages of your web design career it’s important that you avoid these beginner mistakes.
Who Makes Mistakes?
Everyone make mistakes. Oscar Wilde says it very nicely: “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes”. Experience is a great teacher and everyone learns from their mistakes. However, it is much more efficient to learn from the mistakes of others.
This post will showcase the twelve most common WordPress mistakes you’ll want to avoid, so you can have a beautiful functioning site, instead of one that screams amateur!
1. Not Creating a WordPress Backup
It is only when we need a backup and don’t have one that we realise the importance of them. We advise all WordPress website owners to create backups, including your database.
There are different ways to create backups – via your control panel backing up all the site files and database, or via a backup plugin, that you will be able to control in the admin section of your WordPress website.
2. Ignoring WordPress Updates
At one time or another, we have all been afraid of updates. Sometimes, we simply forget to upgrade sites that we own because we are not managing it properly. This can come back to bite you big time if there was a security vulnerability, and your site gets hacked.
The longer you wait to update your website, the harder it becomes. Upgrading your plugins from version 1.1 to version 4.6.9 will likely cause issues elsewhere on your site.
Upgrading from one version to the next is not very hard. 9.9/10 times, it simply takes one click. If your theme and plugins are coded properly, then your site will work. But again, its always good to have backups.
3. Too Many Categories
WordPress makes it really easy for users to create categories. Often this is the reason why people get carried away and create categories for just about every post. We have all been down this path before only to learn and change everything to add proper structure to our sites.
Too many different categories is an easy way to complicate the navigation around your site, on the front and in the admin section.
4. Not Setting Up Your Permalinks
For the longest time, people would simply use the default URL structure: /?p=23. Not only is this bad for SEO, but it is bad for users as well. When installing WordPress, make sure you update your permalinks structure by going to Settings » Permalinks. We tend to go with the post structure. This makes the url the page title that you choose, making it much more influential for SEO purposes.
5. Ignoring SEO Settings
On the initial install of WordPress, you are given the option to ‘prevent search engines from indexing your site’. This can be a useful feature whilst developing your website, however, once the site is ready, it is often not turned back on, meaning the site doesn’t get indexed.
6. Not Installing an SEO plugin
WordPress is a great platform for SEO straight off the bat, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be better! Page titles and meta descriptions are automatically generated from the page content, however to customise these you will need a plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast.
A plugin like this will also allow you to monitor the SEO of the page as well as creating a sitemap automatically that you can then upload to webmaster tools.
7. Not Having a Contact Form
At one time or another, we have all created contact page and simply listed our emails there. This might seem like a simple solution, until you start getting hit with spam. A contact form allows filtering of real people and bots that want to send you often malicious mail via the use of a captcha box.
There are hundreds of different contact form plugins that you can choose from, but the one that we recommend for a simple contact form is contact form 7.
8. Not Installing Analytics
Google Analytics gives you tons of information all about your website and the visitor metrics that go along with it, allowing you to see the area that can be improved and worked upon, as well as giving you a monitoring platform to view how any previous changes have worked.
We also recommend signing up to use Google webmaster tools (now called search console) as well, for more in depth understanding of how your SEO is performing.
9. Just Another Blog Tagline
WordPress by default adds a tagline “Just Another Blog” to every WordPress install. Often beginners don’t know about it, so they don’t change it until they realize it is being indexed in Google. You can change the tag line by going to Settings » General.
10. Failing to Moderate Comments
Often when developers setup sites for small businesses, they fail to provide proper training. This results in their clients not knowing how to manage their WordPress sites. By the time they realize, they have a tons of work to do. You can disable comments in the settings » discussion for new pages or posts. Alternatively, if you choose ‘quick edit’ on the post or page you want to remove comments from you will see a checkbox to disable pings and comments.
Comments can be a great feature, however there will be a lot of monitoring that will be needed to weed through the amount of spam that will be sent along with the genuine comments from your readers.
11. Not Saving Images for the Web
When fist designing a website, there is not much time spent on acknowledging the size of images that you upload. Images straight from a digital camera are often unnecessarily huge (at least for web use). A few of these will start to grind down on the speed of your page load and quickly use up storage space.
The more experienced the user the more we realise that these images can be optimised to speed up page load (a factor is SEO rankings) and save on space. ‘Save for web’ in Photoshop applications is a great resource, often more than halving image memory size without altering the quality of the image. There are other free tools that you can find on the web that will do the same job GIMP (free software) and JPEG mini being two options.
12. Ignoring Security
Many WordPress users don’t really consider the security of their websites until they get hacked. (Similar to backups!).
We install Wordfence plugin on our sites, to monitor suspicious website visits and even block certain ip addresses. We also recommend a 2 factor authentication login to prevent brute force attacks, along with keeping multiple backups.
We hope this post answered some of your questions, and will help you on the road to making a great WordPress website! If you have any other suggestions for a ‘How To’ with WordPress blog, or if you think we are missing a common WordPress mistake, please let us know by filling in the web form underneath.