Have you ever faced an issue that could be avoided by timely advice or enough experience? Yep, most of the mistakes and errors depend on you, your attention and curiosity. Remember how many times you thought ‘if only I did/didn’t/knew that…’. Wide experience and professional advice can save you lots of time and efforts in any business.
Being successful team of WordPress themes’ developers, we want to share our experience with you. Use the recommendations on how to avoid or fix WordPress mistakes and they’ll help you to save both nerves and money.
This post will definitely be useful for newbies at WordPress - the forerunners’ experience is always an advantage. And in case you’re professional at WordPress, don’t hurry to click the close button at once - even experts may lose a knack sometimes. Moreover we’re always ready for discussion and cooperation, so you may contact us with any suggestions.
So, not to tire you with chatter, let’s proceed to the useful tips.
Ignoring WordPress Updates
Usually users are afraid to update the WordPress in order not to break the existing live site or simply forget to do that. But the longer you wait, the harder it is to upgrade. Normally it takes only one click to get the fresh version of WordPress installed. Theme developers also keep up with the updates to make their themes fully compatible and not to harm the customers. So you may contact them in case anything will be wrong with your site after the modifications.
The fresher WP version you have, the more benefits you get. The newest WP updates contain bugs and vulnerabilities fixes, optimizations, feature enhancements, etc. to make sure everything will be fine with your sites.
You’ll receive the notifications to update the WordPress in the admin area any time the it is released. Don’t ignore them. Unless you want your site to be damaged. They may save you a great amount of time and efforts.
No Backup Files
Creating backup is as much important as WordPress update. One can never know when something may go wrong. It may be hacker attack, pirate plugin installation, wrong file modification, etc, that can damage our site.
You may set and schedule regular backups using plugins like the following ones - VaultPress, BackupBuddy from iThemes, BackWPUp. It’s just a precaution for you to be sure you may always go back and have all the site data safely recovered. You may also make copies of backup files and save them in some Cloud storage, to have some kind of a double backup for even more security.
Notice, that backup saves only the site data. We would also recommend to import the options, just in case. Also, if you’ve modified the code of the theme, make sure that you have the copies of all those files .
Using Weak Username & Password
One more important safety precaution is creating strong access details to your admin area.
While WordPress installation ‘admin’ is the default username. Leaving it with no changes is a huge mistake of any user. It creates a great loophole for hacker attacks. Trespassers will thank you for leaving ‘admin’ username and thereby making the half job done for them. In a series of attacks they’ll be able to guess the password and enter your site. After that it’ll be really easy to steal the clients base, payment details, and other information. As you see, it’s more safe and reasonable to change the default username to something more specific and hard to guess.
Regarding the password, we would recommend you to create strong passwords containing uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. This may seem an obvious thing, but as far as the WordPress accounts can be hacked, it means not everyone is paying much attention to their security.
We wouldn’t recommend you to use simple passwords as ‘password’, ‘123456’, ‘your_site_name’, etc, as they are easily hacked. You may check the Worst passwords list to make sure you won’t make a mistake.
Using Improper Web Hosting
Don’t try to save some money on extra cheap hostings. If you’re building a powerful site with lots of advanced functions and extra plugins, make sure your host will handle that.
Cheap hostings often are more vulnerable to the hacker attacks, have limits on files uploading size, provide no support, etc. Gather some more information and reviews about the company you’re going to cooperate with. Make sure you’ll get proper support in case of any server errors occur. Think twice before you stick to a certain provider.
Testing On A Live Site
We would strongly recommend you to have a copy of your live site on a local server as a testing lab. You may think it’s unnecessary waste of time and efforts but trust us, that’s not. You may always see how the modifications will affect your site, test new plugin, font, file changes, etc. Also, you may prepare total style change and see what design will look and work better.
One more advantage of a local testing site is that you won’t lose traffic in case anything goes wrong after plugin installation or update. You may also use child theme to be sure all modifications will path smoothly.
You may check more information about local hosts on the WordPress site.
Installing To 'wordpress' Folder
That seems to be logical to name the folder ‘wordpress’, but your site URL will look nicely if you don’t do that.
While surfing the internet, you’ve probably seen such a URL - www.sitename.com/wordpress. However, we’ve all used to see more pretty URLs, like www.sitename.com. That weird link means that someone installed WordPress to the ‘wordpress’ folder. You have to name the folder ‘www’ with WordPress installed. That will help to create pretty links.
However, you may name a new installation folder differently, when you want to create a WordPress blog together with a non-wordpress business website. So you may call the folder ‘blog’ or ‘news’ that will be definitely better than ‘wordpress’ and the URL will look this way - www.sitename.com/blog (or www.sitename.com/news).
Using Default Permalinks
One more URL connected mistake is using unfriendly permalinks structure.
To make it more clear, permalinks - are the structure of the site URLs. We’ve got used to see something like this in the address panel - www.sitename.com/blog/post-name/. That is pretty permalink structure. It’s good for both SEO and usability.
The default permalinks are not SEO-friendly and look like this - www.sitename.com/?p=628. Doesn’t look nice, does it?
You may change their structure in Settings -> Permalinks -> and select not default structure (one, that’ll suit your site better). It may be date with postname, category with postname or single postname. Be careful with postname structure - make sure your posts and pages won’t have the same name in order to avoid the 404 error.
Using Default Favicon
Favicon is just a tiny 16x16px image on the left of the browser’s tab. It’s small, but still important - it’s a part of your site style, branding.
You may use the default favicon from the hosting provider, but we’d recommend you to spend a little time and create your own.
You may search for free favicon generators (like Favicon & App Icon Generator, Favicon Generator and Gallery, favicon.ico Generator, Real Favicon Generator, etc.), create the favicon and simply upload it to your site.
No Responsive Mode
How often do you use mobile devices to surf the Internet? And how do you think the others do? More than a half of all Internet users prefer smartphones or tablets, according to the Smart Insights post. This means that website owners have to be really attentive to the responsive mode.
Make your visitors feel comfortable at your website and they’ll come over and over again. You may use WordPress theme that is responsible by its own. Great, that most of them contain such an option. Or you may try special plugins like WPtouch, WP Mobile Detector, etc.
You may spend some more time on the site customization and configuration, but the effect will be noticeable. Check what are the most popular screen resolutions on W3Counter website to see how the wind blows.
Pirated/Defective Themes And Plugins
Probably every selling WordPress theme has a free copy on a shared resources. However, you have to be careful uploading such ‘free’ files - one never knows what’s inside. Usually there are nasty malicious ads that pop up on the download buttons, or some harmful code added to the theme on those resources. Hackers may inject some kind of a ‘backdoor’ to enter your site later and damage or steal any information from it.
Together with that, free pirated themes are usually of the first released version, what means they may contain some bugs and incompatibilities. Moreover, you won’t get any support in case any difficulties appear. Also you may not update the theme to the latest version as far as your purchase cannot be verified at the developers.
There is also a moral issue. Just put yourself in the developers’ shoes. Imagine you’ve worked thousands hours and put all your soul to present really worthy product and now someone has stolen it from you and uses for bad intentions. None would like that feeling.
When you look a bit closer, paid themes really cost their price - they include various features, premium plugins and support. And $47 or $58 for one theme appears not to be too much. However there are really free themes with no harmful codes and hackers tricks. You may find them on trusted WordPress marketplaces (like Themeforest, Mojo Themes, Creative Market, WP Eden, ThemeSnap, etc.) and use them with a clear consciousness.
Too Many Plugins
You may use some extra plugins to enlarge your site possibilities, but make sure your theme and provider will handle that. Overloading server with lots of requests may cause internal server error and your site will be shut down for some time. That won’t be beneficial for any live project, as you may guess.
Plugin conflicts may also appear. Sometimes two plugins cannot work together, they just break all your site. The same issue may happen due to the theme and plugin conflict. So before you purchase a theme or a plugin, you’d better contact the developers and ask whether the theme will work fine with a certain plugin.
So, always pay attention to the plugins you’re uploading, think thoroughly whether you really need all of them, and delete plugin if you’re no longer using it.
Not Using SEO
In case you want to have an effective web site, SEO is an important part of its developing. You will get more visitors as soon as the site will be high rated in the search. And the visitors will trigger the site popularity or buy the products/services (what is really the purpose of the web projects).
Search engine optimized traffic will definitely help you to promote your site and increase sales. There are some free steps you can do at the beginning (like permalinks optimization, keywords usage, etc.), but don’t underestimate the convenience of special plugins like SEO by Yoast, All in one SEO pack, Easy WP SEO etc.
Ignoring Caching Plugins
To make your site work faster and load pages in a blink of an eye, we’d recommend you to use caching plugins. In case your site contains lots of information, scripts and styles, it’ll work more effective with plugins like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
Any time the page is loaded, the request won’t be directed to the server, but the plugin will display a cached copy of the page. That will affect positively the speed, what in its turn will help to decrease the bounce rate.
Not Optimized Images
One more common mistake is paying no attention to images. That only enlarges the site loading speed and influences badly the site rating.
Imagine, you have 600x350px image in a blog post, that has 3000x1800px original size. It takes extra storage space on server and needs more time on it’s compression while page loading. There’s really no need to upload such a big images unless you’re using them for a background or as a full width images on retina displays.
Also pay attention to the images format you’re using. Png is good for vector graphics and CGI, progressive jpeg is better for photos and images with lots of colors. Use image optimization plugins and tools, like WP Smush.it or EWWW Image Optimizer and take care of your graphics.
No Attention To Analytics
In case you’re working on your site enhancement, traffic increasing and SEO, you’ll definitely need some tool to monitor all the situation.
You have to be able to check and analyse the visitors number, bounce rate, countries with most frequent visits, advertisement efficiency, and much more. Good site includes not only elaborated code, but also powerful management and promotion. You may use numerous of Analytics plugins like Google Analytics by Yoast, Clicky Analytics, SkyStats Analytics Dashboard etc.
However, be aware of getting addicted to checking the site every single minute. Better concentrate on the improvements and watch the results couple times a week to see the dynamics, instead of losing the head in calculations with no practical implementations.
No Contact Form
If you’re working on a Blog (or any other site), make sure that your visitors can freely contact you and ask questions or suggest anything.
Make the site more open and friendly - that’s always pleasant to know the person behind the posts. Add more humanness and personalize the site to make it stand out on the web. After all, your visitors may have useful offers for you and your site. Don’t lose the chance to get something more.
You may use one of the following plugins to create contact forms - Contact Form 7, one from the Jetpack by WordPress.com, Ninja Forms etc.
Too Many Categories
Tough there is an option to categorize all your content in WordPress, keep calm and not overdo with that.
There’s no need to create too much complicated and versatile categories, just limit yourself with up to 5-10 items and stick hard to them. This will make your site easier to navigate for your visitors and they are more likely to stay on it. What, in its turn will influence positively on your site attendance.
Forgetting About The Samples
Right after the WordPress installation some demo content will be created. That is Sample page, Demo Post (Hello World!), Comment and Category. As far as you won’t be using them (and you won’t), there’s no need to leave them at your site. Also, there is standard subtitle ‘Just another WordPress site’ in the header of your site. You may change it in your admin area Settings > General. You have to do these changes before your site will be indexed to the search engines.
There are a lot of people who forget (or simply don’t want) to do so, that’s why there are lots of similar content all over the web. All this causes poorer ratings of your site by the search engines, and indicates low professionalism.
It’s never too late to remind about security.
Hope, you’ve already made up your mind to create backups and their copies every couple of days, changed the username and password and crossed your heart to upload themes and plugins only from a trusted resources, there’s one more useful thing left.
It is a security plugin. It’ll give you extra protection from attacks and preserve site data. Upload the one you like more and set it properly for extra safety. You may choose any from the following - Wordfence Security, iThemes Security, All In One WP Security & Firewall, BulletProof Security, etc.
As you’ve read till the very end, you know how to struggle against the most popular and commonly made mistakes while WordPress site managing. It needs just a little time and planning to do everything properly and enjoy correct site functioning.
Hope, this post was helpful for you. Have you worked out any of these points? Have you faced any other common mistakes while working with WordPress?
Share your ideas and tell us your opinion in the comments.
While writing this article the materials from the following web sites were used: Wpexplorer, Wpbeginner and Jeffbullas.