People opt for WordPress because it is fast and easy to set up. In just a few clicks, you have a fully functional website or ecommerce store up and running within minutes. In the haste to push ideas off the drawing board, many people forget that WordPress is not very tolerant of basic mistakes. These common WordPress mistakes undo all the benefits of the CMS and drag down the entire project.
In this article, I will discuss some of the most common WordPress mistakes and how you could prevent them from ruining your project.
Unsuitable Hosting Platform
A WordPress website is as good as the hosting solution that powers it. Using an unsuitable host is the number one mistake that people make when they opt for WordPress. Ideally, you should have a fair idea of the type of hosting that best suits the needs of your WordPress website. WordPress hosting comes in many configurations, each with its pros and cons.
In many cases, first-time WordPress users do not have the necessary skills for managing servers. This is why these users could benefit from managed WordPress hosting. These hosting providers take care of all the server management issues.
There Is No Cache Plugin
A cache plugin is an essential requirement for a WordPress website. In many cases, a cache plugin maintains a copy of the pages of the website so that the pages load up almost immediately for the users.
When selecting a cache plugin for the WordPress website, you should compare the cost of the plugin with the benefits it offers. I strongly recommend Breeze WordPress Cache plugin, as it offers the best mix of cost (it’s free) and benefits.
You Don’t Have a CDN
Given the hype about the speed of WordPress, first-time users often complain about the slow speed of their websites. A great way of speeding up these websites is Content Delivery Network (CDN).
A CDN stores static parts of your WordPress website on a globally distributed network of servers. When a visitor requests a page, the static part of the page is served from the CDN’ server instead of the original server. This reduces page load time for the users who have situated far away from the original server that hosts your WordPress website.
You Have Not Done Stress-Test
In real life, traffic places a lot of load on the resources of your WordPress website. Untested websites often fail almost as soon as the traffic mounts up.
Once you have a cache plugin and CDN in place, you should stress test your website to ensure that it is ready for the real world traffic. There are a number of tools that test your website by simulating the load on the resources of the website. Check the results and rectify the issues.
You Use “admin” as the Default Username
Let me guess, you still have “admin” as a user (in worse cases, it is the default user) on your WordPress website. If this is the case, you are a ripe target for a security breach.
WordPress creates the username ‘admin’ by default that you need to change ASAP. You can change it from WordPress Dashboard by creating a new user and assigning it the role of Administrator.
You Forget to Backup
Developing your WordPress website without regular backups is like jumping from a plane without a parachute — only Captain America can do that! I guess you are not him, so please make a habit of regularly backing up your site, or you will lose everything on your website in a moment.
Now the deal with regular backups is that you need to be punctual about the whole process. If you do not have time for this, a good solution is a managed hosting provider that takes care of the backup process for you. You can also use WordPress backup plugins that backup your website automatically on a regular basis.
You Are Using an Older Version
WordPress receives regular updates that add new features and plugin security loopholes. Many users install the CMS and then forget to update. This leaves the website wide open for hackers. You should always update as soon as a new version is released by the WordPress team. Remember that updates do not damage your website and do not overwrite your custom settings and configurations.
You Don’t Have Responsive Design
Mobile devices are fast becoming the most common way of accessing WordPress websites. This is why your website should be readable on all screen sizes. Obviously, you could not create versions of your website that target different screen sizes. What you could do is to have a responsive design on your website. This way, your website will look good on all screen sizes and Google will give it a high position in SERP.
You Download Themes from Anywhere
Another common WordPress mistake is thinking that FREE means good. This is why users download free themes without considering the consequences. Free themes are an important reason why new WordPress websites go down. Since these themes are free, they come without support or any assurances about the quality of code. In worst cases, these themes contain malicious code with backdoors that hackers could exploit. Always opt for quality premium themes from reputable marketplaces such as ThemeForest and Envato.
Plugins, Plugins, Plugins
As an administrator of your site, you can install plugins on your WordPress website. Thanks to its community, WordPress offers a whole lot of plugins for every use case that you could think of.
Too many plugins, however, slow down your website to a crawl. In worst cases, plugins conflict with each other or with the WordPress core and cause hard-to-track issues.
Before downloading a plugin, always think about it cost in term of website speed. If you could make do without it, it is always best not to download and install the plugin.
Images look cool but come at a high cost. First-timers often upload huge images without thinking about the users who experience slow loading pages because of the large size of the images. You should always optimize the images through a good image optimization plugin like WP Smush.it
You Have Too Many Categories and Few Tags
WordPress allows you to create categories and tags easily. This may help to group articles for easy access. However, people get carried away and create too many categories. On top of this, they do not use tags enough. This hurts the website usability and its position in Google search results.
You Forget to Install Google Analytics
Most WordPress users do not install Google Analytics after installing WordPress. Maybe you think JetPack is enough, but trust me, you do need that extra data.
Google Analytics analyzes your traffic, offers insights into the visitor behavior and help you create better content.
You Have Blocked Search Engine Indexing
A website that doesn’t show up in search engine results simply does not exist for the visitors. This is why, by default, WordPress allows search engines to index the pages of the website. However, developers often disable this feature to prevent half-finished pages from appearing in the SERP. The problem arises when this functionality remains disabled even when the work is over.
If the traffic drops on your website or you do not see your pages in Google’s SERP, check if the indexing is disabled. If it is, turn it on ASAP.
You Don’t Have a Contact Form
The contact form is an integral part of your website. But many users put a bullet in the foot by not offering a contact form on their contact page.
Many people just offer emails and maybe a phone number and forget to put a complete contact form. Remember that contact forms will not go out of fashion because they offer a simple and easy way of setting up a channel through which the visitors could contact the website administrator. Contact Form 7 is the best-known plugin for WordPress.
Building a website is a bit like building a house. Once you have created your site, you have to put yourself in the visitors’ shoes to see if the navigation is easy. Similarly, ensure that you have plugged the above-mentioned loopholes on your WordPress website.