WordPress is not an umbrella technology used by the entire web – but it is pretty close. It underscores 29.0% of all sites assessed in the continually updated Web Technology Surveys market-share data.
As a tool, WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that simplifies website management. Although a CMS is fundamentally centered on content, functionality of the site is expanded through plugins, and design of the site is adjusted through the choice of site theme.
This platform is an extremely dominant brand within the CMS market, holding an incredibly 59.8% of the market share. CBS Local, CNN, NBC, the New York Post, TechCrunch, TIME, TED, and many other sites use WordPress to deliver their message and updates to their audience.
The fact that many people use WordPress also means that many mistakes are made by organizations as they are using the technology to build their sites. Here are 9 of the most common errors companies have made, presented here so that you can avoid them yourself:
#1 – Plugin overload
WordPress is often discussed in terms of its extraordinary flexibility – certainly at the level of its open source code but also at the simple level of quickly enhancing your functionality with plugins. As of this writing, there are 53,033 plugins. Since there are so many of these optional add-on programs, it can be easy to get excited and install many of them that are unnecessary. Here are three basic issues with excessive plugins:
- Each of them is a security risk that may not be updated as often as you’d like;
- Generally loading plugins will mean that your site is less lean and fast; and
- When you update to a new release of WordPress, plugins can cause your site to break (which is why you need to back up before updating) – so the fewer of them, the better.
#2 – Retention of unused plugins
Get rid of plugins that you are not using, and verify that the plugin files are removed from your server. Plugins that a site is not actively using are an unguarded gate: if you are not using them, you probably are not updating them, so security holes arise.
#3 – Not backing up the site
We all have the to-do list items that we “backburner.” Do not let site backup be one of those backburner items.
WordPress developer Nathan Ello frames backup as insurance for web presence; and that is essentially what it is. It is unpleasant and may feel even a bit paranoid to consider the worst-case scenarios – but it is due-diligence that is essential to protection. If you do not have a backup and have not paid for your hosting, the files for your site will be at risk of disappearing (although treatment of these situations is better through more customer-centric hosts).
Beyond what is provided for backup through your arrangement with your host, you can also use a plugin such as BackupBuddy. BackupBuddy is the DIY option, effectively; all support and management could also be handled externally through your host. High-quality backup solutions are readily available to meet this need if you want to leverage the expertise of a specialized third party.
#4 – Thinking a child theme is unprofessional
When you first hear the idea of a child theme, it may sound like a look that is designed in a manner that is so incomprehensible, it must be separately explained to each person who views it: “No – that’s a horse. It’s a submarine!”
To understand child themes in context, WordPress sites use themes for the design. Themes are templates for the site – basically pieces of software that are added to the core WordPress code to make your site look and function in a particular way (still with full access to the open source code). The advantage of themes generally is that they allow you to make your site aesthetically pleasing without having to do anything at the level of the code to install and start using them.
While having access to themes is great, you will almost inevitably reach a point at which you want to customize to really make the site your own. Typically a person will hire a third party to make adjustments to their theme.
Once you have modified a them, you may feel all is well; but in the absence of a child theme, disaster is lurking. In that situation, when a new version of the theme comes out and populates as a Theme Update button within the admin portal, if you do not perform a backup prior to updating, you will “pave over” any tweaks that your paid developer made. That means if any part of your site has been changed by a developer to better suit you specifically, that code may be gone forever. At the very least, it may be missing until you can get it replaced by the coder – during which time your site will look prehistoric in comparison to its status prior to the update.
#5 – Failure to update to the latest WP version
You must be concerned about backing up before you update, yes. However, you MUST update. Updates are better for the speed of your site. They will make it function better, fully supporting all the latest versions of plugins and themes. Most importantly, though, the newest version of the WordPress core code will have all the latest security patches. Set up auto-updates or get management assistance if needed; both of these options are far better than neglecting to update, especially since old versions are such a common vulnerability exploited by hackers.
#6 – Skipping important aspects of customization
Customization is often incomplete or sloppy. Here are elements that often do not get enough attention, according to Laura Buckler in Torque:
- Favicon – On your web browser, you will see a very small icon right next to the title of the page. The favicon is a powerful way to improve your branding. Try your logo or a modified version of it.
- Permalinks – Every WordPress site has permalinks to systematize the URLs of pages and posts. Changing from the default structure will be helpful for your search engine presence; this tactic will also help reach on social platforms.
- Administration – When you install WordPress, you may want to get it up and running immediately. However, it is not secure in the sense that it contains default credentials. Beyond the risk of data compromise, you also do not want to be responding to comments with the nondescript, unbranded username “admin.”
- Tagline – Your elevator pitch or slogan is your tagline. Out of the box, the tagline for every WP installation is, “Just Another Blog.” The description is not exactly enticing and says more about lack of customization than anything else.
#7 – Category overload
Just like plugin overload is an issue, you can also end up with far too many categories. You want the categories to simply organize your primary topics.
Hierarchize this aspect: you should have categories and subcategories. Allow the categories to define the scope of content at the level of origination; a piece topic simply must fit within one of the categories or subcategories to be viable.
#8 – Overlooking infrastructure
Infrastructure, the “back end” of your site, is often overlooked. Consider this: speed is not only fundamental to engagement but has been a search ranking factor for almost a decade. The performance delivered by the hardware that actually responds to requests from users will be key in determining how strong the user experience is.
Beyond the equipment itself, you also may need help along the way. According to people who have used our high-performance services at Total Server Solutions, we are knowledgeable and quick to respond to support issues. See our testimonials.