Let’s state the obvious, WordPress is popular:
- It represents 50-60% of the content management system (CMS) market worldwide.
- 22% of new sites in the United States use WordPress, as do 297,629 of the Alexa 1 million.
- Adopters of WordPress include Time, Spotify, TechCrunch, NBC, CNN, Fortune, and USA Today. [source]
Clearly businesses recognize that WordPress is an incredibly powerful platform. However, getting the most out of the environment means making it as simple to manage as possible. How can you make WP management more user-friendly? Here are 11 tips:
#1 – Get to know the admin panel
Every section of the WordPress admin interface has various features available – and you’ll find ones that will enhance your manageability. Many of these features are hidden by default. You can toggle their checkboxes using “Screen Options,” which you’ll usually find in the upper right corner of the page.
“This is a great way to either remove information that’s cluttering the display, or find options that you think should exist but can’t find (this is particularly true on the post edit page),” suggested Chris Honiball of SmallBusiness.com.
You’ll find especially critical options at the lower end of the navigation list – particularly the submenus of Appearance, Tools, and Settings. Getting a sense of the default system early will allow you to understand if the settings are adjusted, since some plugins add menu items to the navigation bar.
When new versions are released, become familiar with any additional features and changes, through WP news sites (see #11).
The safe way to approach a new release is not to simply install it but to create a sandbox environment so that you can see how any new menus operate. To test-run the new version, or any plugins or themes, install a new WordPress instance onto a local PHP/MySQL server or even a hidden subdomain of your live site.
#2 – Organize your categories and tags.
Understanding the proper use and finer points of categories and tags can feel a bit obtuse at the outset. Here is the basic idea:
Categories are for broadly setting your posts into different buckets or containers, similar to a table of contents. This organizational tool help readers locate the kind of content they are seeking. It’s a hierarchical model, with the possibility of subcategories.
Tags are for specifics of the posts. As opposed to the more general nature of categories, “[t]hink of these as your site’s index words,” advised WPBeginner. “They are the micro-data that you can use to micro-categorize your content.” These organizational elements do not have a hierarchy. Tags could be infinite, but businesses often limit themselves to 100-150 of them to better manage and contain content.
Meeting these guidelines will both make management easier and improve your SEO. It’s easiest to set them up before you start writing posts.
#3 – Shut off the comments
The conventional wisdom on blogs is that you want comments and to even ask for them at the end of your pieces; they’re seen as foundational to content in many scenarios. However, comments take time to moderate, and your time could be better spent continuing to produce new content, suggested Honiball.
To stop the comments, within your control panel, go to Settings > Discussion, remove the check for “Allow people to post comments,” and Save your changes.
#4 – Or… spam-sift your comments
Turning off comments may not be for you, since it can be an important way for your audience to interact with you. If that’s the case, you still don’t need to be facing everything the spambots throw your way.
To filter for spam, the most commonly recommended plugin is Akismet, which comes with WordPress by default and offers a “name your price” version. To get started, go to the Akismet plans page for a product key.
#5 – Automate your backups.
One way that you can waste a lot of time in management is preparing for horrible problems and doing damage control if and when they occur. Regular database and content backups are critical, but you also want them to be seamless. Create automated backups once a week at minimum. There are various options, but one especially highly rated one, UpDraftPlus (4.8 stars based on 2500+ ratings), lets you schedule backups to be saved to your server and another location, such as Dropbox.
#6 – Master debugging.
The concept of debugging might sound scary and esoteric, depending on your knowledge of code. However, as you start to understand the amount of control you can have over WordPress if you better understand its inner workings, you may find you want to look up error messages to try to fix them yourself. Respected places to discuss problems and get answers are WordPress Stack Exchange and the WordPress support forums – but you will find additional resources when searching your particular issue.
WP uses various programming languages, but the primary one is PHP. Like a person, if you really want to understand WordPress, learn its language. To wade into the subject, here is a relatively non-technical PHP-for-WordPress tutorial.
#7 – Take ownership of the media library.
Many WordPress blogs do not make great use of the media library. Do you ever reuse the same image at multiple points on your site? If so, it’s a good idea to edit the Caption, Alternative Text, and Description fields. That information is especially important for reused images since the data is in more than one place.
#8 – Get familiar with user roles.
Likely there are numerous people who will be working on your site. That means you want different levels of access – which is the concept behind user roles.
Within Users > All User > username, you can change anyone’s role in the Name area. The possibilities are:
Administrator: This top of the hierarchy is able to change or delete whatever they want, from the posts themselves to theme files.
Editor: Anyone assigned this role will be able to edit and publish posts, including those written by others. They can also reassign posts.
Author: Those with this role are able to edit and publish their own posts.
Contributor: This role is similar to an author but without publishing privileges. They can only edit and submit for approval by an editor or administrator.
Subscriber: This role is only able to make changes to their own profile but not the content. This largely blocked role is helpful if you want to send notifications widely using WordPress.
#9 – Use an SEO plugin.
WordPress has strong search engine optimization, and you can always approach your marketing with best practices such as consistent content publication (integrated social media and blogs) and keyword research for your site and competition. However, you should automate what you can with an SEO plugin. Yoast SEO (4.8 stars from 10,000+ ratings) is one popular option that takes care of various aspects of basic SEO, such as generating site maps, establishing metadata for each post, and creating tags for social platforms.
#10 – Remove clutter by switching to fullscreen mode.
The fullscreen button within the post editor is a great way to improve your focus when you’re working directly on editing or similar post administration. It’s actually called distraction-free writing mode and can be accessed via Shift + Alt + W or by clicking the button to the upper right of the post itself.
#11 – Get to know WordPress news sites.
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