Everyone makes mistakes. But what if we made just a few less?
As you embark on the journey that is website building on a CMS like WordPress, you are bound to run into a few roadblocks along the way. Especially if you are new to the process and unsure where to start.
You’re not alone and, in this case, you can learn from the mistakes of others and see what you can do to avoid the common pitfalls of WordPress.
Have you already made a mistake and are looking for a solution? Jump ahead to:
As the most popular and widely used CMS platform, there is a pretty high chance that any problem or mistake you make along the way was already made by someone else. Thanks to the previous WordPress mistake makers, you can learn the pitfalls they ran into, lessons they learned, and problems they had to solve
1. Picking a theme that doesn’t fit the brand
When it comes to choosing a WordPress theme, it’s easy to feel both delighted and overwhelmed. Or, if you go the route of “I simply don’t care what my site looks like,” you could choose and install a theme in less than five minutes.
Find a happy medium between deciding right away and spending hours scrolling through the options. When choosing a theme, ask yourself:
Does the theme convey the right message?
How does this theme look on mobile?
Does the theme come from a reliable source?
Is the goal of my blog reflected by the theme?
Yes, you can change your theme as often as you want. But this would be a mistake, too, especially with novice bloggers or site owners. Remember, there is no such thing as the perfect WordPress theme, but find one that checks off all of your “must-haves” and stick with it.
If you are unsure what elements your WordPress theme should have, check out our must-have web design elements of 2019.
2. Installing too many plugins
Similar to themes, there is a long list of WordPress plugins that can solve basically any problem you’d run into on the platform. In fact, there are over 50,000 plugins that you can install at the push of a button. While the right plugin can certainly make your website more appealing or enhance its SEO value, an excess of plugins can slow your site down or lead to a poor user experience.
Only install a plugin if it has an exact purpose. For example, will it add a contact form to your site to boost engagement or enhance your website’s security? If the answer is no, then maybe pass this one up for something that will be more useful. If you get a little too trigger-happy with your plugins, you can always choose to uninstall down the line.
3. Forgetting to backup your site
Have you had the thought “This site is still so new with barely any content. I’ll back it up later,” or “WordPress automatically backs up my data,” then you thought wrong.
This is one of the most crucial mistakes you can make as you use WordPress. Have you ever read one of those bone-chilling stories of bloggers and content creators who have to spend thousands of dollars to get their site up and running, all because they didn’t have a backup?
Don’t be one of these people. Scheduling and securing a backup can save you not only time and money, but also pain and suffering. Remember what I said about finding a plugin that is beneficial? There are plenty of free and premium WordPress backup plugins. All you have to do is type in “backup” in the search bar of the Plugins menu to be shown your options.
Choose one that has the features you want most and back up your site with confidence.
4. Using images that aren’t optimized
It isn’t easy to choose the best images for your website, but once you do, don’t forget that these images have SEO value that you need to capitalize on. They can also enhance the user experience of your site.
After you have chosen appropriate images for your website, make sure they matter. While they should be high-quality and relevant, they can also take up a lot of storage space and memory, in addition to slowing your site down.
Find the perfect balance between the quality of your images and the quantity of your images. No one likes visiting a website that is a giant block of text. But, they also don’t want to sit and wait more than five seconds for your site to load.
Make sure your images are relevant and connect with the user, while also choosing an appropriate size, format, dimension, file name, and alt text.
Tip: If you can, avoid stock images! Your audience will know you’re using an unoriginal image.
5. Not considering website security
As one of the largest CMS platforms to choose from, WordPress security is bound to have some holes. In addition to installing one of the many security plugins, there are other steps you can take to ensure your site doesn't fall victim to a cyber attack.
For starters, don’t use “admin” as your username. As the default username, it’s in your best interest to choose something that won’t be so easy for a hacker to guess. The same can be said for using a weak password. It’s best practice to choose a password that includes:
The change I’m about to save will look totally fine once it goes live. I definitely won’t have any issues.
Are these lies you tell yourself?
Whether you’re installing a new theme, plugin, widget, or doing any other kind of update, something could go wrong and result in you taking your site offline until it’s fixed. You could lose valuable traffic, affiliate income, advertisement clicks, conversions, and more.
To avoid this, consider using an experimental copy of your live site to test any and all changes on. This can be done by installing a plugin, which will replicate the most recent copy of your WordPress site before any new changes are saved, allowing you to freely experiment. Just type in “staging” into the search bar of the plugin directory to start testing these changes safely.
Learn from your mistakes
Or, don’t make mistakes at all! While that’s easier said than done, hopefully you can at the very least avoid these six mistakes as you build your WordPress website. Whether you’re new to the CMS or consider yourself an expert, you are bound to run into some potential roadblocks along the way.
Mara is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2. In her spare time, she's typically at the gym polishing off a run, reading a book from her overcrowded bookshelf, or right in the middle of a Netflix binge. Obsessions include the Chicago Cubs, Harry Potter, and all of the Italian food imaginable. (she/her/hers)