9 WordPress Tips from the Experts (If You’re a Beginner)

Mara Calvello
Mara Calvello  |  April 24, 2019

Interested in creating a WordPress site, but not sure where to start?

You’re not alone, especially when you consider how much there is to know about website building and setting up a WordPress site. How do you know you’re going about things the right way?

That’s where the experts come in. Check out what they had to say about how to use WordPress, what not to do, and what they have learned along the way.

Tips on how to use WordPress

From the right theme to adding widgets and installing plugins, a lot goes into the perfect WordPress site. If you’re new to the platform and could use some tips and advice before you dive in, this advice from the experts is bound to come in handy!

Choose the right theme

“The best advice I have for beginners is to choose your theme wisely. Most beginners either choose a free theme or a theme based solely on its appearance. Beginners should be installing WordPress themes based on a multitude of factors such as the content features, the ability to use any plugin available, responsiveness, compatibility with all browsers, translation and multilingual options, includes a page builder, can be optimized for SEO, has excellent reliable reviews, the average theme's speed, and most importantly the frequency with which the theme is updated.

When I built my first personal website, I chose a theme based on appearance, only to find out the company messed up the theme on the last release and I could no longer update my website. They then went out of business and I was stuck having to completely rebuild my website. This is not uncommon. I have received several calls from website owners that can no longer update their website or have broken items because the theme was never updated or was updated and then abandoned. They either need to rebuild the website or pay a developer to take over the theme. Either option is a cost of time or a cost of money.”

- Jessica Rhodes, owner of Create IT Web Designs

Take advantage of widgets

“Never underestimate the power of widgets! Your blog's sidebar is a great place to promote your Instagram feed, YouTube playlists, or recent posts. Widgets allow you to customize this space in a variety of ways. You can also add widgets to your blog's header and footer, but available widgets will vary depending on your selected theme.

To start experimenting, first make sure your theme supports the use of widgets. Then, go to the Widgets section in the WordPress dashboard under Appearance. This section allows you to create widgets that only populate on certain blog categories or pages throughout your site, so you can target the most relevant information for your readers.”

- Jessica Dais, Content Manager at TakeLessons Live

Choose high-resolution and powerful images

“New smartphones, laptops, and tablets are now being optimized to display high-resolution photos that display unblurred, crystal-clear images.

Blurred and pixelated pictures don't satisfy the viewer. If you're investing in your website and you haven't considered the photos, then both the effort and the money you've invested in making the site worthwhile won't yield the expected success.

In WordPress there are three types of photo formats you can use: JPG, PNG, and GIF. Compressing the photos before uploading them to WordPress is best to avoid slowing down your site. Make sure your photos are properly formatted and don't have a lack of detail when compressed. Visuals are very important on every kind of website, so remember to check if your published photos are up to standard.”

- Dewayne Hamilton, Director at Web Cosmo Forums 

Related: Learn how to choose the best image for your website.

Create content for your users

“Stick with the main and the plain until you have mastered those. What I mean by that is to master keyword research, providing great content, and providing a great user experience.

When I first started out, I wrote some great content. However, it was content that nobody was searching for. Find out what your customer base wants information on. Similarly, learn to help the search engines understand what your content is by implementing on-page SEO.”

- Duke Taber, Owner and Managing Editor of Easy Church Tech

Take security up a notch

“To enhance the security of your WordPress website, set a limit for the number of login attempts.

By default, WordPress provides unlimited login attempts to log in to a WordPress based website. This can allow everyone to try and guess your login details. And, since every site have the same login link (www.websitename.com/wp-admin), you need to control this by using a WordPress plugin. There are many plugins available in WordPress that allow you to control or set login limit attempts.”

- Tusshar Aggarwal, Founder of Digi Elephant

Consider your site’s structure

“The one thing I've learned with my time as a WordPress developer is that you should critically evaluate how you structure your site. The one rule I learned was to analyze what a plugin should be and what should be included within the theme.

Too many developers don't like running a lot of plugins, and instead bundle everything in a theme. This can lead to problems such as should you ever wish to change theme, or change functionality. A good rule of thumb should be that if you ever change your theme, would you want that functionality to remain? If the answer is yes, then that function should be a plugin.

Too many people fall into the trap of not running many plugins. Instead, they have functionality within a theme, meaning changing functionality becomes incredibly difficult. Plugins should do one or two things incredibly well, and themes should compliment plugins with design.”

- Rhys Wynne, Director at Winwar Media

Learn to code

“I have been using WordPress for around 12 years and in this time I have seen every mistake imaginable and have a handful of tips I recommend to newcomers to the CMS.

For instance, invest some time in picking up the basics of CSS. You don't need to become an expert, but have an understanding of the fundamentals and how you can make slight tweaks and adjustments using cascading style sheets will make a big difference in how you use WordPress.”

- David Alexander, Designer, Developer, and Digital Marketer at Mazepress

Related: Just in case you weren’t already convinced, find out even more reasons why you should learn to code.

Don’t overload your site with plugins

“Don’t get carried away with plugins!

The enormous range of plugins for WordPress makes it easy to add all kinds of functionality to a website. However, what I see beginners do time and time again is go over the top with these plugins, not realizing that they can clutter and slow down a site. It’s best to choose plugins quite ruthlessly, aiming to keep the site ‘lean and mean’. With Google using site speed as a ranking factor, sites bloated with plugins can have problems climbing the search results.”

- Ben Taylor, Founder of Home Working Club

Test changes on a development site

“At our agency, not only do we personally use WordPress for our company site, but it’s our most recommended CMS of choice when we do website redesign projects for our clients. Over the years, there have been many things I have learned about WordPress; one of the biggest tips I have is that it’s always best to try and test things on a development site before implementing it on your live site. A development site is pretty much a carbon copy of your website that can live on a subdomain and can be used to try design changes, test different templates, trial run plugin updates, and much more. This way if something doesn’t go as planned, the changes don’t affect your real site.”

- Sarah Blocksidge, Web Producer at Sixth City Marketing

Build the website you've always wanted

Whether you’re using WordPress to create an eCommerce site or for posting a blog, apply these tips so you don’t make the same mistakes that these experts made. Doing so will save you time, money, and effort along the way.


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Mara Calvello
Author

Mara Calvello

Mara is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2 Crowd. 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.