WordPress has become the most commonly used content management system and today powers over one-third of websites on the internet.
WordPress may be easy to install and manage for just about anyone but only an experienced WordPress developer will have a greater understanding of it’s structure, themes, plugins and code.
I’ve made several mistakes early in my career but it’s important to learn from them so that you can safeguard your website from any potential issues in the future.
To a business or website owner, everything fine on the front end, but on the backend it can potentially be a house of cards waiting collapse.
Through my WordPress Audit service, I can easily tell how skilled the website developer was that built a website.
Not addressing common mistakes can come at a cost, which may include:
- Making sites vulnerable to malicious attacks
- Affect user experience
- Affect search engine ranking
- Compromised functionality
- Overwritten code
- Broken websites
Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes made my WordPress developers in 2019 and how to avoid them.
1. Ignore WordPress & Plugin Updates
WordPress is a software, and like any software requires updates to optimize code, add new functionality patch security holes and fix any bugs.
Running old code can leave your site vulnerable to exploits, so it’s important to update your version and all plugins.
Always make sure you have a recent backup of your site before performing any major updates which leads me to #2.
2. Not making site backups
WordPress can become vulnerable to hackers if proper precautions aren’t made and sites can sometimes crash from installing poor or incompatible code.
Having a compromised website can cost a company thousands or even millions and every second of downtime should be avoided.
The best line of defense is creating regular backups. In the event your site is hacked or breaks, you an rely on installing a recent backup.
WordPress has several plugins which can be installed in minutes that create daily backups to be stored on cloud storage products such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
Many web hosting companies already provide regular backups. But it’s important to note how often they are made as some hosting companies don’t perform them daily and you want to make sure that if you need to restore a website it isn’t from a very outdated version.
I host my sites with SiteGround hosting which provides daily backups. You can also initiate your own backup of your entire hosting account through CPanel.
2. Don’t Use Child Themes
Similar to how WordPress & plugins require updates, themes also require updates in order to patch security vulnerabilities, add new functionality, fix bugs and optimize code.
This is why it’s important to understand the concept of a Child Theme to make sure that updates can be made safely without compromising the website or losing any modifications that were made.
A child theme is a sub theme that inherits functionality, style and features from parent themes.
When purchasing a premium WordPress you’ll usually find a folder called something like “Child-Theme” which typically include 2 main files: style.css and functions.php. The style.css file should be updated with any additional CSS and functions.php should be updated with additional code functions.
Child Themes are not limited to only these two files but can also adopt functionality from the Parent Theme simply by copying a file from the Parent Folder to the Child Folder.
3. Install Too many plugins
WordPress plugins are additional code or software that can extend functionality or add new features to an existing website. There are thousands to choose from and for anyone new to WordPress, this can become quite overwhelming.
They can easily installed by through FTP, through the WordPress dashboard or by a click of the mouse in the WordPress plugin library.
I can be tempting for WordPress developers to go plugin crazy, thinking that they’re enhancing their website with additional features but installing too many can certainly come with consequences.
Too many plugins can actually make a site volatile. Not all plugins play well together can lead to causing code conflicts. Some plugins can bloat a website and require additional server resources which can negatively affect site performance.
When installing plugins it’s important to consider the necessity of the plugin or if there are better methods of achieving the same functionality.
For example, I often times see multiple plugins installed that could have otherwise been achieved through the theme, accomplished by an existing plugin or by adding a piece of code to the webite.
There is no absolute number on what constitutes too many plugins but my advice is to choose your plugins wisely.
4. Choosing the Wrong Theme
WordPress has thousands of themes to choose from which can also be overwhelming for those who are new to the platform.
Themes shouldn’t be chosen based on the stock photos used in their design but rather on their flexibility and functionality.
Premium WordPress themes such as DIVI or AVADA are the most widely used because they come already loaded with functionality which can avoid from installing additional plugins and can be used as a framework for building any type of website.
Choosing the wrong theme can negatively impact your design and overall online presence which can eventually lead to having to rebuild a website.
It’s important to do your research prior to settling on a theme and spend time to fully understand its capabilities. This can save you from redundancy of installing functionality which could have been achieved through the theme settings.
5. Cheap Web Hosting
If you’ve ever used software on an old computer then you probably know how frustrating it can be in comparison to running software on a newer computer.
Similarly, if you’re running WordPress on a shared hosting plan vs on a dedicated server, you’ll likely notice a difference in performance/page speed.
I understand the allure of signing up to a $3/month hosting plan however this can negatively affect user experience, search ranking and conversions.
As I mentioned previously, I recommend hosting with SiteGround Web Hosting which has affordable plans, exceptional 24/7 support and up-to-date hosting software.
I’ve migrated websites for clients to SiteGround and have seen a 50% increase in page speed.
You don’t need to choose the most expensive plan but the one that suits your website needs.
WordPress is an amazing tool for building websites, however it’s important to understand best practices to avoid any of the common mistakes outlined in this article.
As a WordPress developer, avoiding these mistakes can save you from hours of work and wanting to curl up in the fetal position in a corner.
As a business owner, these mistakes lead to a loss of thousands of dollars. In fact, billions are lost years are lost by businesses every year due to compromised websites.
If Amazon was down for 1 minute, the company would lose $230,000.
This is why choosing a professional web design company or WordPress developer is a crucial choice in making sure your website is performing optimally and most of all helping your business grow.