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Top 9 Mistakes When Developing a WordPress Website

WordPress was one of the original blogging platforms available to the public, but has evolved today into the most widely-used website content management system. It's an open-source platform that allows for the development of different themes, templates, plugins, and other types of functionality. Of course, it also allows for custom development. All of these options provide an opportunity from the most novice of individuals to the most advanced of website designers and developers to use the platform to build a website, and you see WordPress websites every day that span this spectrum. 

We see WordPress websites that are really great (heck, WordPress is one of our favorite platforms here at Navitas Marketing) and we see some that were clearly designed by someone without experience. Without critiquing design styles or lack of strategy, we've compiled our list of top ten mistakes we see on WordPress websites.

Be Careful With The Plugins

Don't be confused about this. Plugins are what make WordPress websites great, and it would be nearly impossible to build a website without using them. But it's important to be strategic when selecting the plugins that you use. 

  • Don't overdo it - The more plugins you install, the larger your website file becomes and the more code that you have on your website, which can slow down your website and negatively impact your search engine optimization. Use the plugins you need, and uninstall the plugins you don't need. 
  • Consider a custom plugin - You've heard about these great plugins that don't require programming, but it's easy to end up with too many plugins, and when they were all built by different 3rd-party developers, the plugins often don't work together well. If it would provide easier website management, more streamlined processes for website visitors, and can also help speed up your websie, spending a little extra for a custom plugin that can handle multiple functions might be the way to go. 
  • Do your research - There are often multiple plugin options for the functionality you're looking for. When trying to decide which is best, check out factors such as when it was last updated, how many times the plugin has been downloaded, how the plugin is rated by other users, and how much experience the authors have. Also, when a plugin is developed by a vendor (such as MailChimp), you can usually use it with confidence.
  • Consider paying for a premium plugin - The free plugins are tempting, but sometimes they're free for a reason. Many of them are great, but sometimes the paid plugins come with more frequent updates or better customer support. And they're usually pretty reasonably priced. 

Keep Your Website Updated

Updates become available for a reason. They can include updates in functionality, but most importantly, they often provide security updates. Outdated WordPress websites are vulnerable to hackers, and then plugins and themes need to be updated to keep up with the latest WordPress updates. The further you fall behind, the harder it can be to catch up later. Updates can be done with a click of a button, but if you had a programmer customize any of your plugins, you'll want to make sure the programmer handles the updates for you, as the automatic updates often overwrite any customizations that had been made. 

Resize Images Before Uploading to WordPress

When large, high-resolution photos are uploaded to WordPress (or any website) it can significantly slow down the amount of time it takes for a page to load. This can be a turnoff to impatient website visitors, and it also has a negative impact to your website's search engine optimization. Even if you visually resize them after they've been uploaded into WordPress, the file size will still be very high. Instead, resize the images before uploading to your website. You'll want to save the resolution down to 72dpi, and if you know the maximum dimensions of the image, it's a good idea to reduce the dimensions appropritely as well. Just make sure you keep in mind your websites responsiveness and make sure you don't go too small!

Keep Your Website Secure

I already mentioned keeping your website updated to help block vulnerabilities, but there are other measures you can take to help make your website less susceptible to hackers. Consider changing the URL to your admin login screen, which, by default, is the same for all WordPress websites. I also recommend your administrator use a custom login name (something other than "admin") and a complex password. WordPress also has a setting to limit the number of login attempts before the username gets locked out. 

Add Google Analytics to your Website

Google Analytics is a free product that tells you everything you could want to know about your website traffic - how many people are visiting your site, where they're coming from, how long they're staying, which pages are more or less popular, search terms being used to find your site, and so much more. Everyone should be interested in this information, but even if you don't think it's important now, chances are you'll wish you had installed it. Just do it; trust me, you'll thank me later!

Use the Posts Section for the Blog (or News)

The Posts section allows you to add content to pages and apply it to an existing template, without having to custom design each time. It also makes the content much easier to manage, with content being organized by categories and tags, and also containing the pages in a database, should you ever need to migrate it to a new website (either to another WordPress site or to another platform). When you create a new page for every post, it requires more custom work and also makes it harder when you want to do something with that content later. 

Have a Blog? Setup Comment Moderating

If you have a blog, you typically want to allow the public to comment on your posts. You want your website to be engaging, right? But make sure you check the blog settings and the various moderation settings, such as if commenters need to be registered on your website first or if you want to filter profanity. Engagement is good for SEO, but spam has a negative impact. 

Submit Your Website to Google Search Console

When you launch your new, or especially your first, website, you can't just assume that Google will know. You need to tell Google how to index your website. Submitting your website to Google Search Console will let Google know the structure of your site, how you prioritize the content, how your website is showing up in search results, and if there are any errors with the overall structure of your website. 

Use Email Addresses with your Domain Name

Sometimes people prefer to use an email client they're familiar with, so they choose to use email accounts such as Gmail, AOL, MSN, Hotmail, etc. for their business email. What they don't realize is that they could setup a professional email address that uses their website's domain name and still operate within the email client they're familiar with. And it looks so much more better to potential customers. 

For every mistake I identify, there are probably three others I could have included. But these are the biggest mistakes I see that bug me the most. What mistakes to you see being made on WordPress websites, and what you done to overcome them? 

Tell us what you think!