Building a website in WordPress is something that most people can do, as long as they have a reasonable level of technical competence. You need patience and time to learn how it works. But it’s not overly complicated, even for beginners. As with most things in life there are several WordPress mistakes you don’t want to make. How do we know? We know because most people who’ve built a WordPress website have made at least one of these common mistakes at least once.
Making mistakes is human nature, particularly when you’re doing something new and exciting where it is easy to forget to focus on details. So now you may be wondering why you should read this post when you’re going to make mistakes anyway?
Well, there are mistakes. And then there are mistakes. The first is like making the mistake of leaving the window down in your car when it rains. When you get back some water will have dripped inside which is an inconvenience – but nothing more than that. The second mistake is like leaving the top down on a convertible during a torrential thunderstorm. That’s a disaster.
So, here are five leaving-the-top-down-in-a-thunderstorm types of mistake that you really want to avoid:
1. Not Backing Up
Not backing up your WordPress website is like playing Russian roulette every day. You might survive for years – in fact you might always survive. But there’s also a chance that you won’t.
It is never fun building a website for the second time – so always backup your WordPress website. You can do this manually on your server, you can use plugins, or you can use a third-party service.
2. Not Updating
WordPress is hugely successful because it is so powerful and easy to use. This success also makes it a target for hackers. The developers behind WordPress plug holes in their software and release the fixes in the form of updates. The same applies to the developers who create the plugins that you use.
If you’re a masochist, forget about the updates. If you value your website and your sanity run the updates whenever they become available. The longer you leave them, the more problems can occur.
3. Using the Defaults
WordPress has lots of defaults and you will need to change most of them. At the top of the list is the default username “admin”. Unless you want to leave your website open to every hacker on the planet over the age of 13, change this.
Other defaults that you should change include the permalink structure, the favicon, and the site tagline.
4. Using Free Themes
WordPress is free and many of the plugins that you use are free, so WordPress is not going to break many budgets. But investment is essential in the template. Using a free template can cause security and compatibility issues. Also they are usually poorly built which makes them hard to use. And the technical support ranges from useless to non-existent. Excellent premium templates are available for less than $100 (considerably less in some instances) – so it’s better to make the investment.
5. Not Installing a Caching Plugin
Caching makes your website load faster. This is good for your users and for search engines. But there is no decent caching functionality built into WordPress – so you need a plugin. Except for the most basic of blogs, every website needs a caching plugin. WP Super Cache is a good example.
You’ll find the experience of building a WordPress website smooth, as long as you don’t make these mistakes. You’ll have a website that is more secure, one that is easier to build, and one that loads reasonably quickly.
This will leave you plenty of time to make other mistakes. But in many ways, it’s the best way to learn.