Mistakes are simply a part of the creative experience. When you build something from the ground up, you are bound to make a mistake. Oftentimes, you run into the same issues as before. To save time, it is ideal to become familiar with them and learn how to avoid the issues. Building a website is no different as you will continue to run into the same common WordPress mistakes.
Whether you are a new user or a seasoned one, mistakes are bound to happen as you grow and learn through the process of WordPress development best practices. Some of these common WordPress mistakes are due to development error, some are due to the wrong configuration. Others are due to simple forgetfulness.
Common WordPress Mistakes to Avoid
More than likely, you have run into one of the mistakes listed below. It is ideal for you to try and remember these issues and learn how to avoid them. This will make the development process much faster, and allow you to finish a site without having to deal with the same problems over and over again.
Let’s take a look at 23 common WordPress mistakes you need to avoid.
1. Choosing the Wrong WordPress Platform
Arguably, the first (and biggest) mistake people make is choosing the wrong WordPress platform. There are two types of WordPress platforms:
- WORDPRESS.ORG: This is WordPress for self-hosted websites with more advanced features.
- WORDPRESS.COM: This is the free WordPress platform and is ideal for beginners.
Now, these are obviously both platforms for WordPress, but they have different aspects of setup and design freedom involved. You will want to make sure you understand the differences and relations between the two before you start building a website.
2. Paying Too Much For Hosting
This is a very common WordPress mistake and actually gets a lot of people in over their heads in regards to paying for something they don’t need. There are dozens upon dozens of hosting companies out there, so it can be difficult to find what you need without paying too much.
You want to make sure you get a very low starter price, which is easily scalable, with everything you need included. Once you have the perfect hosting solution in place, you assure yourself you won’t be dealing with this common WordPress mistake again.
3. Not Changing “Admin” as the Default Username
When you are first installing WordPress, you are provided with a few different setup options. One of these is to set the main username for your account. By default, “admin” is the username provided.
It is a rookie mistake to leave this as is. You want a username that is unique to you. Furthermore, using “admin” as a default username is a good way to get your site hacked as this is the first guess for most hackers and bots.
4. Not Properly Securing Your WordPress Site
It doesn’t take a developer to know or understand that your website can be vulnerable to attacks or all sorts. Yes, the WordPress platform is pretty solid and secure to start. But there are also further steps you should take to make sure your WordPress website is protected against these various threats.
This is ideal for both a personal website or a site you are developing for a client. Making sure you know and understand WordPress security best practices is a key part of the process.
5. Not Performing Daily Backups
A major part of WordPress developmental best practices is having daily backups of your website in place. There are a number of common problems that can occur, which can knock your site offline. It may even cause you to lose files or content.
Many hosting providers automatically perform backups for you. However, you can also employ some excellent WordPress backup plugins that will do this as well.
Either way, this is a common mistake made and one you definitely want to avoid. It’s always better to err on the side of caution than to spend hours or even days trying to recover from a disaster.
6. Using Poorly Coded or Unsupported Themes
There are thousands of WordPress themes available out there. Many of these are free to use. However, a lot of WordPress themes are poorly coded and constructed. Furthermore, many of the ones you find listed in various spots are totally unsupported and not regularly updated.
Some things to remember when choosing a theme include:
- Is it a theme from a reputable developer?
- Is the theme supported?
- Are there regular updates provided?
- What does it offer?
You also want to make sure the theme is responsive and gives you everything you need to develop a solid WordPress website.
7. No Contact Form on Website
One of the most common WordPress mistakes that people seem to make is not having a contact form available. If you go through the process of building your website, getting everything in place and creating your masterpiece from the ground up, then you would definitely want a contact form somewhere (or multiple places) on the website.
There are several solid and reputable contact form plugins available for you to use. These make the process of putting a contact form on your site quick and easy.
8. Not Using Proper Permalink Structure
If you don’t know what permalinks are in WordPress, then you are already behind the 8 ball here. Permalink structure is very important to the overall look and feel of a WordPress website.
Creating custom permalinks in WordPress is not difficult, and it will ensure that your site is indexed better and look more professional and clean. WordPress uses a default permalink structure that you probably don’t want, so avoid this common WordPress mistake by taking a few minutes to fix permalinks in the admin area.
9. Plugin Overload
The use of plugins is a vital part of the WordPress community. However, this can also be a Catch-22 of sorts. This is because using too many plugins can slow your website and can increase the likelihood that you will encounter conflict issues within the site itself.
Consider your plugin needs and other aspects when choosing the best WordPress plugins for your particular site.
10. Not Installing Google Analytics
The benefits of installing Google Analytics on your WordPress site can’t be overstated. From detailed reports of visitors to browser interactions, site speed and more, having Google Analytics on your website is a must.
That being said, oftentimes developers simply forget to add it to a site or a user thinks it isn’t important enough to worry about. Analytics also interacts with other Google search and indexing tools to help you improve the site rank in search results.
11. Not Performing WordPress Updates
This is right up there with not having a WordPress site daily backup setup. WordPress core and plugin updates happen all the time. While technically speaking a lot of older versions of WordPress still operate properly, it is ideal to avoid not updating your website when an update is available.
These updates cover a number of issues including security fixes and code updates. This is even more prevalent with the release of the major Gutenberg WordPress 5.0 update.
Many people have still not updated their site, despite the fact that WordPress has specifically said Gutenberg is the future. This is mostly due to the fact that a lot of users still have so many questions about Gutenberg.
12. Overuse of Categories and Tags
Think about it; what’s worse? You go to a website that has a few solid categories and has made proper use of tags? Or you land on a site that has so many categories and tags you don’t even know where to start?
The category vs. tag debate and how to use them is an ongoing one. Some developers and users prefer one to the other, and a lot of times use them differently based on the site layout. However, the overuse of categories and tags on a WordPress website is no good, both for you and for site users.
They muddle the layout, can confuse the hierarchy and can even hurt you in SEO listings if used wrong.
13. Not Performing Website Optimization for SEO
After you have finished building a WordPress website, you need to perform optimization for SEO purposes. This can include a number of things such as installing analytics, making sure keywords and phrases are properly used and making sure your site speed and structure are both solid.
Again, there are several ways to optimize a site for SEO, and you want to make sure you perform them all. This is a common WordPress mistake that if overlooked can have serious consequences in the long run for visits and brand awareness.
14. Too Many Theme Changes
Yes, we all want our websites to look clean, fresh and new all the time. However, too many theme changes can actually hurt your site more than it can help.
Sure, you will have a new layout and look. But sometimes jumping from theme to theme will actually hurt your Google rankings and can even confuse the Google website crawlers.
This is still tempting to do over time, but if you remember that no theme is perfect, it may lay to rest some of those fears.
15. Using Weak or Overused Passwords
One of the most important WordPress tips you will get is in regards to password choice. This is right up there with using “admin” as your main username. When you choose a WordPress username password (or any password for that matter) it needs to be something strong.
I know you want to use something that is easy to remember, but you run the risk of easily getting hacked. When you are choosing a solid password, remember to include the following:
- Uppercase Letters
- Lowercase Letters
- Special Characters
Remember, you can always change your WordPress password as well. Put something together that includes a string of all the above and your website will be much more secure and less vulnerable to an attack.
16. Improper Use of Posts and Pages
This common WordPress mistake is more prevalent than you would think. The use of posts and pages differ in the overall structure of the website. Creating a WordPress post or page is not difficult, but sometimes using them properly is.
A general rule of thumb to help you remember when to use a post and when to use a page is:
This seems so simple, but thousands of WordPress creators are using posts and pages the wrong way. Make sure you consider WordPress development best practices when deciding which format to use on your website.
17. Not Using a Cache Plugin
There is simply no good reason that your WordPress website should not be using a cache plugin. These useful tools will help with speed and optimization. This is important to users as the longer it takes a page or post to load, the more likely they are to just click away from your website.
There are a lot of great WordPress cache plugins out there and setting one up has a lot of specific benefits you will want.
18. Poor Image Optimization
Another common WordPress mistake is poor image optimization. Oftentimes, users don’t realize the effect that this has on a website. Not properly optimizing images goes against some of the best WordPress development practices. It also creates a slow loading, poorly optimized image SEO environment.
If you are confused about this, then you simply need to learn about some of the best image sizing, compression and optimization tools available to you.
19. Not Using 301 Redirects When Changing Domain Names or Protocols
When a website is indexed, listed and ranked on Google (or any search engine), there are several factors taken into account. Page content, layout and structure, the relevance of content, images and more need consideration. The domain name and protocol are also taken into account.
This means that if you have a website with one domain name and have filled it with content over time, then changing the domain name without using 301 redirects is a huge mistake.
The same can be said when you decide to change from the http protocol to the more popular and secure https protocol. A change like this causes search engines to run 404 errors and lose rankings. This is why you need to make sure the process is done right.
20. Forgetting to Remove WordPress Demo Content
By default when you install WordPress, it comes with a default theme and default demo content in some cases. Sometimes, there is usually content demo for a page, post, comment and even a tag or category.
This is one of the more common WordPress mistakes people make. They build out a site but forget to remove or change the demo content. So over time, that demo content gets indexed and pops up as part of your website for no relevant reason.
Remember to double check that you have changed or removed all demo content before publishing your site.
21. Not Removing a Default Favicon
Most WordPress themes come with a default favicon in place. It is a mistake not to remove it and replace it with a branded favicon of your own. Not doing so makes your site look shady and unprofessional.
There are several easy ways you can get a favicon put on your WordPress site, so make sure this is in place before the site goes live.
In essence, most site owners will use the company logo or other identifier to set it aside from the competition. This is because browsers will display the favicon in tabs and bookmarks. At a glance, users will know the site by its branding icon.
Think about it; what image pops into your mind when you think “Google?”
22. Not Being Mobile Friendly
Mobile use is at an all-time high, and it is extremely important that your website is both responsive on all browsers and screen sizes. Whether it’s from a 24-inch widescreen monitor or a 5-inch hand-held device, people are visiting your site.
Granted, most WordPress themes these days are mobile-friendly. But it never hurts to always stay on top of the issue and make sure. Oftentimes, outdated plugins or bad code can break the mobile aspect of a website, leaving you wide open to be scrutinized for not complying with WordPress development best practices.
23. Not Properly Moderating Comments
Rounding out this list of common WordPress mistakes to avoid is not properly moderating comments on posts and pages. Simply put, you don’t pay attention and comments turn into spam. Perhaps you enabled the setting to approve all comments and you never bother to keep track of them.
Properly monitoring comments can lead to more user engagement on your site and boost traffic. So manage WordPress comments properly and keep this in mind.
A lot goes into the proper development of a WordPress website. Admittedly, there is a lot to remember from start to finish during the entire process. Keeping in mind that you can easily avoid some of the above common WordPress mistakes will help the development process go quicker and smoother.