wordpress

WordPress 101: Attitudes to Avoid (Part II) 0

In part one of this series we looked at some of the pitfalls that many budding WordPress users may fall into,
such as forgetting to backup your site or going overboard with glitzy plugins and extras. This time we’re
going to look at a few of the subtler details that might pass the average DIY-er by, and see how to give your
new website-in- the-works its best start in life.
So … where were we? Ah, that’s right:

3. “I’m not really a tech-y kinda person, so …”

… that still doesn’t mean you can ignore the details, alas. What kind of details? The kind that are very easy to
miss if you’re not looking for them.
For instance: default settings are not always the best. Consider your username – the one you logged in with
when setting up your website initially. That username and password are like having two combination locks
on a safe – and using the default username ‘admin’ is like leaving one lock as ‘0-0- 0-0’. Not good! If you’re
still using the default then please change it now.
Other extra security features to consider are setting a limit on login attempts, adding two-factor
authentication, or even Google’s invisible reCAPTCHA technology, all of which help prevent automated
attacks on your site. And, as mentioned in the previous post, you must stay up-to- date with updates.
Security is not the only area to keep an eye on though; visibility is another. Consider permalinks, or the
extensions tacked on the end of your site address for each page (e.g. google.com/maps). By default, the
permalinks assigned are meaningless jumbles, which both search engines and humans will overlook. (To
prove it, look up anything on a search engine and scroll down page one: almost every result will have a
descriptive permalink.) Think of it like an apartment block: having your name and profession listed by your
unit number makes it far easier to find you and is good advertising. So if you haven’t already, go into
‘settings’ – ‘permalinks’ – ‘postname’ and choose your own description. Your website will thank you for it.
Finally, don’t forget to install a proper contact form. Emails and phone numbers are all well and good, but
having a built-in contact form right there on the page makes it much easier for visitors to get in touch. Don’t
overlook it!
Phew! That’s a lot to remember. But there’s still one more trap to discuss that must be avoided …

4. “Free is always the right price”

Again, this idea is beguiling and often true – but not always. Sometimes with websites it runs straight into
the bulky might of the even older saying: “You get what you pay for”.
Website hosts are one example. Where are you hosting your website? Is it a flash 5-star, tiny-chocolate- left-
on-the- pillow kind of place? Or is it more a dirty, back-alley, what-is- that-awful- smell kind of place? There
are tons of website hosting providers around, but only a few will work for you. Our advice? Go with a host
that specialises in WordPress and whose plans suit your specific requirements and expertise. There’s no
point choosing a hotel that’s too small or in the wrong city, no matter how cheap or luxurious it is. Pick your
host wisely, and if it costs a little more, so be it.

Most of all though, remember that sometimes you just need an expert eye on things. You can get the 12-
year-old nerd from next door to do it – and hey! it might even work – but honestly, he ain’t gonna be
bothered if it all goes pear-shaped. It’s much better to find a trustworthy expert in the field and get their
advice, even if nothing has gone badly wrong yet. Give your website the best start it can, and you will reap
the rewards later on.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to discuss any of the things mentioned in these articles, or other WordPress-
related topics/features – things like child themes, staging environments, and other useful concepts – feel
free to get in touch via our contact form (see – they really are handy). Either way, we wish you all the best in
navigating the ocean of options that WordPress can provide, and hope you’ll take full advantage of this
powerful and flexible tool.

WordPress 101: Attitudes to Avoid (Part I) 0

So you’ve got yourself a WordPress website. Don’t worry – that’s a good thing! WordPress is said to rule the
web, powering a third of the 10 million most popular websites. And deservedly so: it’s free, easy to use, and
almost infinitely customizable.
Of course, with that flexibility comes the potential for errors, some of which may never occur to a budding
website builder. Again – don’t worry! That’s the point of this post and the next – to point out some common
errors and how to avoid them.
(Just a quick note: there are two flavours of WordPress – wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The .com
variant is a lot simpler and less customizable, unless you purchase a business plan upgrade. The .org version
is a far more flexible builder which, though free to use, requires you to host, build and maintain the site
yourself. Since we’re talking about things to avoid when building and maintaining your own website, we will
mainly focus on the second flavour.)
SO, here are a few things to watch out for when building your own WordPress wonder …

1. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

The number of times we’ve all lost our work on some project by not saving periodically, or everything on our
hard drive by not backing it up – these are painful memories. Remember that feeling when dealing with your
new website.
Back Stuff Up. Bad things happen to websites that are not backed up. Bad, bad things. Do it often, at least
after all major site adjustments and before all – repeat all – updates. Why before updates? Because there
is always the chance that something in the new update will clash with something else in your website. So, by
backing up before updates you have a contingency plan in place in case the worst happens.
But do you really need to do all those updates? Yes. Plugins, themes, even WordPress itself is often being
updated, most of which are plugging security loopholes that hackers will use if given the chance. Don’t give
them the chance.
How do you avoid these doomsday scenarios? Put a regular backup plan in place and make sure it works.
Some host platforms offer a complementary backup service – does yours? If not, there are many plugins and
offsite providers that can be used to set up scheduled backups. Whatever your preference, make sure to
choose one and do it often: you never know when your next click might be your last.

2. “More is always more”

While this is true of basic math logic and, say, popcorn, it is not true of WordPress. Tempting as it is to fill
your site with myriads of fancy bits and pieces, be warned: complications often = problems.
Plugins are a big one. But they’re soooo handy! we hear you cry. And they are! But not that handy. The more
glitzy plugins you throw in, the more your site will be dragged down by the weight of all the toys it’s carrying.
Plus, not all of said toys necessarily play well together and may conflict badly (think Toy Story 3). Can this be
avoided altogether? Not really; sometimes things just happen, man. Can it be helped? Definitely: Use fewer
plugins, more effectively.

Same applies to pictures – just because you took amazing photos on your DSLR camera and they’re so hi-def
you could cry, doesn’t mean they should be uploaded as is. Sadly you do have to optimise your images, or
else they’ll take an age to load each time. (There are plugins that can do this, or you could create a smaller
version in Photoshop.)
Finally, categories and tags. It’s easy to have lots of “useful” categories but few “annoying” tags; yet in
reality it should be the other way around. Think about a filing system: having every single file in its own
folder is just annoying, but having lots of cross-references linking similar ones up across folders is great. So:
fewer categories, more tags.
Remember that what visitors to your site really want is to trust you, and simple yet effective design is worth
more than all the toys in all the world. Another benefit of restraint is it allows for more responsive design,
which enables your website to adjust to any screen size – a design feature well worth investigating.

These are just two of the biggest pitfalls a budding website builder should avoid. The next post looks at
another couple – this time more focused on details that are commonly missed.