WordPress is the most popular CMS engine today. The days of WordPress being used for blogs and simple DIY website is well and truly behind us. Continual development and massive base of companies and individuals creating themes and plug-ins, WordPress has come a long way and is now a serious contender as base line of any website.
Despite all this, WordPress does get some undeserved bad press (forgive the pun). This is mostly due to people trying their hands on DIY implementation and hit the proverbial brick wall, even when they purchase a WordPress Premium Theme.
The best analogy is probably a car related one. Hands up all those who think they can beat Top Gear’s “Stig” in a circuit! Didn’t think so. Given the same car and the same circuit and the same weather condition, he will beat 99% of us mere mortals no matter how good we think we are behind the wheel. The reason is simple. Practice, practice, practice. If you think you can beat a Professional in setting up, customising, and operating a WordPress site then think again.
Recently, a client asked “How can I make a Professional looking Video for my business?”. The answer was simple, “Get a professional to do it”. The same applies to your WordPress. If you want a professional looking website, then get a professional to do it unless you are fully versed with CSS, PHP, and HTML coding in general.
However, there are some basic actions you can take to make sure your WordPress website does not suffer from basic mistakes made by novices, so here are some tips.
This is the most basic mistake most novice user make. Despite many themes suggesting use of Child Theme and even including them in their package, you will be surprised how many people do not use it.
The advantages of WordPress Child Theme are many but the main benefit of using Child Theme is to protect your customisation. When you use a Child Theme you make all your customisations including those in CSS, PHP file edits, etc. within the WordPress Child Theme and not the main theme. This means when you have to update the main theme, your customisation is protected as they are not overwritten. WordPress makes the first call to the Active Child Theme. If it finds what it needs (PHP file or CSS), it will not call on main the Main Theme. Neat trick which allows you to protect all your changes during updates.
I know this sounds odd but bear with me. In default mode WordPress is set to update your WordPress version automatically, which sounds great. Whilst this may sound like a jolly good idea, it is in fact a nightmare. Your plug-ins and WordPress Theme always lag behind in updates, so it may take weeks before your specific plug-in or theme is ready to work with the latest version of WordPress. If the system automatically updates to the latest WordPress version, you may be in a bit of a pickle with your plug-ins and even Theme crashing or behaving oddly.
Turning off the Auto-Update means you have to manually update all your critical elements of your website when WordPress issues you a reminder. The reminder is displayed whenever you login to your Admin. To makes sure your plug-ins are ready go to the Dashboard, check Update Warning (they all tell you what versions they are compatible with), click on Plugin updates and wait for WordPress to complete it’s task.
Many WordPress users leave their website in default value which is a bad idea for security, spam, and usability. I still do not understand why WordPress leaves some of these settings as Default, but there you have it! To change these go to Settings and change the following:
There is a lot of talk about security and hacking, etc. many of which are valid points but as usual they tend to be overblown. Security concerns are not uniquely WordPress. You need to use holistic approach to your website’s security no matter what you use to build your website. These include:
Google puts a lot of weighting on user experience, and one of the key measurements of this is how quickly your website loads. Your largest element in most webpages are the images used, so if you can compress these you can speed up your pageload significantly. You can use desktop applications to compress your images, as well as online applications, but you can also purchase plug-ins that compress images as you load them on to WordPress.
One of the big issues we see is when people copy and paste content from either Word Processing Applications or from their Old website. The problem with both of these methods is that you will carry over hidden codes from your source file. This does strange things to the appearance of your content, and it takes a lot of work to clean up these codes.
To avoid this always paste into the “Text” tab and then clean up any remaining codes that text tab has failed to get rid of. Also, look out for additional spaces, etc. which can be left behind (usually from line breaks or line returns). These leave off gaps around the text, which make the page look untidy.
By following these basic guides you can make your WordPress website much more slicker, cleaner looking, easier to manage, and secure. However, don’t think this makes you a F1 driver as you need a lot of practice to compete with the professionals, so if you want a professional looking website you really should come to the professionals!
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