6 Tips to Setup Your WordPress Website like a Pro

6 Tips to Setup Your WordPress Website like a Pro
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6 Tips to Setup Your WordPress Website like a Pro

6 Tips to Setup Your WordPress Website like a Pro

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.

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, if you can’t afford one, 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.

1. WordPress Child Theme

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.

2. Turn Off WordPress Auto 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.

3. Basic Settings

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:

  • “Discussions” – Under “Default article settings”:
    • Untick “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article”
    • Untick “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles”
    • Untick “Allow people to post comments on new articles (you can override this for individual articles)”
  • “Other comment settings”
    • Tick “Comment author must fill out name and email” – This helps prevent spams
    • Tick “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” – This helps prevent spams
    • Tick “Automatically close comments on articles older than XX days” – Do you really need comments on articles that are months or years old?!!
    • Tick “Enable threaded (nested) comments X levels deep” – X = 4 or 5 should be enough.
    • Tick “Break comments into pages with X “ – X = 10-15 should be fine and then select the other parameters to your preference.
  • “Email me whenever”
    • Tick “Anyone posts a comment” – This helps prevent spams with dodgy link!
    • Tick “A comment is held for moderation” – This helps prevent spams with dodgy links!
  • “Media” – Untick “Organise my uploads into month- and year-based folders”. This will make it easier to find and manage your images, PDF, and other uploaded files. Trust me you will never remember the date you uploaded a file 3 years from now!
  • “Permalinks” – Always set your permalinks to “/sample-post/” This means your page URL will always contain the name of your page.
  • Theme – Check your WordPress theme may have additional settings which you should follow their recommendations in the Theme’s documentation.

4. Security

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:

  • Password Discipline – Change your passwords regularly and do not use simple passwords just because you can remember them! If it is easy to remember, it is easy to crack. We all know it is a pain to remember long nonsensical passwords, but there is a good reason for it.
    • Your passwords should be at least 10 digits long (the longer the better)
    • Do not use proper names or words
    • Use mixture of numbers, characters and letters.
    • Use WordPress’s own Password Generator
    • Do not share your password. It is easy enough to set up new users and delete old ones, so why are you sharing your password with your developer or friend who is helping you out?!
  • Install Security Package -There are some great security and anti-hacking plug-ins, so consider adding these to your website for peace of mind. Here are a few that you could try:
    • iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)
    • Wordfence
    • Sucuri WordPress
  • Hide My WordPress! – Yes you can buy plug-ins that completely hide your WordPress from everyone. Consider this if you are using any kind of e-commerce on your site but this just gives you a false sense of security as this is not a replacement for good security practices.
  • Change Admin Login Page – There are different views on this but by changing your admin page from default you put one more obstacle in the way of those prying eyes! However, this could break some plug-ins. Although this sounds like a logical thing to do, in our view the downsides of this approach outweighs the upside, so personally we would not recommend to do this.

5. Compress Images

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.

6. Do not Copy and Paste

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!

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.

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