With an incredible 43% CMS market share, WordPress is undoubtedly the most popular and acknowledged website builder. WordPress is a resourceful content management system (CMS) that provides a powerful platform for website creation, and millions of people use its different versions to maximise their business profits.
However, WordPress is not immune to errors. We sometimes tend to overlook the basic WordPress development principles, leading to mistakes that result in poor site functionality. Most developers commonly make mistakes, while some errors are caused due to their lousy decision-making problems.
Here in this article, we will talk about some of the most common WordPress mistakes that can be judged and avoided by the developers and rectified before they create further issues to your website performance.
So, let us move on and gear up to know more about the 21 most common WordPress mistakes to avoid
21 WordPress Mistakes to Avoid
WordPress offers a user-friendly interface and an extensive library of plugins and themes, making it an attractive choice for bloggers, businesses and developers alike. However, despite numerous benefits, common WordPress mistakes can hinder your website’s performance, security, and most importantly user experience.
Let us delve into the 21 most frequent WordPress mistakes and seek guidance on how to avoid them:
1. Selection of the Wrong WordPress Platform
The selection of the wrong WordPress platform may put you in a big dilemma. Choosing the wrong WordPress platform is a mistake that can have significant implications for your website. The basic mistake that a developer may commit will affect the further setup of WordPress.
There are two versions of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPres.org.
WordPress.com is a famous free blog hosting platform where WordPress hosts your website. It is an ideal platform for beginners.
WordPress.org, on the other hand, is a self-hosting platform with more advanced functions and features, serving as a great platform for more complex websites.
If you select the wrong WordPress type, the consequences will be seen in your website’s performance, growth, potential and control. Therefore, it is recommended to understand and learn about the detailed comparison between WordPress.com and WordPress.org before making your final selection.
Table showing the comparison between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
2. Neglecting Regular Backups
Neglecting regular backups in WordPress is a common mistake involving failing to regularly create and maintain copies of your website’s data, files and content. It can lead to catastrophic data loss if something goes wrong.
Without the backups, your site would be vulnerable to data loss for several reasons, such as severe crashes, software errors, hacking attempts, or accidental content deletion. Backups are also the lifesaver in security breaches or malware attacks.
Hence, pay attention to regular backups in WordPress. It’s recommended to set up automated backup solutions or perform manual backup on a scheduled basis. For added security, it is good practice to maintain multiple backup copies, including both on-site (e.g. server or cloud) and off-site (external storage).
3. Not Setting Up Permalinks Correctly
A permalink, also called a permanent link, is a URL that remains unchanged for extended periods. Not setting up the permalinks in WordPress can impact your website’s user-friendliness, search engine optimisation (SEO), and overall user experience.
Permalinks are the URLs that point to your posts, pages and other content on your WordPress site, and therefore, they play a crucial role in many aspects. For SEO, a well-structured and descriptive permalink can help search engines like Google or your potential audiences understand what the page is all about, ultimately boosting your site’s ranking.
The default WordPress permalink structure uses query strings and numbers. See this URL as an example: http://enterprise.monkey.com/?p=123 —here, wordpress has picked default strings and numbers after the domain name.
This is neither user-friendly nor provides any information about the content. Thus, use a more descriptive structure that includes post names, e.g. http://enterprise.monkey.com/sample-post/.
Hence, avoid using the special characters, symbols and spaces in your permalinks and stick to letters, numbers, hyphens, and underscores for clean and valid URLs.
4. Not Using a Reliable Hosting Provider
Not using a reliable hosting provider will create WordPress errors that can profoundly impact your website’s security, slow loading time, frequent downloads and overall success. This is because your hosting provider is crucial to your WordPress site’s functions.
A trustworthy hosting provider will have robust security measures, strong infrastructure, a high uptime guarantee, faster server speed, and optimised server configurations. It also provides a responsive customer support website scalability.
Some examples of the top hosting providers in Australia are Bluehost, Hostinger, HostArmada, SiteGround, and Cloudhost.
Before shortlisting and finalising your hosting provider, thoroughly research and compare the options. Also, determine your website-specific needs, including expected traffic resource requirements and the type of site you are running. Reading the reviews and recommendations from other users will also give you clear insights.
5. Ignoring Software Updates
WordPress and its plugins require regular updates to stay secure and optimised. Ignoring the software updates can lead to security breaches, site instability, and missed opportunities for improvement. It also affects your site’s performance and functionality.
WordPress themes and plugins are interdependent. Updates help ensure compatibility between different components. They often include bug fixes that address issues affecting your website’s performance and patch security vulnerabilities.
Regularly update the WordPress Core by clicking the update button to keep your core software up-to-date. Update WordPress plugins and themes by checking periodically and applying them when available. By regular updates, you can minimise the risk of unexpected issues.
6. Neglecting Mobile Responsiveness
In today’s mobile-centric world, where 6.65 million people use mobile, your website must be responsive and mobile-friendly. This mistake involves failing to optimise your website to display correctly and function well on mobile and other smart devices.
[Source: internet advisor]
Neglecting the mobile responsiveness can lead to various issues, such as it can be challenging for mobile users to navigate, read content and interact with your site. It can also negatively impact your site’s search engine ranking and potentiality, resulting in lower visibility and traffic.
Select a WordPress theme labelled as “mobile-responsive” or “mobile-friendly”.
Test it on smartphones to ensure it works well across different screen sizes and resolutions. By prioritising mobile optimisation, you can enhance your website’s performance, user satisfaction, and overall success in the mobile-centric online landscape.
7. Ignoring Comments and Spam
This is another common mistake that involves neglecting to manage and moderate the comments section on your website. This can negatively affect your site’s user engagement, content quality, and professionalism.
Ignoring comments means you miss valuable feedback, questions or insights from your audience. Hence, your comment section may become a breeding ground for spam, irrelevant or offensive content and low-quality comments without moderation.
To avoid this mistake, enable comment moderation in your WordPress settings so that you can approve all comments before they appear on your site. Use anti-spam plugins such as Akismet, which can automatically detect and filter out spam comments. Akismet Anti-spam plugin is used and trusted by millions for its spam protection derivatives. This plugin offers the best way to configure and protect the site from unwanted spam.
Source: WordPress Plugin
8. Installing Too Many Plugins
While plugins add functionality, an excessive number can increase your site’s loading time and create compatibility issues. The more plugins you have, the higher the chances of encountering compatibility issues.
Every plugin that you install adds additional code and functionality to your website. Too many plugins can increase your site’s loading times, negatively impacting user experience and increasing bounce rates.
Hence, select well-coded, reputable plugins from trusted sources like the WordPress Plugin Repository from the WordPress development tools kit. Also, periodically review the plugins you have installed and deactivate or uninstall any that are no longer required or actively used.
9. Not Using HTTPS
Not using HTTPS involves running your website without a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate, which results in HTTP instead of HTTPS in your site’s URL. You may face adverse effects due to this mistake that lowers your website security, trustworthiness, and search engine ranking.
Without HTTPS, the data transmitted between your website and the visitor is not encrypted. It also hinders the trustworthiness of your audience as they may find it hard to believe in your site’s credibility when they get the “Not Secure” prompt as they try to browse your site.
Determine if your hosting provider offers a free “Let’s Encrypt SSL” certificate or if you can also purchase an SSL certificate from a trusted certificate authority (CA). Once you have your SSL certificate, follow your hosting instructions to install and activate it for your domain.
10. Failing to Create Regular Content
“Consistency is the key”, especially when it comes to blogging. Neglecting to publish fresh, valuable content can deter visitors. A standard WordPress error impacts a website’s growth, engagement and search engine rankings.
Fresh and relevant content keeps visitors engaged and enhances the recurring rate of the users. Search engines like Google favour websites regularly, producing high-quality and up-to-date content. When your site becomes static, it may lose rankings in search results, leading to reduced organic traffic.
Creating and updating relevant content keeps your audience engaged, improves search engine rankings and establishes your site as a valuable resource within your niche or industry.
11. Using Weak Passcodes or Passwords
Weak passwords or passcodes are an open invitation to hackers. Using weak passwords in WordPress is a significant mistake that involves setting up guessable or simple passwords for your WordPress accounts, especially for the administrator account.
This error poses a severe security risk to your website and can lead to various issues. Weak passwords make it much easier for unauthorised individuals or automated bots to gain access to your WordPress site.
Generate strong and complicated passcodes that are difficult to guess. Use the combination of uppercase and lowercase alphabets, numbers and special characters and refrain from using simple and easy-to-guess passwords or patterns for your site.
12. Poorly Organised Navigation
This mistake can be committed by even seasoned custom website development services agencies. It refers to having a disorganised, confusing or insufficient menu structure on your website. Navigation is a decisive element of web design because it guides potential users or visitors through your website and helps them find the information they seek.
A cluttered navigation menu can frustrate visitors, making locating specific pages or content challenging. If users can’t quickly find what they are looking for, they are more likely to ‘bounce’ from your site.
Before creating your site menu, plan the structure and organisation of your content. Prioritise the menu by placing your most frequently visited pages in the navigation menu.
13. Ignoring Broken Links
It involves neglecting to identify and address broken or dead links within your website’s content. Broken links no longer point to valid web pages, often resulting in error messages when clicked.
When visitors encounter broken links, they are likely to become frustrated and most likely to leave your website. This leads to a negative user experience. Broken links can also erode your website’s credibility and professionalism.
WordPress offers various link checker plugins, such as “Broken Link Checker”, that automatically scan your site for broken links. Also, create a periodic review plan for your wordpress website, and update your content through which you can ensure there are no broken links on your website.
14. Overlooking Image Optimisation
Large, un-optimised images can slow down your website. This is another frequent mistake made by the beginners and sometimes the seasoned experts. It involves neglecting to optimise images before uploading them to your website.
Large images consume more bandwidth, increasing hosting costs, especially if your hosting plan has a bandwidth limit. The un-optimised images can increase website loading time and impact the site’s performance and user experience.
Resize the images needed for your website and avoid uploading larger than necessary images. Use compression to reduce the file size. You can also use the WordPress plugins like Smush or ShortPixel for the same purpose.
Source: Smush wordpress plugin
15. Ignoring SEO Best Practices
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is crucial for attracting organic traffic and ensuring your content reaches a broader audience. Ignoring SEO best practices can lead to missed opportunities and reduced online presence.
SEO helps your site appear in relevant search results, bringing in organic traffic from users actively seeking information or products related to your content or niche. Ignoring SEO means missing out on this valuable source of traffic.
Conduct a thorough keyword research using the keyword finder tools to understand the phrases and terms users search for in your niche. Use these keywords strategically in your content, headings, and metadata. Create relevant, engaging, high-quality content that discusses your users’ and target audience’s needs and interests.
Read this blog to learn more about WordPress SEO best practices.
16. Using Default Settings
This mistake occurs when website owners or administrators do not customise or configure the default settings of their WordPress installation.
While default settings are often suitable for an essential website, they may not meet your site’s specific needs or fully optimise its performance. Default settings can result in a generic look and feel for your website, making it harder to establish a unique brand identity.
Customise your permalink structure to be more user-friendly and SEO-friendly. Common choices include “/post-name/” or “/category/post-name/.” Configure your reading settings to determine your website’s front page (e.g., a static page or the latest posts) and how many posts are displayed on each page.
17. Neglecting Website Speed
Speed stands as a critical factor influencing a website’s Google ranking, traffic volume, and conversion rate. Data reveals that 40% of users will exit a site if it exceeds a 3-second loading time.
Slow-loading websites frustrate visitors. They expect quick loading, and if your site is sluggish, they may leave before even viewing your content. This can coincide with high bounce rates and a negative perception of your brand.
Neglecting the website speed in WordPress is a crucial error because site speed is a ranking factor in search engine algorithms, especially for mobile searches. A slow website will lower the search engine rankings, which can, in turn, reduce organic traffic to your site.
It’s crucial to prioritise website speed as a part of your ongoing site maintenance. Regularly audit your site’s performance, optimise images and code, and invest in a reliable hosting solution to ensure your website loads quickly and provides an excellent user experience.
18. Not Monitoring Analytics
Website analytics provide valuable insights to help you make informed decisions, improve your site, and achieve your goals. Ignoring analytics can cause missed opportunities and hinder your site’s growth.
Without analytics, you have limited visibility into how your website is performing. You won’t know how many visitors you’re getting, which pages are popular, or where users drop off.
Implement web analytics tools like the popular Google Analytics or other WordPress-compatible plugins to track your website’s performance. Establish your website’s objectives and goals, such as increasing traffic, conversions, or engagement. Use analytics to measure progress toward these goals.
19. Ignoring Mobile Testing
It is a common mistake where website owners or administrators fail to adequately test and optimise their websites for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
With a significant portion of internet traffic coming from mobile users, neglecting mobile testing can lead to various issues and negatively impact user experience, SEO rankings, and overall site performance.
Implement a responsive web design, which adapts your website’s layout and content to seamlessly fit various screen sizes and devices. Choose a mobile-responsive theme for your WordPress website, as many modern themes are designed with mobile optimisation in mind.
20. Not Backing Up Before Major Changes
WordPress website developers or administrators often overlook the importance of creating backup copies during WordPress website development before implementing significant modifications, updates, or changes to core files, plugins, themes, or content.
Making substantial changes without a backup can result in losing valuable content, user data, settings, or configurations if something goes awry during the process. Significant changes can sometimes cause conflicts or errors that disrupt your website’s functionality.
Establish a routine backup schedule for your website. Regularly create backups of your database and files to ensure you have recent site copies. Before making significant changes, manually create a backup of your entire website. You can do this through your hosting provider’s control panel or use backup plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy.
21. Falling for Up-Sell
It refers to the mistake of purchasing or investing in premium features, plugins, themes, or services that you don’t need or exceed your website’s requirements. This can happen when you’re convinced by sales tactics or marketing strategies that encourage you to upgrade or buy more than what is essential for your site.
Purchasing the premium or upgraded features that your website doesn’t require can result in unnecessary expenses that could have been allocated to more critical aspects of your website.
Before purchasing any premium features or plugins, carefully assess your website’s requirements. Determine whether the additional features are essential for achieving your website’s goals. Explore free WordPress plugins and themes first, as many provide excellent functionality and can fulfil your needs without the cost of a premium upgrade.
WordPress website creation is not a complex exercise, yet it requires some basic and fundamental knowledge about making the best use of WordPress development tools that help the developers avoid some of the most common and fundamental mistakes during the WordPress development process.
Avoiding these 21 common WordPress mistakes can help you create a more secure, efficient, and user-friendly website. Regular maintenance, attention to detail, and staying informed about best practices are critical to a successful WordPress experience.