WordPress do’s and don’ts

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Are you looking to develop a WordPress website? But are unsure where to start or what direction to head in? Check out our list of WordPress do’s and don’ts to make sure that you get your WordPress development off to the right start.

WordPress dos and don'ts for website development

Whether you are a WordPress pro or a WordPress freshman, check out our list of WordPress do’s and don’ts and see what you are doing right or wrong. Perhaps you will learn something new that will help you with your site. Let’s dive into it.

WordPress do’s when creating a website

There are a number of things you should do when developing a WordPress site. We have compiled a list of WordPress do’s that may come in handy when you want to develop your own site.

Do choose a custom WordPress theme

The first thing you need to do is choose a 👉 custom WordPress theme 👈 for your site. You want to choose a custom theme because it will allow you to personalize your site the way you need. Also, a custom theme will be easier to optimize in terms of speed and website performance.

By designing a theme specifically for your site you avoid downloading a free bloated theme. You don’t want a theme that is cluttered with features that hurt you more than they benefit you. An abundance of features can be a good thing but it can impact the performance of your site.

Make sure that your website is responsive on all devices, browsers & operating systems

Another valuable aspect of choosing a custom theme for your WordPress site is you can ensure that is a responsive theme. You want your website to work on all devices from desktops to smartphones. Something you want to avoid is having a website visitor be disadvantaged because certain features don’t work on his or her phone. And in order to be able to use them they are able they have to transfer to a different device.

The same thing goes with browsers they are powered by a different machine. So you need to make sure that your website works on Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc. And lastly, you need to double-check that your website will work on all operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Do create backups of your WordPress site

Another key ‘WordPress do’ is to create backups of your site. A backup of your site should be done on a regular basis. It should be created before any changes, updates, and support. This way you can restore your site if something breaks. Moreover, if a virus or hacker attacks your site is it much easier to restore your site from a backup. Additionally, it’s less expensive to restore your site from a backup than rebuild from scratch.

Do create & implement a security strategy for your site

WordPress security is key to avoiding hackers, viruses, and bots. There are a few things to ensure the iron-clad security of your website. First of all, you can install a security plugin such as WordFence. It will provide you with a firewall to defend against viruses and bots.

Some other ways to boost WordPress website security is by using strong passwords and not basic ones such as 123456. Moreover, you can ask software developers to add security features to the code. For example, they can disable PHP errors from popping up on your site to limit backend access to unwanted guests.

Do use SEO-friendly permalinks

Set up and create SEO-friendly permalinks. The worst type of permalinks you can create is those that use the date and time of publication. Or just random characters. Instead, you should have permalinks that are created based on the Post name or Page name. That way your permalinks are SEO-friendly. Also, these permalinks should contain the keyword you are trying to position for in search engines.

Make your user interface simple and intuitive

Another key task during the WordPress website development process is to make the user interface simple and intuitive. You want to avoid a complicated user interface because it will scare away potential customers.

Do install and use Google Tag Manager

So if you are considering installing Google Analytics, HotJar, Facebook Pixel, or other third-party apps. You may want to install Google Tag Manager onto your site and add all these third-party apps through Google Tag Manager. This way you are not running external HTTP requests that will slow down your site. You are able to get all the functions that you need without slowing down the processing.

Moreover, for each of these third-party apps you are able to load them asynchronously and in the settings pick which options should function and which shouldn’t. For example Google Analytics and HotJar both track users, so technically you only need one of these apps to carry out this function on your site.

Woman writing a blog post on WordPress

Do focus on content marketing if you want your site to make you money

So if you are looking to have a WordPress site with the intent that it should make you money. Then you need to focus on content marketing to make this happen. The first thing you need to focus on is writing blog posts and articles. Let’s not forget that the original intent behind WordPress was blogging. This open-source platform was initially geared to bloggers and it is created in a way that writing blog posts is easy.

Each blog post should be focused on keywords and geared toward what you are looking to sell. These blogs can be put into various categories. You may use tags. And most importantly make sure to install a plugin like Yoast in order to be able to add meta-titles and meta-descriptions. This will help when Google crawlers visit your page and try to rank you in the search engine. Moreover, this snippet will also give your readers a good idea of what to expect under any given link.

Another key aspect when it comes to blog posts is to ensure that blog page pagination works properly. You want to ensure that when you are breaking up your blog list into various pages, switching from one page to the next works properly. There are various pagination types such as:

  • Simple Pagination
  • Numerical Pagination
  • Pagination Between Single Posts

Lastly, make sure that if you have social media icons on your website that they are linked properly. In many cases, people forget to set this up and those icons are set to the default homepage of any given social media.

Do use a caching plugin

Another do when creating your WordPress website is to use a caching plugin. A caching plugin can help reduce page load times and improve user experience, as well as optimize your WordPress development process.

By installing a caching plugin for your WordPress website, you can easily optimize your web pages for better performance and speed up loading times. This will result in improved user engagement and a better overall experience for visitors to your site.

In addition, using a caching plugin will also help with SEO optimization by reducing server load times and improving page speed scores. This can lead to higher rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) and more organic traffic from potential customers.

Content delivery network for your website

Do use a CDN content delivery network

You should use a content delivery network to be able to deliver your site faster to users around the globe. A 👉 content delivery network 👈 enables users to access your site from the server closest to them. This is because a CDN has multiple servers connected together and they are spread out worldwide. So if you have a user in the United States trying to access a website that is hosted in Dublin, Ireland. It won’t have to wait for a server in Dublin to send him or her the site. No, they can open this site from a server that is based in the United States thanks to the CDN. Thus making the loading time of the site, much faster.

Do use an SSL certificate

Having an SSL/HTTPS connection on your WordPress website is essential in today’s online environment. An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is a security measure that encrypts the data sent between a web server and browser, allowing for secure communication. It also helps to protect user data, such as passwords and credit card numbers, from being intercepted by hackers.

Additionally, it allows visitors to trust that the website they are visiting is legitimate and not a malicious copycat website. By using an SSL certificate on your WordPress site, you can ensure that your visitors’ information remains safe and secure. Furthermore, having an SSL connection can also help to boost your search engine rankings since Google now considers sites with HTTPS as more secure than those without it.

Woman reading through a Privacy policy on her mobile phone

Do create a Cookie Notice Bar

If you are a website owner in Europe you should create a Cookie Notice Bar for your WordPress site. We have GDPR laws that make it mandatory for websites to have a cookie policy, privacy, and even terms and conditions for the site. This way your website visitors know what data if any you are collecting. Moreover, where their data is going and who the administrator is of the site. Now, if you are in North America you should also consider installing a Cookie Notice bar and creating policies to be more transparent with your website visitors.

Do take care of the UX part

Another key aspect you need to take care of is the overall user experience. This experience starts with your menu. Your website menu should be simple and easy to navigate. You want to avoid expansive and confusing menus. And if you have a big website you should still aim to create an easy menu. Your menu may be structured a little something like this 👇:

Menu structure example
Image Source: Kinsta.com

This type of setup or anything similar can help visitors avoid getting lost on your site. There are various types of menus such as verticle, horizontal, dropdown, hamburger, etc. You can look at different ones to see which one will best match your overall design. Here at Acclaim, we recommend using horizontal for desktops and laptops. While using a hamburger menu for mobile devices.

Moreover, you can use breadcrumbs to help your website visitor figure out where exactly they are on your website and how to get back to another section.

Do provide WordPress with the right email address for your admin account

You will receive notifications if something breaks, or if someone has filled out your contact form. If you put in the wrong information, you will miss valuable information about your WordPress website.

Do double-check that your contact form works properly

Always make sure that your contact forms are working properly. You want your customers to be able to send you messages in regard to your service or product. You wouldn’t believe the number of times we have seen contact forms that don’t work for one reason or another.

A plugin that we use here at Acclaim to build our contact forms is Gravity Forms. This plugin has a drop and drags builder making it easy to assemble contact forms. Moreover, it has various column layouts to choose from making it easy to customize your form to various lengths and widths. Lastly, you can create forms that are WCAG 2.1AA compliant.

Prevent spam mail on contact forms

A common problem with contact forms is the number of spam mail that can be sent. There are a few ways to prevent bots from spamming your inbox. The first is installing ReCaptcha that either through images or codes will verify that in fact, a human is sending the message. Another plugin you can use is anti-spam Akismet. This plugin uses Artificial Intelligence to filter out spam comments, forms, and text. It saves you countless hours trying to filter through spam on your own. Moreover, it saves you money on manpower who need to sit there and manually go through your inbox.

Developer console and website being developed on desktop screen

Make sure that your developer’s console doesn’t show any errors

Another thing you want to avoid is any errors in your developer’s console. These errors should be fixed and you should have clean code. The errors that show up in your developer’s console can slow your site down. They can signal certain functionality problems or even damage to visual elements. Regardless, you should have a developer solve these errors for you.

Make sure phone numbers and emails on your site are hyperlinked and clickable

Have you ever visited a site and wanted to click on the number and call right away? But unfortunately, the number is not hyperlinked. Frustrating right? Something that is not obvious to all WordPress website creators is making the phone number and email on your site clickable.

A mobile user should be able to click on the phone number on your site, be redirected to their dialing pad, and instantly call. Or if they click on their email they should be able to click and be redirected to create a new message in their inbox with the email addresses already set up. No one wants to try to copy-paste these elements and then remove any special characters that might have appeared. This will help customers connect with you more easily and lead to higher conversions. Some visitors when they don’t have this option, will go to a competitor’s site instead.

WordPress don’ts for website development

Okay, so we covered the dos of WordPress website development. Now let’s take a magnifying glass and look into the things you don’t want to do with a WordPress site.

Person trying to develop and code a website by themselves

Don’t try to develop the website yourself

If you are not tech-savvy or do not have a background in WordPress development, do not try to build your site yourself. There are many things that can go wrong during the development process. Additionally, if you are not tech-savvy you may not know how to set up WordPress to best work for your site.

You hire a professional WordPress development team to build your site from start to finish. They will be able to provide you with the website that you need including the design and functionalities. Moreover, if you have any issues they can quickly resolve them for you.

Don’t overuse WordPress plugins

So WordPress websites are built on plugins. The plugin library has over 58,000 free plugins to choose from. These plugins can provide you with any functionality you want. But some websites are overloaded with these plugins.

A healthy number of plugins to use on your WordPress website is between 10 to 20. But we have seen developers who have 50- 70 plugins. This is a huge red flag and usually, this causes more problems than all those plugins are worth.

Our developers have a list of 👉 must-have plugins for WordPress sites 👈, while any aspects can be created by writing a few lines of code. The biggest problem with plugins is that they can create security issues. Each plugin is created by a different author. These authors can produce code and develop plugins to varying degrees. What do I mean by that? The code may be imperfect leaving holes for hackers to exploit.

Another problem with using too many plugins is they will slow down your site. They slow down the front end of your site and the back end. So not only will the website load slowly for your visitor but also your WordPress admin panel load slowly as well.

Don’t choose a poor-quality hosting service

Our developers will tell you that choosing a poor-quality website hosting provider is the wrong way to go. Honestly, it’s worth 👉 investing in a good quality hosting provider 👈 because it will make all the difference for your site. The exact same site on various hosting providers will have varying results in PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom.

You want to choose a website hosting provider that will help you with speed optimization and website performance optimization. A website host that we recommend to all our WordPress website owners is Cloudways.

Using 👉 Cloudways 👈 you gain valuable features and advantages. Some valuable features include:

  • provides additional cache layers
  • production and development aspect that is connected to the repository

Moreover, Cloudways hosting services are ultra-fast, with no delays in loading, and are based on a cloud infrastructure. Additionally, it provides a high level of security and ease of scalability. Lastly, and probably most importantly, the server is adapted to WordPress sites.

People-adding-too-many-visual-elements-to-their-website-design

Don’t overwhelm the customer with visual elements of design

You want to avoid using too many visual elements on your website that will overshadow what you are trying to offer. Visual elements can enhance your site when used in a moderate way. You should avoid adding too many images, videos, animations, etc. as it can be overwhelming for the user. Moreover, it can cover what you are trying to sell and the message you are trying to get across.

Don’t forget to update your WordPress core & plugins regularly

Something that many people forget or avoid doing is updating WordPress core and WordPress plugins on a regular basis. This is a big no-no. You should be running updates as often as they are released. Better yet you should hire a professional 👉 WordPress Support 👈 team to run maintenance for your site.

When you update your WordPress core you gain new features but also boost the security of your website. This is because with every update WordPress tries to patch up holes that were discovered in previous versions. This way WordPress can stay on top of preventing hackers from accessing your site.

When you update plugins on a regular basis you also increase security. But also any bugs in the previous version may be worked out and you will likely gain some new features.

Launching a WordPress site optimized for speed performance

Don’t forget to optimize your site for speed & performance regularly

👉 Website performance 👈 plays an important role in user interaction. If you have too much time loading the website you want the user to move quickly to another site. It isn’t worth it for people who are frustrated by slowing down. It is possible to improve page performance by using caching on browsers.

Browser caches are a method to permanently cache a webpage in the web browser of the website that is being visited. This will prevent the need to send a request to the server for your site to appear, thus increasing site speed. To enable caching on your site, use a caching plugin.

Moreover, you can also use lazyloading on your site to improve speed. Lazyloading enables you to asynchronously load things on your site. You can choose in what order to load JavaScript and CSS files. Also, you can choose to load text before images and videos. It’s important to note that your user will not be impacted by the use of lazy loading. Everything above the fold will load right away and then as they scroll everything will load within 2 seconds.

Don’t overuse pop-ups on your WordPress website

Pop-ups can annoy website visitors especially if they appear just seconds after they enter your site. A pop-up can be useful if it is executed properly. For example, you can have a pop-up appear if a user is on a given blog post for a few minutes. But not right away when someone barely enters your site. You want to give them time to get to know your site and then a pop-up may be a successful way in gaining another email address to your database.

Why you should pick professional WordPress development services?

If you are looking to build a website, WordPress is an excellent choice. It offers an easy-to-use platform for creating a website with minimal technical knowledge. However, if you want to get the most out of your WordPress site, it’s best to invest in 👉 professional WordPress development services 👈. Professional developers can provide custom solutions that fit your needs and help you create the perfect website for your business.

They can also help you install WordPress and choose the right WordPress theme for your site. With their expertise and experience, professional web development services will ensure that your WordPress site is developed with the highest quality standards in mind.

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Summary of WordPress website do’s and don’ts

Let’s give you a quick rundown of WordPress do’s and don’ts. Here is our top WordPress do’s when creating a website:

  • Do choose a custom WordPress theme
  • Do create backups of your WordPress site
  • Do create & implement a security strategy for your site
  • Do use SEO-friendly permalinks
  • Make your user interface simple and intuitive
  • Do install and use Google Tag Manager
  • Do focus on content marketing if you want your site to make you money
  • Do use a caching plugin
  • Do use a CDN content delivery network
  • Do use an SSL certificate
  • Do create a Cookie Notice Bar
  • Do take care of the UX part
  • Do provide WordPress with the right email address for your admin account
  • Do double-check that your contact form works properly
  • Make sure that your developer’s console doesn’t show any errors
  • Make sure phone numbers and emails on your site are hyperlinked and clickable

If you want to learn more about developing WordPress websites and the do’s and don’ts, 👉 drop us a line 👈. Let’s chat and see if our WordPress development services would be the right choice for you.

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