10 Mistakes to avoid when creating a WordPress site
As a website caregiver, I’m often asked to take over a site created by my client or their previous service provider. In both cases, I’ve found a lot of mistakes which could easily have been avoided. Here are a few I’ve seen recently.
1. Using admin as your username
Using admin as your username is a huge security risk. If someone wanted to try to break into your site, that’s the first thing they would try.
If you were given admin as your username by a one-step WordPress installation tool or someone who didn’t know any better, it’s not too late to do something about it. Simply create a new user with admin access, log in as the new user, and delete the original user, making sure you attribute any posts and pages created to the new user.
There are also plugins that enable you to change your username, but many aren’t compatible with the current version of WordPress, so make sure you choose one that is.
2. Uploading videos or images over 100 KB
The trend these days is to include large, sometimes full screen photos, on blog posts and web pages. What you may not realize is that the time it takes a web browser to load your page depends in part on the size of the files it has to open. The larger the files, the longer it will take.
It’s not just about the size the image appears on your screen, but the resolution. An online image doesn’t need to be print quality. I covered this in my post, Are those big photos slowing down your website?
As video files tend to be quite large, instead of uploading them to your website where they’ll use a lot of system resources and slow things down, upload them to YouTube, Vimeo, or another third-party platform and embed them on your site.
3. Installing plugins you don’t need
When you install WordPress, the Akismet and Hello Dolly plugins come with it automatically.
Akismet is a good plugin for filtering out spam comments, but if you don’t have a blog, you don’t need it. If you have a blog, you’ll need an API key to activate the service. API keys for Akismet are free for personal blogs, but for business use, you’ll need a paid subscription. A free plugin such as Antispam Bee will likely do a good enough job, and you can save your money for something else.
Hello Dolly doesn’t do anything but randomly display lyrics from the song of the same name on your admin screen. Just get rid of it.
Depending on your hosting service and/or the method you use to install WordPress, other plugins may be included. Find out what they do and delete any that you don’t need. Don’t keep them just in case you decide to use them later; you can install up-to-date versions at that time.
For help reviewing your plugins, read Do your plugins make your website shine?
4. Choosing a sketchy hosting company
Don’t assume a company is good just because they’re well-known. Many of the big names out there are owned by a super huge company known for buying up smaller hosting businesses. Customers of those smaller brands usually experience a terrible drop in service after being taken over by EIG (Endurance International Group, now known as Newfold Digital).
To determine whether your hosting company makes the grade, read Is it time to break up with your hosting service?
5. Not installing a security plugin
Maybe you’re not worried about security on your website. After all, yours is a small business and there’s nothing on your site that would be of interest to a hacker, right?
Let me tell you that hacking isn’t limited to major corporations who store credit card numbers and other sensitive client information on their servers. I know of several one-person operations who ended up paying hundreds of dollars to have malware removed from their site, sometimes even needing to rebuild it from scratch. Don’t let this happen to you!
A good security plugin will block unauthorized logins and monitor for any suspicious files or other activity.
6. Failing to set up a backup system
Even if you maintain good security practices, you should always have a backup available. There are plenty of plugins that allow you to back up your WordPress site. Some will back it up automatically according to a regular schedule, while others require you to do it manually.
Make sure your backups aren’t stored in the same place as your website. If anything does go wrong, you may not be able to access your backups!
7. Operating without a maintenance plan
If you’ve created your own WordPress site, you may not realize the importance of regular website maintenance. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?
I’ve had clients who were told by their web designer that they didn’t need someone else to look after maintenance on their behalf because all they have to do is click on “Update” whenever they see it. What they neglected to mention is that it’s not always that simple.
Before you decide to manage your own website, make sure you allow time in your schedule to check for updates, apply them, test to make sure everything is working as it should, and fix anything that goes wrong. If you feel unsure about any of that, consider a Website Care Plan.
8. Not setting your time zone
When you install WordPress, it will set the time zone to UTC+0, also known as Greenwich Mean Time. Unless you live in that time zone, change your settings to reflect your actual location.
Having the wrong time zone won’t break your site or slow it down like some of the other things I’ve mentioned. However, if it’s wrong, the time stamps on your blog posts, comments, and any emails generated from your website will be incorrect, which can be confusing and make it difficult to troubleshoot problems.
9. Publishing pages with no content other than “coming soon”
I get it that you’re eager to get your site up and running, and a website is always a work in progress. However, if one or more pages have nothing on them but a heading and “coming soon,” it looks amateurish – especially if it stays that way for months on end. Hide those pages until they’re ready to publish.
Please note that I’m referring to pages linked from your website’s main navigation menu. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a “coming soon” page while your site is under development.
10. Using inconsistent pronouns
Many small business owners struggle with how to refer to themselves on their website. I often see I, we, she, and/or they used on the same site, and even on the same page.
Referring to your business as we is perfectly acceptable even if there’s only one of you, especially if your plan is to eventually build a team. But once you make that decision, stick with it. Don’t use we on some pages and I on others.
If you prefer to use I to emphasize the fact that you are the person clients will be dealing with, that’s okay too. But don’t say I on one page and she on another.
A good copywriter can help if you’re struggling with this.
An Even Bigger Mistake
In this post, I’ve described some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen, but this is far from a complete list.
The biggest mistake you can make when starting a website is not taking the time to set goals and develop a strategy to reach them. This includes identifying your target market, writing powerful calls to action, search engine optimization, and much more than I can include here.
If you have questions, I invite you to leave a comment below or contact me directly.
Photo by Vadymvdrobot / DepositPhotos