We couldn’t be more emphatic in our recommendation of WordPress as the CMS of choice for businesses large and small. It’s an open-source platform that can be up and running within minutes of setting up a hosting package, and it comes with an entire ecosystem of support, themes, plugins and expertise to ease you along and get your website firing on all cylinders.
But that’s not to say it’s impossible to break a WordPress installation. In fact, in many cases the ease of access to themes and plugins that can be its Achilles’ heel. So we thought we should go through the commonest errors made with WordPress installations – and how to fix (or preferably avoid) them.
Using an old version of WordPress
There’s no reason why this should be a problem, because you can set your installation to automatically update to the latest version, but it’s often deactivated.
Some users might justifiably worry that new versions might be unstable, but it’s rarely the case – and any errors are always jumped on quickly. Using an old version leaves you more vulnerable to hackers, but new versions will always perform better too.
Outdated plugins and themes
A similar problem comes with themes and plugins. They are always work in progress, and everything plugin and theme that you have on your website will undergo improvements in speed, functionality and aesthetics, but again, the most important thing is that updates patch up vulnerabilities. A plugin such as Wordfence (free or paid version) will email you every time one of your themes or plugins has an update.
Using common themes
WordPress comes with a new theme every year, called something like Twenty Nineteen. They are customisable to a degree, but aren’t meant to be used professionally. If you do, you’ll end up with a vanilla-looking site, which can be unprofessional.
The same applies to some of the many free themes available – they’re so common that they don’t make websites stand out at all. And if you get them from dodgy websites, don’t be surprised if you also get malware.
It’s better to have a theme, or at least a child theme, professionally designed and built. That way it’s guaranteed to be unique. However, a compromise is to buy a theme off the peg, which won’t be totally unique, but won’t be anywhere nearly as common.
Plugins are the lifeblood of your site, whether it’s a contact form or something major like a WooCommerce shopfront. But don’t forget that every plugin that’s running on your site is using up processing power and bandwidth.
So while it might be tempting to install a wide variety of plugins to enhance your site’s functionality, they all add up – and some are particularly resource-hungry. As with all things with your site, it’s a compromise.
Just keep the plugins that are essential to the site, and remove or deactivate the rest. Install plugins one by one and test your site’s performance. If it suddenly deteriorates, think about changing the last one’s settings or removing it altogether.
Surprisingly common is using uncompressed images on websites. You know the telltale sign – you can see them loading line by line. You can often save up to 40% of an image’s size by compressing it, and it won’t be visibly noticeable. Multiplied by dozens of on-site images, that can represent huge savings of bandwidth.
Tip of the iceberg
If you do nothing else, make sure the issues above are sorted and you should have more secure a site that runs smoothly. Getting under the bonnet is a bit more complicated, but there’s always potential to wring more performance and effectiveness out of your WordPress site. Why not get in touch so we can discuss making or fine-tuning your site?