Many site owners focus on the aesthetics of their new site, but overlook important “under the hood” basics. Here are the five most common mistakes I uncover while working with website + branding clients AND how you can solve them yourself.

5 common WordPress website mistakes and beginner tips for how to fix them. Learn about security, updates, plugins, image optimization, and more.

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1 – Writing Content Outside of WordPress

Let’s start with a simple one. Where do you actually write your blog posts? If it’s not directly into WordPress, you’re missing out… especially with the new Gutenberg block editor!

If you’re still writing your blog posts in your word processing program {think Word}, then it’s time to make the jump straight into your WordPress dash. This will prevent formatting issues and let you take advantage of Headings, Quotes, Lists, and other special features. As a bonus, it also automatically saves your work as you go.

If you do decide to write outside of the WordPress editor, Google Docs are my recommendation. You can format Headings into Google Docs that hold their style when pasted into WordPress.

2 – Skipping Security

Your WordPress security should keep your site safe from spam and false logins alike. Thankfully there are plugs like Antispam Bee to reduce spam comments and Wordfence to handle malicious attempts.

You can add an additional layer of protection by NOT using “admin” as your default login username. The majority of my false login attempts are always bots trying to log in with this default username, which doesn’t even exist on my site. Also, make sure you’re using a strong password that’s unique to each site you run.

Finally, are you using an SSL certificate? This is a FREE option with most hosts that upgrades your URL to https:// instead of http://.

3 – Ignoring Updates

This is a big one. WordPress is not a “once and done” install. WordPress itself, your theme(s), and plugins will all require maintenance. Fortunately, these are usually simple to do.

WordPress can do “automatic” updates, but I personally recommend manual updates instead so you have more control. Sometimes an update is glitchy and needs an immediate update to the update because it causes conflict. For this reason, I’ll typically wait a few dates before making updates to let other people discover the problems first and give them time to be corrected.

IMPORTANT! You should be running some kind of backup on your website. Your host may do this for you, and I run UpDraftPlus as an additional layer. These backups will be invaluable should your site crash due to maintenance, so always make sure you have one that’s up-to-date before any changes.

Not sure if you need updates? If you’re using Wordfence, you’ll receive daily emails with notifications that let you know when your site needs updates. Or when you log into your WordPress dash, pay attention to the left sidebar which will notify you with little icons beside any needed updates.

Typically the update is very simple. You can click to view the specifics of the update and then click “update now” and WordPress will do the rest.

However sometimes there are MAJOR updates that you need to be more cautious about. For an update like this, I always do my due diligence before hitting update.

You can read more about maintaining and updating your WordPress website in this post.

Use these DIY WordPress maintenance tips to keep your site running at peak performance with weekly, monthly, and annual checklists.

4 – Slowing It Down or Overloading Storage

I don’t know anyone who likes sitting in traffic. Is your site slowing you down? Speed matters! There are two big ways to speed up your site– cache and compress.

Website caching means that some of your content is stored as-is for returning users so that your site loads faster for them in the future. WP Super Cache is a free option.

Compressing means you should load the smallest version of an image necessary to look good on your site. I usually upload most post and product images at a maximum width of 800 pixels (full-width images on main pages will be larger, typically 1200px or 1900px wide). Bulk Resize and TinyPNG can make this easy.

In addition to processing your images before uploading, you can take it a step further by compressing them on your site with a plugin like Smush Image Compression. SiteGround offers a built-in optimizer that’s a great step too.

For a premium option that does both website caching and image compression, consider WP Rocket with Imagify.

5 – Installing Too Many Plugins

If you listen to nothing else, listen to this. Do not go overboard on plugins. There are plugins for just about everything, each one shinier and more impressive than the last.

However, each plugin adds extra bulk to your site (speed) and opens the door to needing extra updates and security.

Your goal should be to use as few plugins as possible to get the job done. Before installing a new plugin, ask yourself if you really need it.

If you opt to discontinue using a plugin, be sure to deactivate and delete it.

Need More WordPress Help?

I am always here to help with your WordPress needs. Whether you need design, installation, or maintenance help… I’m here! Browse popular services in my shop, or contact me for custom needs.

You can also find more free DIY WordPress guides on my blog.

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