Due to its popularity, WordPress today, powers over 1/3 of websites on the internet and has become the most widely used content management system. It has become an extremely popular tool among web design agencies and web developers due to its ease of use, scalability, its access to thousands of plugins that extend its functionality, and best of all its price-point: free!
WordPress has simplified the web development process by allowing a non-technical person to build a website without writing a single line of code; however, understanding HTML/CSS & PHP can certainly come at an advantage in customizing themes.
Unfortunately, mistakes are often made when developing in WordPress which can negatively affect a website’s user experience and search visibility. In this article, you’ll learn about common mistakes that if avoided can impact your website’s online presence.
1. Not Using a Child Theme
A child theme is a separate theme that inherits functionality and style from another theme called the parent theme. WordPress provides updates to its core files and plugins periodically with new bug patches, additional code, and features. If you plan on modifying any WordPress files it’s important to move them into the child folder where they will be unaffected during updates.
2. Not Paying Attention to Page Speed
According to Unbounce, web pages that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that take five seconds or more to load have an average bounce rate of 38%.
Slow loading pages will not only affect user experience by high bounce rates and lower conversions but also affect search ranking according to Google. The typical culprits that cause poor site performance are often web hosting, using large size images, and bloated code which increases the page size.
Installing a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache or WP Rocket can shave seconds off a site’s loading time which can make massive improvement user experience. GTmetrix and Pingdom Website Speed Test are two online tools to check page speed and also provide valuable insight into what issues may be affecting your website’s performance.
3. Using Too Many Plugins
Plugins can add additional code to a website to introduce new features and extend functionality. WordPress beginners commonly make the mistake of installing too many plugins which can lead to bloating a website with additional code and produce adverse effects. Too many plugins can result in slowing down page speed, plugin conflicts or worse crash a website.
Often WordPress beginners also install unnecessary plugins to achieve functionality that is already exiting with their theme. It’s easy to go plugin crazy however it’s important to consider the quantity and quality of WordPress plugins installed.
4. Choosing a Poor Theme
WordPress themes can define the appearance, layout, and style of a website. There are tens of thousands of WordPress themes that are available online which typically cost around $50. Choosing the right theme to use for your website is important as it can determine ease of use, site performance, and search engine ranking, so be sure to choose a reliable theme.
The most popular WordPress themes include DIVI, Avada, and Enfold which can be found on the popular theme website themeforest.net in addition to almost 50,000 other premium themes. Choosing a WordPress theme can be a daunting task; however, it’s important to choose the right theme which has a flexible layout rather than one based on the stock images used.
5. Not Focusing on SEO
Search engine optimization is the practice of improving the visibility of a website in the search results. It is often overlooked by most web designers since it is a pretty taboo subject. Matt Cutts, previously the head of the search team at Google, stated that Google loves WordPress websites due to its SEO capabilities. YOAST for SEO is the most widely used plugin for WordPress. It provides several features including setting metadata such as title tags and generating an XML sitemap to submit to Google Console.
WordPress can be a powerful tool; however, when not used properly, it can cause significant user experience and SEO issues.