As a person who’s business is WordPress, I’ve worked with a lot of clients who come to me after having bizarre technical issues with their sites that they can’t figure out (or rather, their time is better spent building their business!). Generally, these issues are caused by a handful of maintenance tasks that if paid attention to and done regularly, alleviate a whole lot of frustration.
Here are the 5 common mistakes I’ve seen with clients using WordPress for their business sites:
1. Pasting content directly from Microsoft Word.
If you write your content in a program like Microsoft Word first, then copy and paste it directly into your WordPress post, it will come with a lot of extra ‘code’ in the background that will make your formatting all goofy. Specifically, it will challenge your ability to use your theme’s built in styles to make your posts and pages look great.
The result is messy looking posts and pages that will drive you crazy as you try to format it in WordPress. Unless you know HTML and CSS and can edit it out in the back end, of course.
But there’s a much better way.
So if you like to write in a program like Word first – and many people do – you’ve got a couple of choices:
- Copy your paste into a text editor like Notepad or TextEdit first;
- Convert it to ‘plain text’, which strips out all that extra stuff;
- Copy that into your WordPress post OR use an editor plug-in that offers a special little icon in the toolbar that will open up a space where you can place your text, then it will strip out the extraneous code. Keep in mind that you’ll lose all your formatting – but that’s actually a good thing. You want to use the formatting options that come with WordPress.
2. Not keeping plug-ins updated.
This is probably the biggest mistake I see, and it can cause some serious cracks in your site. You absolutely, totally and completely need to keep your plug-ins, theme and WordPress core files updated. If you’d rather spend your time building your business and creating great content, there are professionals who can help you keep everything ship shape (us included!). Your site is a huge investment of time and energy (and yes, sometimes money) – be sure to keep it protected!
3. Hosting in an unstable hosting environment.
Sadly, there are some large hosting companies out there who sadly seem to have a lot of issues with securing their clients’ sites, particularly on the shared servers that are hosting so many of our small business sites. A ‘cheap’ site hosting package cost you in the long run.
If you find your hosting company is having regular ‘issues’, your site is getting hit by malware attacks regularly, you’re getting warnings about brute force attack attempts, or their whole system is confusing or just seems like a giant sales pitch, it might be time to consider another host.
There are a lot of great hosting options out there, large and small, covering a huge range of site needs. But for most small business owners, the hosts listed on my ‘Resources’ page suit well (I keep this list up to date based on my and others’ current experiences). Keep in mind, though, that hosting companies change over time, and one that’s excellent today may not be quite so amazing tomorrow… we’ve learned that the hard way. Good news is that it’s pretty easy to change hosts if you have to – some hosting companies will even move your site to their servers for free.
4. Not using the theme’s available styles.
If you’re using a premium theme like one from Elegant Themes or Studiopress, you’ll have all sorts of opportunities to make your site look great. Be sure to use the built-in theme styles you’ll find under the editor drop-down titled ‘Format’ that shows ‘Paragraph’ as the default, as well as the options shown in the drop-down menu titled ‘Styles’.
Do your best not to change font sizes and such manually in the editor if you want your posts and pages to look cohesive across your site.
If you don’t know how to amend your theme’s font styles or paragraph spacing, there are lots of tutorials available from all of the main premium theme developers. Or you can get some technical assistance and focus on doing what you do best!
5. Using images not optimized for online viewing.
When you’re uploading pictures to your website, be sure that they’re optimized for the web. There are a lot of tools to do this, but a really simple one is available at picmonkey.com. You want your images to be ‘shrunk’ to about the right dimensions for your purposes, and saved in a format like jpg (if there’s no transparency around the image) or png (creates larger file sizes, but allows for transparent backgrounds) for the web. Picmonkey.com will allow you to choose the file size when you save your final file. Super handy.
If you attend to these five common mistakes, you’ll reduce your frustration factor and help your site maintenance be a joy, and not a pain.
Have you ever had any of the above issues affect your WordPress site? If so, let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear your story!