WordPress drives nearly 27 percent of the world’s more than one billion websites. Open source and totally free, WordPress makes it easy for beginners, experienced site designers and everyone in between to create a web presence in under an hour. But because this versatile and flexible content management system offers so many options and features, it’s easy to make mistakes that slow down your site, interfere with security and limit search engine visibility. Here are five big mistakes to avoid when you’re setting up your site.
1. Choosing the Wrong Theme
WordPress offers an extensive directory of free and premium themes that can be accessed directly from any new installation, and many more themes are available from third party developers around the world. With so many options available, it’s easy to choose a theme that’s problematic for your site. Buying or downloading a theme from an untrustworthy site can introduce malware, and a poorly designed theme may not work with WordPress plugins or other features.Even a theme from a reputable vendor or one provided by WordPress itself can be “wrong.” A theme’s features and look may not reflect your site’s purpose, or they may need customization that’s beyond your skills. Plan your site’s look and content before choosing a theme, and carefully read theme descriptions before installing them.
2. Keeping the Default Admin Username
When you install WordPress, your new account comes with a default username — “admin.” Many users simply leave that username as is, or forget to change it. But skipping this step can leave your site open to hackers who know that the default is the first username they should try. As soon as possible, change the “admin” username to something unique to help protect the security of your site.
3. Skipping Recommended Updates
WordPress is constantly being updated. So are its many plugins, and these new versions don’t always match your needs. You may want to install a new plugin or theme, but in reality it isn’t compatible with the version of WordPress that’s running your site. Installing recommended updates to WordPress itself and your site’s essential plugins can keep your site running smoothly and safely.
4. Using Default Permalink Settings
The default permalink setting — the unique URL that identifies each post or page — that comes with your new install simply displays a number, which doesn’t give your site any visibility in search engines. New WordPress users often skip customizing this setting, but it’s essential for indexing. In the site settings, change the permalink structure to “post name,” so that keywords from your posts' titles are included in every permalink WordPress generates.
5. Failing to Back Up the Site
WordPress is one of the world’s most stable and secure content management systems. But many factors can cause a WordPress site to crash, become unresponsive or lose pages. Installing a suspect plugin, or a theme from an untrustworthy vendor, can bring a site to a standstill. Without a backup, all your work could be at risk.WordPress is capable of restoring a previous version of your site files, but it’s important to keep a current copy elsewhere, or to install a cache plugin from the extensive catalog of WordPress plugins that comes with your install.WordPress is a multifaceted, flexible platform that can power websites of all kinds. With so many options, it’s easy to make mistakes — but with care and attention, these common errors don’t have to compromise your brand new WordPress website.