We love WordPress (obviously!) But there can be some major headaches if you don’t know what to avoid. Lucky for you we are here to tell you 5 BIG mistakes to avoid with WordPress.

Mistake #1- Not backing up before updates.

(We hope it goes without saying that the updates are very important, we will probably say it in a future article anyway…) If you have never experienced the white screen of death or broken features after an update, consider yourself lucky. WordPress is like a carefully managed flash mob. You have the WordPress Core, the active theme and many active plugins, typically all are written by different authors and sometimes they don’t play nice together. Maybe a plugin author is late updating their plugin, maybe there is an error in the code, for whatever reason, conflicts happen and they can break your website. If you have a backup then it’s no problem to restore to the previous state. Always backup your website. We run full backups, including a database backup, every 6 months, and then we run a quick backup with a plugin before doing any updates. To learn more about backing up, consider taking our WordPress Go-To Plugins course.

Mistake #2- Using ‘admin’ as a username.

Having a website makes you a target for hackers, the first username they try to brute force hack is ‘admin’ (and they succeed a lot). Make sure your administrator username and password are secure. Here’s another username related tip: when you are writing blog content, or any front end content where your username may be visible, use a different user account that does not have administrator permissions. Just create a new user with Author or Editor permissions. That way if your blog author’s account gets hacked the most the hacker can do is mess with a few blog posts, much better than taking your entire site hostage don’t you think? To learn more about website security, consider taking our WordPress Security course. Also watch for a new course coming soon that covering custom user roles and permissions.

Mistake #3- Not researching your theme.

Themes are not built by WordPress, they are built by individuals and companies. Some are paid and some are free, some are well supported some are not. It is important to research your theme to be sure you are getting a well built, and well supported theme. For free themes, stick with the WordPress Themes Directory and for premium themes, we are fans of Theme Forest. In both cases, the star rating of a theme is a good place to start, 4 stars or better, and take a look at how many people rated the theme, a 5 star rating from one or two people does not mean as much as a 4 1/2 star rating from one hundred people. Then take a look at the support/comments thread, is the plugin author responding to questions? What are people saying about the theme? What issues are they reporting? After you have established a well built and well supported theme, you would want to look at the features of the theme, as they are all different. From the layout, to the style to the customization options. To learn more about WordPress themes, consider taking our WordPress Themes course.

Mistake #4- Not changing the permalink settings.

Along with other very important WordPress settings, the permalink structure is perhaps the most important of all. The default permalink structure uses the page or post number as the url, this is bad for your users and bad for seo. The most common permalink setting that is good for everyone is ‘post name’ but another option may be better depending on the content of your website. To learn more about WordPress settings, consider taking our Beginner WordPress course.

Mistake #5- Ignoring your website’s speed ranking.

Website speed is very important, check your speed ranking by using Google’s Page Speed Insights. If you do not have any sort of caching plugin installed and configured, you will probably have a pretty poor speed ranking. Poor website speed will also negatively impact your seo and your users. Make sure you cache your website and optimize your images too. To learn more about caching an image optimization, consider taking our WordPress Go-To Plugins course.