9 Common WordPress Setup Mistakes

Building a WordPress website is so common these days (43% of the internet!) that almost everyone has a horror story or two of mistakes made during development. We’ve consulted our expert team of WordPress developers and collected the best advice to help you avoid these costly WordPress setup mistakes!

This article will discuss nine common WordPress setup mistakes that can cost you time and money down the road. We’ll also share some simple ways to avoid them so you can build your website quickly and efficiently.

You are not using a child theme.

If you’ve customized your theme to match your personal taste and branding, those changes will get overwritten each time the theme’s developer sends out an update. And any developer will tell you that resolving version conflicts between files is a nightmare and takes way more time than it’s worth. The ideal solution? Use a child theme.

With a child theme, you can have a separate functions.php file that can override the parent theme’s functions and in which you can add anything new that won’t be overwritten with a theme update. You can also have a stylesheet that is loaded after the parent theme’s stylesheet, ensuring any new additions/changes are respected.

You are activating too many or unnecessary plugins.

It’s tempting to dive headfirst into the enormous swimming pool of plugins in the WordPress repository. You could do ANYTHING with your site! Sell things! Offer online booking!  Show office hours depending on the day! The sky is the limit. Remember, with great responsibility (and vulnerability) comes with great plugins.

  • Not all plugins are created equal. Some plugins are resource-intensive, and others may conflict with your theme or other plugins. If you don’t need it, delete it.
  • It’s best to use the most straightforward plugin to accomplish your goal. Many plugins have multiple functions, and if you’re not using all of them, then it’s a waste of precious resources.
  • If you’re unsure if the plugin you want to use is compatible with your version of WordPress, test it out before activating it on your website. You can do this by deactivating all other plugins and seeing if the page builder works appropriately without them. If you see any errors after activating a new plugin, delete it immediately!
  • Make sure that any third-party plugins are updated with the latest versions available from their developers – bugs can often be fixed by updating these things too!
load time of a website chart

“Since 40% of visitors will exit a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load, watching the number of plugins you install is beneficial to your website’s success.” – Torque Mag

Installing unnecessary plugins is a common mistake, especially for beginners.

While some excellent plugins can help you speed up your website setup process, plenty of gimmicky ones do nothing but make you jump through hoops for no reason.

  • Before installing any plugin, make sure it will be helpful for you. Browse through the plugins that come with your page builder theme, such as:
    • Add-ons for things like analytics and marketing tracking; you don’t need it. Set up Google Analytics instead.
    • Plugins that provide extra functionality on the front end like sliders; you probably don’t need that, as your page builder theme likely comes with slider modules.
    • Ecommerce features (WooCommerce); Are you selling anything? If not – you don’t need it!

You are activating unnecessary modules in your page builder.

Page builders come with a lot of VERY COOL modules! When you’re done with site development, deactivate any modules you didn’t use. This can help with your site’s load speed, which is especially important if you have a lot of traffic or are trying to make sales on your website. If you don’t need a module, don’t activate it!

Don’t activate features in your page builder’s backend that aren’t used on any pages or posts (unless they contain code for things like accessibility). Your visitors won’t see these options while browsing, so there’s no reason to keep them active.

This also makes an excellent case for why we suggest using Beaver Builder and the Beaver Builder Theme – so you have complete control over what modules and plugins are active. Frequently other page builder themes force you to have a lot of unnecessary modules and plugins active that come built-in with the theme. This can cause site bloat and slow your website performance.

You’re not updating plugins and themes on an ongoing basis.

Once you’re done with the initial website build, it’s easy to forget the need to update plugins and themes. It’s vital that you update your site regularly to ensure that all your content is running smoothly and securely.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to check if you’re up-to-date. Your theme should have specific instructions on how to update it, but if not, there are other methods:

  • WordPress and page builder themes do include an automatic update feature. However, we do not recommend this. Having an experienced team of developers take care of your website maintenance will give you peace of mind that the updates are being done correctly and that you have a team that knows what to do if a plugin or theme incompatibility breaks your website.
  • Your theme’s documentation should also offer instructions for manually updating it. If you don’t have much experience maintaining a WordPress website, we recommend an experienced developer help you with this if you need a manual update.

You are ignoring your source code.

It is vitally important that you understand (or you have a team that understands) how your website is constructed. This will enable you to make the necessary adjustments when issues arise. If a problem occurs, ask yourself:

  • What has changed on the page?
  • How did this change occur?

Making notes during the website development phase is crucial so you can know how different sections/parts of the website come together. Additionally, comments within the code help a lot, either within custom templates or functions.php

You are not adequately preloading your images.

An image is a crucial part of your website. It can help to sell products, summarize an idea, or even make people laugh. But what if your images don’t load as quickly as they could?

That’s where preloading comes in. Preloading allows you to load images before users visit the page containing them, which means that when someone finally goes there, their browser has already downloaded all the necessary files! This can improve performance by eliminating excess loading time.

Ask us about excellent tools like WP Rocket, which provides preloading among many other performance improvements to give your site that extra boost.

page load times

“According to Think With Google, page loading times of between 1 and 3 seconds are likely to scare away a third of visitors to that page. And if the page takes six seconds or more to load, then nobody is going to stick around to see what it has to offer.” – WP Lift

You are choosing fast and cheap website hosting.

Airlines tend to overbook flights to ensure 100% capacity and save on costs. They compensate you if you’re held back from being on the flight because, let’s face it, an aircraft has a specific capacity, and it wouldn’t be safe otherwise to overbook.

So, would you get on a plane that flies roundtrip with 150% capacity overload, or even 200%?

You wouldn’t.

Then, why would you trust your business website on a server (aka the aircraft) with sometimes even more ‘passengers’ in percentage over capacity? This is a catastrophic incident waiting to happen, where the face of your business crashes and burns.

Luckily, you can prevent this from ever happening.

Here are a few things to consider when comparing hosts and deciding who’s the best for your WordPress site.

You want all the bells and whistles when it comes to design.

There’s a lot of talk about the design and function of websites. As designers, we can tell you that there’s a massive difference between something that looks nice and something that is usable for people who visit your site.

People want to feel like they’re part of something special when they browse your website, but if the only thing special about it is how pretty it looks then what’s the point? Sure, some sites are so beautiful that you don’t even have to use them as functional tools. But if you’re trying to make an impression on potential clients or customers while also communicating information effectively, then you need to be careful how much time you spend on aesthetics alone versus functionality.

  • Careful using full-size images and videos – they can bog down your site by slowing page speed and performance.
  • Don’t add too many sliders or fancy transitions – especially on the homepage. Too much movement is not the way to create a worthwhile user experience.

You are avoiding great knowledge resources.

There are MANY. Which to choose? You’re not alone, and we can help.

Just as you must be careful about your resources, so must you be cautious about your WordPress and page builder setup strategy. To give yourself the best chance of success, avoid common pitfalls others have already encountered and learned.

We recommend browsing other great resources like:

Alternatively, hire a team of pros (like us) to figure it out for you!

You can build websites efficiently when you avoid these common WordPress setup mistakes.

Building websites efficiently is the key to success for any business to get ahead in a highly volatile environment: the web! When you set up your website correctly, it will be much easier to manage and update.

Further Reading: How to Approach Modern WordPress Development

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