Did you know that 19% of the web is run by WordPress? It’s a fantastic content management system, but it is possible to make mistakes, some of which could even be damaging to your business.
We use WordPress on our site because it’s reliable and we’ve had very few problems. I love the plugin architecture where you can easily extend the basic functionality through paid or free plugins. This saves us going out getting developers to build new features, which can be very costly.
But this flexibility comes with a price, and you can really get yourself into a sticky situation and end up with your website not accessible, hackers hacking into your site, poor performance and more.
In this article we outline 7 WordPress problems you should avoid:
1. Login as ‘Admin’
If you or any of your team are logging in as an admin user you need to stop this! You should replace the ‘admin’ user login with a different name.
If a hacker is trying to get in to your system, their very first attempt will be to log in as the ‘admin’ user. After that, they will just need to figure out the password so they have half the job done. Plus, if you still have an admin user they will also think that you haven’t secured your system so will hang around longer.
Action: You need to create a user account with full permissions to the site, but which doesn’t have the ‘admin’ username. Then, delete the existing admin user. Let’s not make the hackers’ jobs easy!
2. Install too many plugins
The ability to add plugins in order to gain a wide range of additional functionality is great. But every time you install a plugin, you are taking a risk:
a). Plugin Bugs: All Plugins have bugs and this can affect your site. There is no perfect piece of software on the planet!
b). Plugin compatibility issues: This is a very common one. You can install a plugin that normally works perfectly, but causes problems on the version of WordPress that you have installed, or that clashes with other your plugins.
c). Security issues: Poor quality plugins can open up security risks to your system.
d). Performance: The more plugins you install, the poorer your website’s performance will be, because each one uses additional resources that have to be loaded when your website loads up.
The more you have, the more potential compatibility issues can arise, so even though there are some that offer really useful tweaks, show some restraint before installing them all!
So what is the best number of plugins you should have installed? The minimum amount possible do to the work you need.
Action: Review the plugins you are no longer using, and uninstall them. There’s always a couple floating around!
3. Not using a staging server
A staging server is a test server that is a replica of your live environment. It’s absolutely essential that you never try out updates on your live server without having thoroughly tested them: a staging server is the place to do this.
For example, if you are installing a new plugin, never ever do this on your live server without testing. 9 times out of 10, if you pick a reputable well known plugin, you will be ok, but for that remaining 1 time out of 10, the plugin will cause problems. It will clash with other plugins, slow down the performance of your site or crash it. The same applies to new themes, layouts etc.
Removing the plugin doesn’t always solve the problem, so you could find yourself in big trouble! You’ll end up with hours of pain and stress and lost visitors, and how much is it going to cost you to fix?
Action: Make sure your development team provides you with a duplicate copy of your live server where you can test things out.
4. Manage security yourself
If you are running your business through your website, it’s so important that it’s safe from hackers. Every day of the week there are hackers trying to get access to your website. Yes, every day! If they do get access to your website you might come in one morning to find that your website has been replaced with another one: I remember coming in to work one day years ago to find out my Digital Agency was now a Russian agency (but nothing to do with digital!).
Security is complex so you need to ensure that you bring in experts to help you. I use a managed hosting service called WPEngine.
WPEngine ensures my site is super fast, it checks that it doesn’t have any dodgy plugins and it protects me from me from hackers. And if, somehow, hackers do get in, they will solve the issue not me! (WPEngine also provides a staging server where I can test out my updates). And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, unless you have lots of traffic (then it becomes too expensive).
Action: Get a security expert to tighten up your security, or consider a management hosting service such as WPEngine.
5. Assume your backups are working
Are you backing up all your data on WordPress? Are you sure everything is backed up? When was the last time you tried to restore files from your backup?
My background is working in software companies and I’ve seen so many instances where people thought they had everything backed up but they didn’t. Important data was lost, and sometimes it was impossible to retrieve it. So don’t just assume your backups work, so check it. It’s highly likely that less is backed up than you expected!
Action: Assume your site is gone and, every 3 to 6 months, try to restore a backup to another server. This will give you peace of mind and protect you if this ever really does happen.
6. Not Considering Performance
The speed of your website is incredibly important: it is one of the factors that Google considers when ranking your site but – more significantly – if your website is slow your visitors won’t come back.
This problem is now worse than ever before, because of the number of people browsing your website on a mobile device. Typically, on a mobile device, you are out and about and you may not have a high-speed connection, which means that a website download is even going to be slower.
So, how do you know if your website is loading too slowly? Is your home page taking 10 seconds or more to download? If so, then changes are needed, because that is too slow. You should certainly be under 5 seconds. You can test the speed of the download using a tool called Web page test (very original name!).
From this tool alone we found that our home page is super fast, but because of all the images in our blog posts, our posts load more slowly. This means that we need to optimize our images more.
Action: Review the performance of a selection of pages on your website. There are some caching plugins available, which help to reduce the speed by storing pages in memory. This means you don’t have to go back to the hard disk to retrieve them (which makes it slower). These plugins generally require some technical help to optimize: some examples are WP Total Cache and WP Super Cache.
7. Not performing a regular audit
After you have been running your website for a while, you start making assumptions. You assume that everything works correctly, when, over time, things are actually inclined to change. So although you may have had good security, for example, that may not still be the case.
Action: Consider a regular audit on your blog even every 6 months. This should cover things like:
a) Speed of your site – Has your site performance gone down since the last audit? The speed of your website is vital, so you need to make sure that it is kept low.
b) Security – Are there any new security risks that were not there before? Perhaps you have upgraded a plugin which opened up a new security risk?
c) Backups – Is everything backed up as expected?
d) Content – Is there any duplication of content? Are there issues related to optimization of content?
WordPress is a really powerful and flexible system, but having that flexibility means we’re open to many more issues. If you’re not having any WordPress problems at the moment that doesn’t mean to say that you won’t have problems in the future, so it’s important to protect yourself.
We love some action!
a) Comment below – We always love to hear your feedback, even if it is just to say you liked the post.
b) Share – Share this post out to your community: they may also get value from it.
c) Action – Implement some of the steps above. Start making some improvements.
d). Read this post on WordPress plugins