7 Most Common WordPress Developer Mistakes

A man coding a website.

One of the best things about WordPress is that it’s open source. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can get online and begin using it. Heck, with enough coding knowledge and drive, they could even start programming themes or plugins. But sometimes even the most seasoned developers make mistakes. Here are seven of the most common WordPress developer mistakes and how to avoid them.

Choosing the Wrong Host

You could have the greatest website in the world, but if you’re with a bad host, that won’t matter. Choosing the right host can be a tough decision. That’s why it’s important to weigh all your options. From managed and dedicated hosting to cloud and VPS hosting, there are tons of hosts out there waiting for you; you just have to decide which is the right fit for your business.

Managed Hosting

Managed Hosting is a type of hosting where the server owner provides maintenance and support to your site while you get on running your business. Depending on the company, your managed host could take care of WP core and plugin updates, provide you with a support team to help keep your site up and running, and even a global CDN that would help your site’s content be visible across the world.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting, on the other hand, is a completely self-driven type of hosting. Instead of someone else owning and operating the servers, it’s your job to run, maintain, and update any processes that occur on them. This means hiring a dedicated staff of experts to perform maintenance, but it also means having greater control over your architecture.

Choosing the right host for your website is a big decision. It could mean the difference between your site running at 100% and 50%, so do your research and find what works best for you.

Choosing Out of Date Plugins or Themes

While being open source is a great thing for individuals wanting a choice, it’s also a bane for developers. While there are literally thousands of options for plugins and themes available to you, not all plugins are created equal. Some are developed by WordPress gurus who have been around since the beginning of the platform. They’re constantly updating their plugin, ensuring it’s secure and stable.

Others create plugins or themes and never update them again. Keep an eye out for these ‘orphan’ plugins or themes, as using one could mean extreme security vulnerability for your site. It could also mean your site is more prone to breaking than one that uses updated and maintained plugins.

Getting too Complicated

The old adage ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ is applicable everywhere, especially when it comes to WordPress web design. Crowding your site with huge images, unnecessary plugins, and overly complicated code can slow your site down to a crawl.

How do you know if your site is getting too complicated? It often happens after it’s too late. Perform regular maintenance and cleanup on your site so you know how each page is operating. Get rid of unnecessary code and plugins, check that you’re not serving complex images in WordPress, and ensure that everything is working at peak efficiency.

Ignoring Updates

Updates are a part of technology, whether you like it or not. Software and hardware both update regularly, often to patch security or performance issues. Always stay on top of plugin, theme, or WordPress core updates. Vulnerabilities in the backend of sites often give bad actors the ability to break in and steal sensitive information, and updating regularly can keep them at bay. That’s why we take care of WordPress Core updates for you, so we can ensure security for all sites on our servers.

While updates are usually a good thing, they can also cause issues with sites. Updates should always be pushed to staging environments first, and then made live. Or you could invest in a tool that automatically updates sites for you, ensuring that your site is working the same after the update as it was before.

Knowing WordPress Standards

WordPress has strict coding standards for individuals that develop for its platform. This ensures that when other developers feel inclined to go into the backend of a plugin or theme to alter it in some way, they will be able to read and understand the way the .php, HTML, or CSS is written. Many newer developers, especially developers new to WordPress, may forget about these standards and begin to develop in their own way, causing headaches for others. Remember: WordPress is open source, so everyone can see your work when you’re done writing. You want it to be as clean and user-friendly as possible.

Not Taking Security Seriously

In the past, WordPress was often viewed as an unsafe platform. While no one is trying to argue that WordPress doesn’t have any faults, it is now exponentially more secure than it once was. If developers take security seriously, they can create a platform that even the most rugged hacker would have difficulty infiltrating.

In order to create a secure site, try developing with these tips in mind:

Find a Secure Host

Many hosts offer extra layers of security on top of the ones already in place on your site. This makes it that much more difficult for bad actors to attempt to hack your site or to install malicious software.

Use a Secure Password

This one goes without saying, but use a secure password for your admin login. It’s amazing how many robots attempt to access the /wp-admin pages of WordPress sites. If you leave your username as ‘admin’ and your password as ‘password,’ your site is already compromised.

Install a free SSL Certificate

Free SSL certificates are the standard for security online. Google even docks sites without one installed, so if you want to make it to page one, you’d better get one loaded onto your site. Luckily Pressable offers them for free with your managed WordPress hosting subscription.

Loading Unoptimized Images

You have to have images on your website. What would a webpage be without a header image? A logo? Even social media sharing icons? But before uploading all of these images to your site, it’s important to ensure they’re optimized for their purpose. We have the perfect article with tips for speeding up your WordPress website. Ensure that header images aren’t loading as 8” x 10” images. Same with social media icons. You want to ensure that each and every image is only using the bare minimum resources necessary to load and function on your site. This means your site will load and perform faster for users.

Although there are plenty of mistakes you can make as a developer, they’re easy to fix and quick to overcome. How? By doing. The fastest way to learn if you’re developing correctly is to do it. So go. Learn from your mistakes, and start taking advantage of the vast community that exists out there in WordPress land. There are plenty of individuals who are (or were) in the same position you are, and they’re glad to help you succeed.

Zach Wiesman

Zach has 12+ years of experience with WordPress, from creating and maintaining client sites, to providing support and developing documentation. A knack for problem-solving and providing solutions led Zach to pursue a job with Automattic providing customer support in 2015 working with WooCommerce support, and now Zach has recently joined our team here at Pressable. Outside of work, Zach enjoys spending time with his family, playing and watching sports, and working on projects around the house.

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