Almost everyone in the WordPress industry has fallen for one of these in the past. Make sure you don’t repeat their mistakes!
WordPress is an elegant and powerful content management system (CMS) with an open-source architecture. It should come as no surprise that it’s also the most popular system of its kind on the Internet, and has been for years.
There are easily millions of developers out there using WordPress, developing plugins, and creating custom themes. Some of them are more successful than others. Some of them make mistakes that end up costing them client contracts.
Part of learning how to become a successful WordPress developer is making mistakes. But if you learn from other peoples’ mistakes, you can go farther and faster with your career than many others.
7 Mistakes Almost Every New WordPress Developer Makes
Newcomers to the world of WordPress development often make a ton of mistakes before finding the right path to success. It’s virtually guaranteed that every WordPress professional will make one or two of these mistakes on the way – unless they learn to look out for them beforehand.
- Choosing the Wrong Hosting Plan
Even if you have the best development skills in the world, your world-class website isn’t worth much if it won’t load properly. Hosting is an incredibly important factor for guaranteeing rapid, high-quality website performance, and it’s especially true for WordPress sites.
WordPress developers typically choose between three types of hosting plans:
- Shared hosting puts your website on a server that hosts multiple different websites. This is usually the least expensive hosting plan available, but it also comes with the most severe limitations. You can’t optimize traffic or bandwidth on a shared server because you can’t configure the server directly – it’s not yours.
- Managed hosting agreements usually combine hosting, server maintenance, and technical support along with WordPress specific services like plugin updates. Some managed hosting providers even offer a global CDN that vastly improves website security and page load times.
- Dedicated hosting gives your website its own dedicated server. You are free to configure this server as you see fit. You’re also responsible for running, maintaining, and updating the server to guarantee security and performance.
Each of these plans has its own benefits and drawbacks. Choosing the right one for your WordPress website is one of the first decisions you must make as a WordPress professional.
- Using Obsolete Plugins and Themes
The fact that WordPress is open source means that website owners have a great deal of choice when it comes to plugins and themes. If there’s a particular feature you want, you will find dozens of plugins to meet your needs.
However, not all plugins and themes are equal. Some enjoy constant attention from longtime developers, getting regular updates and security patches to keep them optimized. Others are simply released into the wild and never supported afterward. These “orphan” plugins quickly become obsolete, introducing security and usability problems into your website as time goes on.
- Weighing Down Websites with Underutilized Features
When you’re new to WordPress, it can be tempting to add in every plugin you can find. Every interesting feature or cool theme seems like a great addition to your website. However, adding plugins and themes comes at a cost. They will slow down your website and (in the case of premium options) cost you money.
Expert developers look for plugins that strictly offer the features they’re looking for. If there is a paid plugin that offers a valuable feature alongside five or six other features they don’t want, they won’t buy it. The cost of paying for features you don’t use adds up, especially in terms of page load performance. Sometimes, making a custom plugin is worth the investment.
- Ignoring Updates and Patches
Every piece of software in today’s technology landscape needs updates. That’s a fact of life that developers ignore at their own peril. Nobody likes to have to update complex tech stacks, potentially breaking things and having to fix them to ensure compatibility, but it’s necessary. Those updates contain valuable security and usability changes that you can’t do without.
Since updates can cause issues with WordPress websites, it’s best to push updates to a staging environment and test their performance. Yes, this takes time, but it also ensures best-in-class website performance.
- Not Being Proactive About Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is a big deal. While major cyberattacks like Colonial Pipeline or Kaseya often make headlines, small businesses make up the majority of cyber victims. Hackers know that small e-commerce businesses and WordPress website owners don’t always have the resources to implement high-quality security solutions. For them, these types of organizations are low-hanging fruit.
Most WordPress professionals only get serious about security after suffering a malware attack. By then, it’s too late. If you’re lucky, you may be able to soften the blow or recover some data – but there’s no guarantee. Be proactive about cybersecurity and invest in technology that will protect your website from cyberattacks.
- Not Following WordPress Standards
WordPress is open source, but it has a strict set of coding standards and best practices among its developer community. If you want to contribute to that community, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with those standards.
It’s easy to write in PHP, HTML, or CSS according to your own ideas. The problem comes when another developer wants to contribute. If you do your work according to accepted standards, you will be able to cooperate more effectively with a wider team of developers. It’s difficult to underestimate how important this truly is for a professional WordPress developer.
- Forgetting to Optimize Images
Your website needs images, guaranteed. Even if it isn’t the most visually compelling website on the Internet, it still uses header images, logos, and other visual media. If you don’t optimize those images for page load speed, they will drag down website performance and SEO along with them.
Optimizing images means guaranteeing that every image loads using the minimum resources necessary. This is relatively simple to do, but it can be a tedious process. Fortunately, there are plugins you can use for exactly this purpose. Smush and Optimus are just two examples. Make sure you optimize your images and prevent page load times from getting out of hand.
Rely on White Label WordPress Development Experts
If creating, running, and maintaining a large number of WordPress sites is getting in the way of effectively managing your day-to-day operations, it might be time to rely on white label expertise. UnlimitedWP performs unlimited WordPress development tasks for a low monthly rate, ensuring that web agencies and WordPress developers can spend more time doing what they do best.