10 WordPress Design Mistakes to Avoid

By Nathan Segal

WordPress is one of the most popular open source programs available in the world. Many programmers have made the program what it is, with a wide variety of themes and plugins available. Unfortunately, not all of these are good for your site. Some can cause conflicts, a slow site and could make you vulnerable to hackers. In this article we look at ways to keep you safe and to build a site that’s both functional and attractive.


1.      1. We’ll begin with a quick look at security issues. When setting up access to your blog, ask your ISP to enable SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol). As for software, there are many programs available, including: WinSCP, WS FTP or Filezilla.


With a WordPress site it’s important to regularly update your passwords. Use a minimum of 16 characters and a combination of alphanumeric and special characters. Never use the default "admin." If you have, it can be changed after the fact in the database. Keep your blog updated with the latest version of WordPress and make sure you make regular backups. One way is to use a plugin, like WordPress Database Backup. Another option is to make backups with cPanel in the database section.


2.      2. Not Using Themes and Plugins from Trusted Source: There are many themes and plugins available and a great number are free. The trouble is some of these don’t come from a reliable source. Worse, it’s easy to install malicious code into them, which can wreak havoc with your installation, send out spam, etc. A good idea is to read up on the theme or plugin you want to install and see what others have to say. If you have any doubts, don’t install it. Another way to avoid this problem is to buy commercial themes, such as Thesis, Themeforest, Genesis, OptimizePress, or Headway Themes.


3.      3. Too Many Plugins: One of the great advantages of WordPress is its ability to use plugins, but if you use too many, some plugins can conflict with each other. Possible consequences are a slow site and sections of the blog that will no longer operate. To find the problem, deactivate all plugins and test each one until you isolate the problem


               4. One Long Blog Post after Another: This is a common mistake, where you make many posts that appear, one after another on an endlessly scrolling page. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix. Use the <!--more--> tag in your post. Only the text prior to the <!--more--> tag will be displayed, allowing you full control over previews.


5.      5. Editing WordPress Files without Knowing How to Code: This can create havoc for your site. If you don’t know how the coding works, don’t touch it - unless you have direction from an expert or you turn your site over to a programmer who can make the changes for you. Ignoring this can break your site; lock you out from the interface, etc.


6.      6. Lack of Contrast between the Font and Background: This is a common design mistake which makes your text difficult to read. When setting type against a background, there should be a strong contrast. i.e. Black on white. Also, avoid using reverse type, such as white or yellow on black. It’s hard to read. If you do use it, keep it to a minimum. DO NOT use it for full pages at a time.


7.      7. Font Size and Type: With many sites, the designer uses a small font that’s hard to read. Don’t do that. It’s a great way to turn off your audience. It’s also wise to keep the use of fancy fonts to a minimum, if you use them at all. One major reason is that they could be hard to read. When building a site you want to make it as easy as possible for the user to consume your content.


8.      8. Having Many External CSS Files is a Mistake: This will slow down your page load times. It’s much better to have one large CSS file.


9.      9. Overuse of Images and Animation: While it’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, too many images in your posts can really suck up the bandwidth and slow your site down to a crawl. Before you post any images or animations, make sure that they’re relevant to your layout and not just “eye candy.” If these are the latter, eliminate them.


     10. Using the Wrong Image Formats: PNG is a great format but it creates files sizes up to 5-10 times larger than JPEG. In general, I recommend JPEG for images, and PNG-8 or GIF for thumbnails and/or text. Another option is to make use of CSS for creating images as a way of reducing bandwidth.  



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