website best practices

What to Know When DIYing Your WordPress Site

WordPress is a free and powerful tool to use to build a website. In fact more than 455 million websites use WordPress. Here are some things to know if you are DIYing your WordPress site.

WordPress Is Free, But There Are Costs to Having a Website

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to create a site and add content. But that is not all you need to have a functioning website. There are other essential items that you will need:

  • Website host. Web hosting means storing your website data on a server, which users can access via the internet.
  • URL/domain. You need to purchase and register the domain that you want to be the online address of your website.
  • Design. There are many free WordPress designs, but these often have limited function and sometimes even quirky coding errors. More robust designs range in price, but may be worth the investment.
  • Content. There may also be costs to purchase images and other content for your website.

Tips for Best Practices

DIY Site Set Up

When you first install WordPress, WordPress will create a sample page and blog post for you. Make sure you delete the default items or they will show up in searches! Similarly, there may be some placeholder images that come with your setup. Remove these too, as they take up space.

When installing your theme, create a child theme and make your changes in the child theme. By doing this, you’ll be sure that when your initial theme sees some updates, you won’t lose all your modifications.

If you are adding content to your site from Word or another document type, if you use the “copy”  function the formatting comes with it too. Formatting means stuff like links, color, size, and any other HTML code which get copied into your website. This can can cause a lot of frustration with your content not looking like you expect.

The best practice is to use the “Paste without formatting’ or “Paste and match style” option. You can then use your design’s style sheet and the WordPress formatting tools to make it look however you want.

Don’t copy and paste images into your site. If you do, they will actually be linked to the original location. Use the WordPress Media area to upload images, then inset them into your pages and posts. Always check if you have the right to use images before using them, too!

DIY Website Maintenance

WordPress, plugins and themes all will need to be updated regularly to the latest versions. Updates are also free and they often patch issues and security flaws from previous versions. So, it is important to keep everything up to date.

On a related note, be sure to remove any plugins or themes that you don’t use or need. These can create conflicts that make your site work oddly and/or create security issues.

Change page addresses with caution! Page and post URLs, also called “Permalinks”, are meant to be permanent. So, once you’ve set them, you really shouldn’t change them again. If you change your permalinks, visitors coming to your site via search engines will end up on your site with an error message saying the post could not be found. You want to avoid those at all cost.

If you are DIYing your WordPress site, be sure to keep up with the latest developments with WordPress so you can leverage the latest, and find alternate solutions for options that are no longer supported. WordPress is free, but the need for attention never ends.