Been looking at some people’s WordPress sites recently. Here are a few basic tips for making things run smoothly.
Let the theme take the strain. A slogan that won’t win marketing awards… But the point of the theme and other appearance settings is to set them up once and then largely forget about them while you just fill in the posts and pages. So there’s a big decision (or several) up front to find the right theme, or get one custom made. Of course you can change your mind later, but the more funky customisation you’ve done, the more work will be needed to tweak a new theme.
Use styles. There’s a drop-down with styles for Paragraph (body text) and Heading 1 to Heading 6. Do use those rather than attempting to apply formatting to blocks of text individually. They’re an important part of what your theme does for you. Adding lots of different text sizes and colours that don’t fit in with the theme usually makes a page look less professional. In most cases you can handle it with headings plus adding bold to body text.
Plugin hygiene. There are lots of plugins out there doing all sorts of funky things. It can be good to try different ones and see whether they do what you want. But once you’ve decided one is not for you, do get rid of it again. Otherwise you risk ending up with a big list where you’re not sure what they all are and which are important. You only want to keep enough to add useful functions. That way your site will look nice and clean, and you’ll minimise the risk of extra code slowing things down or causing problems.
Don’t copy text straight from MS Word. If you use Word to draft pages, be aware that behind the scenes it adds all sorts of formatting codes to the text, in a rather inelegant and bloaty kind of way. If you copy and paste straight into a web page, those codes will often get included, interfering with your page formatting and making the whole thing much harder to work out if anyone looks at the page code to sort out problems. You can do a right click and paste as plain text, or copy into a program like Notepad that has no truck with word’s formatting, and then into WordPress.
Do check your site on at least one portable device. I fell foul of this recently – luckily someone pointed out that something wasn’t working properly. If you want to be thorough, try different browsers on the desktop too.
Do check links, Paypal buttons, etc. Nuff said.