While WordPress is rich and feature packed, it's also incredibly easy to use. But like most useful tools, regardless of their ease of use, it's also easy to make some mistakes in the process. Did you ever hit your thumb with a hammer? Yeah, mistakes in WordPress are just about that easy to make. However, they are generally less painful (except the part about backs below.)
If you're new to WordPress, here are a few frequently made mistakes that you can easily avoid. Note that most of these are easily correctable and only a couple are catastrophic.
1. Not Doing Regular Backups
This is like changing the oil in your car. You've gone months without doing it and nothing bad has happened, so what's the big deal? Yeah, when your car is stranded on the side of the road and smoke is it pouring out of the hood, you'll wish you'd taken a half hour to change that oil. The same is true for your website. The day someone hacks or crashes your website and you don't have a backup, you'll wish you'd taken a few minutes to take care of that on a regular basis.
The good news is that backups are easy. If you're on GoDaddy, it's already rolled into your account. Just have it back up your WordPress website to your Dropbox. I get a backup every day. If you don't host at GoDaddy, try out Backup Baddy, VaultPress, or WordPress Backup to Dropbox (and this one is free!)
2. Using the Default Permalink
By default, WordPress uses the highly descriptive post name format of "?p=123". So, using that format, the URL for this post would be "http://www.15minutemondays.com/?p=1154" instead of the much more human-friendly "http://www.15minutemondays.com/2015/05/11/5-mistakes-new-wordpress-users-make". WordPress has a number of different Permalink structures for your blog posts. I just happen to like having the date in mine. But you could just use the post name, or the year, month, and post name, or a custom structure that you design yourself.
Making this change only takes a few seconds. From the Dashboard choose the Settings menu and then Permalinks. Select the permalink style you prefer and click Save Changes. Tada! You're done!
3. Installing Every Cool Plugin You Find
WordPress has nearly fourty thousand plugins available to choose from. There are sooooo many options! To a new WordPress webmaster, this is like being a kid in a candy store. You want to try everything.
Trust me, you don't need them all. You only need a few (like a backup plugin ... see #1 in this list.) Be very selective and only use the plugins you need. Installing too many plugins can slow your system down as they increase the resources necessary to run your website.
4. Stubbing in Incomplete Pages
I have done this plenty of times and still do on occasion. You have big plans for your website. You know you want five or six or a dozen pages. But you don't have time to type them all up right now so you just stub them in by creating the pages and putting "coming soon" or "this page is still under construction" on the page.
Guess what. A year from now, several of those pages will still have "coming soon" on them. That makes people wonder if your website (and your business) are really functional.
If the page doesn't exist yet, don't display a link to it. Save it in draft mode and then publish it once it's complete. Your website will look much better and your website visitors won't miss that blank page. I promise.
5. Using a Weak Password
Use strong passwords. "password" is not a good password. Neither is "p@ssw0rd." However, "ILike2UseReallyStrongPasswords" is a good password.
For more on strong passwords, read my 3 Tips for Better Passwords post from last year.
The Quick Takeaway
Other than setting up your backup strategy, these tips are quick and easy to implement. Follow these steps now and you'll be well on your way to being a better, less newbie-like WordPress webmaster.
Featured image "Delete "MISTAKE"" by Terrance Heath is licensed under CC BY 2.0