Advice for WordPress Beginners

If there is anyone who could use some advice, it’s WordPress beginners. I recently sat down with a business owner who was new to WordPress and the web world in general to talk about her experience. She was in the process of setting up a new website and working her way through that task.

The owner had set up a self-hosted WordPress and already installed a theme. As a developer, I wanted to know about her challenges and her experience as a WordPress newbie. Her main goals were to get a website running and for it to be towards the top of a relevant web search. For this individual, the challenges are broken down into the following ways.

Buying and Trying WordPress Themes

This is a bicycle rider point-of-view photo that shows the rider and photographer bicycling on an outdoor trail through the woods.
The business owner searched for themes and found some that looked great. After purchasing, she would struggle to get the site to look like the product images that sold her on the theme. She even had to return one.

The WordPress themes she was gravitating towards were not using the WordPress block editor but a third-party editor. I logged into her CMS and was confused myself. How many editors does a website need?

There are a lot of themes out there that come with their own page editing user interface that replaces or augments the WordPress editor. So the line between WordPress and the third-party theme can become blurry and confusing.

Plugin Collecting

This is a photo of a collection of bicycles to represent the chaos of collecting too many WordPress plugins.
Another issue that was occurring was excessive plugin installation. From my experience as a developer, I’ve worked on websites in need of a rebuild that have 50-60 plugins installed. That’s a lot!

I suspect what is happening is some website owners end up using plugins as an avenue of problem-solving. I don’t blame them since a search regarding a website issue will often result in a solution in the form of a plugin. As a result, the website collects plugins as the years pass, possibly increasing the vulnerability of the website if any one of them is not maintained. This is a huge WordPress security issue.

Understanding WordPress Jargon

This is a photo of a trail sign with bicycle and pedestrian icons on it. The sign has fallen over onto the trail, and it is used to convey how confusing WordPress jargon can be.
This entrepreneur also found the terminology of the web world to be confusing at times. For example, themes assume the user understands the difference between parent and child themes. A WordPress beginner is likely coming from a different industry than website technology and can find themselves lost with all these ideas and concepts.

Blocks, components, widgets, and modules… oh my! A resource she found useful was YouTube. There is a good selection of beginner WordPress tutorials that can explain a lot of the terminology we use in the industry. In addition, WordPress has extensive documentation and has a published glossary.

WordPress Hosting

This is a photo of a single bike on a bike rack built for four bicycles used to convey WordPress hosting.
While it is not a WordPress-specific challenge, it is worth mentioning. Between DNS records and any required server provisioning, finding the right managed WordPress host for your website can be a pain point for a lot of people, especially if you are not familiar with the task.

The good news is once you get it set up, you don’t always have to make a lot of adjustments going forward. If this is unfamiliar ground for you, then I suggest a turn-key solution, and luckily many hosting providers have an option.

Some Advice for WordPress Beginners

Know Your Website’s Purpose

If you have decided to put up a website, ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this website?” The answer could be to inform potential customers of your product or service and to make contact, often through a form. Another answer might be to sell your product on the site, such as eCommerce. It’s important to answer this question early on because it’s going to be a compass for you when determining the solutions you’ll need.

Discover WordPress.com

If you choose to go with WordPress but don’t want to mess with hosting or third-party editors, WordPress.com might be a good place to start. It offers you a WordPress turnkey solution. This is a good way to jump right in with the least amount of confusion. If you end up liking it and you need to move your site to your own server, there are export options to make that fairly easy.

Practice Plugin Pickiness

Regarding plugins, it’s important to be a little picky when adding plugins to your site for security and performance reasons. There used to be a rule In the Drupal community known as DMV, which stood for documentation, maintainers, and versioning.

When you go to add a plugin to your site, check that it has updated documentation about how to use it. Also, check that there are people actively maintaining and providing updates. As of writing this, the WordPress plugin market has a field labeled “last updated” to help make this easier.

Partner with a Pro

If you’re migrating a large-scale enterprise company website from another platform to WordPress, you may want to enlist the help of a professional developer. That’s where WebDevStudios comes in. We can migrate your site from any platform to WordPress without missing a beat. After a successful migration, we can even train you on how to use your new WordPress website. Contact us to talk about it.

Good luck, and remember WordPress has a strong community, so finding support is not difficult. Feel free to comment on this blog post if you have any questions.


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