Building a new WordPress website (or updating your existing site)? It’s a smart idea to plan ahead in order to avoid problems later. Here are some things to consider.
Note: this info can be used to help guide your own choices as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project or to give you insight into what questions you should be asking your website designer.
Pick a solid host.
Before building your website, you need a place to put it. Choosing the right hosting company for your website is crucial, and there are a few questions you need to ask when hiring your host.
- What are their costs for monthly hosting and what does that include?
- Do they offer daily backups of your entire website? Are those backups on-server or off-server?
- Do they have firewalls and malware scanning?
- Will their servers provide a solid website speed, or do they overload their servers with too many websites (which can cause your website to load slowly)?
- Do they provide a free SSL certificate? (This one is particularly important now that Google Chrome has started implementing a rule that your site should have an SSL certificate or they’ll label you as Not Secure, which makes your website look dangerous. For more on this, see our article about how to secure your website with an SSL certificate.)
Pick a solid theme.
WordPress is an open source blogging tool and content management system. Combine that foundation with a theme from another company, plus plugins from a variety of other companies, and you end up with many different pieces of software from different sources. That’s true whether the theme is free or not.
If you choose without first doing some research to ensure you’re getting a good, efficient theme, you may end up with a website with errors or broken features.
Important to consider:
- Is the theme fast-loading?
- Is it easy to use?
- Does it come with clear documentation for setting up and using the theme?
- Do they provide a place to request support if you encounter issues? Do they seem to answer people’s questions in a timely fashion? Do they provide helpful solutions? (Do they provide any solutions?)
- Do they have a refund policy?
- How often do they update their theme to keep it up-to-date with the latest changes in technology and security? For example, if it’s not updated regularly to sync with the latest WordPress releases, your website could be vulnerable to security breaches.
- Does it come with a lot of features? Watch out with this one. It’s great to find a theme that’s loaded with tons of appealing design options, but some themes can become so bloated with features that they tend to load slowly and break down often. More features can mean more problems. When that happens, all the awesome features in the world won’t be worth it. Have an idea of what you want your website to have and what you don’t need.
Pick solid plugins.
Adding a plugin may be a quick and easy way to set up extra elements on your website. Just as important: make sure the plugins you use are of good quality and are regularly kept current in order to keep your site clean and running smoothly.
- Check for when the plugin was first created and how long it’s been since the developer updated it.
- Check support forums to see if people are complaining about issues with the plugin – is the developer addressing and quickly correcting them? If so, it may be safe to try. If not, they may not be keeping it up-to-date, which makes the plugin a vulnerability if you use it on your website.
- Check overall numbers. How many people have downloaded the plugin? What kind of rating does it get? If it’s very popular, chances are the developers fix problems quickly and keep the plugin up-to-date with the latest WordPress releases.
- Consider paid plugins. Sometimes free plugins are fantastic. On the other hand, sometimes the old adage “you get what you pay for” is true. Developers tend to put more time and effort into paid plugins, and with it usually comes tech support, consistent updates and added features.
Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance.
Your WordPress website — including its theme and any plugins — should be updated at least once a month, if not weekly.
You can do this yourself, using any number of helpful DIY tools — such as Backup Buddy or Updraft Plus for website backups; and WordFence Security, iThemes Security or WP Time Capsule for security protection and staged website updates — or you can get a managed service where they do it all for you.
9 Planets Hosting offers managed WordPress hosting that includes off-server backups, free SSL, antivirus / anti-malware protection, and managed updates of your WordPress core files, themes and plugins to keep everything up-to-date and running smoothly. Check out one of our hosting packages to see if it’s right for you.
Have more questions about building your WordPress website? Contact us here – we’d be happy to help!