5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Creating WordPress Sites
WordPress can be an amazing tool for non-developers like myself. It gives you the ability to create a website without being knee deep in code. However, like everything else WordPress is an art of its own and there are definitely best practices you should follow – otherwise you may find yourself wanting to pull your hair out. I am here to help you avoid those “hair pull out situations” with 5 tips that I wish I knew before entering the land of WordPress.
#1 Do your research.
There are good and bad themes – it is as simple as that. The last thing you want is to be half way through your WordPress development and realize that there are some serious fundamental issues with your theme. That being said, it is worth investing the couple of hours before your development to do your research. First, look at the reviews and the number of purchases. If all you see is frustration and troubleshooting issues in the comments thread – red flag! I don’t care how much you may love the theme, walk away, believe me. If a theme only has 5 purchases, you may want to reconsider. Sites like themeforest.com provide an endless amount of themes and plugins that developers have created for you to download and start using. Although this is an amazing resource, it also means that there are a plethora of developers of all experience levels uploading their code – choose wisely. Think of it like this, you wouldn’t just hire a developer without looking at their previous work and experience level – this is a great perspective to have when making your decision.
#2 Consider choosing a theme with multiple versions.
Choosing a theme with multiple versions gives you the ability to reuse a theme more than once and most importantly it will save you time and money. There is a learning curve when using different themes. Although the functionality is usually similar, each theme is unique. It takes time to familiarize yourself with the toolbar, to learn and use the style options and to understand the limitations and customizations. Using a theme that you are familiar and comfortable with can save you hours of time. Choosing a theme with multiple versions also gives you the ability to reuse the theme for multiple projects. There are great themes out there such as Avada that offer truly unique versions. A good theme can cost you anywhere from $40 to $80 – this doesn’t seem like a large expense but it can definitely add up.
#3 Choose a theme with a help center.
There have been countless times when I have searched or troubleshooted for hours trying to figure something out. This can be extremely frustrating, and no matter how good the theme may be this can sometimes be unavoidable. To have the ability to call for help is an invaluable resource. It also provides you peace of mind and the feeling of not being alone in your WordPress development.
#5 Create a Child Theme.
Themes constantly provide updates, which allow your theme to function effectively and properly years after the initial development. This is great, unless you have altered the CSS properties directly in the code. If you think that you are going to need to alter style properties outside of the theme’s parameters, create a child theme! This is a difficult and painful lesson to learn. Clicking the Update Theme button without this knowledge can wipe away customizations you spent hours making. The good news is most new themes now provide a child theme. Simply install the child theme after installing the parent theme and activate it. This is an easy step that can save you hours of frustration.
#4 Don’t feel stuck, use plugins.
Sometimes you want to add functionality to your WordPress website that you may not have scoped out, or maybe your client calls you with an additional request that doesn’t seem possible in the theme you have chosen. Don’t panic, there are endless amounts of plugins that you can install into your theme that can offer additional functionality. This is easily accessible from your plugins panel, where you can search your specific needs. However, keep in mind plugins are like themes – you need to do your research. Make sure you look at the reviews, ratings, comments, and that it is being updated regularly.
Well I think that covers it. Whether you are a WordPress newbie or a WordPress veteran, integrating these tips into your process can save time, money, and avoided frustration.