WordPress is one of the most widely used website platforms in the world. Around 75 million sites are built using it, with thousands more going live every day.
It’s popular with people looking to build their own website and with web designers alike. The platform is well supported by numerous premium templates and plugins. You can be up and running with a professional-looking site relatively quickly. There are a number of other great platforms including Squarespace or Wix, but if you do decide to set up your business or personal WordPress site yourself, then there are a few things you need to do to keep it running smoothly and securely.
Here’s how to get started.
It’s important to keep your website secure, especially if you’re using e-commerce or collecting sensitive data. Every day, thousands of sites are compromised. While no one method is 100% effective at preventing cyber attacks, there are things you can do to make it much more difficult for people trying to compromise your site.
Choose A Well Supported Template
There are some beautiful WordPress to choose from, and there’s almost certainly one that will work for your needs and brand development route you’ve chosen for the overall look and feel of your brand.
When choosing a template, you want to be sure that it’s not going to be out of date as soon as the next WordPress update is released. Some sites like Themeforest, let you see the updated history of a theme. If it hasn’t been updated in some time, it’s unlikely that they are still supporting it and any big changes to WordPress can potentially cause your problems. It also means that there are no updates to fix any security issues either.
When you’ve narrowed down your options, have a look at the type of support the developer provides. Unless you’re a pro, you’re probably going to need to get in touch at some point. Usually, they have some kind of help desk or ticketing system you can use for a set period of time after purchasing their theme.
Implement An SSL Certificate
Have you noticed how some web addresses start with HTTP and some with HTTPS? The extra ‘s’ at the end means that the site has been secured with an SSL certificate. This means that your site is secure and allows encrypted communications.
Securing your site is a good idea, as it will help you with SEO and also, some web browsers will not open unsecured sites, so you could be losing out on traffic.
One of the easiest ways to secure your site is to purchase an SSL certificate from your hosting provider (many hosting plans include them in the price). They can usually activate it for you too.
Keep Your Software Updated
Websites can often fall prey to cyber-attacks or lose functionality due to changes to the WordPress platform. In order to keep everything running smoothly, make sure that you install any updates for WordPress, your templates and plugins as soon as they are available. Depending on your hosting plan, you could automate this, or when you log in to your WordPress dashboard, it will let you know which updates are ready to be installed.
Delete Unnecessary Themes & Plugins
Unused files and plugins will clog up your filing system and dashboard, as well as being potential security weaknesses. Make sure that you uninstall all unused themes, plugins and media to keep everything running efficiently.
Practice Good Password Policies
When you set up your WordPress login, don’t go for obvious usernames and passwords. In the list produced by SplashData on the most popular hacked passwords, the top two were 123456 and password. Use something that no one will guess easily, or even better, use a password generator.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
This is another step you can take to make sure that your site is much harder to hack and that’s to enable two-factor authentication. This means that rather than simply logging into your site, you’ll need to authenticate with a unique code from another device, usually your phone or email.
Back-Up Your Site Regularly
Things can happen to your website which may mean you need to restore it from a backup. Perhaps you’ve been hacked and lost information, or you’ve been installing new updates which have caused your website to become unusable. Whatever the cause, having a backup of your site is a smart move. It means that should anything happen to it, you can back it up to a recent version with minimal or no data loss, depending on how frequently you update it.
Check to see if your hosting provider includes it in your hosting package. If not, you’re going to need to set it up yourself. There are a number of different platforms and plugins out there to help you with this. There may be a small cost involved but more than worth it to prevent your entire site from being lost.
There’s nothing worse online than trying to access a website to find it’s slow to respond and glitchy when you try to navigate around it. You are throwing away potential customers. Not to mention, it’s bad for your SEO. You want your site to be running smoothly, with no delays.
Don’t Use A Complicated Theme
When you begin looking for a theme for your WordPress site, it can be easy to get carried away with all the impressive functionality and features they have. Yet all of these features can come at the cost of speed. Add in all of the plugins and widgets needed to work the theme and your website will really begin to suffer.
When you’re looking for a theme, choose one that is lightweight. Sometimes this is made obvious in the theme description, or you can look at the reviews to see if anyone is experiencing problems with their website slowing down.
Use A Good Hosting Platform
Don’t just head for the cheapest deal when it comes to your website hosting. Providers often lure you n with introductory offers, free emails, and domain names, but if they can’t provide you with fast loading times and maximum uptime, then they aren’t worth the money.
However, there a number of reputable providers who can give you excellent service for a good price.
If you suspect your hosting is slowing down your website, then look to make a change.
When someone visits your site, your WordPress pages are built for them every time. This requires WordPress to find and load the information it needs and then assemble it for your visitor.
As you can imagine, this can take a lot of resources, especially if you have a number of visitors at the same time.
This is where a caching plugin can save the day. Rather than trying to assemble each page in real-time for visitors, a caching plugin will simply remember the initial version of the page and displays that to every user who visits after. On some sites, you can see speeds improve by up to 5x.
Popular plugins include WP Supercache and WP Rocket.
Reduce The Size Of Your Images
Images play an important on your website. They can increase the reading time and make your content look better. People expect good quality images and this can mean large file sizes. Large files slow down your site drastically, so you’ll need to optimize them for the web.
If you know your way around a graphic design package, then you can find image optimization settings in most major design programs. Or, if you’re not one for design, then you can find a plugin to do it for you. Take a look at EWWW Image Optimizer or WP Smush.
Block Trackbacks & Pingbacks
Whenever your blog recipes a link, you’ll get an alert on your dashboard and email. While it’s great to see your site getting links, there are other ways to do this outside of this function that doesn’t take up any WordPress resources.
Blocking this function also helps prevent DDoS attacks. If you want to disable it, just head to Settings – Discussion in your WordPress Dashboard.
Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If your site receives visitors from all over the world, you’ll see variations in speed the further away someone is from the server your site is hosted on. This is where a Content Delivery Network comes in. It keeps a copy of your site on various servers around the world, so when someone visits your site, they’ll be shown the version of your site hosted closest to them. One of the most popular CDNs is Cloudflare.
Building your own website can be quite a learning curve, but it’s definitely possible. However, it’s also very easy to get carried away with themes and plugins that ultimately slow down your site. By making small improvements to your site, you can keep it secure from hackers and ensure that it runs quickly and smoothly for all visitors.
Luckily, there are lots of great resources online to help you along the way.