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New to WordPress? Take Note of a Few Smart Tips To Build Your Site

What separates this post from the many existing articles is that it assumes you’ve already figured out your hosting, WordPress plans, etc., and that you have some degree of understanding about what themes, plugins, posts, tags, etc., are.

The nucleus of this article is to provide you with a few insightful & smart tips that should be taken into account, while you’re just about building your WordPress site.

New WordPress Users Tip 1: Choose a Theme by Functionality, Technical Soundness, and Need

New WordPress Users Tip 1: Choose a Theme by Functionality, Technical Soundness, and Need
Select a theme by functionality, technical soundness, and need, instead of an elegant design and features that you probably do not require, and may end up unnecessarily slow your site down to your taste.

Choosing a WordPress theme for your new website can be a daunting task. It’s actually one of the aspects where you could end up spending the most time with — especially if you’re new to WP.

I can recall playing around with dozens of themes before settling on the default WP twenty twenty theme.

When you’re evaluating what to pick, consider the following:

  • Ask: Why did you start your WP site in the first place? Then, take a look at what the themes have to offer. If need be, look into paid options too. Although, I am pretty sure a free theme can serve your demands as well. The only drawback of some of the unique free themes is that they might force their logo or watermark.
    If that’s a characteristic you might object to, feel free to look into paid options.
  • Remember: It’s easy to get lost with a myriad of alternatives. While you’re assessing, see if the theme is:
    • Mobile-Friendly/Responsive.
    • Fast/Lightweight.
    • Has no history of lackluster security.
    • Has glowing reviews.
    • Has excellent support or even community support.
    • Adaptable enough so that it will allow you to grow and scale. In other words, think long-term. Can you see yourself using the same theme for the next 5-10 years?
    • Will, at the least, equip you with a decent customizable header and footer, and as a bonus, sidebars too. Folks whose primary purpose is to run ads, usually prefer sidebars. Mine was a combination. I wanted to run ads, but at the same time, did not want to overwhelm the users with too many of those, while ensuring my site speed isn’t compromised by a large margin and lastly, furnish to the point yet thorough content.

New WordPress Users Tip 2: Take Backups, Learn FTP, and Know How To Gain Control of Your Site if You Accidentally Break It

New WordPress Users Tip 2 - Take Backups, Learn FTP, and Know How To Gain Control of Your Site if You Accidentally Break It
Get familiar with FTP, how backups work, and know how to gain access to your site in case you lose it.

Depending on your WP plan and whether you have backup assistance, spend time learning to back up your site and learn how to restore it to a previous date and time.

Next, learn the ropes of logging into your site via FTP, see where all the files are — primarily the core files.

As a new user, the chances of you breaking your site is higher if you’re curiously tweaking & manipulating the code inside the important PHP files such as header.php, functions.php, etc.

PRO TIP: Even though I have backups in place, what I do every time I tinker with critical files is that I first copy-paste the entire code in a Google Doc, and then make the changes I want. We can call it a “working code.”

This way, if I break my site or lose my login to WordPress, without having to go through the backup process, I access the site with FTP and replace the file with the working code I had in Google Doc.

New WordPress Users Tip 3: Secure Your Site From Brute Force and DDoS Attacks

New WordPress Users Tip 3: Secure Your Site From Brute Force and DDoS Attacks
The threat of getting attacked is very real and probably happens to countless websites every day. You can easily protect your WordPress site. (Check out the two links at the end of this section).

You’d think that since your website is new, no one would bother to hack it. Shockingly, you’d be wrong. I’ve had numerous automated attempts at obtaining login to my WordPress, not just once, multiple times.

Due to the lessons learned, I’ve conducted tons of research, and I believe that I’ve full-proofed & secured my site by taking necessary actions.

This is an aspect that many new users tend to overlook, but getting hacked while you’re just about starting your site with excitement is the type of disappointment & frustration you don’t need, and can preemptively get ahead to hinder these malicious attacks.

If you need help getting started here, the setup and whatnot, check out my two previously written posts:

  1. How to Prevent and Restrict Brute Force Login Attacks in WordPress
  2. How to Prevent DDoS Attacks on WordPress (for Free)

New WordPress Users Tip 4: Consider Getting on Cloudflare

New WordPress Users Tip 4: Consider Getting on Cloudflare
When it comes to WordPress sites, you owe it to yourself to research getting on Cloudflare.

One of the most respected Web Services Company, Cloudflare for WordPress, has tons of benefits. And while I could highlight all the advantages here, it’s not the primer of this post.

However, you don’t have to take my word for it. Feel free to administer your own research, and decide if it’s worth the shot.

And if you need help with setting things up, consider the following two posts:

  1. How to Configure Cloudflare CDN (for Free) for Your WordPress Site, and Verify Whether or Not It’s Working
  2. How to Add Cloudflare to GoDaddy Managed WordPress

Cloudflare has robust paid plans, but even the free one is worth the grab! Seriously, look into Cloudflare!

New WordPress Users Tip 5: Keep Plugins to a Minimum, and Decide on Permalinks
Sticking with only the must-haves plugins will reduce the likelihood of security breaches and aggravating slow page loads.

There are many incredible WordPress plugins, and they significantly enhance your site’s functionality, not to mention, can also provide utility services like security, backups, etc.

Ask anyone, and they’ll likely sing praises about how remarkable plugins are — mainly those with nontechnical backgrounds. Despite all its glory, though, try to keep the number of plugins you install to a minimum.

Every plugin means extra code on your site, not to mention, you’re also inviting all the vulnerabilities it has or can have. Put another way, every plugin can increase the probability of a security breach, and contribute towards weak page loads/site speed.

A few best practices on deciding whether to add a plugin could be that:

  • If there is anything you can do yourself with the default theme, WordPress files, or just a few lines of straightforward code, do it yourself. Obviously, “straightforward” is relative, but my request is to give it a shot if you feel confident enough. Although, ensure you have backups and mechanisms in place to get back control of your site first. This is very critical, irrespective of plugins.
  • You need to ask yourself: Do I really need this plugin? Will it propel me towards my goal of why I decided to build my WordPress site?

There is no fixed number on how many plugins one should or should not have. For instance, I have 8.

Permalinks have all to do with your URL Structure. The sooner you pick one, the better for you. The default from WordPress is not the best of the permalink structures for SEO traffic reasons, and site management.

If you need to learn about permalinks, I’d advise you to check out the following:

  • I’ve discussed what an SEO slug is. And while it doesn’t directly premise the topic of permalinks, I’ve talked about it a little. It should give you an idea.
  • For a proper thorough read, you consider learning from NEIL PATEL’s site here.

Do keep in mind that constantly changing permalink structures will not work towards your advantage. Think of permalinks as permanent. It’s more like set it and forget it. And again, please move away from what the default WP permalink structure is.

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Summary

If you’re new to WordPress, beginning your journey can be both exciting and skittish.

Nonetheless, with smart tips, additional research, and thoughtful considerations of long term goals, if you lay a solid groundwork during initiation, you’ll have a strong finish and scalable growth.