The world ‘hearts’ WordPress, but there are occasions when the publishing platform won’t play ball. Here’s what to do when you’re having WordPress problems…
As the platform underpinning millions of websites, WordPress’s success is easy to understand. This flexible publishing tool is completely free to use, and its open-source architecture enables it to be tailored around numerous individual criteria.
However, like every software package, WordPress does have bugbears. Here, we consider five of the most common issues that have WordPress users ripping their hair out, before detailing potential solutions…
Problem #1: Spam
As one of the world’s leading web hosting platforms, WordPress is particularly susceptible to comment spam, which can significantly damage the perceived professionalism of contact forms or comment pages.
Install anti-spam plugins. WordPress comes with Akismet installed as standard, which combines algorithmic interrogation with a user-supported database to weed out spam comments. However, spammers use different tactics so it’s advisable to use more than one spam prevention technique. Moderate comments before they go live, ban comments with links, and use the integrated comment blacklist feature to block IP addresses of repeat offenders.
Problem #2: Plugins need replacing
Because WordPress is powered by open source aficionados, its 30,000-odd plugins don’t necessarily receive the regular updates that your Android or iPhone apps typically insist upon. In some cases, support disappears altogether or the apps simply get discontinued. It’s also not unheard of for a formerly free plugin to suddenly demand a fee for continuing usage.
Because the WordPress community pride themselves on having a solution to any problem, there’s a very high chance that a rival plugin will have been created in the meantime. This alternative should keep your site operating at optimal capacity.
Problem #3: Too many plugins.
It’s tempting to install loads of plugins on your site for maximum user functionality, but every new addition increases the risk of conflict between plugins. Performance will also begin to suffer as plugin numbers increase, and few things will deter customers more than a sluggish website.
Don’t install it unless you really need it. Anti-spam plugins (as discussed in #1 above) are highly recommended, but do you really need social media sharing buttons, or a heat-mapping tool to see where your customers click? Undertake regular reviews of your site to identify widgets that can be deleted.
Problem #4: Updates or amendments affect site performance.
Even if your site has worked well until now, updates and audits will still be necessary. Sadly, although most changes to a site can be implemented without significant impact on the public-facing pages, there will be occasions where an amendment causes a marked slowdown or even a crash.
Never install updates onto a live server. Create a staging server, which is a backroom replication of the live environment. If something works here, you’re safe to introduce it to the live server. If any issues arise, you can find a solution or workaround at your own pace without any visible impact or downtime on the public-facing site.
Problem #5: Susceptibility to hackers
Because of its ubiquity, hackers often view WordPress as an easy target. That’s particularly true given its open source coding, with none of the opaqueness you might expect from a paid-for platform. If your site involves ecommerce, you can expect malicious visitors to come calling at some point.
Rename administrator accounts to something other than “Admin”, and ensure your password isn’t “password”. Retain one master account with full site permissions, but give it an obscure title and password that nobody could guess. Regular data backups will be invaluable should the worst happen, and don’t be afraid to seek outside assistance from hosting services – they can resolve site issues and help to repel hackers.