WordPress Tips and Tricks #1

A client recently asked me to give them some instruction on using and maintaining their WordPress website.  I thought I would cobble together some of my tips and tricks.  

The Parts of WordPress

WordPress (WP) is made up of a few different components.

  1. Files:  This includes all coding and the hundreds of files that make up the WP software.  The main WP core software, all themes and plugins each contain many file packages.
  2. Database:  All of your pages, posts, comments, users, passwords, customizations, etc are all written to the WP database.  Therefore it is critical that you keep regular backups of this.
  3. Media:  Photos, videos, etc. that you upload to your website are stored in a separate are, typically sorted into folders by year and date.

Backups

Before doing anything, you'll want to have a full backup of your WP site.  This includes all core files, plugins, themes, media and the database.  

Full site backups:  https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/backwpup/ 

Database only backups:  https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-db-backup/

You might be able to create backups of the site and database using your website hosting provider's control panel.

Security

The biggest thing you can do to keep WP safe and secure is to keep all of your software (core, themes, plugins) up to date.  As mentioned above, ALWAYS take a full backup of your site before performing any updates.  WP can be updated fairly easily from the Dashboard > Updates.  Keep in mind that if you've made any hard-coded modifications to the WP core, themes or plugins, any updates will likely overwrite these changes.

Next, delete any unused Users and update all passwords using secure password recipes.  I would strongly suggest using a password manager such as 1Password to manage all of your life's passwords.

Ensure that your login information to your website hosting provider's control panel is changed frequently and is secure.

At Silver Barrel Solutions we offer a website maintenance package that takes care of this for you:  http://www.silverbarrel.com/maintenance-plans

Customizing WordPress

The software that makes up WP can be placed into 3 categories:

  1. The WordPress core: https://en-ca.wordpress.org/download/.  This needs to be kept up to date and is typically not edited or customized in any way.  It's the backbone of what makes WP run.
  2. Themes:  There are thousands of themes available that customize the look and layout of your website.  Some are good.  Some are horrible.  Some are regularly updated.  Some quickly become deprecated.  The best theme that we've been working with lately is https://www.elegantthemes.com/gallery/divi/.  It's highly customizable and has been around for a long time.
  3. Plugins:  Again, there are thousands of plugins that add functionality to your website.  Depending on what you want to do with your website, there is likely a plugin for that.  Beware though that some are thoroughly tested and supported while some are very buggy.

Recommended Plugins

Plugin Notes

  • Less is more when it comes to plugins.  The more stuff you have running on your website the slower it will be and the higher the chance of bugs due to software conflicts.  If you're not using a plugin, deactivate it and delete it.  You can always reinstall it later if you need it again.
  • Do your research when looking for a plugin.  Look at when it was last updated, the number of active bugs and how many installs that it's had.  Unpopular and outdated plugins are usually nothing but trouble.

Multilingual Websites

While I haven't built a multilingual website in a while, here are some links that might be helpful:

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