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7 Mistakes Beginner WordPress Users Make

Posted on February 10 by in Tips & Tricks | 126 comments

7 Mistakes Beginner WordPress Users Make

For a large number of people, WordPress is the first script that they have have installed online for the first website they have ever developed. As a result of this, WordPress beginners make a lot of basic mistakes.

In this article, I would like to speak about some of the mistakes that many WordPress users make when they first start using the platform.

1. Installing WordPress in a Sub Folder Called “WordPress”

The WordPress zip file places all core files in a folder entitled “WordPress. Beginners make the mistake of simply uploading this folder to their website using FTP rather than uploading the files and folders contained within the folder. This results in their website being located at www.website.com/wordpress rather than www.website.com.

WordPress does allow you to install WordPress in a different directory than the one it is installed. However, for most people, it is simpler to just install WordPress in the same location it is being displayed. This is usually the root of your domain or in a sub-directory such as blog.

2. Not Using Permalinks

Out of the box, the default permalink structure for WordPress is /?p=<postid>. This displays URLs such as www.yourwebsite.com/?p=57 rather than the more memorable www.yourwebsite.com/big-news/.

Many beginners do not change this default permalink structure to a more user-friendly option that uses keywords. This is sometimes referred to as using “Clean URLs“.

WordPress Permalink Settings

The WordPress “Permalink Settings” page.

I use post name (/%postname%/) on most of my websites as it keeps links short and allows me to insert keywords into the URL (to do this, simply change the post slug in the post editor). News blogs that publish dozens of articles per day tend to use day and post name (/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/) to avoid any problems with duplicate post slugs. Category and post name (/%category%/%postname%/) is another popular option.

In the past, /%postname%/ was known for having an adverse affect on website performance. Thankfully, this issue was resolved in WordPress 3.3. Therefore, from a performance point of view and from an SEO point of view, there does not seem to be any real significance as to which user-friendly permalink structure you choose.

To change permalinks through the WordPress admin area, your .htaccess file has to be writable. To do this, WordPress recommends that you change the file permissions of .htaccess to 644.

If you do not have permission to update .htaccess through the admin area, WordPress will give you the code for your chosen permalink structure so that you update the .htaccess file manually. You can then manually update the .htaccess file via your hosting account file manager or using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client.

Htaccess File Permissions

.htaccess can also be updated manually via File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

3. Publishing Incomplete Pages

Nothing screams out “NEWBIE” more than a website that has incomplete pages. Beginners frequently launch their website before it is ready. Due to this, visitors click on a navigation link and are welcomed with incomplete pages with messages such as “Coming Soon” or “To Be Updated”.

As a rule, you should never link to any page that is not complete. Doing so will alienate visitors and give the impression that you are not taking your website seriously.

My advice is wait until your website is complete before you launch it. Whilst building your website, you can use a maintenance mode plugin such as Anticipate to keep interested parties informed of your launch date.

4. Installing Unnecessary Plugins

Plugins that are not being used should be deactivated and uninstalled if you do not plan on using them again.

Beginner WordPress users do not adhere to this mindset. They install plugins and do not deactivate them. It is not uncommon for a new WordPress user to install dozens of plugins; even if he is only using a few. This slows down their website and increases the resources required to run their website.

I encourage you to only use plugins that are important to your website’s success. Do not fall into the trap of installing dozens of widgets you are not using and statistical plugins that you are not checking every day. All this does is make your website slower.

5. Not Keeping WordPress Up to Date

It is important to keep WordPress, and any themes and plugins you are using, up to date. Failure to do this will increase the chance of your website being hacked and make it difficult for you to use any new WordPress products.

WordPress are aware of the problems associated with using older versions of WordPress. Which is why the release of WordPress 3.7 in October 2013 included a fantastic new auto-update feature. This allows important maintenance and security updates to be applied to your website as you sleep.

By default, updates to the WordPress core will be applied automatically if you are using WordPress 3.7 or higher.

Plugin and theme updates are not enabled by default. In order to activate automatic plugin updates on your website, you need to add the following code to your wp-config.php file:

add_filter( 'auto_update_plugin', '__return_true' );

To activate automatic theme updates, simply add the code below to your wp-config.php file:

add_filter( 'auto_update_theme', '__return_true' );

If you are using a version of WordPress that is older than 3.7, I encourage you to download the latest version from WordPress.org so that core updates are applied automatically in the future. This will ensure you never miss out on important updates in the future.

6. Not Using a Strong Password

Guessing a user’s username and password remain the number one way that unauthorised parties access WordPress websites. The situation has improved a little since WordPress stopped forcing WordPress users into using the username “admin” for the master account, however easy passwords are still the main way hackers break into websites.

When it comes to setting passwords, simple passwords are just not good enough. You need to something that a script cannot easily guess.

Secure Password Generator

A strong password should be made a priority.

There are many great free services online that allows you to generate a strong password at the click of a button. One of my favourites is PasswordsGenerator.net. It allows you to select the password length and complexity.

You can also take advantage of password solutions such as Passpack and LastPass to store your strong passwords in a secure location.

7. Not Backing Up Regularly

New WordPress users (all new website owners for that matter) fail to recognise the importance of backing their website up regularly. This is a mistake they usually continue to make until their website is hacked and they lose a lot of data.

It is a shame that most people need to experience data loss in order to learn the importance of backing up, as backing up is so easy to do. Professional backup and restore services, such as VaultPress, are available for only $5 per month. There are lots of free solutions available too, such as the popular WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin.

Backing Up is Vital

With so many backup solutions available for WordPress, you really have no excuse for not backing up regularly.

Can you think of any more mistakes that WordPress newbies make? If so, please let us know in the comment area :)

126 Comments

  1. Not bookmarking the codex for daily reading.

    Far too many people that are new to WordPress don’t know where the answers to their questions are so they just guess what they should be doing, rather than visiting the codex.

    While the Codex has been taken over by the developer side of things, there are a ton of tutorials and resources in their for the new WordPress user that should not be ignored.

    If you’re new to WordPress and don’t have an answer, just follow every WP Dev’s mantra….”When In Doubt, Check The Codex!”

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Great Tip Kevin. There’s a wealth of information in there and is the best place to start if you want to know more about functions and the WordPress templating system.

      I would say, however, that a lot of information is hard to find and many pages are outdated. For example, they link to plugins that have not been updated since 2007.

      • Hi,

        Please can you recommend a wp estore developer? We need some urgent maintenance work done

        • Kevin Muldoon

          I don’t know anyone personally. It’s worth posting an ad on a freelancing website such as elance.com.

      • Kevin,

        I’m brand new to WP. I downloaded a free them to try it out and the zip file went to my “downloads” file in My Documents.
        Once I upload the theme is it Ok to delete the zip file from that folder?

        Thanks!

    • Yes! That’s usually the first place I point people when they ask things. And when the codex fails (which I must say is rare), then I have a few books that I turn too after (don’t want to come across like I’m selling books, so just bug me if curious…

  2. Great post, Kevin. I remember, I used to play with so many plugins that proved to be unnecessary later. It also caused many problems with my website. But as a newbie, it was a necessary experience, I guess.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I cannot criticise anyone for it as I did it myself! It’s definitely something everyone does at the start.

    • agree. when i was a newbie, plugins were manna from heaven. and i think it’s a great playground for newbies to try new stuff. i remember i installed a test wp site just to play around with all the plugins.

  3. I would add an eighth mistake but put it in the #1 position:

    Accepting the default username of ‘admin’.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      WordPress does not require users to use the username admin anymore. You can use any name you want when you install WordPress :)

      • True Kevin, but people still do it even though you don’t have to.

        Strangely I’ve worked with plenty of ‘developers’ that still do it.

        After that mistake I know they don’t really have a clue ha.

        • Kevin Muldoon

          Perhaps people who had installed other scripts before would do it as admin is a common username for administrators on many scripts. Though I’d be surprised if many people used admin without being prompted to do so.

          I help out people with their websites from time to time and it does not seem that common anymore; at least not for newer installations. Still, I am only talking about a few dozen websites. You’d have to survey thousands to get any real figure on this :)

    • and using ‘admin’ as password as well. :(

  4. I think requiring folks to register and login to make a comment discourages folks from commenting, which is one of the main purposes of blogging. Requiring users to have a WordPress account is unnecessary and intimidating. In the discussion panel, I simple check author must fill in name and email and email me when anyone posts a comment and I moderate all comments. I really appreciate the many posts you guys write for Elegant Themes. The info is most worthy.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I agree. There is nothing more frustrating than having to sign up to a blog just to leave a comment.

      I actually had a major problem with spam about five years ago. As a last resort, I asked people to register to comment. This reduced the average number of comments from over ten to zero or one!

      • Implementing a social commenting platform may help alleviate that though.Yes it still requires you to have an account somewhere, but most people these days that comment usually have a social media account of some sort.

      • I personally use akismet and google captchas. You don’t have to worry about spam anymore using these two. And yea, you got a point, forcing people to register to submit comments mostly results in alt+f4 your website.

  5. First, a caveat – while the site is live so my team of colleagues can go there to see what I’m doing and send me suggestions and changes, it has not been advertised anywhere (and so far, since I started last July, volunteer basis only), I’ve only had 5 spam emails from people trying to sell me traffic generating systems and one Nigerian with a million dollar proposal).

    That said, have a look – it’s still in progess, as my BIG NEWBIE MISTAKE was not getting a helpful theme to meet our needs in the first place. I had no idea how to choose and what to look for until I spent a few months trying to use a theme that was beautiful, but highly restrictive in what I had control over. I just got the new one installed last Friday and WOW, what a difference the right theme makes to getting what you want! (ALSO NOTE: as it is still in development, I’ve not purchased all the images yet as we’ve not agreed on which ones we want. Give it another week or two…).

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Definitely. The right theme makes all the difference :)

      • What suggestions do you have in helping a newbie choose a proper theme? I know nothing about websites and have no idea one theme would be beneficial over another.

        • On choosing a proper theme…

          DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT, use a free theme unless it comes from wordpress.org. These “free” themes are often filled with hidden spammy link generators.

          Pick a theme from a reputable organization (like ElegantThemes.com :-)) as they will have a full featured theme (with sliders, shortcodes, etc. to speed your implementation), lots of documentation and a support team.

          • Kevin Muldoon

            @Mikw – Great advice. You need to be very wary of some of the free themes out there as they include spyware.

        • Kevin Muldoon

          This is not a problem if you are a Elegant Themes customers as they have over 80 designs included in the membership and you can just change when you want.

          If you are really not sure what to get, I’d start off with a design from wordpress.org. You can test lots of designs for free and as such, it will not cost you anything to make some mistakes and figure out what you need :)

  6. Nice list! As a combination of avoiding unneeded plugins and backup solutions: make sure to first check that your hosting doesn’t already make backups. Many do, and if they don’t you should consider changing to a different hosting. If you host yourself then it’s a different story of course :-)

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Regardless of what you are doing, you should always back up yourself. 99.99% of hosting companies store their daily backups in the exact same location as their main servers. If something happens to their data centre (flood, outages, fire, whatever), then you will lose your website and your backups.

      • Hi,
        Those are some good comments for newbies & backups are 1 thing I do agree people don’t take seriously enough! When you have a site which crashes you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t have a backup!
        Also, multiple backups are a good idea too! If you’re building a site/blog for biz, I’d not only back-up on server but on a cloud account and external drives!! Better to be extra safe then sorry!
        Great post :)
        Thanks

  7. As I bit of a n00b my self, found this a little embarrassing..

    3. Publishing Incomplete Pages

    If I was to follow this tip I wouldn’t get anything online.
    How Complete does a webpage need to be before it’s considered Completed?

    • In regards to the question how completed does it need to be to be complete. I think its up to you to decide that. Example my website on my farm. Its not complete but no one knows that but me. I have put enough content up there to suffice for now. It does not say in progress so they dont know.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Everyone has to start somewhere :)

      You should not publish any page until it is complete. What if I had published half of this article and had a “Coming Soon” message at the end? What if the Elegant Themes contact page said – “We are adding our new contact form soon – Please check back later!”.

      If a page is not complete, do not link to it. Something to keep in mind for future :)

    • I think complete should be considered as stated in #3. If you have to put “Coming Soon” then you have no content worth indexing. Just leave it as a draft and then perhaps the fact that it is a draft will prompt you to work on it until it is ready to be published. In a lot of cases, most folk are drafting out their site structure but these “holding pages” are pointless, worthless and frustrating. I’ve been there and done it. Before you know it, a “Coming Soon” page has been up 4 months – not good!

    • Try splitting your pages into smaller bites of information and linking to those.

      New Item 1: Main Item, graphic & link
      Supporting Description 1, graphic, & link
      Additional Information 1
      Additional Information 2
      Supporting Description 2, graphic & link
      Additional Information 1 (Same as above)
      Additional Information 2 (Same as above)

      In this way each page can be completed and than published and as long as supporting information isn’t critical to the main page, as per Ruth’s comment below that information can be added when it’s completed .

  8. Another mistake commonly made is to not change the default settings under Discussion to uncheck the box that says notify me every time a comment or a new user registers which results in their in box being flooded with notifications. Also failing to install Askimet or a spam filter can slow down a website.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I actually disagree with that. I ensure I get updates of all new comments so that I know right away that a new comment has been left. I then reply when I have time.

      It’s the reason I know about your comment :)

  9. Falling in Love with Kevin <3

  10. I’m starting to feel that way about Kevin too … or, at least, his posts! ;)

    Thank you all there at Elegant Themes for treating newbies as if they have a brain in their heads. This stuff is hard to learn/put together and I really appreciate that you guys are across-the-board friendly and helpful … never snarky! It makes a big difference!

    Patrice
    Feb 10 2014

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Thanks for the kind words Patrice. I’m having a great time writing for Elegant Themes – so long may it continue :)

  11. Love it. Had to check off this list to see if I still did these :-) All newbies should read this — maybe wordpress can link to this post from the download site?

  12. I’ve probably made a bunch of rookie mistakes but the funniest one I keep seeing is one I recently saw on a companies site who claimed to be WordPress, SEO experts. There first blog post was the Hello World WordPress one…

    • Kevin Muldoon

      haha That’s hilarious. Who is going to give them business?

  13. Oh, didn’t know about automatic theme and plugins updates with this code:

    add_filter( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_true’ );

    add_filter( ‘auto_update_theme’, ‘__return_true’ );

    I have several sites to keep.
    But should this be done in a wp-config.php file in the child theme?
    Else it will be overwritten when WordPress itself is updated..?

  14. Thanks, Kevin!

    I’ve been working on developing websites for a couple years now…just mine, and every time I learn something new.

    I keep coming back to Elegant Themes because your stuff just plain works! I can get a site up and posts going within a few hours.

    Sometimes I can’t figure something out, so I just Google it. Sometimes I get an Elegant Themes support answer, other times I find what I need in WordPress Codex.

    I still make “newbie” mistakes, and I thank you for posting this so that I can fix them immediately!

    Deleting unused plug-ins from other sites right now, and setting up back up for them as well!

    Kathleen

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Glad you found it useful Kathleen. Like anything in life, there is a learning curve in WordPress. Though it is good to get into good habits with WordPress from the start.

      • You’re right about that. I set this site up Sunday night, and feel better about it than any other site I’ve created. Some have been up for a year or more and I’m having to go back and fix things I didn’t do right the first time.

        This was the first time I felt really confident! I knew what I was doing, and even when I ran into a wall, knew where to find answers. So far, no questions yet.

        As I continue to develop the site, that will very likely change!

        Thanks for all you do.

        Kathleen

  15. Again, thanks to Kevin Muldoon and ET for sharing GOOD …

    Most Helpful!

    John Malloy

    The Canadian

  16. Very helpful! I just switched from Blogger to WP to take my blog to the next level, and I’m going to use #1 as my homework tonight! Thanks!

    • si necesitas ayuda puedo extenderte una mano

  17. Kevin, Problem here …

    Changed permalinks as per your suggestions.

    Received more than a few message that my links no longer work, yikes!

    Was custom … ie /%postname%/

    PLEASE ADVISE.

    John Malloy

    http://www.thecanadiandaily.ca

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Hi John,

      Just revert back to your backed up .htaccess file and then try again.

      Kevin

      • Great Kevin … How do I do that please?

        Thanks

        John Malloy

        • Kevin Muldoon

          Hi John,

          You can manually overwrite the file using FTP or through the file manager in your web hosting control panel.

          Kevin

          • Hi Kevin … Had host revert back to older .htaccess file. Still receiving page not found on my stats i.e.: Woopra, Statcounter.

            Quite concerned, as it took me a year of hard work to get to a Pagerank of 3. Any help much appreciated.

            – John Malloy http://www.thecanadiandaily.ca

          • Kevin Muldoon

            Hi John,

            I usually only offer paid support through my forum Rise Forums as it is so time-consuming.

            I have another two articles to complete today, but if you email me through my blog, I’ll try and make time later tonight to resolve the issue. I would need ftp details and temporary admin access to your website.

            Kevin

  18. Following security tips such as one of your recent articles is always wise, even for a new blubber, webmaster or developer.

  19. How about leaving lorem ipsum copy and/or demo content from an XML import. I see this all the time.

    Nice post.

    Thanks.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I was going to mention that too but it kind of tied in with my point about incomplete pages (probably should have still mentioned it) :)

      Kevin

  20. Hi Kevin,

    Great post, as always, but I do disagree with one item: I ALWAYS install WordPress in its own folder. Yes, it makes for a few extra steps to set up http://mysite.com for the readers instead of http://mysite.com/wordpress, but it’s tidier and it’s easier to move if I have to change hosts at a later time.

    Also, if you have several subdomains with wordpress also installed, it avoids confusion. To me, it’s like the difference between having something neatly tucked away in the filing cabinet vs. having it spilled all over the desk. . .

    Just my two cents. . .

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Hi Susanna,

      I am a little confused with what you are saying.

      You said that it takes a few extra steps to set up a WordPress website at the root of the domain rather than /wordpress. That is not the case. Plus my whole point is that beginners simply upload the wordpress folder after unzipping.

      Can you explain why a website owner should use several subdomains? I do recognise that there is a situation where a person might want to do that, but 99.99% of people do not want to set WordPress up on that way.

      Subdomains are recognised as separate domains by Google. Subdomains should be reserved for things like image hosting and forums (though I still prefer website.com/forums than forums.website.com).

      • Hi Kevin,

        Maybe I wasn’t clear. It takes a few extra steps after you’ve installed wordpress in its own folder to make it viewable in the root. While the file structure is mysite.com/wordpress, the site visitor only needs to type in mysite.com.

        Subdomains, add-on domains, most people, if they have a shared hosting account and 2 or 3 websites, will set up what cpanel calls an add-on domain. IMO it’s a subdomain. That’s what I was referring to. A newbie user — the person who makes the mistakes you outlined — will install WordPress in each.

        I believe it’s tidier and more manageable to keep WordPress in its own directory. Obviously you don’t. Different strokes. . . I was just trying to point out that some of us CHOOSE to do that, so it’s not necessarily a newbie “mistake.”

        • My host actually set up the hosting space with a folder for the domain within public_html just as you are describing Susanna and I agree with you.

    • I also prefer to use a directory to install the core but some plugins do not like that especialy 301 or 401 redirect plugins.

      To minimise the number of plugins used I now use Jetpack its lots of plugins in one package and being from Autommatic is a reliable offering.

      • Kevin Muldoon

        I use it too…though it can be a hog in resources. Plus I hate how it automatically enables new modules they add.

  21. Another mistake: To choose a theme, just because it looks nice, without really evaluating all of its possibilities. Besides that, who is behind the theme? Is there a team of people working to keep it up to date with all of the frequent WP changes? Is it well documented? Is the support team there for you when you need them?

    I know you can easily change your theme, but in a way it is part of your public image, so it is not that “easy” to just throw another theme into your website.

    Great post, thank you.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I agree. Beginners normally choose a WordPress theme based on how it looks rather than what it can do.

      • That’s the problem for me–I find a nice theme, but it doesn’t do what I want. Or I find one that does what I want, and it looks terrible (meaning I have to spend hours to make it presentable, and far more to make it exactly the way I want). Then there are the current design trends I dislike (do all the themes I find really need those slideshows at the top, or a jagged Pinterest-style layout??). These days I just start with a flexible framework and roll my own–it saves me time in the end.

  22. Man I wish I would have read this when I first started developing my site! Great article with items that, hopefully, you will stumble across as you journey through the vast land of WordPress. As always you guys @ Elegant Themes do an outstanding job with going the extra mile to deliver good content. Thanks!

  23. Upload it to /wordpress isn’t really a mistake. You can do this to keep things organized on your webspace. Maybe you have more than one domain and more than one wordpress installations.

    I also do this to have a preview on domain.com/wordpress … and later, when it is finished change the path on the to domain.com.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      As I noted in the post, WordPress does allow you to upload it to wordpress and assign the website url as something different; but you need to follow configuration options to do this.

      Surely all of your domains would have their own directory? You wouldn’t just be uploading the files for multiple websites in one directory.

      Installing in a sub folder like wordpress is useful for testing purposes. In fact, I have it installed in a sub folder myself for that purpose. However, I was referring to people using website.com/wordpress/ as their main url and having website.com redirect to website.com/wordpress/

    • Pasi, I totally agree with you. I always install WordPress in its own directory. It’s much tidier, and easier if you ever need to move the site.

  24. Another one I see all the time is not deleting the default 1st post and comment from the Database – nothing screams “n00b” like the “Hello World!” post still public…

    • Kevin Muldoon

      It makes you wonder why people are promoting a website that has not even had any content added yet.

  25. Very good article pointing out the basics. Something I would like to add is – when writing a post and publishing it is often necessary to make changes. This is where the Preview option should be used instead of update. It is a better practice to use Preview and then it doesn’t matter how many changes need to be made. Get into the habit of using preview before publish and update.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      That is a very very good point Jenny. I never used to take advantage of the preview option as much as I should.

      However, if you do not save your article frequently, you always run the risk of losing a lot of your work if something goes wrong (e.g. website goes down temporarily, lost internet connection, hit the back button by accident etc).

  26. One of the best thing I ever done is discover Elegant Theme. FULL of resources, awesome themes and great topics.

    Keep up the super good work.

    Gilles

  27. Thanks a lot Kevin

  28. Thanks for sharing this valuable info. The only part I’d disagree with is the second part of #5, auto-updating themes and plugins. In my relatively short WP experience, I’ve seen both theme and plugin updates ruin websites (never elegant themes though!). The last one was a calendar plugin that destroyed all the data for events, past and future, so you had better have a backup at the ready! The developer scrambles to fix the problems in their new version, but if the website owner wasn’t diligent about backing up, there’s going to be some lost data.

    This type of thing happens at every level of software… I don’t even update my IOS until it’s been out for 4+ weeks, and only if there aren’t any major problems reported, and there are problems in about 1/3 of all those updates.

    I’d love to see you write an intro to using GIT with WordPress, or some other version control system, if there’s something better to work with WordPress. With a VCS you can pretty much maintain a test and production environment side by side. Anything you add to your site can be live tested, and instantly backed off if it fails. It’s probably not for newbs, but nobody’s a newb forever.

    Always like the posts Kevin, thank you!

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I agree with you 100%. I should have expanded on this because you are right – it can cause websites to go down.

      When I added that part, I was thinking from the perspective of someone who builds lots of small content websites using WordPress and updating them became a real pain. With those types of websites, automatically everything makes sense.

      However, for most websites, I would stick to just updating the core. :)

  29. Oh boy! I/m a newbie and my first trap was not changing the apparent WP default of “publish” to draft before the Hello World got out. This is a point that should be covered in all WP install training.
    Again due to so much to learn, nowhere have I seen anyone discuss whether draft status truly keeps the site under development from being seen on the web. And the second issue is that newbies need an explanation of what exactly to do when having a problem and an advisor says “send me your URL”. How do this without actually changing to Publish? Don’t want to do this until site is complete. So we all need an explanation of just how to specifically set up admin or whatever to do this. Most advisors assume all newbies know this but I have never seen a specific explanation.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Hello World is published the second you install WordPress. You then need to edit it, change it to draft or delete it. :)

      When an advisor says “Send me your URL” – they are probably referring to your website URL, not the exact article.

  30. I love your article very much. Thank you very much. Have a good day!

  31. For the more ambitious beginners – Do not edit the theme’s style sheets and/or .php files directly as these will get overwritten with the next update – been there .. done that .. ( and still have a headache ).

    Use child themes (or ET’s CSS box).

    :)

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Great suggestion Patrick. I made that mistake frequently myself when I first started using WordPress.

    • Yep.. I agree with this one.

  32. I also installed so many plugins at the start. I have a question though – Should Jetpack plugin be used? It is very useful but I have heard that it has much loading time.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I have Jetpack installed on a few of my websites, however I am in the process of removing it because of that very reason.

      To get a clear idea of how it affects your website, test your website speed using a service such as GTmetrix before and after installed the plugin.

  33. Not a helpful article at all. Most of the stated mistakes are obvious. It is tiresome to read again about strong passwords. Beginner mistakes are caused by a lack of basic understanding and so-called user friendly tools which do not seem to work. I make no apologies for the fact that I have never had any reason in my career to learn about permalinks, options, nor the reasons why backgrounds do not change when the new background is selected and uploaded, nor why pages once published result in the ‘404’ error of not found (even after using the trick of re-entering the default selection in permalinks). If Elegant themes has any tutorials that actually explain how and why to get one of its themes working by someone who is not a computer scientist, then I would like to see them. I am really tired of instructions that do not work if they even exist, and the subsequent flaming by trolls who ridicule the non-computer scientists who are trying to publish a site. Blog entries like this one are not helpful to those who really are beginners and are not ashamed of it.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Your complaints seem a little contradictory.

      You note that all of the stated mistakes, such as not changing the permalink setup, are obvious. You then state that you have no reason to learn about permalinks.

      We do try and write tutorials that are aimed towards beginner and intermediate users.

      I get the impression that you are struggling to use WordPress. My advice is to find a good book about using WordPress on Amazon. Alternatively, you might be able to find a course locally that shows you the basics of building a website.

      Lastly, I do agree that you should not be ashamed about being a beginner. We all have to begin somewhere :)

  34. Hello – I am a toddler at the blogging scene. I created a blog yesterday and today I was going to post a blog entry and it said “Nothing FoundIt seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.
    There is no access to any side bars and my user name and password are correct and it says it is wrong. When I go to retrieve my password it say my email it wrong. I am ready to cry! Which way do I look? Should I just start all over again? How do I find my way back?

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Do you still have this problem?

      I would recommend reading some basic books on WordPress so that you get an understanding of the basics.

  35. Hi there,
    I have also made a little website for secure & random password generation. Just like PasswordGenerators. Do check it out :)

    http://www.mystrongpassword.com/

    One thing I would like to add is that these days many spammers consider wordpress comments tool their heaven as its so easy to post anything with basic comments tool. So developers should use disqus.com or livefyre.com services to get rid of most spammers.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      I have tried DISQUS, LiveFyre, and Facebook. In my opinion, the default commenting system from WordPress is best. Though I realise larger websites use services such as DISQUS.

  36. Yes, I would say that beginner WP users, and beginner bloggers in general make the mistake of creating too many categories, instead of creating a few categories and using tags. Of course, like permalinks, this is an SEO issue. And I agree on the strong password issue. I think new WP users don’t understand how easy it is for passwords to be cracked.

  37. One mistake for me would be: launching into WordPress without really understanding how it works! Coming from a Dreamweaver background, it has taken me a bit of mind adjusting :)

    For example, say I had my main site + another 2 separate WP installations in 2 folders (/blog and /shop) to allow for greater customisation…

    When visited, would my website be loaded as one huge site (ie main site + 2 separate WP installations) resulting in one big slow website (3 x themes + various plugins) or….
    Does the main site load first and the other 2 x WP folders load only if the visitor clicks on them?

    In terms of SEO and rankings, is it better to have everything in one WP installation rather than 3 as illustrated above?

    Hope that makes sense as I’m very curious about this!

    For example, would it slow my website down and affect SEO/rankings to have WP installed in 2 separate folders to enable me to customise things more fully? Of course, I can do all this with one theme but would like different colour scheme/widgets/homepage/sidebar/ads/etc for each section.
    Or is it just be best to stick to one install/one theme and just manage without

  38. Previous message was messed up, this is what I meant to write:

    One mistake for me would be: launching into WordPress without understanding how it really works! Sure it’s a breeze to setup but coming from a Dreamweaver background, it has taken me a bit of mind adjusting :)

    For example, say I had my main site + another 2 separate WP installations in 2 folders (/blog and /shop) to allow for greater customisation…

    When visited, would my website be loaded as one huge site (ie main site + 2 separate WP installations) resulting in one big slow website (3 x themes + various plugins) or….
    Does the main site load first and the other 2 x WP folders load only if the visitor clicks on them?

    In terms of SEO and rankings, is it better to have everything in one WP installation rather than 3 as illustrated above?

    Hope that makes sense as I’m very curious about this!

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Seperate installations means that the three areas would be treated as three different websites. That is, they would be accessing different databases. However, obviously all files and databases would be on the same server.

      Any website is only loaded when someone visits it; be it a real person or a search engine robot.

    • Kevin Muldoon

      Separate installations means that the three areas would be treated as three different websites. That is, they would be accessing different databases. However, obviously all files and databases would be on the same server.

      Any website is only loaded when someone visits it; be it a real person or a search engine robot.

  39. I recently started my own blog, one “mistake” I made was to try to be clever and witty with the title of my blog titles, but after I installed the SEO plugins realised that a clear title is actually more likely to attract readers.

    I wrote a little about my WP experience here http://zhujin.com/2014/03/wordpress-for-beginners/

  40. Kevin,
    I have a question-
    Which is what I was researching when I came across your article. :)
    Do you feel it is necessary to change the name of the template you end up using?
    I have never done this personally and I have worked on many WP sites. But I have seen others do this and wonder if you feel it is wise?

    Thank you

  41. Great article. Trying to find an answer to this question:

    I am using a theme for my website which I update when necessary, however is it required/recommended to also update the default themes as well? i.e. Twenty Thirteen and Twenty Fourteen when they aren’t being used?

    Thanks in advance.

    • How to I make my website public? It is asking people to log in.. Is there a way that they can see it without logging in?

  42. Dear, if i have made a changes in the theme through word press (i.e. in adding categories, menus), will the PHP, CSS files will be affected in that particular theme folder.

    Thanks in advance.

  43. Thanks for this very informative post. I wish I had come through this a long time back as I have had made few mistakes mentioned here like installing unnecessary plugins, using a weak password. I am doubtful about “Keeping WordPress Up to Date” as whenever I update the wordpress version, some plugins go buggy resulting my site to crash. Any suggestion on this?

  44. Hi Kevin,

    A wonderful post for beginners. At present, I’m facing a problem with wordpress and have not been able to resolve it. I’m unable to access my blog or anyone else’s blog. The ‘blogs I follow’, ‘my sites’ and ‘stats’ are the only ones functioning alright. All other other pages cannot be access and fails to load. Can’t access the forum as well.
    I’ve changed my password, run sucuri scan.
    Can you suggest what the problem might be and how to get around it ?

    Thanks,
    Mamta

  45. Hi Kevin,
    I hope you allow me to ask questions when I wonder problem related to WordPress. thank you from Elizabeth Miller.

  46. 3. Publishing Incomplete Pages

    This point is the most common mistakes for “young webmasters”.
    They tend to register as quickly as possible to search engine webmaster tools, submiting sitemap, etc, even before the site had enough posts to be indexed!!!

    (my own stupid experience)

  47. 3. Publishing Incomplete Pages

    Beginners are usually too eager to create a blog just sign up on wordpress and can make some of the content and publish it. After that confused what will be in the next update. Turned out to be a beginner is not as easy as imagined. Therefore learn to master Kevin Muldoon is the best way, maybe free? :)

  48. :):)
    Nice list! As a combination of avoiding unneeded plugins and backup solutions: make sure to first check that your hosting doesn’t already make backups. Many do, and if they don’t you should consider changing to a different hosting.

    If you host yourself then it’s a different story of course :):)

  49. Hi, I have wrote the word ‘home’ as simply part of a sentence, but when I published what I had written, the word ‘home’ had become a hyperlink to another page on my site entitled ‘Home’. Is there any way to stop this?

  50. Yes, I am a “newbie”. If you look at my site, there are 2 things that I cannot figure out. My domain is hosted by Network Solutions and my Blog hosting package is as well. You will notice that once you leave the home and go to another page, the web address completely changes to a crazy NS domain. Can’t figure that out. Second, how do I get rid of the page titles?

    Hoping you can help. Thanks.

  51. I have seen many WordPress users using not good permalinks however they have a nice blog. Using a nice and rememberable permalink is beneficial from seo as well as readers side.

  52. I am a newbie on WordPress. I’ve had my blog on blogger for a couple of years and recently switched to WP.org through GoDaddy because I wanted to have my own domain and make the blog bigger. My blog/site is a mess. I have broken links all over the place, I’m stressed out more then I should be over my blog/website. Everything I had read said it was easy. This has been nothing but hard. Honestly had I known it would have been this hard, I wouldn’t have done it.

  53. Hello ! Thx for your tips even if I’m not newbie anymore. Still good to read again basics.
    I think you’ve made a mistake :
    In order to keep plugins and themes updates, you shouldn’t put add_filter in wp-config.php
    It’s written in the official wordpress page :
    “Note: Do not add add_filter() calls in wp-config.php – causes conflicts with WP-CLI and possibly other problems.”
    http://codex.wordpress.org/Configuring_Automatic_Background_Updates

    You should correct that ;)

  54. Hi Kevin, thanks for the useful article!

    But what about image heavy blogs? Do you recommend hosting the images in our own host or using photo sites like flickr, photobucket, etc? Will too much photo in my own hosting take up too much space?

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