January 2016 WordPress Q & A Workshop Recap

At last night’s Q & A workshop, we had lots of great questions about WordPress, how to use it, set it up, configure plugins, style, and troubleshoot issues.

Glad to see so many new faces interested in learning about WordPress!

I spoke with six different people about their sites, plans for websites, hosting, plugins, security and answered different questions about working with WordPress.

Since we all learn WordPress from each others, I wanted to recap some of the top items we discussed.

Were you at last night’s meetup? Feel free to add what you learned or discussed in the comments.

I’m a WordPress Beginner. Where Do I Start?

Start small. Identify what you want to do.

Will your site be a blog for your writing or photographs, your next business adventure, band site to highlight your upcoming concerts, or are you selling something?

Think about what you expect visitors to do when they come to your site. And what will make your WordPress site a success.

Maybe you have an idea of a site with lots of features and functionality. Can you break it into smaller phases that come out in June, October, or even next year?

If you’re not technical, and don’t want to figure out hosting, how to install WordPress, and which one of the 40,000 plugins you want on your site, I recommend starting with WordPress.com.

WordPress.com allows you to:

  • Set up a blog or website for free (using a WordPress.com subdomain)
  • Use your own domain name ($18/year)
  • Choose from over 300 different themes
  • Upgrade to $99 Premium plan or $299 Business plan for more customizations and features

WordPress.com (which hosts WordPress for you), means you don’t have to worry about installing and upgrading WordPress, adding/updating plugins (there aren’t any), dealing with security, spam, or backups. It’s all done for you.

If your goal is to blog regularly, WordPress.com is a great way to start. And you can easily export your content to other blogging platforms (including self-hosted WordPress) when you want to move on to more features.

First Self-Hosted WordPress Site

Where do I start looking for hosting? Our Metro Detroit WordPress group is sponsored by A2 Hosting in Ann Arbor, who have graciously offered our members a discount for web hosting. Check out their hosting plans.

With hundreds of web hosts, talking with fellow members about their experiences with web hosts is helpful.

Also, check out Chris Lema’s 10 questions to ask when choosing a web host.

My Self-Hosted Site is Live, Now What?

Once the site is live, you’ll want to make sure your site is kept up-to-date and current.

Keep your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins updated with the latest version.

You’ll also want to take care of:

In addition to security, backup, and anti-spam, setting up two-factor authentication can help tighten your website security.

If Your Web Developer Did This, Find Another Developer

If your developer is hacking WordPress core files, find a different developer.

If you have a problem on your site (not related to a security issue), and your developer needs to overwrite the wp-admin or wp-includes folders to fix it, that means core WordPress files were hacked.

That’s not good. Core files in WordPress are not to be modified.

Hacking core files introduces all kinds of problems, including:

  • Security vulnerabilities
  • Compatibility problems
  • Future updating issues

Don’t hack core!

Keep Mobile Users in Mind

When you choose a theme, check how the menu displays on mobile devices. Sometimes the menu disappears and is replaced with hard-to-select dots on the mobile screen.

Adding photos, PDFs, or Word documents to your site?

Optimize the files so they’re a smaller file download. (Ten megabyte files can chew up bandwidth on a smartphone fast!).

When you link to a PDF or Word document, include the type of file and size of file in parenthesis For example, download our latest white paper about search engine optimization (PDF: 350K).

Nobody on a smartphone wants to select a link on a web page, thinking they’re going to a new page, only to discover they’re downloading a five megabyte PDF.

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Author: Deborah Edwards-Onoro

Deborah Edwards-Onoro is a front-end web developer focused on user experience, accessibility, and WordPress. Founder of Lireo Designs, I create usable, attractive websites for businesses, nonprofits, and individuals. In addition, I offer WordPress site maintenance services, training and consulting. Organizer for Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup and Refresh Detroit. Former co-leader of Detroit User Experience, officer of Michigan Usability Professionals Association.

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