WordPress truly is a great tool, and no wonder that many PHP/web developers have chosen to use it as the base of their work. However, WordPress won’t do the whole work by itself and there’s always a significant amount of stuff that needs to be handled manually (when working on a new site).
And this is where the human factor comes into play. We all make mistakes and have weaknesses. Thankfully, it’s not something we have to take for granted. Some things can be changed quite easily if we’re just aware of their existence.
That’s why today I want to take a look at some of the common weaknesses of many WordPress developers, and the ways to fix them quickly.
1. Not being part of the community
You might think that you know WordPress. I mean, you’ve been working with it since forever, and you hardly stumble upon moments when you don’t know how to implement something.
However, you still can grow your skills rapidly if you join forces with other, like-minded developers. When a given group of developers is connected to each other, and one person learns something, in short time the knowledge spreads throughout the whole group.
There’s no better place for this than online forums. I know that forums sound like a basic kind of advice, but there’s still no better way of being part of an online community than through a forum. Here are two possibilities: WordPress Tavern, Bloggeries.
2. Not being up-to-date
Nowadays, it seems like we see a new WordPress update every other day. There’s just a massive amount of things going on with WordPress, as well as with the popular plugins and themes.
If you really want to be considered a professional, you need to be up-to-date with all of this.
The bare minimum is reading the official change log (yes, this boring thing) whenever a new version of WordPress gets released.
3. Not reading WordPress blogs
This is kind of similar to the previous point, but it’s not exactly the same thing. Being up to date with WordPress is about getting to know everything new that gets introduced into each version of the platform. Reading the popular WordPress blogs is about learning what other people are doing with WordPress.
It’s more of a community-driven (similar to forums) kind of information … not like the official channel (through wordpress.org, for example).
It just so happens that I published a list of popular WordPress blogs a couple of weeks ago. Feel free to check it out: 16 Top Blogs About WordPress for Your Inspiration.
4. Not backing up their work
I know that my talk about the need of backing up everything is probably starting to get boring by now, but I really can’t emphasize this enough.
In the WordPress development world, your data (the results of your work) is the most valuable thing you have. If you were to lose your data, getting back on track would be more than difficult. I’m sure you can imagine such a situation pretty clearly.
Now the funny part… Your hard disk crashing is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
And if you’re not prepared for the day to come, you’re in trouble.
But let’s not be all that pessimistic about it. Getting ready is not that difficult. You basically only need two things (or even just one):
- Sign up to Dropbox or any other cloud file hosting and synchronization tool, and keep your work there. You’ll additionally get access to your data from every computer with internet access.
- Get a second hard disk and keep two copies of your data at all times (one on your primary disk and the other on the new one). You can synchronize your data automatically with a tool like Synchronize It.
5. Not signing up as an affiliate for hosting
Chances are that a big percentage of your clients will ask you where to host their sites. Instead of just listing some companies, why not sending them over to a specific web hosting company through your affiliate link?
By the way, for those of you who don’t know what being an affiliate means. It’s when you join an affiliate program, and get commissions for every customer you refer through a custom affiliate link. Every popular hosting company has an affiliate program.
Now, the most important thing here is to recommend a quality web host, not just a random company. Preferably, it’s best if you start with the web host you’re working with (to host your own sites).
6. Not taking the niche into account
I kind of talked about this in my other post on the mistakes designers make when creating a WordPress site for a small business.
The thing is that every niche is different. And a site meant for a small business will not work for a professional photographer, and so on. If you want to provide a quality solution as the result of your work, you need to start with the niche in mind right from the very beginning.
Try answering these questions:
- What’s the main goal of visitors in this niche?
- Why would anyone want to visit the site I’m creating?
- What the competition is doing?
- What are the standard elements websites in this niche feature?
- What’s the main goal of my client?
- How many people will work with the site? And so on…
(By the way, feel free to let me know if you can think of any other questions worth answering here.)
7. Doing everything from the ground up
The fact that you’re using WordPress anyway may give you the idea that you should do everything else by hand. Like coding the functionalities, creating the theme, and so on.
A much better approach to have is to always start by looking around for existing solutions.
Obviously, the first step worth taking is choosing a quality theme framework or a premium theme (hint!) – one that can handle some standard features that work for every site. Like built-in SEO possibilities, for example.
The second step is about the plugins. A really good habit to have is to browse the official plugin directory whenever you’re about to start working on a new functionality. Most of the time, you’ll be able to get a plugin that does exactly what you need.
Not everyone agrees with this, but I advise you to code something yourself only if absolutely no existing solutions can be found. This will make your work a lot quicker and, in most cases, of higher quality too.
Can you think of the weakness #8? Feel free to share. Also, is there anything on the above list that you don’t agree with?