So far we’ve been talking mainly about doing things the right way, and I think it’s about time to change things up a bit. That’s why today I’m taking a 180-degree-inverted approach. This is about creating the worst WordPress site on the planet.
Now, what’s the point? The point obviously isn’t for you to try to build the worst site on the planet, but to take the advice from here and keep it in mind next time you’re thinking about doing some questionable stuff with your WordPress site.
So here goes. Some general steps to building the worst WordPress site on the planet are:
Build the theme yourself from the ground up
Yes, I really think this is pointless and will lead you nowhere except failure.
Of course, it’s not that you won’t be able to build a basic theme … this is actually quite easy. The difficult part, however, is to make your theme equally as functional as some readymade alternatives available on the internet.
For instance, take a look at Gantry – one of the most popular free theme frameworks for WordPress. Here’s a list of key features the framework has to offer (link).
The rule of thumb is this: If you can’t make your theme to be just as good then don’t even bother building it.
This means that there are two approaches that make sense when it comes to themes:
- Get a quality premium theme. For example, from ThemeFuse.
- Create your custom theme on top of one of the popular theme frameworks (like Gantry, Thematic, or Hybrid).
Use mile long sidebars
For some mysterious reason some website owners decide to populate their sidebars with every widget possible, making it seem like it’s a mile long or something.
I know that WordPress offers quite a bit of different widgets, not even mentioning what you can get after installing a handful of plugins, but come on!
The simple fact is that visitors don’t come to your site to look at the sidebar, they want the content, so give it to them and don’t make their life harder by providing tons of confusing information in the sidebar.
Use 100 plugins at once
There are over 22,000 plugins in the official directory at wordpress.org, so why wouldn’t you install at least 100 of them on your site, right?
Apart from some cool functionalities, such a big number of plugins will bring you one additional side feature – a slow as hell website. And a big likelihood that something is going to crash next time you update any of those plugins or WordPress itself.
Now, if that’s not enough, here’s how to take this up a notch. Use plugins that are redundant – offer the same or similar functionality. You know, you can never be sure that one SEO plugin is doing its job right … you better install two of them.
Of course, for everyone who’s not about building the worst website ever, getting just the essential plugins is a more suitable approach. Also, don’t use plugins to do some basic things. If something can be done with a simple hack or a couple of lines of code in your functions.php file then do it there.
Use a giant header
Big means healthy, right? At least that’s what my grandma used to say. The rule is simple here: The bigger your header is, the closer you are to having the worst WordPress site on the planet.
What’s the problem with big headers? Mainly that they showcase things no one actually cares about.
For instance, no one cares about your logo being big, no one cares about the banner in the center, no one cares about your menu linking to 30 different pages. People want content.
So if you don’t want to end up with a poor site, just make the headers as small as possible. The true power of good design has always been about how many things you can remove from it, not how many things you can add.
Display 20 social media buttons under each post
Yea, social media, I know … it’s important. If you can’t convince people to share your stuff, you will never make it on the internet. I know the story.
But what’s the point of displaying 20 different buttons (from all major social media platforms) when the counters on all of them sit steadily at 0 (zero)?
I mean, doing this makes sense if you want to prove to everyone how unpopular your site is. But for the more sensible people it would actually be a lot more effective to focus on just 2-3 most popular social buttons (Facebook, Twitter, and a third one).
Advertising is undoubtedly the most straightforward way of monetizing any site. Also, platforms like Google AdSense make it very easy to display ads. You just have to sign up, get the embed code, and you’re good to go.
Here are some ideas where you can place your ads: in the header, above the content, inside the content (next to the first paragraph), in the sidebar, in the footer, above the comments section, text links below the main menu, and probably a dozen more. In a word: Place ads EVERYWHERE!
However, if you want to have a friendly site instead of a hostile one then just go for 2-3 placements. Next to the first paragraph, above the comments, and in the sidebar tend to work just fine.
Provide no contact info
Whenever I stumble upon a site with no contact info it’s always a shock to me. And it happens around once per week, or every other week.
I mean … What. The. Hell?! Do I really have to look up your domain through who.is to get some contact information? Is that really necessary?
Okay okay, maybe I’m going too far with this. Maybe you have a reason for staying anonymous. Maybe you’re an undercover Soviet agent or something. Your call.
However, if you’re not an undercover Soviet agent then please provide some contact info on your site … anything.
Use like a million tags and categories
There’s been a lot of talk online on the purpose and importance of tags and categories. Some people think that you should focus on just one taxonomy, others that you can use both effectively, some say that categories are for people and tags are for search engines, others that everything is for people.
Anyways, no matter what your opinion is you should be really careful not to go overboard with this. The fact is that using too many tags and categories can never be a good practice.
The funniest thing I’ve ever seen when it comes to tags was a site that had like 15 tags below each post, and one of those tags was the word “and.”
This obviously means one of two things: the owner has no clue what any of the sensible applications for tags are, or the tags get assigned automatically by some kind of a plugin. Either way, not cool.
I think that’s enough ranting for one day so let me stop here. In the end, not having the worst WordPress site on the planet is actually quite easy. You just need to be careful about not overdoing certain things and most of the time use some common sense when introducing new elements.
Also, take a look at what the big players in the game are doing and try to mimic them whenever possible (TechCrunch, Mashable, etc.).
Do you have some ideas of your own on other elements that define a crappy WordPress site? Feel free to comment.