General Steps to Building the Worst WordPress Site on the Planet

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:

  1. Get a quality premium theme. For example, from ThemeFuse.
  2. 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).

Ads everywhere!

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.

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there are 11 comments added

  1. Patrik Alienus 10th December 2012

    The tags-thing is funny. I had a collegue once who, when we setup the company blog, told me flat out that "we need as many tags as possible!!!!" because she had heard that in a seminar about social media. When I tried explaining to her that ranking on words come from content, she looked like a question mark. Needless to say, that blog, which she ran, has been removed since it was inefficient at best. Replaced with a new one that does not permit tags, it only uses pre-defined categories :)

    • Haha, really funny, thanks for sharing.

  2. Jason 10th December 2012

    Good read. I would also suggest the cherry on top of any bad Wordpress site is the animated gif under construction graphic. Caution tape and flashing orange/yellow lights will work as well. And for good luck, sprinkle with misspelled words and poor grammar.

    • Karol K 12th December 2012

      Are there even any sites with caution tape on it still left? :)

      • Ari 20th December 2014

        Most of them were removed when Geocities was shut down.

  3. Matt 10th December 2012

    Haha, good post!I would add that bloggers should write extra long posts but not make use of excerpts. And if they really want to go all out with their terrible blogs, the should automatically approve all comments on their blog without any type of moderation!

  4. adamir1984 11th December 2012

    Thank you! I have purchased the book about Content Management, but it still shipping our russian post. I hope it will be usefull for my blogs and i think the core idea of that book is the same like in this post: people want content, so give it for them without blowing their minds with informative garbage.But what about big banners and sliders on the landing pages and home pages? Is they effective or not? I see that most of your themes have this elements. Sorry my English :) I try to practice with support teams and authors))

    • Karol K 12th December 2012

      Banners and sliders always depend on the goal and purpose of your site. They are not suitable for all sites, so it all depends. Sorry I can't be more specific with this answer.

  5. Robert 16th December 2012

    Great post. I think we should point also on sites written by people who do not use right grammar. I understand that author makes some misspelling when text is long, but when I see grammar mistake in a title I want to write to author to close site written like that.

  6. 3d models 20th December 2012

    very nice keep up the good work

  7. dream weaver 25th December 2012

    As a Wordpress newbie, I was looking for a Wordcamp event to attend. One particular site had endless loop navigation, incomplete pages and programming and/or plugin errors displaying unreadable test pages! These are the people that are going to teach me how to use Wordpress!?! That for me was at least runner up for worst on the planet.

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