Using WordPress – Considerations

Considerations for Bloggers using WordPress as a platform.

I deal with bloggers day in, day out. Bloggers are people who run these blogs on the side of their busy life’s and potentially earning a small but contributing second income to their ‘day job’ with things such as affiliate posts, guest posts, advertising & such like.  Further, they may even be full time bloggers and their only source of income is there blog.

Subsequently, peoples blogs are something I take very seriously.

Over the last year or so, I’ve worked on twenty or so blogs on behalf of people and I see very common issues arising time & time again – so this blog post outlines those, the things YOU need to think about when you’re using WordPress for your blog.

WordPress is a great platform.

WordPress is fantastic, and offers a whole raft of easy to use features baked in making it accessible, useful and powerful. It powers 25%+ of all Internet sites, and whilst there’s a heap of other CMS’s available which offer similar/better/different features WordPress remains the go to for most people.

Here’s the rub though, to get the best out of WordPress, you need to understand how it works and typically most people will just want quick and easy –  fire up a WordPress site, install a theme and then start chucking out content. It’s only when your favourite web-slingin’ developer gets involved that there’s problems to resolve from the ‘how to migrate my posts’, to ‘why is my media library full?’ or my personal favourite, the ‘ever expanding plugin tree destined to fall over’.

So read on for a few key points you need to get your head around when using WordPress.

It’s a database – it’s just a database

All your posts, all your content, your images, links, themes, everything, it just sits in various tables in a database which make up the WordPress site. Think of your site like a giant database and consider that each post points to images via a URL. Each post is linked to via a URL and the overall URL structure is governed globally. Make a change somewhere & things break (like when you move your website from one domain to another)

Plugins are not the quick win you think they are.

Plugins can be great – they offer turn-key functionality for users who maybe don’t have the development skills to do things such as a contact forms, or maps, or page formats. BUT with each plugin installed, you introduce a potential point of failure with the next round of WordPress updates. Plugins live in a world that’s fairly unregulated and can be developed well or badly, leaving you with a very messy website. Keep plugin’s to a minimum where you can,  and only use those from reputable sources (look for a thriving support forum, regular updates and English speaking developers).  THINKDo you really need this plugin, or is it more for vanity?

Security

As mentioned in an earlier point above, WordPress powers a hell of a lot of websites. Subsequently they are massive attack vectors for  hackers and other ne’re do wells so make an effort to use secure passwords, utilise catchpha’s on contact forms and make sure you have backups of both the site, the database & the various themes & plugins.

Disk space & hosting

I see more and more people pushing staggering amounts of content through WordPress and expecting the database and hosting to cope. Typically they’d of selected WordPress because it’s cheap (sometimes free) and comes with free or low cost hosting. Remember though, everytime you add a post, or image, or media file you are increasing disk space not only for the site, but when it comes to moving that site it makes things much more difficult. I recently worked on a WordPress website over 10GB due to unoptimized images  & a badly thought out content structure.

Your website will be governed and limited by the rules of Database language, (usually SQL) so file size upload limits and performance limits will be quickly met if you’re not doing best practice stuff such as optimising images, using remote media libraries or not compressing your stuff. Make sure your hosting provider offers you PHPMYadmin, (the GUI interface for managing your databases) to allow your web developer to effectively manage your databases and get backups.

Optimise, Compress, and Offshore

If you’re website is media heavy, consider hosting your images in a remote folder outside of the WordPress install at a URL which won’t change. When it comes to migrating your site from one place to another, you won’t have that issue of missing images or broken links because the images won’t be touched. Plus, any migration won’t have to accommodate the images and therefore migration can happen quicker. (It takes longer to move a 10GB site than it does a 350MB site etc)

Long term thinking

Think about the future now, if you can. Are you likely to want to move this site in future? Does your hosting provider support the plugins which make site migration easy, or will it have to be done manually? Have you optimised all your images to make them as small as possible? Is your rich media (such as Videos & music) hosted on remote libraries or CDN’s such as YouTube?

Things to think about when moving your site.

So let’s run through a check list of the things you’re likely to hit as a blogger, when having a new WordPress site (to replace an old one) or maybe you’re moving an old site to a new hosting provider.

Have you got all the links for EVERY post that is currently earning you money? By that I mean if people or companies have paid you to review something for example, do you know where these posts are and do you have a plan in place to communicate with them of change? For example, if you reviewed a hair dryer on your website, www.ilovehair.com/hairdryerreview2016.htm and your new site is going to be www.iloveallthehair.com then what’s your plan to keep these URLs valid? Have you raised this with your technical person? (We run a tool called Screaming Frog which audits every outbound link and we compare that with the new site, and can identify URLs which don’t match, we can go in and match them or write rewrite rules in Apache to accommodate this.)

Do you have all your user accounts usernames and passwords for everything? Your hosting? Your WordPress website, your SQL databases, Your Google analytics and any third party service you use such as FeedBurner or Skim links? All these may well need to be updated.

Mario DeCristofano

35 year old Digital native, grumpy, occasionally sweary & always passionate, I write about IT, technology & the things which interest me. @mariodc on Twitter.

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