Starting your first website is really exciting, but there are quite a few places that you can go wrong. Avoiding mistakes early on will save you from a lot of headache down the road.
Paying Too much for Your Hosting
A lot of people will argue with me on this point, but hear me out. When you get started with a new website, you want to make sure your website hosting is good, because you want your site to be successful. But there are some people who will say that the cheaper hosting options are no good.
They claim that the cheap options don’t offer enough speed, storage and support, but that is where I disagree. I recommend a hosting called Bluehost.
Bluehost offers hosting plans for beginners that cost about $3/month. This “cheap” plan offers plenty of storage and speed for a beginner and you also get customer service through phone, chat and many support documents.
The reason I feel like the cheaper option is better is because in the first year of your website, you will have very few visitors and so if you pay for expensive hosting, you are paying for nothing.
Start cheap, and then as your site grows, you can always upgrade. (And with Bluehost, you get your first domain free!) If you want to check out Bluehost prices, you can find the special deal we have worked out with Bluehost for our readers here: Get Bluehost
Using Pages instead of Posts
The first few times you log in to the back end of your website, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of settings you have control over. Don’t worry, take it one step at a time and learn every setting little by little.
The best place to start is with adding content to your site. When you are adding content that you won’t have to change very often like contact information, you’ll want to add it to your website as a page.
The reason you’ll want this type of information on a page is because a page is meant to be stagnant. Contact information and details about you should go in your menu, and pages are designed just for that.
On the other hand, there are type of content that you will continually add over time, like blog posts. But you don’t want all of your blog posts to be menu items or stagnant pages, you simply want them on the website for users to find if they need them.
The way you can organize blog posts is by creating Category Pages, and adding the right blog posts to those pages.
Making the mistake of writing your blog entries as pages will create problems later on with the structure of your site and as you add more and more blog entries, you won’t be able to make it easy for users to navigate your site
Choosing a Complicated Theme
The theme you choose for your website should have a look and feel you like because this is how your site will look for the foreseeable future. It isn’t good practice to change themes over and over again, so choosing the right theme the first time is really important.
There are TONS of themes out there to choose from. There are some themes that don’t look that great, but are free, and there are some that are quite expensive, but can be customized to look exactly how you want.
Here’s the problem. When you are looking at a theme for your site, you probably go to the website where the theme is being sold and you see how great it looks and you can imagine your site looking that good. While there’s nothing wrong with that, but it is common for many themes to be difficult to set up.
You could end up spending weeks trying to get it to look like the demo you saw without any success.
Instead of dealing with a difficult theme, try finding a theme that will be easy to install and set up. We have built a theme designed specifically for beginners. We know that you need something that will be easy to set up so you can keep your focus on creating content.
Our theme is called Acabado, and we built it to be fast and extremely simple. If you are looking for a theme like that, you can check it out here. We use it on all of our new sites and it looks great!
Spending too Much Time on Site Design
For those of you who are really tech savvy, you might be temped to use all of your knowledge to make your website look exactly how you want it. Your skills will definitely come in handy down the road, but if you focus too much on the design, you’ll never get around to creating the content that users want and need.
I’d like to think that someone would come to my website just because it looked pretty, but the reality is that they won’t come unless you have provided them with the information they need.
Using too Many Plugins
Plugins are pieces of software that are designed to give your website the functionality you want it to have. The problem with plugins is that there are thousands of them. With so many to choose from, many beginners tend to add way to many plugins.
Too many plugins cause a variety of issues.
- Security – Since plugins can be developed by anyone with software building knowledge, there is no guarantee that the software is secure. Many web hackers target plugins because they provide an easy way to get into many websites.
- Site Speed – Plugins are very helpful, but there is a price to pay. Many plugins are running unnecessary code that slows down your site. Keeping your site fast provides a good user experience and is an indicator to Google that your site is valuable.
- Deactivated Plugins – Once you become more familiar with the functions of your WordPress site, you’ll realize that you don’t need all of the plugins and most people just deactivate the plugins they don’t use and call it good. However, deactivated plugins will pile up and can slow down, and still provide ways for malicious people into your site.
I always recommend not using more than 5 plugins to start. This makes the risk of running into problems pretty low.
Not Focusing on the Content
CONTENT IS KING. No matter what the purpose of your website, the content you add is the most valuable part of it. When you worry about all of the other elements of building websites, you stop adding the real value.
Set a goal to add some sort of content to your site every day to ensure you are making real progress.
Paying Someone to Navigate WordPress For you.
Learning how to navigate and use WordPress is really important so you can make the changes you want without having to fork out more money every time.
There are a lot of people I know who pay someone to set up and manage their site and they pay thousands and thousands of dollars simply because they didn’t want to learn it themselves.
It can be frustrating in the beginning to learn WordPress, but I promise that it will be worth it in the long run. You will be more independent and you will save tons of money!
If you need help with specific WordPress questions, check out our Youtube Channel, WP School. We post new videos every week showing how to configure WordPress.
Forgetting to Preview before you Publish
There are a few things you should check for that commonly get messed up.
|Tables||Depending on the columns/rows/amount of text, your table can end up looking different than you thought it would.|
|Mobile View||Previewing your post on a mobile device will help you make sure you post is ready for mobile readers. Large walls of text aren’t scannable and give a poor experience for the reader.|
|Images||Sometimes the size or placement of images don’t stay the same since the live page might be wider than the editor.|
There is nothing quite as valuable as creating more posts for your website, well there might be something more valuable. It’s previewing your post so you can see what it will look like once it is live on the site. There have been many times where I write a great post and I publish it without checking and then I get tons of emails telling me that my post formatting doesn’t look good.
WordPress is pretty good at making the editor look the same as the actual published page, but it isn’t perfect, so checking every time is a MUST.
Here is an example of a table In the editor:
Here is what the table looks like on the actual page:
|Weight||Size||Color||Rating||Comments||Joe’s Opinion||Jan’s Opinion||Mike’s Opinion|
|2 lb||8 inches||Yellow||10/10||I thought this one was really great. Probably my favorite||Eww||Not bad at all.||I like this one a lot!|
|1.8 lb||6 inches||Blue||8/10||Felt nice and light. The size was a little small.||Ewww||This one is great||Not my favorite|
|3 lb||5 inches||Green||4/10||Least favorite by far. It was really heavy, but really small at the same time. There was no reason for it to be like that. The green looked like puke. I would never buy this, in fact I wouldn’t take it if it was given to me for free. It is terrible.||EWwwwwww||Ugly color||I don’t know why it’s so heavy|
You can see how the published version looks different than the version in the editor. It’s not a huge difference, but it is quite noticeable.
Losing Your Passwords
And last but not least, losing your passwords. Jumping into the world of websites means a lot of new usernames and passwords to remember. It can be incredibly difficult to remember them all, but there is a solution.
I actually have a few solutions. One is a little old school, but it will work. The old school way is have a notebook with all of your usernames and passwords on the front page. Now here’s the catch. This notebook doesn’t sit by the computer.
It needs to go somewhere safe… like a safe, or under your mattress. Imagine the notebook has $5000 in it. Put in a place that you would put a lot of cash.
The second option is called Lastpass. LastPass is a service that you can use to store all of your passwords securely on your phone or computer. For a few dollars a month you can add all of your usernames and passwords to your Lastpass account and then you access them all with one master password.
This works well especially as you start using more and more services and online tools. I use LastPass and I LOVE it. It works great.
If you can avoid all of these mistakes, you’ll be good to go. Go easy on yourself and understand that when learning something new, mistakes will happen. But at the same time, the fewer mistakes the better.