10 things you should know when buying WordPress

December 2019 — Nikolas Holm

WordPress is content management powers most of the corporate and marketing websites we do. It comes with array of ready made processes and modules that helps us to build cost effective websites without wasting our time on coding and testing obvious features from scratch. So, what are some of the most important things your should know from a Client perspective when considering WordPress?

1. Theme

Is your website using ready made theme or custom build? Often ready made themes are loaded with unnecessary features and code that affects dramatically to your webpage speed and thus also search engine rankings and to frustaration of your visitors. Ready theme can get you started fast, but it will also backfire quick when you need customisations or reliable updates for the years to come. We always use our custom made architecture and backbone theme for WordPress and tailor the rest for your needs.

2. Grid

Grid is the backbone how your website behaves in mobile and different devices. Most common framework for this is Bootstrap (which we also recommend). Besides making your website responsive, it also helps to standardise frontend code and makes it easier to read for other developers too.

3. Modular architecture

Basic website architecture with one text block can get boring fast. We always aim to create flexible architecture where various modules can be added to any page or post type. This helps you to build great experiences faster. Examples of this are posts carousel, instagram, plain text, image, gallery, feature, contact form / person and so on. Flexible architecture can be created using ACF Pro or new WordPress Gutenberg editor blocks.

4. Plugins

WordPress is the most popular website CMS on the planet. There exists thousands of commercial and free plugins meaning you don't have to pay and develop all the things from scratch. Good examples from this are Caching plugins, Membership, Analytics, Security and so on.

Since WordPress is open source, plugin code quality varies from absolute shit to mindblowing awesome. It's important to choose plugins that are actively developed, do not leave holes in to your security or drain your site speed. We only use (commercial) plugins that are battle tested and last for years to come.

5. Cache

Caching doubles your website speed and is pretty core function of a WordPress site. We test all websites for reasonable site speed. We recommend using WP Rocket. When using caching it's also important to know how your theme and plugins work with cache. Woocommerce for example often requires custom exceptions to the cache and if you have country specific content you will need to enable caching per country.

6. Security

You can improve security of your WordPress website in numerous ways. Here's few easy tips that we always use with our Clients; change login url, hide wordpress meta info, use captcha for login form, ip geo block wrong countries, monitor file changes and logins, block brute force attacks or utilise Google Authenticator or similar mobile app, two factor (2FA) login.

7. Analytics

We always use at least free Google Analytics with our websites. Using plugins can help you to automatically track events and conversions like contact forms or downloads. We usually recommend Monster Insight plugin.

8. SEO

Bare mimum requirement for your SEO is a good plugin to automise most of your SEO efforts. You should carefully review these settings and also add manual overrides to your key pages like homepage. We recommend using Yoast SEO plugin. Your website should be also connected to Google Search Console.

9. Multilanguage (and multisite) support

Any website should be compatible with multilanguage plugin like WPML or Polylang. This means your content can be translated in multiple languages or created individual sites for different markets using either translations or WordPress multisite functionality.

10. Hosting and maintenance

Your website requires hosting. Requirements for a good web hosting is quite simple: guaranteed uptime (99,99% range). We use WP-Engine for most of our projects (occasionally AWS).

Your agency should ensure your website is constantly running by monitoring it and ensuring updates are made on fixed intervals. We monitor all websites and fix any bugs immediately as they arise.

Want to dig deeper? Here's a great checklist for a website review. Ask us to review your website for free!