Without wanting to frighten you too much, there are certain things you can do in WordPress that will just plain break it. On a less worrying (but also important) note, there are other things you can do that we would certainly advise against — whether it represents a potential security risk or simply something that has a negative impact on the user experience.
With the above in mind, in this article, we want to cover what we believe are the most important things that you must avoid doing in WordPress. With the following recommendations implemented your website will be far safer, reliable, functional and enjoyable for all your visitors.
Although any WordPress themes you may have used previously but are no longer being used remain deactivated, they still exist on your WordPress installation along with any security flaws or vulnerabilities that can still be exploited. For instance, the most famous of WordPress theme hacks is the TimThumb exploit, which continues to affect certain blogs to this day.
Generally speaking, if you use good quality themes and ensure that they are kept up to date then you shouldn’t run into any problems. However, if you have old themes laying unused on your site’s backend then our recommendation would be to delete them immediately. Due to its huge scale of utilization, WordPress is a big target for hackers. Don’t make yourself an easy target.
There is a code editor that comes installed with WordPress that you can use to edit the backend of your website; you can access it via Appearance > Editor and Plugins > Editor in the sidebar.
At first glance, these editors seem pretty interesting as they offer full access to the back end of your website! However, one wrong keystroke and you can completely change the complexion of your website in seconds - and not in a good way. It's is all too easy to accidentally disable access to the backend of your WordPress website with these code editors, which leaves you with no immediate means of restoring order to your site.
Because of this, we recommend that you only ever access and edit your site’s PHP files with an FTP application such as Filezilla. You should make a copy of any PHP file that you intend to edit before you start so that you can quickly switch back to a working version should you accidentally wreak havoc on your site. It’s far better to be safe than sorry!
If you have to wait for your comment to be moderated before it goes live, do you feel encouraged to comment? Do you feel valued by the blogger? I’m guessing that the answer to both questions is no.
In our opinion, comments moderation represent a lack of respect on the part of the blogger for the commenter’s time and should be avoided at all costs. The funny thing is that you often find comments moderation on smaller blogs — rarely is it used on bigger ones (that are likely to receive more spam).
In reality, spam is not that big of an issue — plugins such as Akismet do an excellent job of stopping most spam. When a blog gets big and receives a lot of comments, individually moderating each and every one becomes an unnecessarily huge task. You can turn comments moderation off via the Settings > Discussion screen accessible from the sidebar.
This recommendation is less of a "must" and more of a suggestion that we strongly urge you guys to follow.
Depending on what theme you have, you may find that it has built-in SEO features. We would strongly advise that you avoid using these features for two reasons:
It’s a bold claim but one that it is generally accepted by most of the WordPress community’s most respected users and developers. For instance, as of the 31st October 2012, WooThemes deprecated SEO functionality within their themes due to SEO by Yoast being “more beneficial” to WordPress users. WooThemes handing over the SEO reins to another developer is a bold sign of their faith in Yoast’s plugin and an indication of how loved and effective it is.
You can find out more information about SEO and WordPress Themes in our article - 10 Of The Best WordPress Themes For SEO Experts In 2018.
Categories and tags can both have a huge part to play on your website. Contrary to what some people believe, tags aren’t an antiquated taxonomy type that offers no relevance in the modern blogging era. Furthermore, categories are not there to be used and abused.
Does the same text in a book show up in different chapters? Of course not. This format should be transferred to your blog. What we mean by this is that a post should rarely be allocated to more than one category. If you feel the need to allocate it to two or more, then you probably have too many overlapping categories
Categories should represent the broad topics covered on your blog or website (e.g. “dinner recipes”) and tags should be more specific (e.g. “chicken”). Content should only be tagged when the tags in question are directly related and relevant to the content. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to use no more than 50 tags.
The point is, both categories and tags should be used in order to benefit the user. That is their primary purpose. If you lose sight of that then navigating your site will become a troublesome experience. At the very least make sure that your categories are clearly defined and well-stocked.