A few easy steps to improve Wordpress and what you can do with it…
Step one: choose a cool login
It sounds a bit stupid right? But it’s a small step towards securing your installation. How many people just go with the standard “admin”? How many more then go for an easy password?
It doesn’t take much effort to think up something cool / different and it will deter those noob hackers. (Although the ninja level hackers could break into your site no matter what you choose).
pimp my ride
Wordpress is great, but it needs a little help to get a few things done. Although I can assure you that once you get used to some of these added little extras, you’ll want to use Wordpress for most of your projects (even though in reality it’s not always a good idea to use a CMS).
Here’s a few of my personal favourites:
- Advanced custom fields: opens up Wordpress to a whole host of new possibilities without getting your hands too dirty with code.
- Breadcrumb NavXT: as you probably guessed, lets you create and pimp your breadcrumb with ease
- Bulk page creator: with this under the hood, you can create a ton of pages and even add some fake content in a matter of minutes.
- Contact form 7: an incredibly flexible plugin to create contact forms
- Remove widget titles: instead of hiding them with CSS, this plugin stops them from being included in your html!
Step three: custom post types
Wordpress ships with 2 content types, posts and pages, even if Advanced Custom Fields increases the possibilities, at some moment in time it just won’t be enough.
Here’s where custom post types come in. It allows you to add a new content type in the back office, making it a hell of a lot easier to manage your content. For example, you have a website to do for a house constructor who wants to have a news page but more importantly, a catalogue of all the houses. My personal choice would be to create a category “News” and use the article content type for each new news item. To solve the house question, I would create a new content type “house” and then combine it with Advanced Custom Fields.
Instead of telling you how to use this kick-ass functionality, check out this brilliant article by smashing magazine http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/11/08/complete-guide-custom-post-types/
Step four: …
… make it
Creating a custom theme with Wordpress is easy. Creating a custom child theme is best practice. I personally use the latest basic theme (Twenty Fifteen). Using a child theme allows you to take advantage of the functionality of the parent theme, and also its templates, whilst customising only what you need to change in the child theme. Much like Pimp my ride, your Renault Clio is your base (parent theme) then you make it better, concentrating only on what you want to change (child theme) by adding shiny things, flat screens and a pool table.
To read more on the subject, including how to go about making a child theme, check out the Wordpress Codex.
I never use ready built themes because I work in a web agency and benefit from having a talented web designer who makes pretty things in Photoshop for me to transform.
Step 5: check yo’self
When making your shiny new site, don’t forget that it will probably need changing further down the line, whether it be new sections, new functionality or a complete redesign.
It’s important to keep that in mind from day one so that you don’t take the easy way out. You need to find durable solutions to problems, imagine what you would like to find if you had to take over from someone else. Take the time to do what you need to do and do it well. You might spend more time doing it properly now, but you’ll save time 6 months down the road when you need to update the site.