April 13, 2016

New Year’s ResolutionsAn uncared for WordPress site will soldier on through the years, but it won’t provide the best service. Eventually, without intervention, something will go wrong: it will be hacked or a software bug or hardware failure will cause data to be lost. If you aren’t prepared for that eventuality, the result can be catastrophic. The good news is keeping a WordPress site in tip-top condition is straightforward, although it does require some work, just as your car requires an occasional oil change.
In that spirit, I want to take a look at five items WordPress site owners should commit to. They’ll help keep your WordPress site in peak condition and ensure you are prepared if something does go wrong.

Regularly Update My WordPress Site

If you don’t regularly update your WordPress installation, it’s only a matter of time before hackers take advantage of a software vulnerability to compromise the site.
WordPress Core and plugin updates aren’t only about new features; they also fix problems in the code that make it easy for hackers to gain access.
This is probably the single most important action you can take to keep your site safe this year.

Only Install Plugins And Themes From Verified Sources

When you install a plugin or a theme into a WordPress installation, you are adding new code to the site. Hackers and other malicious actors often use themes and plugins as a trojan horse to slip malware and other bad code into WordPress sites. Once that happens, they essentially own the site.
You might be tempted by the awesome free plugin you found on “Mike’s Dodgy WordPress Forum,” but installing it is a bad idea. Make sure you get themes and plugins from trusted sources like the WordPress Theme repository, major marketplaces like ThemeForest, or reputable developers like Elegant Themes.

Implement Two-Factor Authentication On My WordPress Site

Most non-technical WordPress users are bad at choosing secure passwords. Without a long and complex password, it won’t take hackers long to guess the password and compromise the site.
Two-factor authentication adds an extra dimension to user authentication. A common implementation is to force users to demonstrate that, in addition to knowing their password, they can also enter a special code delivered to their mobile device.
Authy and Google Authenticator are excellent two-factor authentication solutions that can be used with WordPress.

Backup My WordPress Site

As I said earlier, it’s unlikely that something will go wrong with your WordPress site, but if your site is hacked or suffers from data loss through user error, you could be up-and-running again in hours if you have a good recent backup. Without a backup, lost data will be lost for good.
There are numerous excellent backup options for WordPress, but VersionPress is one of the easiest to use.

Optimize Images On My Posts And Pages

Everyone loves beautiful full-bleed images in their blog posts, but they come at a price. Unoptimized images can be huge bandwidth hogs. If you simply download a cool image from Unsplash and upload it to your site without resizing and optimizing, your pages will be much heavier than necessary.
Optimizing images is a two-step process:

  • Before you upload, resize the images to more reasonable dimensions. No website needs images that are 4000 pixels wide. Choose dimensions that are more appropriate to the space in which the images will be displayed.
  • After resizing, images still carry a lot of unnecessary information. Tools like the EWWW Image Optimization plugin will automatically take care of slimming images down.

While there’s more to keeping a WordPress site in tip-top condition than the suggestions I’ve made here, with these fivetips, you’ll be covered even if something does go wrong and your site will use less of your visitors precious data.


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