Managing a WordPress CMS
When it comes to finding a content management system (or "CMS") to power your website, you can't get any better than WordPress. Why? Well, for a number of reasons:
- It's free to use.
- Over 17 million people use it, including Forbes, Katy Perry, and TechCrunch.
- The interface is super intuitive, which makes it a great platform for first-time users, expert developers, and everyone in between.
- You can manage it all on your own, if you want to.
- Or you can hire a designer or developer to build and maintain it for you.
- The WordPress support community is huge, so there's always someone available to help.
- With widgets, themes, and plugins, you don't need to be well-versed in web design or development to make a great looking website anymore.
- Cleaner code, helpful plugins, and ongoing security maintenance make WordPress an SEO-friendly platform.
- WordPress regularly issues updates to their core so users can enjoy improved security, speed, bug fixes, and more.
It doesn't matter who you are or what role you play in the process of managing a website. If you're looking for a highly optimized and intuitive way to build or manage your website, WordPress is a great solution.
For tips, tricks, and more insights on how to (more) easily manage your WordPress website, read on.
Making WordPress Management Easier
WordPress is not an inherently difficult platform to use. In fact, most people find it very easy. The problem, however, is that it requires a quite a bit of ongoing maintenance. While each of the pieces that require your attention may not be time-consuming activities individually, they do add up.
Here are just some of the reasons administration of a WordPress website can get out of hand:
- When updates are released by WordPress, you'll want to make them as soon as possible since they're usually aimed at fixing a known problem. Also, an update to WordPress generally means there'll be a slew of updates to plugins and themes for you to update too.
- If you have multiple users going in and out of WordPress on a regular basis, you're increasing the risk of something getting updated or moved and potentially throwing your website out of whack.
- As traffic to your site grows, so too does spam — spam which can distract from the genuine comments and subscribers on your site.
- Design, SEO, and web development trends change regularly. Unless you follow Google news or subscribe to a web design/development blog, you may not know when your site's design or functionality has gone out of date.
- Security will always be a major issue for websites, especially the more popular yours becomes. The security built into WordPress or your hosting might not always be enough to protect your site (or your visitors).
- One of the best ways to improve your search rankings is by continually updating your website and growing the amount of relevant content you have there, all of which takes time.
So, if you want to keep your WordPress website in tip-top shape and in-line with changing trends, you've got to have time to do it. And sometimes, you need to have a little more knowledge to execute those updates.
WordPress Management Resources
The great news is that because WordPress is such a well-supported tool, built by a very supportive community, there are more than enough resources to help you manage your WordPress site more easily. The following list will cover:
- The best tutorials and books for beginners.
- The best tutorials and books for intermediate to advanced users.
- The best plugins to save you much-needed time in managing WordPress.
Let's get started with the basics.
Basic WordPress Admin Resources
Setting up and managing WordPress is easy once you get the hang of it. However, there are little nuances and stumbling blocks that may arise for some users. Whether you are looking for a one-off tutorial, or something more comprehensive, the following resources will get you started in the right direction:
- The WordPress Codex: lessons that cover the gamut of WordPress experience levels, from basic introductions to full-on website development and coding.
- WPBeginner: for a regular dose of WordPress knowledge, subscribe to this blog.
- iThemes: video tutorials covering the basics of using WordPress.
- WordPress Websites Step-by-Step (2014) by Caimin Jones: simple and short step-by-step introduction to WordPress.
- WordPress for Beginners (2014) by Dr Andy Williams: a visual guide to getting started with WordPress.
- Build your own WordPress website (2016) by The WordPress Genie: an introduction geared toward business owners.
- WordPress: The Missing Manual, 2nd edition (2014) by Matthew MacDonald: an exhaustive beginners guide to using WordPress.
Regardless of whether you're a WordPress novice or expert, these basic resources are always great to have handy.
Advanced WordPress Admin Resources
Whether you've surpassed the beginner stage of working in WordPress or you're just looking ahead to the future, there are a plethora of intermediate- to advanced-level training materials to aid in your continuing education:
- WordPress Coding Standards: don't miss WordPress's guide on coding best practices.
- Envato Tuts+ Tutorials, Courses, and eBooks: e-training materials for web developers and designers.
- WPMU DEV Tutorials: WPMU DEV provides a mix of blogs and tutorials for the WordPress developer.
- Professional WordPress: Design and Development (2013) by Williams, Damstra, and Stern: this is a basic introduction to all aspects of WordPress development.
- Professional WordPress: Plugin Development (2011) by Williams, Richard, and Tadlock: this is a great introduction to writing plugins for WordPress.
Now, while you may be able to put these resources to good use and learn a lot about how to manage your WordPress website more easily, each of these will require an investment of time.
If you're interested in finding out how shortcuts can not only save you time, but also enhance the management and upkeep of your website, check out this next section on plugins.
WordPress Admin Plugins
If you want your website to look good and to perform at its best, there is no escaping the time you have to put into building and maintaining it. However, that doesn't mean you can't invest in tools to help ease and speed your way.
Plugins are WordPress extensions created by developers who want to improve the user experience. They're easy to download and install, and there are currently over 46,000 plugins available for free in WordPress's plugin directory.
To get you started, we've hand-picked the following "must-have" plugins.
- Jetpack by WordPress: this is WordPress's own solution to… a lot. Analytics, image optimization, social media, security, and more.
- User Role Editor: if you manage a multi-user website, this will help you easily maintain control over user access and version control.
- W3 Total Cache: website speed is everything these days. Take the thinking out of what's slowing down your site.
- WP Smush: high-resolution images are great at getting your website attention, but they're terrible for loading speed. This tool will compress and optimize.
- Akismet: spam is not only bad for your site's security, it's bad for your time management. This plugin will sort through which comments are good and which are bad.
- Wordfence: when it comes to managing a website, you can never get enough security. Let Wordfence be your guard dog.
- Google XML Sitemaps: automate the sitemap and search engine notification process with this plugin.
- Google Analytics by MonsterInsights: take any opportunity you find to integrate other website management tools into WordPress. Start with analytics.
- Yoast SEO: not sure what your website needs in order to be SEO optimized? Let Yoast guide you.
- Advanced Automatic Updater: use this plugin to auto-update any core, plugin, and theme updates, and keep your CMS in optimal shape.
- UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin: worried about losing or breaking your website? Schedule regular backups with this plugin.
From the beginner webmaster to the expert developer, these plugins are universal time-savers.
If you're looking for additional plugin coverage and haven't found what you're looking for here, always remember to check the ratings, reviews, and other plugin stats in the WordPress directory first. You can always get a good sense for known issues, security risks, or other potential problems with themes and plugins by reading what the WordPress community has had to say about them.
WordPress is awesome. It's intuitive. It's a relatively secure platform. It's free. And it's chock-full of add-ons and other tools to help even the most novice user create a beautiful website in no time. However, WordPress websites are a lot like children. They're easy enough to create, but they also take a lot of hard work to keep them happy and healthy.
Remember: you don't have to go it alone.
The WordPress community has done a great job in building up resources and tools to make the job of managing your website easier. Be sure you take advantage of them!
Further Reading and Resources
We have more guides, tutorials, and infographics related to WordPress:
- You Get What You Pay For: WordPress hosting is free, but there are reasons why you might want to pay for it.
- How to Backup Your WordPress Blog: learn how to keep your website safe for those times when things go wrong.
- How Big is the WordPress Economy?: the WordPress economy is a lot larger and more varied than you probably realize.
How to Speed Up WordPress
There's a lot more to speeding up WordPress than caching. Check out our infographic, How to Speed Up WordPress. Learn about databases, content delivery networks, and more.