In our experience, there are 11 important considerations when building sustainable WordPress websites:
- Avoid using the Jetpack plugin. Even though this is a plugin developed by Atomattic, which is a well-respected company, we prefer not use it because JetPack increases the code base significantly and therefore creates plugin bloating. We have recently come to find out that JetPack adds more code than WordPress itself. We prefer our websites to be lean, fast, and as efficient as possible. If you are curious about the pros and cons of JetPack, please view this article here.
- In most cases, we use the most widely tested and actively supported plugins. In some exceptional cases, we need to use a specialized plugin that does not have an active maintainer. The decision to use it is vetted by our development team.
- Customize the look of the website by using child themes that ensure all the front-end modifications are built correctly. When building the theme properly it speeds up the website performance and increases website SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
- Hacking WordPress core is not in the playbook. There are several reasons why, but three main reasons are the potential to create security holes, the need to create patches, and you will lose all core changes after an update/upgrade. Our development practices will ensure your website will easily upgrade to the latest WordPress core and plugin updates without a hitch.
- WordPress contributed plugins are not hacked but rather intentionally used for their strengths. We encourage the use of contributed plugins, standalone scripts, or developing a new plugin for the client. We recommend creating a code patch for the plugin if necessary, and when this is the case, it’s always best to provide clear and detailed documentation of the changes, so that your website is maintained well into the future.
- At the very least, protect all forms with the Honeypot plugin – a great anti-spam plugin that detects and prevents unwanted bots’ comments. OpenThink, LLC also offers advanced spam blocking techniques available if your website requires extra protection.
- All websites must be fully functional after a WordPress core or plugin update. We make sure every patch is documented and communicated to your team so the site is taken care of after the launch.
- For content editing, in relevant situations, we use TinyMCE Advanced editor or Ultimate TinyMCE editor to ensure fast and easy content editing by being able to add, remove, and arrange the buttons shown on the Visual Editor Toolbar.
- Avoid using Visual Composer plugin. Instead, we recommend using a more flexible field-based approach and encourage the use of custom post types. When applicable, we use Query Wrangler, which helps to intuitively create queries and adds flexibility to the WordPress site.
- We recommend using Git Version control to track code changes and ensure everything is documented. One advantage of using Git is that it gives you the ability to go back to a previous version of the website, which is particularly valuable when debugging complex website issues.
- We take security very seriously when developing WordPress websites without exception, we use the recommended best security practices, such as using two-factor and human verification, regularly updating WordPress, wisely developing themes, and plugins, and using secure hosting.
— Thomas Newman (@openthinktech) August 18, 2016
The foundation of our work lies on our knowledge and experience, following industry’s best and proven practices. Having high web design and development standards are paramount when building safe, fast and lean websites. The 11 WordPress development tips listed above are an important ingredient to the success of our development team, but by all means, not all of our development considerations. Talk to us about your next WordPress website build, we will show to you why OpenThink, LLC is a trusted choice for WordPress development.