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10 Incredibly Common WordPress Fails to Avoid

Jenn Palandro March 31, 2021 · 7 min read
WordPress is an incredibly flexible blogging platform. It allows you to keep your content organized and present it in a customized way. You can make it as simple or complex as you need, and there’s a lot of room to expand. Generally, WordPress sites look more professional and streamlined than its competitors like Blogger or Tumblr. However, because of its flexibility and level of complexity, it can be used incorrectly. Below are 10 incredibly common WordPress fails to avoid, and how you can fix them.

1. Don’t Link Images to Themselves

By default, if you upload an image to WordPress, it will link to itself if you click on it. Images should only be linked when they’re pointing to another post/website, or if they’re being lightboxed/enlarged in a photo gallery modal. To avoid doing this, all you need to do is change the Link To dropdown to None under the Attachment Display Settings. Once you choose Link To: None, WordPress will start to remember your settings and you will be set up correctly for future image uploads and posts. wordpress display attachment settings link to none

2. Don’t Include Non Full-Width Images

Blogs are all about content, both in terms of imagery and written words. When you upload images, WordPress may automatically crop your image under Attachment Display Settings. This action can help if you need to automatically generate thumbnails, but otherwise images within a blog post look best when they’re full width, provided it fits with the design of your site. Exceptions can be made with images that aren’t high-enough resolution to be stretched to full-width; in that case, images should be floated left or right with the text wrapping around the image. In general, I’ve seen too many blogs where the content block is about 700px wide, and images are uploaded and centered at about 300px wide — this should be avoided for good design’s sake! use-full-width-images My recommendation is to upload images that are optimized for the width of your blog’s content. Or, upload a 2x image if you want your blog images to be retina-friendly. From there, create a catch-all custom line of CSS so your images won’t ever extend wider than your content by accident. I recommend something like this: .post-content img { max-width: 100%; height: auto; } The only exception to using non full-width images is when an image is aligned left or right and the written content wraps around the image. It’s still not a preferred method of including images, because it takes away from the visual experience.

3. Don’t Upload the Wrong Image Type

A slow-loading blog can be a deterrent for readers. A lot of times, I see bloggers uploading the incorrect type of image file, specifically for PNG’s versus JPEG’s. In short, PNG’s should be used for images with transparent backgrounds or for graphic-only presentations (like a simple logo). JPEG’s should be used any time the image is a photo, or is more complex and has a lot of gradients or shadows. Make sure to optimize your blog images so they load quickly.

4. Don’t Forget to Categorize Your Posts

I often see posts marked “Uncategorized”. This looks like you straight-up forgot to comb through your post before you hit publish. Or it looks like you don’t really know what your blog is about. Don't forget to categorize your WordPress posts Sort through all of your Uncategorized posts and see if there’s a common theme. Categorize the posts with something — anything. Even if you write a blog about design but occasionally share personal stories or opinions, don’t leave these posts unmarked. Call the category “Personal” or “Opinion” or something.

5. Don’t Slam Your Posts with Too Many Categories and Tags

You must organize your blog posts. This not only makes it easier for you to get an understanding of your blog posts, but it also makes it easier for readers to sort through similar content on your site. However, categories and tags can become overwhelming in WordPress. When do you categorize a post versus adding a tag? Basically, categories are reserved for your Table of Contents. Tags, on the other hand, are keywords. Avoid using a category that is also a tag, and visa versa. If you aren’t sure where to start, try drawing a mind map of the topics of your posts and see which words could be used as a category or tag. By doing this activity, you’ll quickly see the hierarchy of your post topics take shape. Here are more tips for organizing your categories and tags in WordPress.

6. Don’t Use WordPress Comments

Don't use WordPress commenting You want your blog to be as engaging as possible. In order to do this, you want commenting to be open and easy to use. If you use WordPress comments, users will have to sign into WordPress to get the full experience. Make sure the barrier of entry is low. Install a third party commenting system like LiveFyre or Disqus so users can use a social media account to comment.

7. Don’t Forget to Upload a Gravatar For Yourself

While we’re on the topic of commenting, let me advise something. Friends don’t let friends go picture-less in blog comments. Make sure to set up your picture next to your blog comments so you won’t be faceless, especially on your own blog. Gravatar links your email address(es) and profile pictures to help ensure your comments will have your face next to them, both on your own blog and on other blogs that use Gravatar, which is the industry standard. Set up your Gravatar!

8. Don’t Use Hard-to-Read Permalinks

Shorter URL formats for your blog are awesome for several reasons. For example, posts that look like this: are much harder to read than posts that look like this: If you choose to use shorter permalinks, your URL’s will be easier to read. The content won’t look dated, especially if you’re working to post evergreen content, because the date won’t be included in the URL. Of course, it’s easiest to set this up when you’re starting a new WordPress blog. If you’re a blogging veteran and want to change your permalink structure without breaking your site, here are tips to make the switch to short blog post URL’s. An exception should be made, however, for larger blogs with a lot of content and a lot of contributors. Otherwise, you may end up with several posts that want to use the short URL of In this case, providing the date in the URL is not only useful for the readers (so they know how relevant a topic is), but it’s also essential for blog admins so you don’t end up with multiple sequential “WordPress Tips” posts.

9. Don’t Postpone Updates

This is something that everyone talks about. But it’s highly talked about because it’s important. Keep everything updated! Keep WordPress updated Update your WordPress installation. Update your themes. Update your plugins. In fact, whenever you see an update available, update it! Choosing not to update regularly can leave your WordPress blog vulnerable to hackers, which could in turn poison your readers’ experience or could wipe your blog entirely. Running update is simple and fast. Back up your blog regularly and update often. It’s a temporary inconvenience for long-term peace of mind.

10. WordPress Isn’t For Everyone

WordPress is regarded as the blogging platform for anyone who takes their blog seriously. Having worked with a lot of bloggers to set up and design their blog, I know this isn’t true. In fact, for a while I chose to blog on Blogger instead of WordPress (and I’m currently using Squarespace). Make sure you do your research on each blogging platform and take time to define what you need. Choosing a blogging platform is a serious endeavor! So there you have it! These are 10 incredibly common mistakes made in WordPress and how to avoid them. Share this post with your clients or fellow bloggers!
Jenn Coyle is a Philadelphia-based designer and writer who loves to create fonts and resources on Creative Market. She shares tutorials and inspiration for designers and creative entrepreneurs at Hello Brio Studio.

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Jenn Palandro

Philadelphia-based UX designer + copywriter. Content creator. Momma bear. Minimalist. INFP.

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  • "Shorter URL formats for your blog are awesome for several reasons. For example, posts that look like this: are much harder to read than posts that look like this:" I look at the address bar while reading this line and give myself a good lol 6 years ago
  • loolz 6 years ago
  • Just saw this before I posted this morning! Also heard over the weekend the link to nothing by pictures is not a good idea. 6 years ago
  • Practice what you preach! or the trolls will come knocking... 6 years ago
  • I disagree with a few of these: 1. Don't Link Images to Themselves : NOT ALWAYS TRUE. If your images are what your content is all about, like if your website is for an Artist or Photographer, or if it is an infographic, (just to name a few valid reasons.) OF COURSE you want them to link to themselves. I usually use a lightbox plugin so the image can be displayed beautifully at full screen, instead of linking to a new window. 2. Don't Include Non Full-Width Images: NOT ALWAYS TRUE: This is a matter of taste and relative to the site's design. There are lots of designs where floated left or right images are used effectively. 8. Don't Use Hard-to-Read Permalinks: NOT ALWAYS TRUE: In a site with LOTS of posts using the standard date format is a MUST. Also, too many people try to NOT make their content look old by omitting the date in the URL, but quite often this content DOES get old and stale, and irrelevant after a certain amount of time. But Not having the date, you are doing your reader a disservice by hiding the fact that your content is several years old. Sites where dates are especially important are: News-related sites, Technology sites, product reviews, top-ten lists, etc. 6 years ago
  • Not only choosing not to update regularly can leave your WordPress blog vulnerable to hackers. Not using security stuff from Jetpack or WP Cerber REALLY leave your WordPress vulnerable to hackers. 6 years ago
  • +1 for Michael's comment on permalinks. Also, I get the point of the #10 but it does come off as a bit negative. I think WordPress is the best choice for new bloggers and huge companies alike. Look no further than the WordPress support forums to see professionals like myself giving away our time for free to help people with their problems. Look at the the thousands of developers creating plugins, themes, and contributing to core for free. Did I mention WordCamps? A $25 ticket for a whole weekend of learning and getting together with other bloggers, designers, developers, etc. You can't beat the community and openness of WordPress ;-) 6 years ago
  • @Cameron Campbell good point on #10—I did not mean to make it come off as negative, but having worked with a lot of new bloggers and more seasoned bloggers who want to switch back to Blogger from WordPress, I can definitely say WordPress is, in fact, not for everyone. However (!!!) I do agree that the WordPress community is SO incredible! WordCamps and similar events and meetup groups are amazing. 6 years ago
  • @Michael Bud Excellent points—I've revised the post to correspond with your comments! 6 years ago
  • @Dan Williams @Ahmed Wdalhaj @Alexander Gounder Haha, well—generally smaller blogs do better with shorter permalink structures, but for a large site like Creative Market with TONS of posts and TONS of contributors, dates in permalinks are necessary! 6 years ago
  • @Jenn Coyle Fair enough :) being so close to WP I'm perhaps a bit more easily offended. Either way, great post and something to recommend clients to as a quick reference! Cheers! 6 years ago
  • @Cameron Campbell haha, I hear you! :D 6 years ago
  • > Install a third party commenting system > like LiveFyre or Disqus so users can use > a social media account to comment Or install "WordPress Social Login" or similar plugin to allow your users logging in via their social accounts and comment via native WP comments. Because you should own your data, and comments are parsed by Google and have an impact on SEO. Besides, Discuss was caught on illegal ads and tracking several times (and it's really hard to opt out). And on Blogger vs WP... In the US, Blogger still makes some numbers, some other platforms as well. However, there's life outside US. And Blogger is definitely outdated, limited and unflexible. Actually, if it wasn't content generated by users. it would be already closed by Google, like Google Reader and many other projects. You can, somehow, compare Blogger to, but WP is also a self-hosted platform and that is a completely different story. 6 years ago
  • Thank you so much for this post! I had my blog open while I was going through the list so I could make any necessary changes while going through all of the tips. Very useful :) 6 years ago
  • CM needs to find a way were we can like and categorise Blogs we find informative and helpful. I end up with 10s of open tabs of things I need to go back to. 6 years ago
  • #11. Don't forget to change "Just another WordPress Blog" in your site description. 5 years ago
  • Excellent post, once I'm a WordPress developer since 2007 I'm already see every single one and make it on the past. 4 years ago