WordPress provides a user-friendly dashboard for creating web pages, customising looks, adding content, etc. However, even the basic interfaces can be confusing for beginner developers. That’s why we’ve put together these WordPress development best practices to help boost your websites.
As you probably know, WordPress has swiftly acquired popularity in the world of websites. WordPress has become so popular that it now powers roughly 40% of all websites on the Internet.
It is also recognised for controlling more than 60% of the content management system (CMS) market. This CMS platform allows you to create unique websites without knowing how to code.
This guide will show you the WordPress development best practices that will help you get started. Let’s begin.
10 WordPress Development Best Practices To Get You Started
Several best practices for WordPress development will make your life easier if you’re a new WordPress developer. As you begin this new path, we’ll go over some of the “must-know” techniques.
Following these recommended practices can aid you in improving your WordPress development skills in the future. So it’s important to adhere to these WordPress development best practices.
Let’s dive in!
1. Make Responsive Design A Top Priority
One of the WordPress development best practices is making your site responsive. Your website must be compatible with all screen sizes, platforms, orientations, and devices, to improve user experience. Responsive web design services can help you accomplish this.
Mobile phones account for around half of all internet traffic worldwide. As a result, your website must work flawlessly across various devices.
True, it may take hours of testing and tweaking, but if you neglect this design element, you could lose over a third of your business.
You can also utilise a responsive WordPress theme if you don’t have much time. They will save you time, improve the aesthetics of your websites, and provide you with an SEO benefit since mobile-friendly sites rank higher on search engines, notably Google.
Tusant, Hestia, Divi, and Neve are some of the best examples of responsive themes.
2. Follow WordPress’s Coding Guidelines.
WordPress has a thriving development community that has worked hard on making it the success it is now. These programmers have honed their skills through trial – and – error and have created coding standards to assure maximum success and security.
For example, we’ve included some simple PHP brace style examples below to give you an idea.
The second example shows how it’s considerably easier to understand. The Coding Standards Handbook is chock-full of measures to help you tidy up your code. It’s one of the WordPress development best practices that can boost your online visibility.
3. Make Website Updates In A Test Environment At All Times.
Updating your website in a test environment is one of the crucial WordPress development best practices you shouldn’t avoid. When you make changes straight to your live website, there’s a chance that something will crash it.
If your website is essential to your business, downtime must be avoided at all costs since it could lose revenue.
You can update your WordPress site in a test environment to avoid this unnecessary danger. A staging site would be ideal for quick fixes.
You can use a local environment to test functionality or a whole new site design. If you’ve never used a test environment before, Local is a free programme that will quickly get you up and running.
4. Always Be Up To Date And On Top Of The Latest Trends
WordPress updates are usually released several times a year. Between significant updates, there are frequently maintenance or security updates. Not to mention that excellent plugin and theme developers will often offer upgrades and security and maintenance updates.
These changes are critical to the site’s security and that’s why it’s one of the WordPress development best practices to follow! Make a point of logging in at least once a month to check for and install any available updates. It’s recommended to construct a development or staging instance for testing initially if you want to be safe.
Then you may test the changes in this environment to make sure there aren’t any problems.
Keep Up With Trends
Even though this point is obvious, many people avoid making extra attempts to understand vital current trends. Instead, individuals frequently rely on their unconscious knowledge of recent events, gathering through their regular browsing habits.
Understanding and utilising the power of visual engagement is critical. All you have to do is follow a few design guidelines, and you’re good to go. One of them is to follow the trend.
Keeping up with the latest trends will help you develop and improve your overall design sensibility.
5. SSL Certificates Should Be Installed On All Websites.
SSL certificates were once only regarded as vital for specific sorts of websites, such as eCommerce stores or online bank portals that handled sensitive client information. However, even if you’re starting a personal blog, having an SSL certificate on your site is now considered one of the WordPress development best practices.
Google has even started labelling websites without an SSL certificate as “not secure,” which is something you don’t want on your site.
Consult your hosting provider if you don’t already have an SSL certificate. Many companies will issue SSL certificates (an expected benefit of managed WordPress hosts). In addition, for every site, Flywheel provides Simple SSL, a free certificate backed by Let’s Encrypt.
6. Choose Custom Plug-Ins And Child Themes.
It is strongly advised that no third-party plugins’ code be tampered with. If you want to add new functions to a theme, for example, make sure you create a duplicate ‘child theme‘ rather than changing the code of third-party files directly.
Otherwise, subsequent updates may overwrite your custom code. You can also use a custom plugin to make adding your desired functionality easier. Create a plugin to add a new User Role, for example.
The key rationale for implementing features as plugins rather than themes is the simplicity with which you may switch between them without losing functionality.
WordPress Development Best Practices For Structuring Code
7. Directory And File Structure
Understanding the default file and directory hierarchy in WordPress is one of the best practices for WordPress development. Understanding this structure will help you position your code where it belongs.
There will be a few configuration files in the root directory of your website. Your website’s index.php file will serve as its home page. The wp-config.php file contains essential WordPress setup information.
The .htaccess file, on the other hand, contains the rules for configuring your web server. The default WordPress rules must be present in the .htaccess file.
Essential Directories In The Root Directory
There are a few significant directories in the root directory:
- Wp-admin contains the WordPress core files required to run your website’s WordPress Admin Dashboard. These files shouldn’t be altered in any way.
- Wp-content. This stores all user-provided content that isn’t kept in the database, such as plugins themes and objects uploaded to the media folder.
- WP-includes. Most of the WordPress core files relevant to fundamental functionality that makes your site tick is found under wp-includes. These files should also not be altered.
One of the best practices for WordPress development is to use the suggested plugin directory structure for your files within a plugin. This will make it easier for you and others working on your project to keep similar files together.
8. WordPress Development Best Practices in Design
WordPress has coding guidelines for website design as well. For a complete tutorial, check out their theme manual and the CSS coding guidelines. While WordPress has minimal restrictions when it comes to the aesthetic of your website, they do have CSS structure suggestions. The following are the most widely acknowledged CSS code rules:
- Instead of using spaces, use tabs to indent.
- Lowercase words separated by a hyphen are used in name selectors.
- Two lines separate CSS sections.
- A colon and a space should follow the properties.
- Selectors should be listed on their line with a comma or brace at the end.
- For context, feel free to make a lot of comments.
- For property colours, use hex codes.
Many more style and CSS recommendations can be found in the aforementioned reference. When you code according to WordPress standards, it is easier for your team to collaborate and communicate.
When you combine many comments with context hints, your code’s intention and purpose will endure far longer than your recall of it.
9. Template Hierarchy
Understanding the template hierarchy is also vital while building for WordPress. For example, when creating a page or post, the theme template hierarchy will assist you in determining which template WordPress will use.
WordPress looks through its default template hierarchy to choose the template to use for each post. First, WordPress will look for a file with the same name as the template. If there are multiple files with the same name as the template, the first one in the template hierarchy will be used.
10. Spaces And Separation
While specific spacing selections in code are functionally identical to others, they can significantly impact readability. The WordPress PHP Coding Standards provide a consistent manner to space your PHP code with that in mind. When it comes to spacing, there are a few general guidelines to follow:
- After commas, there are spaces.
- If it’s a $variable, include spaces around array entries.
- After your code, remove any spaces.
- It is advisable not to use a PHP closing tag.
- There are spaces after the beginning and before the closing parenthesis unless otherwise specified.
More spacing guidelines can be found in the guide mentioned above. Coding following these standardised standards will ensure that your code is high quality and easy to understand.
To summarise, the WordPress development best practices involves creating a website that requires the skills of both a developer and a designer. Only once you have a firm grasp on both will you work toward the ultimate aim of improving the user experience.
To stay on track with your skills development, make sure you follow coding standards, keep up with trends, and maintain the readability of your codes and online content.
If you need help with developing your WordPress site, we can help. We are a team of expert WordPress developers, SEO writers, and more that can help boost your online presence from scratch.
Schedule a free consultation today, and let’s grow your business!