Installing a theme on your WordPress-based site or simply launching it online without the proper optimization is not enough to optimize WordPress functionality and make it really usable. The web audience has become very picky and demanding.
They are looking for the speed-optimized, functional yet good-looking online resources that provide every piece of information and functionality they are looking for. When building a usable and functional WordPress site, pay attention to the following 10 major tips.
1. Choose the Best Host
This is where the story begins. A powerful and reliable hosting is a huge determinant of better WordPress functionality. There are plenty of options that you can choose from. Some of them are cheaper than others, including different sets of features into the pricing plans. In order to help you choose the best host that will meet the requirements of your website, take a look at the following checklist.
- Choosing the best hosting type, consider the budget of your project and the amount of data that you need to share on your site. Although many developers don’t like shared hosting due to the fact that you need to share space with other sites, this is the perfect choice for the smaller web projects that do not have a steady flow of income. This can be a great starting point for those sites that are only trying to reach new audiences.
- Vulnerability. It’s important to choose a hosting that provides regular and safe backups. WordPress sites are vulnerable to hacking. So, in order to feel safe that all of the valuable pieces of information from your site are protected and secured, pick the hosting plan that includes regular backups.
- Fast page loading. Select the hosting plan that includes the caching system and the high page loading speeds. If you do not want your clients to leave for the competitors’ sites, don’t make them wait for longer than 2 seconds until the web page loads.
2. Install Plugins Selectively
In fact, you will have no difficulty when looking for the most optimal solution to add specific WordPress functionality to your site. There are thousands of free plugins, and just as many premium ones to choose from for all purposes. Moreover, many premium WordPress page templates are loaded with extensions that will fit for the specific purposes. For example, this may be an online booking form, slider, WordPress contact form, LMS, WordPress store locator, etc.
Even though there are so many awesome plugins, be selective. Only install plugins you need and try to condense features into one plugin if possible. Having a lot of plugins isn’t always bad, but it does increase the amount of effort you’ll have to put in when testing for updates.
3. Use Responsive Designs
As a content management system, WordPress is not a mobile-friendly solution. In order to make it look and feel on all screen sizes perfectly well, you need to install some third-party plugins to the dashboard of your site. Luckily, there are plenty of responsive WordPress themes to choose from, both free and premium.
With the growing shift of the web community to the use of the handheld devices, it’s indispensable for every site to be mobile-friendly. Moreover, mobile-first designs are becoming way more useful especially for WordPress functionality. Using these, you may feel certain that every piece of information provided on the web page is displayed properly and doesn’t clutter the page.
4. Social Media Integration
You will hardly find a person who doesn’t have an account in any of the popular social media networks. Integrating your WordPress site with the social media options, you make it more usable for your audience. Moreover, you grow the chances that more people will become engaged with your brand.
- Social sharing options allow the customers to share the word about their preferred pieces of data with a single click.
- Social media widgets display the latest publications right on the pages of your site.
- Thanks to the social login feature, there is no need to fill in the registration forms.
Many themes have at least basic social media integration via widgets or a header/footer module. But it’s very easy to add it yourself with a social media WordPress plugin. Once you’ve found the plugin that works for you, use these tips from our blog to grow your presence:
- Social Media Marketing Basics for Your WordPress Website
- How to Monitor Social Media Analytics with WordPress
- How to Increase Social Media Follows from Your WordPress Site
5. Use HTML5 Animation
It’s been a decade since the official announcement about the death of Flash. In the today’s web, it’s better to enhance your website with the HTML5 animation for a number of reasons. First of all, the search engines do not see the Flash-based elements of your site.
How often do you update the Flash player? Cannot recollect the last time you did it? So do most of the web users. Most of us use the outdated Flash players, which won’t support the Flash animation effects that you enhanced your site with. Additionally, HTML5 animation is mobile friendly, which grows the chances that your site will look more interactive.
6. Make Your Navigation Easy & Obvious
It should be easy for the first-time visitors to your site find the necessary pieces of information in a few seconds. The intuitive and recognizable navigation patterns will enhance the users’ browsing experience, thus making your web resource look more user-friendly.
Do not reinvent the wheel when you think about website navigation elements that should be present on your site. It’s always a good idea to place the navigation panel at the top of the page. This is exactly where the users expect to find it. Also, add Ajax-based search box next to the main navigation panel of your site. Enhance your site with the categories list in the sidebar, archives, and breadcrumbs.
7. Simple and Clean Design
When you build or revamp your WordPress site, keep one simple rule in mind – site visitors look for WordPress functionality over form. So, when working on the design of your site, ask yourself a simple question – “Will a design like this confuse my visitor?” If you hesitate to answer this question, then it might be better for your to opt for a different strategy.
People like predictable designs. They like to see certain elements in certain places. If this doesn’t happen, they get frustrated and confused, which makes them leave for the competitors’ sites.
8. Use a CDN
Make sure your website speed is up to par with your competitors by using a CDN. This is a crucial part of speeding up WordPress, and since there are so many free CDN services to choose from you don’t have any excuse not to give it a try.
A CDN is a content delivery network usually located around the world that delivers your static website content (like images or CSS) to your readers faster than your own web server can. You can read more about CDN benefits but in general it’s a good idea for every website (WordPress or not). In fact – we use Cloudflare here at WPExplorer and it’s worked great for us.
9. Focus on SEO
Please don’t neglect SEO. It really is as important as folks say it is. Search engine optimization does require a lot of time and effort to master, but there are tons of plugins, guides and tips online to help you get started. Here are just a few of our favorites:
- How to Use Yoast SEO to Bolster Your Search Engine Rankings
- Essential WordPress SEO Strategies to Improve Rankings
- Top WordPress SEO Tips for New Businesses
- 10 WordPress SEO Tips to Get More Traffic to Your Website
- Video SEO Tips to Get the Most from your WordPress Videos
- Plus more on our SEO blog
10. Don’t Forget to Update
Lastly – don’t forget to keep your WordPress installation, theme and plugins up to date! Not only is updating WordPress important WordPress security tip, but it also ensures you have all the latest bug fixes and new features available (which goes a long way towards improving your WordPress functionality).
Final Thoughts on WordPress Functionality
WordPress is a powerful content management system, which is used by more than 30% of the websites available on the contemporary web. The growing WordPress community provides more tools and useful recommendation on how to make your site more functional and usable. We hope that the tips that we discussed in this post will help you to optimize your site properly and grow user engagement.