Sustainability should be the goal of every website. It is vital that what we take today succeeds during its useful life. In practice, it means being able to evolve and grow without being overburdened with maintenance.
That’s it always challenge. But throw in the constant change of content management system (CMS) like WordPress, and the game became much more difficult.
Being infinitely adaptable is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, you can imagine just about any type of website. However, many serious missteps can be taken along the way. This can lead to an unstable condition and the hair does not always deteriorate.
Because of this, sustainability is a changing goal. And while there are no guarantees that even a well-built site will provide years of worry-free joy, there are a few things you can do to increase the odds.
With that, here are some keys to building stable and sustainable WordPress websites.
Use WordPress Plugins as needed
The WordPress ecosystem has a plugin (or 10) for almost every use case. Chances are, whatever kind of functionality you need, it’s there somewhere out there. It may even cost you little or nothing.
There is nothing wrong with having choices. But a plugin usually varies in terms of quality and usefulness. So, it is worth considering the impact of each of them on your website.
First of all, it’s important to ask yourself whether a particular plugin is critical to achieving project goals. For example, a shopping cart like WooCommerce could be considered an essential piece of an ecommerce site. On the other hand, there are probably fewer plugins that add page transition effects.
And that gives us another factor: your own ability to write code. Some plugins are aimed at those who need a codeless solution. So, it may be unnecessary if you are competent in this field.
In that case, the add-on is only a dependency of another third party. It may work out perfectly – or not. But building functionality yourself may be a better way forward.
It’s okay to use WordPress plugins. That said, it is still best to use as few as possible.
Build on best practices
They are just one part of the sustainability equation. When you consider the components of a typical WordPress site, there are other areas where best practices are implemented:
There is always a certain risk when working with third party WordPress themes. You rely on its author to build the product with sustainability in mind.
Given the theme market, as well as the expectations of the users, this is very difficult. To compete with multi-purpose themes, authors often throw in a myriad of features – whether you need them or not. This not only affects performance but also future maintenance.
Sometimes themes offer functionality that can handle a plugin better. The result is that you also lose the same functionality if themes are changed.
Ideally, the theme of your site should be as simple as possible. It could be one built by yourself or a custom version of the barebones boot framework.
Regardless, it should be just the scripts and styles you need. In addition, the theme should adhere to the guidelines set forth in the WordPress Theme Manual.
Hosting may not be commonly considered as part of the building process. But it’s hard to ignore the impact it has on the overall health of the Web site.
If growth is part of sustainability, the role of a web host becomes even clearer. This applies to assets such as memory, storage and processing power. Each of these items contributes to both stability and scalability.
Software is also a key feature. Your server needs to be up to date and optimized for performance.
All that said, hosting is what allows your website to reach its full potential. Do some research to make sure you are working with the best possible provider.
You want to build something great, but how do you maintain it? This is something to think about before you write one line of code.
When using third party products, the plan is a bit out of your hands. It’s about applying updates as they are released. That’s pretty simple.
Custom features can be more difficult. You may have extended an existing plugin or built something from scratch. In these cases, it is important to stay in control of dependency changes.
New versions of WordPress core, related plugins, and PHP are worth checking out. This will give you an idea of how any changes may affect the work you do. Documentation of some kind can also be kept as a convenient reference.
The goal is to identify any future maintenance issues and how best to manage them. I hope it saves you from any surprises down the road.
Set Up Your WordPress Website for Smooth Navigation
The more moving parts, the more likely it is to break. That’s the challenge of building a CMS. And because the WordPress ecosystem is so large, sustainability can feel like an inevitable benchmark.
It requires a keen eye for potential issues and the ability to make hard decisions. Themes and plugins should cater for project needs without too much bloat. Hosting should be secure, stable, and include the resources you will need to grow.
And it’s not enough to build custom functionality that just works. Future maintenance must also be considered.
While no one can fully predict the sustainability of a WordPress website, the steps above can get you started. It’s all about building a website that will serve you and your clients for years to come.