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Some Beginner Don’ts for WordPress

I found the article, “Beginner WordPress Bloggers: 10 Things You Shouldn’t Do” by Tom Ewer to be very helpful for a new WordPress student and I’d like to highlight a few of the suggestions in my own collection of do and don’t tips for those new to WordPress, especially students in the Clark College WordPress classes. This comes from a student who can say “been there, done that, didn’t get a t-shirt.” 😀

Don’t Moderate Comments

By setting your comments to be moderated on your site, comments are held back until you approve them.

If you check frequently or use an email or mobile app to get notifications of comments waiting to be approved, this is okay, but it takes extra time and attention.

Moderating comments doesn’t prevent comment spam, and can prevent a lot of your viewers from coming back because the experience will be lacking compared to a live conversation. Your delay in approving moderated comments can frustrate the commenters.

By default, WordPress moderates new commenters by holding their first-time comments in moderation until you approve them. Once you have approved them, you are basically telling WordPress that they are okay people and their comments will not be moderated in the future.

To manage comment moderation in WordPress:

  1. Go to your ADMIN PANEL and click on Settings > Discussions.
  2. Look for “Before a comment appears” and these two options and check or uncheck them:
    • Comment must be manually approved
    • Comment author must have a previously approved comment

Discussion Options for setting moderation in WordPress.

Don’t Get Carried Away With Widgets

Admit it, WordPress Widgets are fun. Sometimes we want to make the blog seem flashy by assigning many Widgets to the sidebar and footer. While Widgets serve a great purpose, they may also distract from what the blog is about entirely. Use only the essential widgets and use the less is more approach.

Widgets in a sidebar in the WordPress Widgets Panel.
Widgets that can be added to specific categories, on the left.

To edit, customize, and remove WordPress Widgets:

  2. Review the Widgets assigned to the various sidebar and footer areas:
    • Do you need every one of these?
    • Which Widgets can your site live without?
    • Which Widgets are essential to your site?
  3. To remove a Widget:
    1. Click on the arrow to the right of the Widget title bar in the Theme Widgetized areas (sidebars, footers, etc.)
    2. At the bottom of the Widget module, click delete or remove.

To preserve a Widget for the future if you are uncertain, drag it to the bottom area of the Widgets Panel to the area to save Widgets for future use.

Remember, while some Widgets are essential such as Pages, Categories, Subscriptions, and Tags, it is your site and you choose what you want to clutter up your site with.

Expanded Widget Menu in the WordPress backend.

Where you can view your widgets in a specific category, when you drop down the menu of that category.

Don’t Abuse Categories and Tags

Categories and Tags can be extremely useful if they are utilized well as navigational elements, otherwise they become useless and confusing to the visitor. Tags and Category elements offer a vast opportunity to help increase the traffic of your site.

The difference between categories and tags is that categories represent the table of contents on your site and tags represent the index page of your site.

WordPress Administration panels for Categories.
Where you can add, delete, and edit your categories

Choose categories and tags to group your content in a way that is useful to the reader, not just for the sake of it. Tags and categories should represent a specific keyword to help the reader in their search for that information.

For example, if you search for “Baking Recipes,” “Recipes” could be the category and “Baking” could be the tag. Both of these are useful and functional in grouping them together to find them easier.

Sometimes you may make mistakes in spelling or capitalization of WordPress Tags and Categories. To edit them, go to Posts > Categories or Posts > Tags to access the Administration Panel panels for them and edit the tag or category you wish to change.

One more tip you should now about categories and tags. Categories and tags help the reader find what they are looking for, so make it easy for them. When you refer to a specific topic, such as “I’ve written more WordPress Tips on this site,” it is important to link to the category or tag representing your WordPress Tips, such as “I’ve written more WordPress Tips on this site.” It helps to engage the reader and share with them another way to find more information on the topic.

The Administration Panel for WordPress Tags.
Menu of tags you have and can edit, add, or delete. Also shows you what it will look like on the Left.


As a student in the WordPress class, I don’t think much about backups, but it is important that you don’t make the same mistake. Just because WordPress is trustworthy doesn’t mean you can trust WordPress with your content, or your web host, or yourself. Mistakes happen.

There are many ways to backup WordPress. offers the ability to export an XML file of your content, very useful for moving to another site, and it helps with backups, too.

WordPress uses auto save to automatically save your post or Page as you are working on it, and post revisions help you go back to something you did better earlier, but what happens if what you are working on glitches, if you hit the backspace and the web page goes backwards to the previously visited page, or the electricity goes out.

If you are working on something really important, consider writing and editing it first in a text editor (not word processor if possible) on your computer. You can save it at any time and most text editors also have an autosave feature to help you backup automatically as you are working. Since you aren’t dependent upon the Internet, and your laptop’s battery might protect you from electrical blackouts, it adds a layer of protection for those precious homework assignments.

If you are working on a Child Theme in WordPress, make sure you backup your Theme files frequently to a backup drive or thumb drive or the cloud, just in case. One student in class lost their work when their thumbdrive broke. They hadn’t thought to save it to the computer and backup to the thumbdrive or somewhere else. Ouch.

Just because it is homework doesn’t mean you shouldn’t back it up. It’s your hard work. Make sure it stays safe.

More Tips for WordPress Beginners

These are just a few examples of what beginners should and shouldn’t do from this site:

2 thoughts on “Some Beginner Don’ts for WordPress”

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