How to avoid common CMS mistakes

Content Management Systems (CMS) are great tools to help develop your company’s website and make it easier to maintain. Avoiding the following mistakes will help you not only develop your website more efficiently, but also more effectively.

Mistake 1: Forgetting security & backups

Most CMS are open source platforms, which make them an easy target for hackers and malware attacks. Once your site is hacked, you risk losing data, having information breached, getting the site blacklisted by search engines and losing your reputation. In this event, it may take you a long time to clean up the mess. Taking some easy steps can help eliminate these threats:

  • Create a new admin account and remove the default one.
  • Keep your CMS up to date.
    Use the auto-update feature or update it manually when it’s available. Like your operating system, updates in the core file fix security holes and problems that slipped through during the development process. If you don’t update your CMS, you are leaving your website vulnerable to hackers.
  • Create backups regularly.
    Like most things in life, we need backup plans. There are several good plugins or online services like VaultPress (for WordPress sites) or Akeeba Backup (for Joomla sites) that can help you set up automatic backup tasks or help you do it manually.
  • Use malware security scan or firewall monitor tool.
    Online resources like sucuri.net are very convenient website monitoring tools. You can set it up to automatically scan your website every four to six hours, create website backups and even have them remove malware if your website is breached. Extensions like RSFirewall will help block any suspicious users from accessing your website.

Mistake 2: Customizing your extensions too much

The extensive resources of plug-ins are what make CMS powerful. However, a common mistake we see all the time is when people either try to customize the extensions files so much that it basically becomes static and useless or breaks the website. Another common mistake we see is when people install too many plug-ins and leave the unused ones on the site.

Every plug-in you install will increase the page load time and slow down your website. You are also putting the security of your website in the hands of third-party developers. You should always delete extensions that you no longer need. For WordPress websites, Plug-ins Performance Profiler is a great tool that will test the plug-ins on your site and tell you how they are affecting your overall site speed.

Mistake 3: Ignoring SEO settings

Help Google find your website easily. Many developers will set the site to NOT be indexed by search engines during the development process and forget to change it back when taken live. This can destroy all your previous SEO rankings and force you to rebuild it again. Also make sure to properly structure your permalinks. This converts your page URLs from machine-generated numbers to user-friendly URLs.

Mistake 4: Complicating categories & tags

You may think creating several categories is the best way to organize your website and get carried away with creating too many. From a visitor’s perspective, over-abundant categories and tags will only bring more confusion and make the site look unorganized and unplanned. Consider categories as the table of contents for your site that helps to identify what your site is about. Categories are meant for broad grouping of the content. Tags are like the index words for your pages; they are meant to describe the specific details of the page.

Mistake 5: Not having a contact form
We often create contact pages and simply list our email address. The next thing you know, you have tons of spammed email. While your website should generate leads for you, it should also still retain a certain level of your privacy. That is why we utilize contact forms. You don’t need to know advanced coding to create forms anymore. Plug-ins like Contact Form 7 (WordPress only), Gravity Forms (WordPress only) or ChronoContacts (Joomla CMS) make it easy to create any type of form; all with drag-and-drop interface and even database integration capability.

Mistake 6: Copy and pasting from Word
Yes, chances are your content was first drafted in Word. However, when you paste your content from Word, it adds tons of hidden codes and weird characters to your posts that can potentially break your website. If you have to, use the “Paste from Word” tool in the visual editor to help clean up the content. However, the visual editor has abundant editing and formatting tools that make writing in the CMS as easy as writing in Word. The modern CMS platforms are normally packed with version control that make sure you don’t lose your content when you make a mistake.

To learn more about what to avoid when using a Content Management System in the development and maintenance of your company’s website, drop us a line at esd & associates-we’re here for you.

Written by Judy Tsai

Judy Tsai leads the digital development projects for national and Texas-based clients, overseeing all aspects of the agency’s and clients’ software systems, server operations, app and website development, and data mining and analysis. An information technology master, she builds large, complex interactive products that deliver ease, usability and functionality of a simple web interface. Read more.

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