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Five Worst WordPress Developer Mistakes

WordPress is a very popular and efficient method to get a site up and running fast. Like Drupal and Joomla, it is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) that is written in PHP and coupled with a MySQL or MariaDB database.

A lot of individuals use web tutorials to learn the ins and outs of full-stack development, web design, HTML5 and PHP basics, agile methodologies, relevant frameworks, DevOps, and basically any other skill-set associated with web development. Of course, learning WordPress through dedicated tutorials and installing it is often the natural step after this for most. Some beginners use this knowledge to create their own website (often self-hosted) or a WordPress blog, some build e-commerce websites, while others join full-time web development teams.

However, these web development teams often have a number of developers and engineers who haphazardly create horrible WordPress sites. Mistakes such as leaving WP_DEBUG set as true are easier to make. Other WordPress developer mistakes such as throwing all your JavaScript into a single folder are as common as slothful developers. Front-end and back-end development are both thorough tests of how efficient and proficient a web development team is. Everyone makes mistakes in life, however, not learning from them can be problematic.

While a blogger may not have much concern about the nitty-gritty of using the WordPress dashboard or consulting the WordPress Codex, there are a few mistakes that developers in charge of being a WordPress admin (i.e. those having wp-admin privileges) frequently make when attempting to create a WordPress website. This is the kind of stuff that WordPress tutorials won’t really cover.

1. Using Common Names for Functions, Variables, Classes, or Constants by WordPress Developer.

When creating a plugin, try using a naming convention that intercepts code conflict in case of other plugins having the same name. Therefore, a lot of developers prefix their function names and variables with something distinctive and affiliated with the plugin itself. It also simplifies finding things when a lot of plugins have been enabled.

Some developers, on the other hand, prefer using PHP namespaces to encapsulate items and solve the main two problems applications and authors of libraries face when creating reusable code elements like functions or classes:

  • Name collisions in the middle of the code they create, and internal PHP, or third-party classes, functions, party, or constants.
  • The ability to alias Extra_Long_Names is designed to fix the initial problem or improve the readability of source code. This helps developers read and manage the code without having to fret about having lengthy unique names.
  • Appropriate naming systems also help in debugging at a later stage.

2. Not Leveraging Existing WordPress Core Functionality to Its Full Potential

WordPress has a suite of regularly updated libraries and repositories that can be used as themes, widgets, and plugins (bbPress, BuddyPress, WooCommerce are popular ones). It’s better to use this existing core functionality. Some programmers add files to the asset directories of their WordPress plugins, themes, and widgets that already exist in the WordPress core files (e.g., Color Picker, jQuery).

Utilize what WordPress has to offer because the open-source libraries and repositories are regularly updated by the WordPress core team. Therefore, there is less repetitive work to do and the project is much easier to maintain. By having the latest version of WordPress, you have access to more features (may it be themes, plugins, or WordPress core itself) and a safer site in case of vulnerability found in the old code release.

3. Adding JavaScript Code into a Singular Main File

One of the most common mistakes found is, some developers place all the libraries being used for the premium theme, including the custom code, into a single file usually named theme.js, custom.js, or main.js. This can be very harmful for the following reasons:

  • The file can expand exponentially as the theme grows new features and sometimes the files can be as large as 1 MB. It makes the entire file get loaded site-wide, even if you need only 10% of the code. This can make it longer for pages to download and render slowly. It may also affect its responsiveness in other ways which deters visitors from staying too long on it.
  • It can create difficulties managing the code, due to the fact that some functions are rendered useless such as wp_dequeue_script() to unload some of the code in some pages to either prevent conflicts with other JavaScript code that could be loaded by one of the active plugins or to improve page speed. It’s true that the file can be split into multiple ones and enqueued in WordPress. However, if the website administrator updates the theme’s main.js file, the whole process would have to start over again.

4. Not Making the Theme or Plugin Easy to Alter

There is nothing wrong with wanting to create a customer WordPress theme. However, one should never edit a WordPress theme or plugin directly, unless, you are directly contributing to the code of that package and are involved with its development. All direct changes would be lost if an automatic update is performed. This forces you to edit the files all over again.

Therefore, using filters and actions as well as creating a Child theme are the most efficient ways to alter a theme since you can modify the existing functionality without editing the plugin or the parent theme itself. Furthermore, if you’re offering a free plugin and would, later on, create a premium version that would depend on the parent plugin, then you should develop the free version in such a way that it would be easy to extend and add premium extensions to.

WordPress users should always write code in a manner that allows easy customization by anyone later on.

5. Developing with WP_DEBUG Set to false

The WP_DEBUG constant is set to ‘false’ by default, in order to avoid printing any warnings, notices, and PHP errors. In a live environment, this is a recommended choice. It keeps private scripts and paths hidden from the public view, which is great for security reasons. However, during the development stage, having it set to ‘true’. By doing so, it will notify the developers of any error in their code. Even if the errors don’t affect the functionality, it will often force developers to write better code and help them develop better coding habits. This also ensures that the theme or plugin developed doesn’t generate PHP errors in any WordPress installation.

This error is something even veteran developers make, especially when in a rush. Thus maintaining WordPress coding standards, while keeping an eye on PHP best practices, is of the utmost importance especially when WordPress security, potential spam or multisite applications are being worked with.

So whenever you hire a remote WordPress developer, it’s important to test their knowledge on some of the more common mistakes WordPress developers make. Companies often prefer hiring service providers like Gaper who can provide the best of the best so as to avoid running into such problems later.

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