Easy ways to instantly improve your WordPress site in 2016

Morgan Smith's Layout avatar

It’s the start of a stellar new year, which means it’s also the perfect time for a new site – or at least some simple updates. It’s easy to dive straight into new projects with new clients and forget about your website, but giving it a little TLC before you get too busy will pay off in the long-run.

So before you get too swamped this year, take a little time for yourself (and your website) and make these quick changes to instantly improve your WordPress site in 2016.

1. Check your site’s speed and performance

When’s the last time you actually opened your own site? Did it load immediately, with everything displayed correctly? Or did you have to wait a couple seconds before an image appeared? Or worse, your content?

Nobody likes a slow site, and especially if your business involves building sites for others, your clients will expect better from you. A clunky site quickly loses credibility, which in turn loses new customers. Take a moment to test your site and see where there’s room for improvement, and then actually make those changes.improve-site-2016-site-speed-performance

Resources to help make your site super speedy and super smooth:

1. How to make your WordPress site’s performance out of this world

Follow the easy steps in this ebook to make sure your site is running lightning fast and super smooth. If it’s not already, it will be with these easy tips.

2. Make your site blazing fast: Focus on front-end and back-end performance

This two-part series will help you make your site blazing fast. Dive in to both the front-end and back-end of your site to discover how you can make things run even faster.

3. Declaring performance bankruptcy with WordPress (and how to fix it)

This article from Wade Hammes, a front-end developer at TrackMaven, is a very real example of discovering what’s making your site slow, and then fixing it to make it super fast.

2. Make sure everything is up-to-date

Updates to your site can feel pretty cumbersome at times, especially if the outdated versions don’t seem to be causing any problems (yet). However, it’s incredibly important to stay on top of updates to your theme, plugins, and WordPress itself. If you’ve been neglecting these software updates, set aside time this week to update to the latest version of everything.improve-site-2016-up-to-date

Resources to help you keep everything updated:

1. How to manage multiple WordPress sites

Even if you’re only working with one site, it can be hard to keep track of everything. This article will help you stay organized and on top of your site(s).

2. Updating WordPress plugins and themes safely

If you’re nervous that updates will cause problems, this article from Angela Bowman will help you safely update everything so your site stays up and running through the entire process.

3. Set yourself up for success to capture more emails

I’m guessing you want to grow your business this year, right? One of the easiest ways to start is to widen the top of your sales funnel by capturing more email addresses. Take a look at your site – should there be an email opt-in somewhere? Is there content that you can leverage to collect new addresses? Get creative and add some forms or pop-ups (the not-awful kind) to your site.improve-site-2016-capture-emails

Resources to help you capture lots of emails:

1. Eight of the best WordPress plugins to help grow your email list

The plugins in this article will help your emails reach a larger audience. See if any are right for your site!

2. The ultimate guide to strategic WordPress opt-in placement

Not sure where to place your opt-ins? This guide will help you discover the perfect place on your site to capture lots of email addresses and collect new leads.

3. How to use pop-up windows effectively and responsibly

Hesitant to use pop-ups? This article from Web Marketing Today shares how to use them responsibly and in a way that won’t annoy your readers.

4. Review all of your site’s content

Time to look at the details of your site. This can get a little tedious, but it’s incredibly important. Go through all of the pages on your site and make sure the content is still relevant. Is your mission statement the same? Are there typos anywhere, or broken links? Now’s the time to make a list of all these minor tweaks and slowly start chipping away at them.improve-site-2016-review-content

Resources to help you fix your site’s content:

1. Your client wants you to have a content strategy

Your content needs to have some purpose; your clients will expect it. This article explains why.

2.How to perform a content audit

Not sure where to start? You probably need to perform a content audit. This article over at SparkReaction will help you get started.

5. Make your site look magnificent on mobile devices

Hopefully by now your site is responsive (if it isn’t, start there!) But even if it is responsive, there might be adjustments you still need to make to maximize the mobile user experience. Pull up your site on your phone (and a tablet, and other people’s phones) and move around your site. How’s the navigation? Are buttons easy to tap? Are there any devices or screen sizes that could use a little work? Make these changes to make sure your users have the best experience regardless of their device this year.improve-site-2016-mobile-devices

Resources to help your site have a flawless mobile experience:

1. How to make your WordPress site mobile friendly

Need to start by making your site responsive? This article will walk you through some initial steps to prepare your site for mobile devices.

2. Seven best practice tips for responsive web design

The seven tips in this article will help you make sure your site looks flawless on every device. Plus, it might help you think of some things you would’ve overlooked!

3. Why you’ve got to start practicing mobile-first development

For future sites, you may want to consider a mobile-first approach. Learn more about it (and why it rocks!) in this article.

6. Give your theme a makeover

As you’ve been looking at your site, how have you felt about the design? Does it still feel like your brand, or is it time for a makeover? Now’s the perfect time to update your layout or add any missing pages. Depending on how much you want to change this could take quite a bit of time, so at the very least, start making a plan for your redesign.improve-site-2016-theme-makeover

Resources to help you switch up your theme:

1. How to run a development copy of your WordPress site

When you decide to make changes, never make them on your live site. This article will help you set up a development copy of your site so you can safely make changes (and avoid the “white screen of death”).

2. Staging sites go up with just one click

With Flywheel, you can use our Staging feature to test out new plugins, play around with your theme, and add a little pizzazz without making any changes to your live site until you’re ready. Check it out!

3. How to select a WordPress theme

If you’re looking for a new theme entirely, but aren’t quite sure where to start, this article from Heather Steele, founder of Blue Steele Solutions, will help you think about what’s really important.

7. Try A/B testing a few things

Do you know what kind of content works best on your site? If not, this year it’s time to try testing a few things! You could experiment with color schemes, images, landing pages….anything you want, really. Start small and just try it out. For some audiences, it might not matter much, but for others, you might just learn a lot about what converts.improve-site-2016-testing

Resources to help you test your site:

1. Website testing with Google Content Experiments

Google Content Experiments is a tool that allows you to try varieties of content to find the solution that converts the best. This article will walk you through how to use it.

2.The complete guide to A/B testing

This guide from Visual Website Optimizer is a great starting place for anyone who wants to learn more about A/B testing. Learn why it’s important and read some fantastic ideas of what to test.

8. Review your best content (and make more of it)

Do you have a landing page that your users just love? Or maybe a blog post with some killer SEO points? Learn what pages on your site bring in the most traffic, and aim to make more of that content. This might be a project you take on right now while it’s still early in the year, or this could lead to some content goals throughout the year. Maybe you want to publish a blog post once a month, or create a new landing page once a quarter. Whatever feels right for your site.improve-site-2016-best-content

Resources to help you make the best content:

1. How to set up Google Analytics in WordPress

Not sure what your best content is? Check out your analytics. This article will help you get Google Analytics up and running today.

2. Five secrets to designing content that converts

Turn your visitors from passive viewers to an active players with these five secrets for designing content that converts.

3. You are what you share: The importance of content consistency

All of your content, even if it’s just shared on social media, should have a consistent voice. This article will teach you about the importance of content consistency.

9. Clean up the clutter

As you inspect your site, how does the spacing around different elements feel? Is there enough white space to direct your focus to the right place, or does it feel a bit messy? If it feels a little cluttered, and that wasn’t your intention with the design, time to clean it up a bit.improve-site-2016-clean-clutter

Resources to help you organize your site:

1. Clean up the clutter on your website

Not sure where to start? This article will help you clean up the clutter on your site and make sure it’s ready for the year ahead.

2. Tips for adding white space to your website

If your website feels cluttered, it could probably use a little more white space. These easy tips will clean it up in no time!

10. See what Flywheel can do for you

Flywheel is a beautifully simple WordPress hosting and site management platform built for designers and creative agencies. In other words, we’ll help you take care of a lot of these problems so that you can focus on more important things this year. From signing a new client to next year’s redesign, Flywheel is with you every step of the way.

Building, launching, and managing your WordPress sites has never been easier. Learn more about it here.

These 10 tips are sure to give your site the TLC it deserves. What else are you doing to improve your site for 2016?

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