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The Side Dish

Maintaining Your Content in WordPress

Pralie Dutzel, Senior Front-End Developer / 7.13.2016

WordPress is a great platform that fits many clients’ needs, but after the website is built and handed over, best practices for content can sometimes fall by the wayside. This can lead to inconsistencies, difficult to maintain files and even broken pages in worst case scenarios. and avoid these issues by following our guidelines below.

Keep Your Content Clean and Properly Formatted

This sounds like a straightforward task, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen content where the author tried to implement their own styles or layout. This often breaks parts of the page because the author likely does not understand the implications of the custom code they’re adding. Use the tools WordPress provides to keep your content clean and free of inline styles or other code. If you’re looking for a more robust layout or additional styling options, get in contact with your development team rather than trying to do it on your own.
Proper formatting helps your content read better by adding structure and organization, as well as establishing a cohesive look throughout the rest of the website. This includes how sections are differentiated; how elements like quotes, links and citations appear; and even things like how punctuation or bold text are used. If these items are inconsistent between different content areas, it can lead to confusion and a disjointed appearance across the website. To combat this, you could create a content style guide to help keep your authors on the same page or have someone review content before it’s published.

Clean Up Your Images When Uploading

If your website uses images in either the content itself or through featured images, one of the best things you can do is resize and rename. I often come across uploaded images that are over 6,000 pixels wide and named something obscure like “DC189544.jpg,” which isn’t helping you or your website. Although a larger image may sound nice in theory, in practice it can drastically slow down your page loading times, especially on a mobile connection. If you need help deciding what a good image size is, talk with your development team about establishing guidelines for image sizes across the site.
Naming conventions for images have two important values: they keep your media library organized and they can give a small search engine optimization boost. WordPress has a great search feature within the media library, so it’s easy to find things if the name actually matches the subject of the image. When naming files, describe the image as best as you can to make it easier to find later. It’s a good idea to come up with a naming convention and distribute it to anyone who might be uploading images to the site.
On the topic of SEO, you should try to add alt attributes to your images whenever possible. Alt attributes, also known as alternative text, are used to describe the content of the image. If the image doesn’t load or a user is using assistive technology, such as a screen reader, alt attributes provide a decent fallback so the user can understand the context of the image. Search engines can also use this information to gain a better understanding on your website and the content around the image. Alt attributes are easy to add through the media library in WordPress, but aim to keep them brief and to the point.

Future-Proofing Content

Following these simple steps will not only keep your WordPress content in check, but will also help to future-proof it. Should you change your theme or move your site to another platform in the future, your content will need to be as clean as possible in order to transfer over properly. If you have any custom code or styles in your content, it might not work the way you originally intended, and it could cause the page to appear broken.

The next time you go to add content to your WordPress site, consider following our four steps for properly maintaining your content:
• Keep content free of inline styles and custom code
• Use proper formatting throughout content
• Resize and rename all images before uploading
• Add alt attributes to images