24 Ways to Improve Your WordPress site for 2016

We set out to find the best way to improve your WordPress site in 2016. In order to do that, we searched far and wide for the best answers from WordPress developers around the globe.

The results!

Some of the best WordPress experts took a look into their crystal ball and let us know how to improve WordPress sites for 2016.

24 Experts on WordPress Sites for 2016

1. Anthony De Guzman AnthonyDeGuzman.Com 

The most important thing WordPress sites should focus on in 2016 is integrate SEO and page speed. WordPress sites are notorious for being slow — the main culprit being plugins. Unfortunately, most consumers lack the savviness or forget to reduce the number of plugins. WordPress developers should account for that and develop sites and themes to be as fast as possible.

SEO integration is another demand that is increasingly being seen. It’s important to implement design that is crawlable by Google’s search engines and include Schema markup.

2. Allen Greer Fuze, Inc 

The most important thing any business can do to improve their WordPress site is beef up security. WordPress is a favorite target for hackers and has been exploited at an increasingly escalated level.

*Earlier this year, WP issued a security release to fix a vulnerability that could have exposed thousands of sites to hackers.

Owners of WordPress sites should be aware of known attacks and rapidly implement security patches or fixes developed by WordPress and its community, to ensure they are doing everything possible to avert a disaster.

3. Les Proctor Nicheworks 

Measured by the “*coffee shop test*.” Go to a coffee shop with a laptop. Ask 5 different people to look at your site. Tell them you’re going to open up your laptop for 5 seconds, show them your website. Then close your laptop. Tell them their job is to tell you what they saw.

If they can’t tell you what type of business the website was created for, it didn’t pass the test. Back to the drawing board.

4. James Sacci ProWeb Innovations 

WordPress is a content management system that enables business owners the ability to create content themselves. My suggestion to business owners is to create quality content specifically for their target users, and not search engines. By quality content I mean; content that is user friendly, engaging, shareable, and provides a better user experience than their competition does.

5. Celina Levin Majux Marketing 

I am constantly in WordPress making coding and styling changes, as well as uploading blog posts and pages. If I had to be honest, 95% of my job involves WordPress…so I have more than a few gripes. However, here is what I would have WordPress focus on for 2016:

Get rid of default tags/categories. WordPress’s default categories and tag site structure isn’t optimized for Google. Many inexperienced users developing WordPress sites unknowingly are penalized by Google’s algorithm for thin and duplicate pages that exist by default on a WordPress website.

6. Jeff Gapinski Huemor Designs LLC 

A well-constructed back-end interface.

With the addition of Advanced Custom Fields (and all of its awesome off-shoots), WordPress developers have way more control over what they can give non-technical users control over.

While it’s awesome to have all of these options, it can quickly become cumbersome for the client/non-technical user to navigate. Developers should focus on making good use of text helps, organizing custom fields with tabs, and creating custom user permissions will make the website way more accessible to the client/non-technical user.

7. Dan Gudema Start Up Pop 

I think the biggest issue for most WordPress sites or WordPress developers like myself is not on the front-end but on the back-end. One of the biggest issues for developers and designers who work with WordPress, is the vast array of plugins and theme add-ons.

They are great for functionality, but once you have over 20, there are a bunch of problems that start occurring when they are in conflict with each other or WordPress itself, not enough system memory or PHP versions. Often what happens on an update is the white screen of death.

Lastly there are cases where there are 3 or 4 levels of plugin and system settings impacting one feature. So, WordPress needs a better plugin manager, which can backup plugins to let the system continue working, can make the memory changes when necessary and identify other issues that allow plugins to work together in harmony. Hey, maybe I will write that plugin.

8. Joseph Wong Intelligence Group 

In 2016, WordPress sites needs the following to improve:

  • Modern layout and design – the latest trends include simple designs and neutral colors as well as mobile-first methodology.
  • Lead Generation – plugins that unobtrusively asks for email address in exchange for a piece of info (i.e. whitepaper) that the targeted audience would find appealing. Many sites now are simply an online brochure and are missing opportunities to generate leads.
  • Security – several must-haves include Anti-Malware by Eli and Wordfence.
  • Analytics – plugins or themes that allow integration with Google Analytics or other forms of analytics.

9. Tushar Jain Kays Harbor 

The one thing that WordPress sites should focus on in 2016 would be Responsive Usability. With Google laying importance on responsive websites, we now know that we need to make fully responsive websites, but it doesn’t end there.

Developers have to keep innovating on how to manage the User Experience. A change in device should not result in a change of the brand behavior, instead should complement it.

The use of Navigation panels, sliders, forms etc. all should be done after due deliberation to ensure that the users find it equally easy in navigating through the website, irrespective of the device used. “

10. Christopher Lis Sparxoo.com 

The most important thing WordPress sites should focus on in 2016 is site speed. There are a number of free plugins and tools available to speed up the load time of a site, including WP Super Cache and Google Page Speed Insights.

Reducing site load time not only helps retain users by presenting their content quickly, but it also improves a site’s ranking on Google’s search results.

11. Justin Handley ManagedWP.Rocks 

There are two main things that are still widely under-addressed.

Even though almost every theme on the market these days is responsive, there are still a painful number of WP sites out there that aren’t responsive or mobile-friendly.

If that is your site, it has to be fixed immediately. That applies web-wide and is easier to implement on WordPress than a lot of other platforms due to the abundant number of themes, demos, and resources available.

12. Jason Parks The Media Captain 

Focus on the user experience. I don’t think it is as simple as “download this plugin” or “use this theme.”

This past year, we analyzed how long people stayed on our WordPress site. Digging into Google Analytics, we saw they were staying on our homepage for a decent amount of time. However, there was a high bounce rate on the interior pages.

We had our copywriter completely rewrite all of the content to make it more informative. We also had our designer conduct research into 50 other marketing agencies throughout the country to determine how we should construct our interior pages.

By making this analysis and implementations to our WordPress site, we were able to drastically improve the average time on site, which resulted in an uptick conversions along with our SEO rankings.

For 2016, I’d recommend that you focus on the user experience on your WordPress site.

13. Loeken Wenning Internetz 

One way to improve your blog for 2016 is to create content you care about. Be authentic, don’t copy from others. You can do this by using rich snippets. Rich snippets are layouts to tell search engines information about your articles. Search engines will then make you stand out along their results.

14. Steve McGuire Aspect IT Ltd 

As an extensive user of WordPress, our biggest concern is security. Hacking attempts on the default admin user are increasing, because this is a known username hackers can target.

If WordPress were to allow users to choose an initial username other than admin, this would inevitably help combat the problem. The admin account can of course be deleted at any time, this however is something most WordPress admins do not do until their account has been hacked.

15. Gail Gardner GrowMap 

Both Justin Brooke at Clearvoice and Adrienne DeVita at Digital Media Cube strongly recommend moving our sidebars to the left for maximum SEO and conversion value. Others recommend removing them altogether.

16. Sherry Holub JV Media Design (JVM) 

Go custom! If you want to establish your business on the web with a WordPress site, hire a professional that can create a custom design, code a custom theme, and do a custom install on the WordPress core.

The custom design ensures your site meets your goals and connects with your target audience (and isn’t just a pre-made solution thousands of other sites have) and the custom install increases your overall website security.

17. Justin J. Dunn Mo Marketing + PR 

I believe in the upcoming year, WordPress should focus more on their *updating infrastructure*. I understand that system updates are critical for filling holes in security, but with the majority of WordPressers using themes and 3rd party plugins, these updates truly can harm websites.

Once an update is installed, a designer has to sit and wait for their theme developer to update their theme. This could take a while, and in the end hurts business.

18. Brendan Tully The Search Engine Shop 

Probably the most important item and usually overlooked is high performance, high quality hosting. We work with 100s of clients each year who have WordPress issues. Probably 8 out of 10 times the root cause of the problem can be tied back to something related to their hosting.

$5/month hosting is simply not good enough for a business website. Unfortunately, most people choose hosting providers based on price, not features or performance.

The crazy thing is that a top shelf hosting provider isn’t that expensive – for an extra $30-40/month you can get a top of the line provider that offers daily backups, WordPress patches and updates, hosting that sits behind a real firewall, dedicated server resources so your site isn’t battling 10,000 other sites for CPU power, and a content delivery network plus a bunch more features.

Unfortunately a large proportion of the market has been trained to think that anything more than $5/month is expensive and then those same people complain when their site is slow or continually hacked and spend hours and hours and hours fixing it.

Better quality hosting might cost you a little more upfront but your site will run faster and be more reliable so your conversion rate will likely be higher (more $$$ in your pocket) and the time required to manage and maintain your site will be significantly less freeing up your time to focus on things that create value in your business.

19. Fletcher Stott AMA Empire 

WordPress has long had a fault, that the themes can create a lot of websites that look the same! In 2016, a lot of people are thinking that customizing themes is going to become a lot more common. That is the best way to make a simple WordPress site, become amazing!

20. Neill Feather SiteLock 

Full web application security is an often overlooked area that is important to protect and prepare WordPress sites for the inevitable breach. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Everyone understands the importance of network security, but often forgets or deprioritizes web security.

Network security is straight forward – keep in who should be in, and out who should be out. But, web security is much different. Everyone should have access to your website, and if it’s vulnerable, it will directly impact your visitors’ data safety. WordPress sites need to cover all their bases to be best protected.

21. Connor Hood Code My Views 

In the past few years, online readers’ attention spans have grown smaller and smaller. That’s why my number one tip for WordPress sites in 2016 is to embrace minimal design and design more with less.

A minimal design approach does not necessarily strip a site of its content or design, rather it highlights the important content by removing everything that is not essential. Thinking about design elements in the most basic terms – color, type, space, grid, etc.—is a smart, fresh way to improve any WordPress site for 2016. Not only will it draw readers to your site, it will keep them reading.

22. Adam Binder Creative Click Media 

I foresee micro-interactions becoming more important than ever in 2016.

These self contained workflows have the ability to serve personalized experiences based off on information such as the referring webpage, user location, and user stated intent, and previously purchased items, among others.

Once triggered, these customized workflows take the user down a specific conversion path as they are interacted with. A few examples of this would be serving custom content to users that came from a dedicated campaign URL, adding an introductory video for a first time user, showing a popup of a nearby branch location, etc.

I expect this trend to grow bigger within the WordPress community due to the increasing amount of plugins that offer these custom functionalities. Any smart marketer or WordPress site owner should definitely keep their eyes open to this trend in 2016.

23. Rhys Wynne Winwar Media 

I suggest in 2016 WordPress site owners should begin to look at the way in which WordPress is expanding. Things like the JSON REST API is going into WordPress in the next release.

This could make sites much larger and more feature rich going forward. Effectively you wouldn’t need WordPress to run a WordPress site, so become familiar with it for your site, to help your site grow.

24. Ben Richardson Acuity Training 

I think that including reviews and customer feedback is getting more important.

I’d recommend people look at using the Reviewer plugin it allows you to directly insert real customer feedback into posts and pages, as well as automatically mark up the data for Google. This means your reviews should hopefully be featured in organic results.

PS I’m am not associated with Envato, but just think that it’s probably the best $25 I’ve spent in the last 6 months.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from the views above, many of the experts had similar ideas. However, they each had their own unique spin on how to accomplish these goals. Choose from the best ideas out there to determine how you can use this for your own WordPress site in 2016. In the meantime, let us know in the comments below what you found to be the most useful for your WordPress site.

Bonus: Do you want to convince your clients of the need to implement some (or all) of these changes to their website in 2016? Then click here to download this article as a PDF!.