Have you ever landed on a website, and something small left a bad impression? Maybe the color combination collided with your artistic sensibilities, or perhaps an irritating plugin that didn’t integrate seamlessly into the design offended your eyeballs. Whatever the case, it stood out like a ball gown at a hoedown — and not in a Dolly “Can Do No Wrong” Parton kind of way!

When developing a WordPress website for a startup, new business, or side-hustle, avoid littering it with off-putting oddities and rookie features. After all, a company’s online platform is its 24-7 salesperson. It’s the first impression most people have of your firm — and first impressions matter!

To that end, we’ve created this short guide to help rid your WordPress website of unpalatable and unprofessional features.

Trash the Uncategorized Category

In WordPress World, taxonomies are built-in filing systems to organize blog posts. There are two types, tags and categories, and users can add unlimited numbers of each. Uncategorized is the default category that populates every WordPress install, and many professional digital marketers choose to get rid of it.

Why is it a good idea to trash the Uncategorized taxonomy label?

It’s mainly an aesthetic decision. Keeping it can read as sloppy and unprofessional. There’s just something about not placing a blog post in an adequately named section that feels unfocused and scatterbrained — and those are two adjectives you don’t want people associating with your brand or business.

However, removing Uncategorized only matters for people who display categories as links.

But here’s the rub: since it’s the default category, you cannot simply delete it. Alternatively, two options are at your disposal. First, create another default category and then delete Uncategorized. Here’s how:

  1. Login to the Dashboard of your WordPress site.
  2. Navigate to Posts, then click on Categories.
  3. Fill out the Add New Category form.
  4. Head back to the main Dashboard menu and scroll down to Settings.
  5. Click on Writing Settings and change the default category to the new one you just created.

Or you can simply rename the Uncategorized category. To do that, you:

  1. Go to the WordPress Dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Posts; then choose Categories.
  3. Click edit on the Uncategorized option.
  4. Make your changes in the form and press Update at the bottom of the page.

Understand that categories are automatically generated pages on every WordPress site — unless a coder disabled the function. As such, when you rename it, keep the URL in mind.

TL;DR: Get rid of the Uncategorized category. Professional sites almost always do.

Say Goodbye to Hello Dolly

Hello Dolly is a plugin that comes pre-installed with WordPress. An abstract quirk of the platform, when activated, the plugin shows a line from the Louis Armstrong song “Hello Dolly” on the upper right-hand corner of every back-end admin page.

The plugin’s developers define it thusly:

“This is not just a plugin, it symbolizes the hope and enthusiasm of an entire generation summed up in two words sung most famously by Louis Armstrong: Hello, Dolly. When activated you will randomly see a lyric from Hello, Dolly in the upper right of your admin screen on every page.”

Even though Hello Dolly isn’t a public-facing plugin, it’s wise to get rid of it. The problem is that it’s not updated often. Until recently, it had gone untouched for nearly a decade. As a result, it’s an entry point for hackers who might try to exploit the plugin’s vulnerabilities. So play it safe and toss Hello Dolly.

TL;DR: Delete the Hello Dolly plugin that comes with every WordPress install. It’s a safeguard against hacks.

Don’t Use Page Builders

Some people may disagree, but we’re not fans of page builders. Yes, they make website building easier for people who don’t know how to code, which can be super helpful. However, they’re bloated code monsters that ultimately slow your site down.

Why is a sluggish site bad? According to a study, 90% of people click away from websites that take longer than 5 seconds to load. Plus, page builders often introduce code errors, which can negatively affect your search engine optimization efforts.

If you inherit a WordPress Site built around a page builder, it’s a good idea to talk with a professional developer about cleaning up the site’s code. The investment is worth it because experts can:

  • Improve conversion rates
  • Improve the site’s on-page and off-page SEO, which leads to more inquiries and sales
  • Update your site’s code so it’s in line with modern standards
  • Update the website’s design and improve its UX
  • Ensure that your website looks good and works on all screen sizes

You can still add blog posts and pages without a page builder. You just need to set up your site correctly.

TL;DR: Don’t use page builders because they bloat sites and slow them down. People hate sluggish websites and will click away before you can say, “Wait!”

Obtrusive Social Media Plugins

Plugins are one of the main reasons WordPress is a wildly popular website platform. They simplify complex coding and allow non-programmers to add dynamic functions to their online properties. In many ways, WordPress plugins have democratized the Web.

But there’s a shadow side.

For starters, some plugins are poorly coded, and if you don’t know what to look for, you could get stuck with a dangerous dud. Why is that bad? Well, poorly coded plugins can slow down your site, which users despise, and negatively affect your search engine rank. In worst-case scenarios, you could download a plugin with a bug.

Many people also make the mistake of adding way too many plugins, which weighs down the site; plus, users aren’t fond of intrusive ones. A website should be as helpful and unobtrusive as possible. The object is to give users what they want in a clean, streamlined platform.

TL;DR: Don’t overload your website with plugins. There’s such a thing as too much, and they can make a site look cheap. Plus, too many will slow everything down.

“Just Another WordPress Site”

Fresh installations of WordPress all come with the phrase “Just Another WordPress Site” as the title bar description — and it’s the first thing you should change! Not only does it not say anything about your site, but it’s terrible for SEO. Instead, use your company’s motto or a keyword-friendly line.

How can you change it?

  • Login to the Dashboard
  • Scroll down to Settings and choose General from the submenu.
  • Swap out the phrase in the Tagline field.
  • Click Update at the bottom of the page.

If you don’t want to use a tagline, simply delete everything from the field.

TL;DR: Change the “Just Another WordPress Site” tagline because it’s unprofessional and terrible for SEO.

Website design and development is an art, and at the end of the day, a professional, custom website will always look slicker and better than a generic theme. However, budgets vary. So if you’re in a pinch and need to stick to the DIY track — for the time being — implementing these five WordPress fixes will go a long way in making your site feel more polished.