The widespread popularity of WordPress has also played a part in a general web design trend that has become popular in recent years. It’s something you may have noticed: most websites look and act pretty much the same in terms of their general layout, formatting, navigation, and sometimes even color schemes and typefaces.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Web uniformity makes it easier for non-technical types to create their own sites, and it allows users to navigate the web more efficiently and access the information they want more quickly. Unfortunately, it also means that there’s a chance your website is indistinguishable from others’ sites, maybe even your competition’s.
Luckily, by simply digging into the base HTML code on which your site is built, you can make some subtle tweaks that go a long way in making your site effectively stand out. With an eye on the best WordPress development practices, here are 7 HTML tricks to use in WordPress to give your site a boost.
1. Create a Custom Page
We’ve established the fact that the relatively standard, boilerplate layout of many WordPress sites is not necessarily a bad thing; it creates familiarity with your users. That said, you still want to be able to customize within those parameters. With some simple HTML edits, you can create custom page templates that give you more freedom to display your content in the places you want. Creating custom pages allows you the freedom to prioritize certain aspects of your site that you most want your visitors to see, meaning you can deliver the right content to a targeted audience in a more efficient, streamlined way.
2. Redirect Users to a Random Post
If you’re running a blog or website that consistently generates new content, it can be tough to get users to dig deep and engage with a wider range of the materials you have to offer. One neat way to combat that is by creating a button with some HTML code that will redirect users to a random post on the site. Similar to a StumbleUpon button, the random page redirect is great for users who are intrigued by your site’s offerings and simply want to explore a little more. It can offer a nice alternative to the funnel-oriented navigation of a page by letting users browse more freely.
3. Narrow Down Search Results
While it’s all well and good for your users to be perusing the deeper parts of your website at random, it’s also a good idea to give them an easy search outlet if they’re looking for something more specific. Often, users come to your site with a goal in mind, so help them reach that goal by adding a faceted search function, similar to Amazon’s suggested search, to your site. The plugin and additional HTML are relatively easy to implement, and your users will thank you for the helping hand when it comes to site navigation.
4. Delay RSS Feed Posting
Syndicating your content via RSS feeds is a very good way to introduce your content to a wider audience. WordPress has some great RSS integration, meaning it can be fairly easy to syndicate and release content to RSS feeds, but you want to make sure you do it at the right time, namely during the prime hours that your audience will be checking their feeds. Timeliness of posts, and allowing yourself time to make sure the content is flawless, are both important reasons why you should include code to delay WordPress RSS syndication for a set amount of time after publishing a post.
5. Get Rid of Post Revisions
As a default setting, WordPress implicitly saves all your revisions as separate posts, in the event that you need to revert back to an old post. This is a nice feature for archiving purposes (though you should always remember to backup your materials externally, too), but sometimes these revisions can show up in search results for your users and can clutter up your database on the admin side. Luckily, there’s a way to control post revisions, so you can keep things better organized for your users and for yourself. Thanks to the streamlined content management, your users will be able to navigate more easily, and you will have less of an organization headache on your end.
6. Drop-Down Menu Bar
Most standard WordPress sites come with the traditional horizontal menu bar across the top of the page. For forward-thinking admins with a knack for design, this menu bar can clutter up a page and overwhelm a user with too many navigation options right off the bat. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. The code to create a drop-down menu is relatively straightforward and allows for various customization options, so you can direct your users to the pages they need in a variety of different ways.
7. Highlight Author Comments
WordPress is especially good for blogs and other interaction-heavy sites because of its robust comments section capabilities. Interacting with your readers is a great way to maintain a sustained audience for your site, as it helps users feel welcome. But one downside here is that comments sections can get a little messy and, if uncontrolled, can turn users away. One simple way to direct conversations in the comments is highlighting the author comments by adding a simple bit of code to the style.css file on your WordPress site. Highlighted author comments will direct the users’ eyes to allow a more natural flow of discussion and keep the comments grounded.
There’s a good reason that WordPress is used by so many people. Its many robust offerings coupled with its streamlined presentation and functionality make for the ideal browsing experience on both the user and admin sides of the coin. That said, sometimes a little customization on WordPress can go a long way in maximizing your site’s appeal and exposure. Whether it’s on-the-surface changes visible to your users or behind-the-scenes edits that make your site more easily navigable, there are all sorts of HTML tricks and hacks you can use to get the most out of your site.