5 Mistakes Beginners Make When Learning WordPress

  1. Introduction
  2. Mistake 1: Don’t Just Install a Page Builder
  3. Mistake 2: Don’t Just Install a 3rd Party Gutenberg Block Library Without Understanding Core Blocks
  4. Mistake 3: Don’t Just Choose a Fancy Theme Without Understanding Content Management in WordPress
  5. Mistake 4: Fail to Understand the Importance of Open Source and Data Ownership in WordPress
  6. Mistake 5: Don’t Use Themes With Built-in Page Builders
  7. The Importance of Learning WordPress Fundamentals
  8. Conclusion


Over the past 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach WordPress Courses to thousands of people, helping them navigate this powerful content management system (CMS) that powers more than 40% of websites on the internet. My tutorials can be found on the official WordPress training platform, and I’ve run courses for various organizations, including The Guardian Masterclasses and universities.

Through my experiences teaching WordPress, I’ve seen the challenges beginners often face. It’s easy to make mistakes when starting out, but with the right guidance, these missteps can be avoided. In this article, I’ll share 5 common mistakes beginners frequently make when learning WordPress and emphasize the importance of understanding the fundamentals for building a successful website.

My goal is to help you avoid these pitfalls and equip you with the knowledge you need to create an impressive online presence.

Mistake 1: Don’t Just Install a Page Builder

Page builders are plugins that provide a visual drag-and-drop interface for designing web pages without requiring coding knowledge. They can be a great tool for beginners, allowing for quick and easy website creation.

Potential Issues With Relying Solely on Page Builders

While page builders are a great resource, relying solely on them may limit your understanding of WordPress’s core features. Overreliance on page builders can lead to:

  • Incompatibilities with other plugins or themes
  • Bloated websites with slow loading times
  • Difficulty troubleshooting issues or customizing the website
  • Importance of Learning Core WordPress Features

To fully harness the power of WordPress, it’s essential to learn how to use its core features, such as themes, plugins, and the Gutenberg editor. Understanding these features will give you a solid foundation to build your website and tackle any customization or troubleshooting tasks that arise.

Mistake 2: Don’t Just Install a 3rd Party Gutenberg Block Library Without Understanding Core Blocks

Gutenberg is the default WordPress editor, introduced in version 5.0. It uses a block-based system, making it easy to build and customize page layouts. Core blocks are the default blocks included with the Gutenberg editor, while third-party block libraries are additional blocks developed by external developers.

Importance of Understanding Core Blocks

Before installing third-party Gutenberg block libraries, it’s crucial to understand the core blocks and their functionality. This knowledge will help you:

  • Utilize the Gutenberg editor effectively
  • Minimize the need for extra plugins, reducing website bloat
  • Troubleshoot and resolve layout issues more efficiently
  • Risks of Using 3rd-Party Block Libraries Prematurely

Using third-party block libraries without understanding core blocks can lead to:

  • Overlapping functionality, causing confusion
  • Poor website performance due to excessive plugins
  • Increased security risks from using unvetted third-party libraries

Mistake 3: Don’t Just Choose a Fancy Theme Without Understanding Content Management in WordPress

A WordPress theme is a collection of templates and stylesheets that define the appearance and layout of your website. Thousands of free and premium themes are available, catering to various niches and design preferences.

Importance of Understanding Content Management

Choosing a theme is more than just selecting a visually appealing design. It’s essential to understand how content management works in WordPress, as this will influence your theme choice. A suitable theme should:

  • Align with your content organization strategy
  • Support the features and functionality your website requires
  • Be compatible with your preferred plugins and page builders
  • Tips for Selecting a Theme That Aligns With Your Content Management Strategy

When selecting a theme, consider the following:

Responsiveness: Ensure the theme is mobile-friendly
Customizability: Look for themes with customization options that match your needs
User reviews: Check user reviews and ratings for insights into the theme’s quality and support

Mistake 4: Fail to Understand the Importance of Open Source and Data Ownership in WordPress

WordPress is an open-source platform, meaning its source code is available for anyone to use, modify, and distribute. This allows for a vast ecosystem of themes, plugins, and resources, as well as a large, supportive community.

Benefits of Owning Your Own Data

Owning your own data means you have control over the content, design, and functionality of your website. Data ownership provides several benefits:

  • Flexibility to switch hosting providers, themes, or plugins without losing data
  • Control over how your content is displayed, shared, and monetized
  • Enhanced security and privacy by managing your own data storage and backups
  • How to Ensure You Maintain Control of Your Data

Open Source and Data Ownership: WordPress vs. Wix and Squarespace

When comparing WordPress with website builders like Wix and Squarespace, the open-source nature of WordPress and the resulting data ownership provide significant advantages over these proprietary platforms. The benefits of using WordPress, an open-source CMS, as opposed to closed-source platforms like Wix and Squarespace, include increased flexibility, customization, and control over your data.

Flexibility and Customization

As an open-source platform, WordPress offers unparalleled flexibility and customization options compared to Wix and Squarespace. With a vast ecosystem of themes, plugins, and resources, you have the freedom to build and modify your website according to your specific requirements. Moreover, you can extend the functionality of your website by developing custom plugins or themes, or by modifying existing ones.

On the other hand, Wix and Squarespace are closed-source platforms with limited customization options. You are restricted to the built-in features, templates, and plugins provided by these platforms, which may not cater to all your needs. This limitation can hinder the growth and scalability of your website in the long run.

Data Ownership and Control

Owning your data is a significant advantage when using WordPress. By hosting your website independently, you have complete control over your content, design, and functionality. You can easily export your data, switch hosting providers, or migrate your website without any restrictions.

In contrast, with Wix and Squarespace, your data is stored on their servers, and migrating your website to another platform can be a complex and tedious process. Additionally, you have limited control over data backups and security measures, as these aspects are managed by the platform providers. In some cases, if you decide to terminate your subscription or if the platform shuts down, you may lose your data entirely.

Community Support and Innovation

The open-source nature of WordPress has led to a large, active, and supportive community. This community contributes to the ongoing development and improvement of the platform through regular updates, security patches, and new features. As a result, WordPress users have access to extensive resources, forums, and support networks.

Wix and Squarespace, being proprietary platforms, do not have such extensive community support. Their development and innovation rely on the companies behind them, which may not address all user needs or preferences.

To maintain control of your data in WordPress, follow these best practices:

Regularly backup your website, including files and databases
Use reputable plugins and themes from trusted sources
Implement security measures such as strong passwords and two-factor authentication

Mistake 5: Don’t Use Themes With Built-in Page Builders

Drawbacks of Themes With Built-in Page Builders

While themes with built-in page builders may seem like an attractive option for beginners, they can have significant drawbacks:

  • Limited customization options compared to standalone page builders
  • Lock-in effect, where switching themes can result in losing content and layout data
  • Potential conflicts with other plugins or updates
  • Limitations on Customization and Flexibility

Themes with built-in page builders often have a narrower range of customization options than standalone page builders, limiting your ability to create a unique and personalized website.

Alternative Theme Options for Better Control

Instead of using themes with built-in page builders, consider the following alternatives:

  • Lightweight themes with Gutenberg support, which allow for easy customization using core blocks
  • Themes that are compatible with your preferred standalone page builder plugin, offering greater flexibility and control

The Importance of Learning WordPress Fundamentals

Adapting to Various Website Building Methods

WordPress offers a plethora of ways to build a website, from themes and plugins to custom code. Understanding the fundamentals allows you to adapt to different methods and choose the right approach for your needs.

Benefits of Understanding the Basics of WordPress

A solid understanding of WordPress basics will:

  • Help you make informed decisions regarding themes, plugins, and website design
  • Empower you to troubleshoot issues and optimize your website for performance
  • Enable you to create a website that meets your specific goals and requirements

Tips for Learning and Applying WordPress Fundamentals

To learn and apply WordPress fundamentals, consider the following:

  • Complete online tutorials, courses, or attend workshops from recognized WordPress experts
  • Join WordPress communities and forums for support and advice
  • Experiment with different themes, plugins, and features to gain hands-on experience


Avoiding these 5 common mistakes will set you on the path to mastering WordPress and building a successful website. By investing time in understanding WordPress fundamentals, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills needed to create a flexible, scalable, and unique online presence.

With a solid foundation, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the ever-evolving world of WordPress and ensure your website’s long-term success.

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