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WordPress Best Practices

So you have a WordPress site, now what?   Here are a few tips to help you manage things.


To add new users to your site, go to the Dashboard and choose:

  1.  Users >Add New
    1.  If your user is already a member of this site you can use the ‘add existing user’ fields — otherwise use ‘add new user’. If you don’t know, just use the ‘add new user’ fields and the system will tell you if they already exist
    2. for Duke users: username = | email = (yes, these should be identical)
    3. for non-duke users: username =FirstInitialLastName (or some other pattern that makes sense to you) | email = whatever email they’ve given you.
    4. PRO TIP: if you don’t know someone’s netid, open a new email in outlook, add them as a recipient, then right click on their name and choose ‘open outlook contact’
    5. Role:  Subscribers can’t do much except see a site that’s locked down to non-members; Editors can edit content, not design. If you need a user with more ‘power’ — or if you, yourself, need more power, contact and we can talk through the options.
    6. Check the ‘skip confirmation email’ box unless you want them to confirm their account — not necessary and sometimes confusing
    7. Click ‘add new user’. (or ‘add existing user’)
    8. Remember to tell your Duke users to click the ‘duke users login’ button on the WordPress login screen so they get directed to a net id prompt

Once you’ve added them, go head and edit each user to give them a first and last name, AND a publically displayed name.  It will make things much easier to see who’s doing what.  You can find an ‘edit’ button under their entry in your all users list.


Your site was likely created with a basic theme using Sanford and Duke branding.  There are many ways to customize this theme using WordPress’s built in tools.  Requests for new themes will be considered if the available customizations do not meet your needs.  Contact to start this conversation.


Plugins control WordPress functionality.  If there is something you want/need on your site and don’t see how to accomplish it, check the list of available plugins.  Most likely there is one you can activate to add the desired functionality.  Contact if you have any questions.

Elementor? Beaver Builder?

When this network was created, the Elementor plugin was the popular choice for drag/drop page layouts.  Since then a few things have happened: 1) WordPress itself has become much more intuitive for laying out pages; 2) Folks have begun to use a newer, better layout tool called Beaver Builder; and 3) Elementor has developed some compatibility issues with accessibility and other plugins.

Because of this, we’re phasing out Elementor as a page building tool.  If you’re currently using it and would like assistance moving away from it, contact and we can help.   If you’re looking for a new solution, consider Beaver Builder.  Contact us for assistance.

Updates and Backups

Sanford IT will take care of all the WordPress Core, theme and plugin updates around the first of every month as well as backing up your site on a regular basis.   You can ignore any messages about your site needing to be updated.   You will get an email when updates are complete so you can check your site for any issues.


The World Wide Web Consortium has developed accessibility guidelines for websites that Duke has adopted (read more about them here).  All themes and plugins in place on our network confirm to these guidelines but there are some requirements that fall to the content managers of your site.  Contact for more information on what responsibilities you have.

Have other suggestions that should appear here?  Email and let us know.