1) Pick a solid theme
When I say “solid”, I am referring to a number of factors: simplicity, stability, responsiveness, and performance. Don’t worry about the bells and whistles you like in the demo previews – your WordPress developer should be able to take care of those.
The thing that I tell all of my clients is to choose a theme based upon the developer. In fact, I only encourage the user of themes that are developed and maintained by actual companies, as opposed to individual developers.
WordPress is constantly evolving, and something that works great today, may take quite a bit of effort to maintain that functionality as the WordPress core updates, along with plugins. A solid theme will ensure that your WordPress site continues to function properly for years to come.
2) Think really hard about each plugin you use
WordPress makes it so easy to implement any type of functionality into your site through plugins. In fact, it is often this ease of feature enhancement that creates messy situations down the road. I provide a plugin strategy for every new site I built, and actually have a list of “approved” plugins for my customers to review because of the severity of the potential issues that can be created over time by out of control plugin installations.
3) Keep it simple
Cool slide in or fade in effects are catchy at first, but I’ve seen way too many WordPress sites where snazzy design features have replaced useful content. Create effective content first.
On the topic of content, keep it short. Big words might sound cool, but the goal is to communicate with your visitors, not impress them.
4) Create a page structure that makes sense
Too many pages with overlapping content is confusing and even frustrating. On the other end of the spectrum, putting too much unrelated content into a single page has the same affect.
Thing through your pages. Ask yourself does this really need to be a page? Or would this work better if I broke this page up
5) Test it
So many of my customers depend on me to test their site. And while that is a big part of what I do, I would never encourage that user testing be left up to a single person. I share all of my sites with anyone who is willing to look at it and provide feedback. You should too.
Have your co-workers, friends, family, etc. take a look at your site. Not only will you get some great feedback about everything form content to colors, you will also uncover bugs that you had no idea where there.
Iterate, evolve, optimize
If you follow the above guidelines, you will have a healthy effective WordPress site at launch. On top of that, you will be in position to easily adjust or update your site as WordPress updates, your business evolves, or your needs grow.