So you’ve found your domain name and hosting service and have downloaded a pristine copy of WordPress onto your corner of the web. Now is the time to ensure that you get the software set up as optimally as possible to ensure continued ease of use.
The first thing to do is to log into your WordPress (WP) dashboard and when there is to ensure your site’s title and tagline are sorted. This is accessed from the Settings Menu and indeed, all the processes listed below are accessed from this same menu.
1. Editing items in the General Settings menu
On the Dashboard, look for a column on the left hand side of the screen that is labelled “Settings” and select the option labelled “General”. This selects the General Settings for the site.
Here you can enter the title of your site and a tagline, modify the URL people use to visit the site, enter your email address and more.
The most important aspects here are the Site Title and Tagline as this is what WP shows as the header of your site (depending on the theme you use). It is important that the Site Name and Tagline are shot, but descriptive and indicate what the site is about.
Site Title: Ian’s Healthy Dog Corner
Tagline: All you need to know about keeping your dog healthy!
Another thing to note is that if you want your site to have the traditional WordWideWeb prefix of ‘www.’, then you change the WordPress Address and Site Address fields to reflect this by adding ‘www.’ before your current sites URL.
Lastly, when you have set up your site name, tagline and addresses as you would like, always remember to click the Save Changes button to ensure you update the changes to your site.
2. Editing the Reading Settings
When the software has installed, WordPress will have the ‘Your Latest Posts’ option checked in the Reading Settings. If you are simply using the site as a blog then this is fine, however for a more comprehensive website, you should change this to the “Static Page” option.
From the drop down list that appears, you should also select “Sample Page”.
This is simply a page that is automatically generated by WordPress when you install it. It acts as the first page of your site and it can of course be completely edited. Many people change the name of this page to “Home” too as it usually operates as their home page on the website.
Once again, when you have made these changes and got your home page set up, click the save changes button to save them to your site.
3. Editing the Discussion Settings
Given that WordPress has its routes primarily in a platform for blogging, comments are a keyt part of the site. The good news is that if you feel comments are an important addition to your site, or you want to turn them off, you can choose whether to enable or disable them via the Discussion settings.
Doing this is very simple, if you do not want people to make comments on your website, simply uncheck the box that says “Allow People to Post Comments On New Articles”.
There are other discussion options you can play around with at a later date, but for the time being, this is the key issue to resolve here when setting up WordPress initially.
4. Editing the Privacy Settings
When you click on the Privacy Settings from the Settings menu, you can select here whether you want your site to appear on search engines, such as Google, Bing! or Yahoo, so that people can find your site when they search for relevant keyword terms.
For the vast majority of sites, it is best to leave these settings as they are set up by default (which allows search engines to find the site) as you will want people to find your site and visit it.
It is worth noting however that it is up to the search engine companies to honour the automated request WordPress will make to add your site and it may take a few days for your site to show in searches.
5. Editing the Permalink Settings
A permalink setting is how the URL looks when you open a new page or post on your website and there are a number of different formats you can select.
The default setting (which is a numeric code) doesn’t really give any information away about your new post or page and is not the best when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO).
Instead, click on the Custom Structure option and in the space provided enter- /%postname%/
This means that when you generate a new page or post on your site, the URL will not look like www.yoursitename.com/?p=123 but instead will look like www.yoursitename.com/new-page/ which is much tidier and better for SEO.
As always, remember to click the save changes button to save this selection to the site.
What are Widgets and How Can I Use Them to Improve my Site?
Widgets are one of the best features on WordPress and they can be used to enhance your site in many different ways.
In essence, they are small, individual, customisable parts of the website that you can either opt to include on the site, or not, and which you can use in a myriad of ways to give your site a novel and inspiring look, different to other sites, even those using the same WordPress theme.
The best thing about Widgets is that although they are programmable parts of the site, you do not need any programming skills or knowledge to install them, set them up and have them in use on your site.
The default WordPress site comes with five widgets installed as a default option, Recent Posts, Recent Comments, Archives, Categories and Meta, you will find them embedded in the sidebar on the right hand side of your website.
The great thing about WordPress is that it allows you to add to, remove, or substitute these for any other available widgets with the widgets available dependent upon the theme you have chosen for your site.
To alter the widgets, click on the Appearance tab and from the drop down list, select Widgets.
This will bring up a list of default widgets available on your selected theme. You can use as many or as few of them as you like. You can even identify where on your website you want the widgets yo appear by dragging and dropping them into the relevant section of your website (such as the Main Sidebar, or Showcase Sidebar).
For example, if you wanted to add a Calendar to the Showcase Sidebar, you’d click and hold the mouse button down on Calendar in the widget list and then drag it into the Showcase Sidebar box, before releasing the button. You now have the Calendar installed in this part of your site.
You can customise your site using widgets to get it precisely how you want it to look.
What are Plugins and How Can They Improve my Site?
Plugins are small add on programs that you can add to your website to give it a new look, a quirky feature or some other useful item for people visiting the site. Some plugins are free to use, others you may have to pay to use, but regardless of whether you pay or not, using plugins on your site is a great idea.
For everything you can think of that you think will enhance your site, there will be a plugin available for it. If you have a website that requires you to have the latest weather forecast displayed for a local area, then you can find a plug in that does precisely that and then add it to your site.
The great thing about using plugins with a WordPress site is that they are cheap and easy to use, typically taking less than a couple of minutes to install and have running on the site. If you have a regular HTML-programmed site, it would require you to hire a developer to create the plugin for you, which takes time and money.
Click on the Plugins option on the WordPress dashboard and from here you can see the installed plugins you have on your account, and search for new plugins to add.
Once you’ve found them, simply install them to your WordPress site and you are away.
With the plugins now sorted, you should now have set up WordPress perfectly for you to begin adding content to your site.