What to do After Installing WordPress

According to Wikipedia, in January 2015, 23% of the top ten million websites were using WordPress. There is only an approximation, however more than 70 million websites use WordPress, making this software the most popular CMS.

WordPress is very popular and easy to use. Its configuration and setup is very straight forward that gives its users the ability to start a website within minutes and publish their content. There are still many users who don’t know how to properly set up a WordPress site.

If you are not familiar with WordPress, I suggest checking out our other tutorial on how to build a website using WordPress, as well check out which hosting to choose for WordPress.

In this article, I will show you 10 things you should configure on every WordPress website you create.

Set Site Title and Tagline

If you care about SEO, and you should care, you will want to change the default site title and tag line. As some of the most popular WordPress seo plugins suggest, and empty tagline is better than the default one. So if you don’t know what tagline you should use, just leave it blank and only change the website title.

You can change the Site Title and Tagline in: Dashboard / Settings / General

wordpress change general settings title and tag line

Reading Settings Configuration

On a default installation, WordPress will display the latest ten posts. You can certainly change this; as well you can also opt for a static homepage. In the Reading Settings page there is another option that will discourage search engines from indexing your website. By default WordPress is set to be indexed by Google and other search engines, however for any reason (during development) you can enable this feature. This will not guarantee that your website is not indexed, but has a lower change to appear in the search results.

Change the reading settings at: Dashboard / Settings / Reading

wordpress reading settings change article display

Configure Commenting and Notification

If you blog, probably you want to know what your readers things about your writings. For you, it is great, because WordPress, by default allows people to comment on your posts. Certainly you can disable the commenting feature if commenting is not a feature that your website needs.

By default, the admin of the WordPress website will receive an email every time someone comments or sends a trackback to a page. This is great, if you have only few people interacting on your website, however you will not want to open up your inbox and receive hundreds of emails notifying that someone just posted a new comment. I highly suggest disabling the comment notification email.

You can also set the comment section to auto-close after a certain period of time. This however will not let belated visitors to express their opinion on your pots.

I highly suggest setting the comment approval system to manual activation, and going through every comment manually, unless you are receiving thousands a day. This way you will prevent, unrelated and spam comments to appear on your page. Even though you are using a spam filter plugin, there can be still some comments that will flow through the filter.

Set the comment configuration in: Dashboard / Settings / Discussion

wordpress discussion settings and comment notification

Here you can also change, enable or deactivate the use of avatars.

wordpress avatar configuration

Permalink Settings – SEF URLs

This is another thing that is very crucial for SEO. By default, WordPress is not configured to have search engine friendly URLs, but with the press of a button, you can easily turn it to have nice, readable, keyword rich URLs. Not only your readers, but also search engines will appreciate it.

There are few URL formats you can choose from. The most common choice among website users is the “Post name” format.

Please keep in mind, that by changing these settings, the .htaccess file will be rewritten. Some web hosting companies restrict files to be changed via the WordPress dashboard, by restricting file’s permission. If the file permission does not allow modifying the file, you will need to change the permission to 777 via FTP or the File Manager. If you can’t solve it by yourself, you should contact your host and tell them about the problem.

Change permalink settings at: Dashboard / Settings / Permalinks

wordpress permalink structure setup

Change default WordPress Theme

WordPress comes with a very basic theme. Probably you don’t want your website to look the same like any other, which are using WordPress. You want something unique and outstanding. If you don’t have a large budget to spend on your site, opt for a free theme. If you can afford to pay for a premium WordPress theme, I suggest checking out ThemeForest, where you can choose from over 5,500 premium, high quality designs.

Install and setup a new WordPress theme at: Dashboard / Appearance / Themes

wordpress themes settings install new designs

Install the required plugins

Plugins are a very important part of any WordPress site. The basic WordPress system is great, but there are however some plugins that are required to be installed in order to have a fully functional website. I usually recommend the following types of plugins to be installed:

  • Anti-Spam plugin
  • SEO plugin
  • Social Sharing plugin
  • Contact from plugin
  • Backup plugin
  • Cache plugin

There are many free and paid plugins available. Choose those that are having the highest ratings and that are used by many users. This way you can’t fail.

Install and enable plugins in: Dashboard / Plugins

wordpress install activate plugins

Create Categories, Posts and Pages and Upload media

Adding the content to your website will take the longest part. If you are just starting out writing, it will take a while until your blog reaches one hundred pages. There is no magic in this number, but for me a blog with few pages will not attract visitors yet. Create the structure of your website, categorize the content and create pages for privacy, terms, contact, about and other entries that will not be a part of your blog, but only part of your website.

Add categories and posts at: Dashboard / Posts

Add pages at: Dashboard / Pages

wordpress create category posts pages

The media manager is a very hand tool to upload images in bulk. Adding featured images to your posts or inserting interesting graphics into your posts will make your blog or WordPress site more friendly and attractive to your readers.

There are two ways to upload images: Dashboard / Media

Or you can upload while creating and editing a post or page by clicking on the Add Media button.

wordpress upload images

Create new Menus and add Menu Items

Menus will link to categories, pages or eventually posts. So before you create the menus, you have to have some content on your site. Sure you can also create external link menus for the looks and testing.

Once you created a new Menu, start adding the menu items. You have parent and sub menus. If you choose a well-designed theme, your menus with sub-menu items will show up with drop-down or slide-in effect.

To create a menu and menu items access: Dashboard / Appearances / Menus

wordpress create multiple drop down menu

Drag and Drop Widgets to widget-areas

To populate the sidebar, footer area, header or other part of the theme, you can add Widgets. These are different from the plugins. Widgets are actually boxes, design elements, that will display some data, for instance with widgets you can show the latest comments, latest posts from your blog, the full list of pages or categories or even a menu.

Add widgets to registered areas at: Dashboard / Appearances / Widgets

wordpress add widgets to theme

Delete all unnecessary add-ons

When building a website, I always test new themes, plugins and install a lot of add-ons that normally I wouldn’t use. If you are like me, your WordPress site probably is loaded with lots of unused and unnecessary plugins and themes. Get rid of everything that is not actually used for the site. Deactivate every plugin that is not required, delete them from the database. Keep only two themes on your site, the one that you are using, and one default theme. If your main theme fails for some reason, WordPress will automatically switch to another available design. By deleting all unnecessary add-ons your site will load faster.

Wrapping up…

So this is my list of top 10 steps I always follow while creating a new website with this amazing software, WordPress. If you have any suggestions on how to improve this list, or if I forgot something, please don’t be shy and let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for taking the time and reading this very long list. It actually took me a lot to write everything down.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on RedditPin on Pinterest