Congratulations on making it to Step 6! In a nutshell, here is what we’ve covered so far:
- how to get a domain name
- how to get and set up a hosting account
- how to set your domain’s nameservers
- getting familiar with your hosting account’s control panel
- and finally, how to get WordPress installed.
On to the next step, then:
Step 6: Basic WordPress Site Setup – Checking Your Settings
(Estimated time: 5 minutes)
Now that you have WordPress up and running, and before you get all excited installing plugins and themes, you should take the time to get your site properly set up. Here is how.
You shouldn’t have to worry about the settings boxes that aren’t highlighted, because they generally don’t have to be changed once WordPress is installed.
So, in order:
- The Site Title. This is set by the installation, now is your chance to change it if you need to.
- Tagline. Otherwise known as the ‘site description’, this text will appear in various places on your website. Precisely where is determined by your theme, but most often it is in the header area if it is used at all. The default text is “Just Another WordPress Site”. To understand how important this field is, do a Google search for that phrase, and see just how many web sites have neglected to change it. You may not see it in your site’s header, but most SEO plugins will put it in an invisible area so that search engines can find it.
- Email Address. Double-check your email address.
- Timezone. The default value is UTC+0. Find your timezone in the dropdown menu. There are over one hundred choices of areas and cities; find a city that you know to be in your timezone. If you can’t find one, choose one of the UTC+/- zones.
Timezone. The default…oops, we’ve been there. Follow directions for #4. So I messed up the graphic, I’m only human 🙂
- Date Format. Well-written themes will use this setting to determine how to display dates on your site (like a post’s ‘posted on’ date, for example).
- Time Format. Same as #6
- Week Starts On. I have no clue why the default value for this is Monday, but it is. If it’s important to you (I honestly don’t know where this setting is used), change it to whatever day you wish.
- Save Changes. If you don’t click the Save Changes button after you’ve made your changes, they won’t be saved.
We’re done with the General Settings page. The next settings page we will visit is Permalinks. The ones in between — Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media — all have important settings, but the default values are normally OK to leave, unless you’ve been instructed to change them by a theme or plugin author.
If you neglect updating this setting, your site’s URLs will look funny — they’ll have some random characters at the end that tell WordPress where to find the post. This format is no good for SEO, that’s why we use the post name.
You can, if you like, use one of the other formats, but experience has shown that the post name format works the best.
Your User Profile
The last thing you’ll need to check before you move on to the wonders and pitfalls of plugins and themes are your user settings. You can get to those by hover over the Users menu item and clicking Your Profile. Let’s quickly run down what’s here:
- Visual Editor. You will rarely, if ever, check this box. It turns off the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) post editor. If you’re fluent in HTML, you may want this, but most likely not.
- Admin Color Scheme. New in WordPress 3.8, you now have the option of different color schemes for the admin section. Choose whatever strikes your fancy.
- Keyboard Shortcuts. Ummm, never used them, don’t know what they’re for. If you really want to know, there’s always Google.
- Toolbar. This is personal preference, but I always UNcheck this box. I find the toolbar to be annoying. When you are logged into the backend (the Dashboard), and look at your website without logging out, it shows up as a bar across the top of the page. Many people find it handy, many don’t. It is on by default.
- Username. You can’t change this. If you NEED to change your username, you will have to create a new user and delete the offending one.
- First Name, Last Name, Nickname, Display name. You will need to fill these in, as many themes use them to display the author’s name on posts and pages.
- Email. Make sure this is correct. WordPress will send post-related notifications to the author of a page or post, and this is the email address it sends to, not the main admin email address found on the Settings > General page.
- Website, AIM, etc. I basically ignore these fields, I’m not aware of a theme that uses them. I mean, AIM? Seriously? This is 2014.
- Biographical Info. Your elevator speech. Some themes use this for author information boxes after posts, and on author archive pages.
- Passwords. This is where you can change your passwords. Which you do every 30 days or so, right? Right?
- Done. Click Update Profile to save your changes.
You will need to revisit this page, most likely, because many themes (including LaunchTheBook’s Infinity theme framework) and plugins put extra fields on that page, usually for SEO purposes — like for Google+ author info, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social site information.
This concludes our coverage of your Basic Site Setup. Stay tuned for the next installment in our Build Your Own WordPress Site In 3 Hours (Or Less) series, where we will be covering the essential plugins you should always be using.