So you’ve just installed WordPress. That’s a big first step in creating your new website. What comes next though?
Tempting as it is to dive straight into choosing a theme and making your site look pretty, there are some things you need to do first.
Today I’m going to take you through the 6 things you should do right after installing WordPress to make sure your new site is set up properly and off to a great start.
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1. Set the Site Title and Tagline
The first thing to do is visit Settings > General. Check the Site Title and customise it if you want, like making sure it’s the name of your business or blog.
Change the Tagline from the default “Just another WordPress site” to something that’s actually relevant to your site. Some themes show the tagline beneath the logo, and it can also be used in your SEO settings, so it’s always better to customise it.
2. Set the Permalink structure
Erm, what’s a permalink?
It’s the specific address of a page or post on your site, like www.fionarobertsongrahics.co.uk/about.
By default WordPress will give your pages and posts rather nonsensical permalinks, like www.fionarobertsongraphics.co.uk/?p=123. That’s not very user-friendly and it’s not great for your SEO either, so the next thing to do is change it.
Go to Settings > Permalinks. From the list of options, choose one that that makes sense for you, such as Post Name, which will replace ‘?p=123’ with the name of the page or post. Or you can enter a custom structure, like ‘/%category%/%postname%/’ which will show the category followed by the post name. If in doubt, keep it simple and just go with Post Name.
3. Change the default Category
Next, go to Posts > Categories. You’ll see the default ‘Uncategorized’ one.
Categories help your readers to search through your content so it’s important to make use of them. It doesn’t look very good to have your posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’ so let’s change it to something more useful.
Hover over it and you’ll see a few options appear underneath it. Click ‘Quick Edit’.
Change the name to something relevant to your content and update the slug too – this should be all in lowercase, and separate words with a hyphen rather than a space.
So, if your category is called ‘WordPress Tips’, your slug would be ‘wordpress-tips’.
4. Set your Homepage
Your site’s homepage can be your blog, or you can choose to make it a different page if you want to customise it more. To set it, go to Settings > Reading.
For ‘Front page displays’, choose ‘A static page’ then select it from the dropdown menu below. You can then choose another page to be your blog.
Note: if you haven’t created any pages yet, you’ll need to do that first. Go to Pages > Add New. Give it a name, like ‘Home’ (don’t worry, you can change that later if you want), then Publish it. Now you can set it as your homepage and add content later.
5. Choose a theme
Now the fun part – choosing a theme!
The look of your WordPress site is determined by its theme. There are loads of free themes available in the WordPress Theme Directory – go to Appearance > Themes > Add New to browse or search through them.
When choosing a theme, look for a layout that you like as it’s much less work to change the colours to match your branding than it is to start moving site elements, like menus and sidebars, around. Also look at the features it offers, such as a theme options panel, which will give you an easy way to customise the colours and fonts.
If you’re using a free theme from the WordPress directory, just click Install to add it to your site. But if you’re buying a theme, you’ll need to download it from the marketplace, click on ‘Upload Theme’, then upload the zip file. Once a theme is installed, click ‘Activate’ to use it.
6. Add some plugins
Plugins are awesome – they give you an easy way to add extra functionality to your site.
If you bought a premium theme, it may have come with some bundled plugins, so go ahead and follow the on-screen instructions to install and activate them.
And now let’s add more plugins to your site. Go to Plugins > Add New to search through them.
The plugins you need will depend on what features your site needs, but there are a few that I’d recommend for every site:
- A security plugin to protect your site from hackers and spammers.
- A backups plugin so you can backup your files and content regularly.
- An SEO plugin to help you optimise your site to help people find your content.
Check out this post for my favourite plugins and a free step by step guide to installing them.
Go build your site
So now you’ve installed WordPress, customised the settings and added your theme and plugins, your new site is off to a great start. You’re all set to start adding some content!
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