There are a lot of WordPress installation instructions to be found on the Internet.
Most of them will show you how to get WordPress installed fast, and most of the will use affiliate links to guide you to a preferred hosting provider.
But what happens next? You are guided to start writing you first post..
What I always miss is that your need to get some configuration done before you start writing, so in this article I want to show you my process of configuring WordPress after your installation is done.
Getting to know your Dashboard
The WordPress Dashboard menu can be a bit overwhelming once you start to work with it, most of us will just want to get started and write.
The Welcome to WordPress screen with the Get Started options encourage you to do so. I, on the other hand, want to go through some clean-up and configuration first.
We will go through the Dashboard options from top to bottom and change what is needed.
Posts and Post Categories
Step 1 is to get rid of the Hello World! Or any other demo posts that were created by the standard WordPress installation.
To do that you go to the menu option Posts -> All Posts and select the Trash option. This will remove the post from the Posts overviews and put it into the Trash bin.
Now click on the Trash option and choose Empty Trash
Now you have removed the Hello World and the comment associated with it forever. A good start!
Now go back to the menu option Posts and choose Categories.
Here you will see the Uncategorized option, click on the Edit button and click on Edit.
Now you can change Uncategorized into something that will be the main topic of your WordPress blog.
You also need to clear out the Slug field.
Once you have done that, press Save and WordPress will set this new name as the standard for your blog posts and create a new Slug for you.
Pages and the About me page
A fresh WordPress install is most likely to have an example page like the About me page.
Clean out this page in the same manner as you cleared out the Hello World! Post, but in this case you go to Pages -> All pages.
Once you have done that you might want to create a new About page later on.
Under the Appearance option you will find the themes that are installed by default. It depends on the year you install WordPress which theme is set as default.
For 2016 your default would be Twenty Sixteen.
You will want to install a different theme later on. Always keep a minimum of two themes in this section. One would the basic standard theme like Twenty sixteen, the other one your active new theme.
In case something goes wrong with your active theme you can always fallback to the default.
All other themes can and should be removed as a way of reducing theme updates and to get an even more secure WordPress site.
Removing the no longer needed WordPress themes is easy.
Hove with your mouse pointer over the theme you want to remove and click on theme details.
Once you see the full info of the theme you also get the Delete option. Click to confirm the deletion and you are done.
Do this will all the theme’s you want to remove.
One thing to remember is that you cannot remove an active theme! You first have the active a new theme before you can remove that old active one.
I will show you how you can find and install other themes later on.
Cleaning out WordPress Plugins
Plugins give WordPress extra functionalities like contact forms and sitemaps. In a standard new WordPress install there will be two plugins, Akismet and Hello Dolly.
Akismet is to block comment spam, but is only free for use under very limited conditions, if you go above those limits; you have to pay a fee.
Hello Dolly is a plugin that will show you random quotes from Jazz song or players.
I always remove those two plugins as for the first one there are better options and I don’t like the second one. But that’s just me, you might enjoy the Hello Dolly option. If you do, just active the plugin.
To remove the plugins select Plugins -> Installed Plugins
If the plugin is activated, disable it first and then choose Delete and confirm that you want to delete the plugin.
You should now have no plugins active or installed other than those that came for your hosting company. (Some hosting providers install and active Caching plugins by default, you should keep those).
I will give you a list of other Plugins you might need or want and show you how to install and configure them.
WordPress Users and Your Profile
WordPress always has a minimum of one user, it this case that would be you as you have installed it.
If you installed WordPress you have full rights and complete access to all options.
For security reasons, it would be best to create a new user that has limited access rights (author).
This user can then be used to write the post and pages you want to show on your site.
Always make the user name hard to guess and never, ever, call him Admin…
If you want to just use one user account, make sure you create a very strong password, if you have not done that already.
If you are logged in with any of those accounts, you should go to Users -> Your Profile
Put in your real First and Last Name is you want to a create something suitable for your site.
Create a Nickname and then select the Display name, the later will be a combination from the former two or just the Nickname.
That name is shown on the front end as the author of the posts that you write later on.
WordPress Settings Configuration!
Now we come to the configuration settings that will have the best options for your WordPress website.
WordPress General settings
You can change the title and the subtitle (Tagline) of your site here.
You can also change the Timezone, the date settings and, since one of the most recent updates, the language of your site.
Since we change the uncategorized name you don’t need to change much here right now.
What you do want to change is the list of Update services that will be pinged if you post a new article.
A good list of those services can be found on https://codex.wordpress.org/Update_Services#XML-RPC_Ping_Services
Copy that list into the screen that currently shows http://rpc.pingomatic.com
This is where you might want to opt for a different home page for your site and set a different blog page to show your posts.
One thing you need check is that the option for Search Engine Visibility is Unchecked, if it’s not, you will not be found in search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.com
Here you can block the comment option in general so the standard posts have no option for your visitors to comment on.
You can always open a post or page to have that option, but I prefer to have it open from the start.
You can set the options to what you think should be good for your blog, you can put a check in the option that the comment only will be shown once you have approved it.
These image sizes are the default from WordPress and most of the time you don’t need to change them.
What I do not like if the Month- and Year based folder option, they create too much overhead for me.
I like to have all my media in one folder so I uncheck that box.
This option sounds so simple, but it really, really important!
For me the Post name option is the best option, this will change your link to your post or page from /?=123 to /your-post-title.
The latter option is much, much better for search engine and your visitors.
I like to change the category and Tag base names as well, but it’s not common to do so. You can leave it empty.
Warning! Do not change this later on or bear the consequences of 404 error pages… as the links to your posts and pages will break!
P.s. you can overcome a permalink option change with a redirection plugin, but it’s better to start right from the beginning.
With the work done that is mentioned above, you are now ready to start writing, you still might want to change your theme and install a few plugins, but the core of your WordPress blog configuration is done.
You are now in a good condition to start a blogging success.