Installing WordPress is a big step in setting up your website, and by that point most DIYers are overwhelmed by the process. If you’re looking for help figuring out what your next steps should be, here are six things that you should do immediately after install to ensure you’ve got your site set up right from the beginning.
Go to Settings > General and make sure all the info on that page is set up correctly. The main ones you should be worried about are your Site Title and Tagline. They are what will show up in a lot of different places to describe your site. They will show up in the top bar when anyone has your home page open, in Google search results, and much more, so make sure they are correct. No one wants to see that “Just another WordPress site” message – it screams amateur. Besides these two main things, all the stuff on this page should be configured automatically, but just glance over it to make sure it’s right.
Go to Settings > Reading to configure the layout and organizational system of your site. Here you can decide whether you want your home page to be a standard blog roll by selecting ‘Your Latest Posts’, or if you want it to be a static page. If your site is just a blog, then a blog roll on the home page works well. But if you are trying to sell a product or service, a static front page is important!
Here you can also decide how many posts you want to show up in your blog roll. Pick a high enough number to show an interesting array of posts, but not so many that it will slow down your site. I usually use somewhere around 20.
You can also choose to show either a summary or the full post in your blog roll. I usually select summary because it makes people click through to read the post, rather than revealing the whole thing. It also makes your blog roll a little more organized and succinct. Then when you go to each post you can write an excerpt that will show in the blog roll instead of your full post.
You also NEED to make sure that the ‘Search Engine Visibility’ box is not checked, because that will keep search engines from seeing your site. I check this option when I’m working on a demo site and don’t want search engines to see it, but it’s vital to uncheck once your site is live.
Before you create any posts or pages, the first thing you want to do is configure your permalink by going to Settings > Permalinks. Here it will give you the option to select the format of all the links on your site. I like the Post Name option because it keeps things simple and hides the date from the link which is just unnecessary. This option is also great for SEO because the keywords are in the URL. However, if you have a post with a long title you have to make sure to adjust the link so that it isn’t really long.
Configure the Posts Page
The post page is perhaps the most important page of the backend, but it’s where you will spend most of your time (actually writing content). This page has a lot of options, and you need to configure it so that it works for you! Go to Posts > Add New to get to the post editor page. Up at the top click on ‘Screen Options’ which will reveal a dropdown of all the settings that appear on the page. Deselect all the ones that you don’t think you’ll use. I don’t need things like Format and Excerpt because I don’t usually use them in this area. So I don’t show them to keep my writing area as distraction free as possible. You can also choose to show your post writing area in one column or two, depending on what works for you!
Since every post you write needs to be categorized, categories are something that you have to set up right away. ‘Uncategorized’ is the default category of WordPress, and in my opinion shows a real lack of organization and thought if I see posts left in this category. So, the first thing you should do is go to Posts > Categories, and change the name of the uncategorized post so that the default is something else. I have a category called Archives so that all my posts are there automatically, but yours can be whatever you want it to be. While you’re there you should create some other categories so that your posts can be sorted right from the get go.
One thing I think you should do as soon as you set up WordPress is to create a child theme. This is just a good step to take so that if you ever want to customize the CSS styling at all, the child theme is in place for you to do so. I have a post in my WordPress 101 series all about How to make a child theme & why you need one. It’s a great thing to do as soon as setting up to get it done and out of the way.