Your WordPress Installation Checklist
Setting up WordPress can be a lot of hard work. If you have done many installations like I have, it gets easier each time.
But for those new to WordPress, it can be quite challenging. The install guide can be very overwhelming, especially if you are not computer savvy.
Fortunately, the installation screens are simple to navigate through but there is a whole lot of details behind it. If you got through any of that, you should bookmark this article and refer to it after you do a new install.
Here is a checklist of things to knock off after you install this great piece of web software.
Install in another directory
Planning for the layout of your website is extremely important in the early stages. It is highly recommended that you do not store your WordPress installation in the root of your website. The reason is, someday your site may require additional features that are not just blog related. It is better to place WordPress in its own folder to give you better file organization.
In the General settings, change the WordPress address URL to the new location. For example, if you decide to store WordPress in a blog folder off the root, do this:
Set the Site address url to be the root of your website:
With your FTP client, move all your WordPress files to the new blog folder or if you have SSH access, unzip it directly on the server (way faster).
Inside the WordPress folder are two files:
Copy (not move) these files to the root of your website (i.e. http://www.yoursite.com).
Finally, with a text editor make the following change to the index.php file:
You should now be able to surf to your website and WordPress will kick in. Remember, that because you changed your file locations, you will need to get at them differently. For example, the new login URL is:
Remove sample data
Delete the following from your site as they are all useless:
- Hello, World post
- Hello Dolly Plugin
- Sample Page
- In the Appearance Widget section, drag and drop the Meta, Recent comments, Recent posts and Archives widget off the page
Setup your permalinks
Set your permalinks to /%category%/%postname% to make it SEO and user friendly. This will make your links look like:
http://www.yoursite.com/ http://www.yoursite.com/about http://www.yoursite.com/tag/tv http://www.yoursite.com/entertainment http://www.yoursite.com/entertainment/jennifer-aniston-pregnant
By default WordPress will use ?p=33453 which is really not nice to look at, nor easy to remember. Date and time is useless as your visitors won’t remember an article based on date and time.
Go to the Settings | Permalinks area and choose custom, then type in the permalink.
Setup your default category
Unless you like everything you write to be associated with the infamous Uncategorized category, its best to create some categories your site will be based on and set a default category.
Go to Posts | Categories. Type in the name of the category. For the slug use the same name. If you have a category with two or more words, name-it-like-this with hyphens in it. Always type in a description. That will help with search engine optimization (SEO).
When you are finished go to Settings | Writing and select a category other than Unauthorized from the drop down.
Create a new administration account
Usually what people do is type in the username “admin” or something obvious when they install. The problem is, that just makes it easier for hackers to guess your username and password. In addition, in the database, the first record will be dedicated to the first record id. You want to keep them guessing just in case they try to do some clever SQL Injection.
Go to Users and then click the Add New button. Enter in all information and give the user the Role of Administrator. Now click the Add New User button. Log out and then login as the new Administrator. Next, go delete the original administrator. Everyone else in your organization that helps run your website can be given Editor role.
Change the tagline
Go to Settings | General Settings and modify the tagline entry. There are too many sites just about WordPress :O)
Synchronize your time zone to UTC
When you are writing content and making updates to your website, you want your visitor to know where you are located so that the date and time are relative to your location (not theirs).
To find your UTC time zone, zoom in on the UTC map. Everything is an offset from UTC 0. For example, if you are in Anchorage, Alaska, US, it is UTC +9. If you are Edmonton, Canada it is UTC +7.
To set the time zone, go to Settings | General | Time zone and select from the drop down the appropriate UTC offset for your location. This setting is fixed and should be where you spend the majority of your physical presence. So for example, if I live in Silicon Valley, California with a UTC +8 offset, yet travel around the world and post a blog from Hong Kong, the post date and time is going to still be California, USA based. Use what make sense the majority of the time.
Create your pages
Go to Pages and click on the Add New button. Type in the title of the page and then fill in it’s content. If you are using a custom theme, you may see in the Page Attributes metabox a drop down to choose a Template. Pick on that looks good if you have the luxury. Finally click the Publish button.
Create a top menu for navigation
If you followed the instructions above, you should now have four pages but you will not be able to click to see them.
To create your own menu, if your WordPress Theme has enabled the menu maker, you can go to Appearance | Menus. First thing to do is create a Menu Name, say “Top menu” then click the Create Menu button.
These pages will now appear in the “Top menu” tab. Along the right hand side is a drop down arrow. Click on it and fill out your information. Now, go visit your site and if you did everything correct, you will see your new menu.
On some themes, your menus may collapse to support responsive design. This allows the website layout to adapt to the screen device size. For example, if you visit this site with a mobile device, you will see a menu box instead of the full navigational links.
Turn on or off commenting
Turning on comments is sometimes more hassle than its worth. The reason is, throughout the years I’ve received way too much comment spam on my websites and they are a real pain to deal with. However, if you are game, you can enable comments in your WordPress installation by going to Settings | Discussion.
If you do want comments, perform these steps:
- Check “allow people to post comments on new articles”
- Check “comment author must fill out name and e-mail”
- Check “users must be registered and logged in to comment”
- Check “email me whenever anyone posts a comment”
- Check “email me whenever a comment is held for moderation”
- Check “an administrator must always approve the comment”
Then, enable the Akismet plugin too.
If you dont want comments, tick off every checkbox in the discussion setting screen. As an extra precaution, go to General | Settings and disable the Membership to not allow anyone to register. You can instead use Disqus as your commenting system.
Enable all the screen options
When you create a new post, in the header of the edit page is a screen options menu. Click on it and enable everything including the slug, author, etc. This will add all those sections at the bottom of your edit window.
Because WordPress is very weak at organizing uploaded content into categories (isn’t that what its supposed to do?), everything will just have to go into the wp-content/upload directory by default. Unfortunately, we are stuck this because many themes today are responsive in nature and use the WordPress core to resize images in many different files. This forces you to use the Media Manager and keep all the images on the same server as your website.
No, you cannot domain shard images externally with the basic WordPress core. You can use a WordPress plugin to do that but I seriously doubt that it will work well with responsive themes as again, they will be making core calls and not expecting images to fall into a local server folder.
There are many media manager alternative plugins of which I have not gotten around to use.
Sorry if this sounds like a rant but this leads to the next setting. You should organize your uploads into month- and year-based folders. If you are the type that likes to arrange things in category folders, this feature will seem stupid to use because month and day doesn’t help you find the images you are looking for if you need to reuse them. After having this setting off, what happens is that a crap load of images start piling up in the uploads folder making it next to impossible to find things if you got thousands of files in place. The issue gets worst as over time the number of images in the folder will grow. If you are on an operating system that has a limit in the number of files that can fit on a folder, then you are totally hosed and will be forced to break them up and go back to all your posts and change the img src paths.
So make sure you have the month and date option set in the Settings | Media setup.
Turn on or off search engine indexing
If you want your website to be searchable to the world, go to Settings | Privacy Settings and choose the “Allow search engines to index this site”. But, if you are behind a firewall, have a private intranet, tick the “Ask search engines not to index this site”. Why? Because if you have a private WordPress blog that you say, keep private notes on, you don’t want a search engine coming by to download it’s contents.
Turn off showing full text when using a RSS feed
If you write lengthy articles, having RSS clients download your entire text can result in a lot of bandwidth use. Besides, you want people to come to your WordPress blog, so only give them a Summary, not the full article.
Go to Settings | Reading and tick the “For each article in a feed, show Summary”.
By default WordPress will stick some widgets in the sidebar. You may not need most of them so go into Appearance | Widgets and drag ‘n drop those you wan’t, and those you don’t need. My suggestion is to only use widgets that don’t dilute the SEO on your pages and posts. What I mean by this is if you place a recent comment or post widget on all your pages, that will just create more of the same kind of information on all your pages. When a search engine looks at the value of your page, that information dilutes the pages value.
It is best to refrain from using too many widgets also as they can make your website slow.
This is one problem that bit me and took an entire day to narrow down. If your WordPress administration screen looks like it has no CSS styling in it and has a broken look to it, try this: