A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Settings and Configuring Your Website
Many webmasters haven’t paid enough attention to WordPress settings, which has led to a lot of trouble. Paradoxically, the reason for this ignorance is the simplicity of WordPress settings. It’s simple and intuitive to configure different parts of a WordPress install. Despite that, some configurations have a massive impact on the design and functionality of a website. That’s a solid reason to look at all the options available in the WordPress settings section.
Some of you might find it trivial to read an article about how to configure the settings of a WordPress install from the admin dashboard. Yet, a refreshing lecture is always welcome. The majority of webmasters visit the Settings section now and then, but it’s natural to forget a few available configurations. Beginners should read the following information carefully to learn a lot of useful tricks.
You will learn everything you need to know about WordPress settings in this article, so roll up your sleeves and read on.
Logging in as an administrator and going to the Settings section will allow you to adjust the settings for your WordPress site. By default, the Settings menu includes seven sections:
The Settings menu may contain other sections generated by your installed plugins. For instance, the Akismet plugin will add a new section called Akismet Anti-Spam.
Check all the settings before launching a new WordPress website. Many default settings are suitable for the needs of most webmasters. Yet, some of them need special attention. Let us take a closer look at each screen.
WordPress General Settings
The first thing you will notice is the title and the tagline. You have no restrictions here but bear in mind that your choices influence how Google and other search engines display your site in the users’ searches. A relevant title, in addition to a catchy tagline, increases your site’s chances of getting a visit.
The WordPress address and site address overlap in most cases. They are different, however, when you install WordPress core on a different directory than the root domain. Enter the full URL of the directory containing the WordPress install in the WordPress address field. Type in the address of your website in the site address field.
Next, you should enter the administration email address. Use this email address to receive notifications about your website, like new comments or user registration. The address will never be displayed on your site.
Tick the box “Anyone can register” to allow people to register on your site and assign them a role. It depends on your project, but “Subscriber” is our recommendation. It comes with the least privileges, so you reduce the risks of getting hacked.
Select the language of your WordPress dashboard by using the drop-down menu. Note to WordPress new users—it won’t translate your content or anything else; it’s just the language from the WordPress dashboard.
Timezone, Data Format, Time Format, and Week Starts On are easy-to-understand features. Choose the timezone either by selecting a UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) time offset or a city in your timezone. You can preview the data or time format to help make the best decision. By default, the week starts on Monday, but you are free to single out whichever day you prefer.
WordPress Writing Settings
Every blogger or content writer has forgotten to assign a post to a category at least once. Under this tab, you will assign the default post category. Additionally, you choose the default post format, if your theme supports multiple types of formats.
It’s pretty uncommon to publish articles directly from your email, but it is possible to do so. Enter the mail server, login credentials, and default category. Use Update Services to let the community know when you publish a new post. Enter the name of the services in the text area.
WordPress Reading Settings
This section has fewer options, but every choice has a huge impact on your WordPress website. Start by deciding what the homepage displays—either a static webpage or the latest blog posts. If you go for a static webpage, look for a page you have already created. Don’t forget to assign a webpage for the blog. Everything is simpler if you choose to display the latest blog posts.
Fun Fact: I have configured dozens of WordPress websites, so I have some experience under my belt. I built my portfolio a year ago, and I wanted a static homepage to show off my skills. Yet, the homepage displayed my articles, and I didn’t know how to fix this situation. I wasted time searching through the theme settings, but nothing changed. I asked for help on a Facebook group and many kind people directed me to WordPress settings. It was embarrassing for me, but many other folks confirmed that they faced the same problem. In conclusion, bear in mind that the WordPress reading screen influences the homepage.
The following two available options are necessary to adjust the number of blog posts per page, respectively the number of articles included in the syndication feed. Next, you can choose to either display the entire post or the excerpt in the syndication feeds.
Most webmasters work hard to make their websites as search engine friendly as possible. Yet, some might not need organic traffic. In this case, you can discourage search engine spiders from crawling your site. Still, it’s up to search engines to respect your requirements.
WordPress Discussion Settings
In this screen, you customize how people comment on your site, how to manage and display the comments, get notified, and enable or disable Gravatars. Start with Default post settings to enable or disable pingbacks, trackbacks, and comments on new posts. The first item under the Default post settings—“Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the post” – notifies all the linked websites about your freshly published post. The second item allows link notifications on new posts. These options are pretty controversial, and we advise you to avoid using them. The third item should be checked to allow site visitors to comment on your posts.
Other comment settings encompass a few interesting items. Choose if commenters should fill out their name and email address or if they should be logged in to comment. Next, you may select to close comments after a set period of days. Finally, you may specify how to display the comments—much appreciated features for sites with dozens of comments.
To avoid spam messages, you may choose to moderate comments containing backlinks. Additionally, Disallowed Comment Keys is where you may add keywords and IPs that automatically trigger the message to land in Trash.
Finally, you should decide on enabling avatars in the comment section. It depends on the site profile, but generally, avatars are a funny way to delight the commenters, so you’d better use them.
WordPress Media Settings
You have fewer options on this screen. All you have to do is configure the size of the thumbnails, medium, and large size images. These refer to the size of the images uploaded on your site. When adding an image to a blog post, you may add a thumbnail, medium or large-size image. You determine the size of these images in the Media Settings tab, controlling the size of the images used throughout your site. Select the proper size because you will use many images—especially for blog posts. Keep in mind that large images slow down your site loading speed.
Additionally, on this screen, you have the option to organize the uploaded files into month and year-based folders.
Permalinks are the URLs of a post, page, category, or archive. In the Settings Permalink screen, you chose the structure of the permalinks. You have the following options:
- Plain: a mix of letters and numbers;
- Day and name: structures the URL based on the date and name of the post;
- Month and name: structures the URL based on the month and name of the post;
- Numeric: a mix of numbers;
- Post name: structures the URL based on the name of the post;
- Custom: you can specify the structure of the permalinks.
Optionally, you may also select custom structures for categories and tag pages.
There are no 100% good or bad permalinks. However, plain and numeric alternatives don’t say anything about the content of that URL. The post name alternative is more relevant, and many SEO practitioners consider this structure the most SEO-friendly. Day and name or Month and name permalinks are more suited for content-heavy websites or magazine news. Consequently, you’re better off selecting the post name type of permalinks. This way, you make sure that readers deduce what your content is about just by seeing the URL. On top of that, you simplify the work of search spiders.
Congratulations, you are more informed and well-prepared after studying the above suggestions. Most likely, you have properly configured your website. Yet, there are a few miscellaneous settings that still deserve your attention. The following four tips will help you better manage your site.
Optimize the screen and profile. Is your dashboard cluttered with annoying messages from the plugins and themes installed? From your dashboard, click the Screen options tab and select which notifications you wish to receive. Go to Users > Profile and customize your profile. Add your social media and contact details, and fill up the biographical section for better visibility.
Change admin username. Experienced users may find this suggestion trivial. Yet, many webmasters, excited that their website is up and running, forget basic security measures. By using the default admin username, you basically do half the work for a hacker. Go to Users > Profile > Account Management and change your username and password.
Delete dummy content. A “Hello World” post with the default dummy text is a clear sign of amateurish work. Look for pages and posts that were created for testing purposes. Delete them before launching your website.
Install a security plugin. Immediately after setting up the website, you should install a security plugin. Usually, people who launch their first site are more enthusiastic and ignore strengthening their site. Don’t make this mistake; secure your site as soon as possible!
Over to You
Now, you have a complete understanding of the WordPress settings. It’s not rocket science to properly configure your site directly from the WordPress dashboard. Altogether, you may have problems if you don’t know how to determine the suitable settings. Did I miss something you find relevant to WordPress settings? Leave a comment with your interesting thoughts, I am eager to hear from you.