In this post I am going to run through the simple and effective WordPress setup checklist I use, and why I configure things the way I do. I have found using these settings creates a great foundation for building websites either for myself, friends or clients, and I wanted to share them with you as well.
There are many ways to build a website these days, Wix, Drupal, Squarespace, Kajabi to name just a few.
Undoubtedly though the platform with the most power and flexibility is WordPress, and, unlike a lot of the competitors, the amazing thing is it’s free!
Not only that the system can be easily expanded with things called plugins, of which there are thousands to choose from, all with feature-rich free versions available.
Like any tool that has versatility and power under the hood, there are a lot of options to set to really get the best performance, and at first glance, these can seem a little intimidating.
So, lets set some background and get into the settings that I have found work well.
Pre setup – domain and hosting
Before getting to WordPress you’ll need to buy your domain (the website address you’re going to use), and set up your hosting (where your website is going to live.)
Good hosting can save a lot of hassle, and I use flywheel managed hosting a lot with the sites I build as the price is reasonable, the setup is easy and the performance is great.
If you choose to host with FlyWheel you can click on the Flywheel image or click here to get registered and set up.
Configuring WordPress – The WordPress interface.
Once you have your domain and hosting setup, and you’ve gone through the one-click WordPress set up if using Flywheel, you’ll see this interface.
Home / updates. Manage updates for WordPress or plugins
Posts. Posts are where you write your articles/blog posts.
Pages. Create and manage your website pages (Home / about / services etc…)
Comments. For managing comments on posts
Projects. For managing projects
Appearance. Configure things such as menus and sidebars.
Plugins. Additional tools that extend WordPress
Users. Manage users in the WordPress environment
Tools. Additional configuration tools
Settings. Lots of configuration options in here
General WordPress settings
So let’s get into the detail of how to set things up.
In the main interface hover over settings and you wil see the following options.
The settings menu is where we will be doing most of our changes within WordPress
Here we’ll find a number of things that control the overall setup of your site.
First of all, we’ll start in the general settings section.
The above gives you the basic general site settings,
Date and time settings
Still in the general setting, the next group of settings allows you to set your date and time. This is used if you want this information displayed above any posts you may write.
In the reading settings, you’ll find where to set your homepage.
This section is super important, as it tells WordPress what to display when a user types in your site URL.
Most websites will want their homepage to be the thing people see when visiting.
In order to set this up properly, you first need to create a page, and once done use the settings here to point WordPress at it.
Your page can be named anything. in this example you can see the page is actually named ‘website design’
Discourage search engines
The last thing in the reading section I wanted to mention is the ‘discourage search engines’ setting.
Once your site is finished you want this OFF, so that the engines will be able to crawl your content
This section controls how commenting on your blogs is handled.
I leave all the settings as they are, but make sure this checkbox is ticked on, as it discourages spam
WordPress refers to its URL structure as permalinks. When you add a page or a post WordPress will create the URL that any visitor to the site will see,
I think it’s a good idea to get these setup so that your website URLs will be nice and clean
If you’d like to learn more about plugin setup you can head over to our article ‘12 Essential WordPress plugins‘ to find out more about what plugins work really well for us and why we use them.
Summary – WordPress setup checklist
As you can see there are lots of configuration options in WordPress, but most of them can be left with their default settings.
That said there are a few crucial ones I have covered above that can make quite an impact in the way your site looks and behaves.
I hope you have found this article interesting and that your next project with WordPress is made a little easier after having read it.
If you have any questions or want to know more then get in touch, I’d love to hear from you and chat about the power and flexibility WordPress brings to web authoring.