After installing WordPress, you’ll discover that it comes with some pre-installed themes and plugins. You’ll also discover that some of the default settings aren’t just what you would prefer.
Fortunately, you can make yourself happy by effecting the changes you need. I mean, you can delete any themes or plugins you don’t like, and you can change the default settings to suit your own preferences.
With the above in mind, in this part of the blog setup guide, you’ll learn how to do the necessary housecleaning and get your blog set up correctly.
I strongly recommend that you follow the steps on this page before you start publishing posts or pages on your blog, as some of the changes can impact anything you do subsequently. And if you’ve already started publishing posts, you can still take the steps now — it’s never too late.
Before we get started, please note that we won’t be covering everything under the WordPress settings menu in this part. Rather, we’ll focus only on the most important ones. So, don’t feel overwhelmed by the too many settings you’ll see — you don’t have to touch most of them for now.
Now, let’s get started!
Step 1: Fine-tune your settings
Your first step is to customize your blog’s settings to suit your own needs and preferences. To assess each of the menu options we’ll mention here, simply hover your mouse over the “Settings” menu in the sidebar.
On the General screen, you can choose a name and tagline for your blog. The name you choose is what appears in the header as your blog’s title. And the tagline is a brief description of your blog, which might appear below your header or not, depending on the theme you’re using.
You can leave both your header and tagline as they are if you’re fine with them.
Still on the General Settings page, ensure that there is a valid email address in the E-mail address field. I recommend that you enter an email address you check regularly.
Other settings you’ll find on the General Settings page include: Timezone, Date format, Time format, and Week Starts On. They are all self-explanatory, so you should have no problems understanding them.
The Discussion Settings page displays all the settings relating to how you and your blog visitors interact. And the first three settings are the most important.
And here’s how I would recommend you handle each:
- Check the “Attempt to notify any blogs linked from the article” It doesn’t hurt to notify other blogs that you have linked to them.
- Check the “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” option if you want to receive notifications each time your content is linked to from other blogs. But if you don’t want this, disallow the option by unchecking the box.
- Check the “Allow people to post comments on new articles” option if you want your readers to be able to leave comments on your blog posts. But if you don’t want that for any reason, disallow comments by unchecking the box.
As stated in brackets, all these settings may be overridden for individual articles. That is, you can change the settings in each article you post on your blog. But whatever changes you have made here will apply to your posts by default.
Although you can ignore most of the other settings on the General Settings page, there are a few more that you should pay attention to (see the screenshot below):
Checking the first box means you will receive an email notification each time someone leaves a comment on your blog. But if you don’t want such emails flooding your inbox, simply uncheck the box — you can still read and moderate new comments by navigating to the “Comments” menu.
I would recommend that you keep the second box checked, as you’ll probably want to know if a comment is held for moderation. By default, this happens if a comment includes more than two links (which often indicates spam).
As for the “Comment must be manually approved” box, I advise you to leave it unchecked, so that comments will be published as soon as they are submitted. Checking the box means each comment will be held for moderation until you approve it. This is something most readers hate. So, leave the box unchecked, so that newly submitted comments are displayed immediately. You can always moderate afterwards.
For that same reason, I advise that you uncheck the “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” box. It’s better to delete useless/spam comments retrospectively than have to manually approve each comment by a new author.
All your choices are up to you — it’s your blog after all. But the sweet thing is, you can always come back to this screen later to change your settings if necessary.
Lastly, under the Settings menu you need to set a permalinks structure for your blog. Permalinks are the URLs to each of your blog posts, pages. etc. For example, the permalink of this tutorial is http://howtocreateablog.org/making-necessary-changes-to-your-wordpress-blog
The default WordPress permalink comprises numbers and characters, which make it “ugly”. Imagine having something like: http://howtocreateablog.org/?p=6. Isn’t that ugly? To me, it is.
You want to change that to something more attractive and user-friendly. Doing so is very easy. On the Permalinks screen, simply select the “Post name” option from the list.
With this change made, your posts and pages will have their permalinks based on their titles. That is the finest option you have.
Step 2: Edit your user profile
Just like your user profile on any other website, your WordPress User Profile stores relevant details, such as your username, password, etc., and allows you to change some of these credentials anytime you want to.
At this point, you only need to worry about two things in your profile: your display name and your password.
Your display name
This is the name that shows up below the title of each post — as the author’s name. You can only see it at the front end of your blog. Most of the time, your username is the default display name. And if you want your real name displayed instead, you need to change your display name by taking the following few steps.
From the sidebar, Navigate to Users > Your Profile. You’ll be taken to the Profile page, which contains several settings related to your user profile.
The section you’re interested in here is Name:
You can enter your first and last name as well as a nickname, which is required. Then move on to the “Display name publicly as” field, which is what really matters. From the dropdown menu, you can choose from a number of options:
- Your username
- First name
- Last name
- First name + Last name
- Last name + First name
Just choose whatever you want to have displayed on your posts as the author’s name.
Your password can make all the difference between a secured blog and one that is prone to attacks by malicious hackers and bots. So, you need to ensure that your password is strong enough.
How do you know if your password is strong enough? Here are some criteria that it must meet:
- It must comprise at least 10 characters
- It must contain no dictionary words or proper nouns
- It must be a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols
- It must include both uppercase and lowercase letters
- It must not be used on any other website
With these criteria in mind, you must avoid passwords such as “abcdxyz“, “mountain2014“, or “12345678”. Instead, choose a password that looks like “Z36CpQ$l4@7)i” or “wj-PaXBYw$Ceg9“. You can generate strong passwords using Strong Password Generator.
I understand that using a simple password that you can remember easily is far more convenient, but if you can imagine the frustration of having your blog hacked or disrupted, you’ll favor a strong password.
After coming up with a secure password, enter it twice in the two fields provided near the bottom of the Profile screen. If you the password strength bar shows “Strong”, then you’re fine.
Once you’ve entered your preferred display name and password, click the “Update Profile” button at the bottom of the page.
Step 3: Delete sample posts and pages
By default, your WordPress contain a sample post and page, and comment. And you need to delete all these not only because they are useless, but also because they will be unimpressive to you and your visitors.
To get rid of the sample post, navigate to Posts > All Posts from the sidebar. The next page shows all the posts published on the blog.
Since you’ve published no posts of your own, you’ll find only the sample post on this page. To delete the post, just hover over its title (“Hello world!”) and click on Trash. And the post will be gone!
To delete the sample page, navigate to Pages > All Pages from the sidebar, and repeat the same process as explained above for the sample post.
Step 4: Delete unwanted plugins
Your WordPress blog also comes with some pre-installed plugins, some of which you won’t ever get to use. Navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins on the Plugins menu in the sidebar, and you’ll be taken to a page displaying all the plugins installed on your blog.
If you have installed some or all of the plugins I recommended on this page, you will see them displayed on the installed plugins page alongside a number of preinstalled plugins, such as:
- Hello Dolly
- MOJO Marketplace
Akismet is a powerful plugin for arresting spam comments, while Jetpack offers several functions that you will most likely need later. So, you can leave both plugins.
However, you’ll want to get rid of Hello Dolly and MOJO Marketplace. Hello Dolly is a completely useless plugin that simply displays random lyrics on your WordPress Dashboard. (It stumps me wonder why this plugin is always preinstalled on WordPress.) MOJO Marketplace is a marketplace of premium themes and plugins. You won’t need it, too.
So, how do you install both plugins? It’s easy.
Navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins. You’ll see a list of all plugins installed on your blog. And you’ll see the two plugins you want to eliminate (Hello Dolly and MOJO Marketplace) among them. You’ll also see a “Deactivate” link below each plugin’s name (a plugin must be deactivated before it can be deleted).
To deactivate each plugin, simply click the “Deactivate” link, and the plugin would be gone. But since you want to deactivate (and then delete) two plugins, there’s a quicker way.
First, check the boxes beside Hello Dolly and MOJO Marketplace plugins. Then select “Deactivate” from either of the Bulk Actions drop down menus (you’ll find them above and below the plugins list). Then click on “Apply”.
The page will reload and both plugins will have been deactivated (you’ll notice the background change from colored to white).
To delete both plugins, check their boxes as you did earlier, and select “Delete” from either of the Bulk Actions dropdown menus. You’ll be taken to a confirmation screen where you need to click on “Yes, Delete these files” to confirm the deletion.
You’ll then be taken back to your plugins page where only your remaining plugins will be displayed.
Explained above are the necessary changes you should make to your blog before you start publishing your posts and pages. Although there are tons of options to tamper with, we’ve only covered the necessary ones to keep things simple.
Remember, any of the changes you make in the Settings menu can be reversed or changed. So, feel free to play around with them until you’re absolutely fine with them.