If you have WordPress installed, it’s time to familiarize yourself with it, adjust core settings, and install a few basic plugins.
Understanding and navigating the WordPress Dashboard
- Visit yourdomain.com/wp-admin and log in.
- You will see the Dashboard with a main menu along the left side of the screen. There is information and various widgets in the center of the screen. There are some helpful tutorials if you click First Steps with WordPress. You can dismiss that message at any time.
- Jetpack: Ignore this. We’ll uninstall Jetpack.
- Posts: Any content you add to your site (news, events, blog posts, prayer requests, pastor’s writings, audio sermons, etc.) will added as a new post in this section. You can also add categories to organize your site’s content and help users navigate.
- Media: This is for uploading and finding images, documents, or anything you’ve to or on your site.
- Links: This is a section I haven’t used in a long time. Blogrolls used to be popular where you’d have a sidebar widget on your site listing your favorite websites. This isn’t too common anymore.
- Pages: Pages, unlike posts, are not dated nor do they go out through the RSS feed. They are static (i.e. permanent). For instance, you might have an About page or a Contact page.
- Comments: This is where you can view and moderate comments people leave on your site (if you allow them to leave comments).
- Appearance: This is where you control the appearance of your website. You can find, install, and switch themes. You can add widgets to your website’s sidebar(s). You can create and change your website’s menus. Many themes will also have various options.
- Plugins: You may not understand the concept of plugins but plugins allow you to do more with your site. For example, you can use a plugin to add an email/contact form to your website.
- Users: Updating your profile is especially important if you plan to display an author box beneath your posts. Fill out your name, choose how you want your name displayed on the site, add a short bio, and so on. This is also where you’ll control multiple users of the site.
- Tools: Don’t worry about this section unless you need to import content from another blog.
- Settings: This is where you have all of the core settings of your WordPress website. As you install plugins, many of those plugins will have settings and options and will be listed here.
Adjusting some of the core settings in WordPress
- Go to Settings–>General: Give your site a title, tagline, and update your timezone. There may be other settings you want to adjust depending on your needs, but those are the important ones.
- Go to Settings–>Writing: If you plan to use a WordPress app on a mobile device to access or update your site, you need to enable the XML-RPC setting under Remote Publishing.
- Go to Settings–>Permalinks: By default, links to pages and posts will be ugly (for example, yourdomain.com/?p=1234. For the sake of SEO and your own convenience, change the setting to Month and name or Post name.
Plugins I recommend you install right out of the gate
- Go to Plugins–>Installed Plugins: By default, Akismet, Hello Dolly, and Jetpack are installed. Delete Hello Dolly and Jetpack (plugins must be disabled before they can be deleted). Keep Akismet (you’ll have to sign up for an API key).
- Go to Plugins–>Add New to find and install new plugins.
- Any Mobile Theme Switcher: This will allow you to run two themes on your website at the same time (one regular and one for mobile devices). If you’d rather than bother, WPTouch is an easy to use plugin which “mobilizes” your site.
- BackWPup: Backing up your site is important. This plugin allows you to back up the site on the server, through email, or in Dropbox.
- Blubrry PowerPress: If you plan to host a podcast or audio sermons, this plugin is a must have. You can set your feed with all of the information iTunes needs plus easily add the audio file to a blog post.
- Contact Form 7: If you want a contact form (or multiple contact forms) on your site, this is my favorite plugin.
- Digg Digg: The Internet is a social place plus you will probably want people to share your content. This adds a floating bar with popular social network share buttons.
- Easy Facebook Share Thumbnails: If people are sharing your posts, you want them to look good on Facebook, Google+, and others. This helps the social networks to find the right image to use as a thumbnail image when a post is shared. This is especially important if your images are not inserted right into your post (some themes utilize the Featured Image option in WordPress).
- Livefyre Realtime Comments: If you want an upgrade from the native WordPress commenting system, this plugin allows people to sign in using Facebook or Twitter, updates comments without the page needing to refreshed, adds a link to the person’s last blog post, and brings in conversation from Twitter about your post. Other options to consider: Disqus or IntenseDebate.
- Really Simple CAPTCHA: This adds an image with letters/numbers to your contact forms to alleviate spam. It will be used with Contact Form 7.
- Reftagger: If this is a church website or one for a pastor and lots of Bible verses are being referenced, this plugin automatically links those verses to an online Bible and creates a pop-up when the link is hovered over.
- Target Blank In Posts and Comments: Any links to another website will open in a new browser tab/window.
- Transposh Translation Filter: Depending on your community, you may want to make your site available to people who do not speak English. This plugin automatically translates the site into a user’s default language.
- User Avatar: If you plan to have an author box beneath each post, you may want to include a picture as well. By default, WordPress will use the Gravatar.com service to see if your email address is linked an image. With this plugin, you can upload your image right in your profile.
- WordPress SEO: The title tags of your site are looked at by search engines. This plugin allows you to define what gets put in those title tags and creates a site map.
- WP App Store: If you want premium/commercial plugins or themes, this plugin makes finding and installing them a breeze.
- WP Missed Schedule: WordPress often fails to publish scheduled posts. I assume they’ll fix that in the near future, but until then, this plugin will catch those posts missed by WordPress and see that they get published.
- WP Super Cache: This saves (caches) your site to save load time for visitors. Wait to activate it until after you’ve installed your theme and made all of the design changes you want.