Now let’s get to know the various settings of WordPress and configure the same. The good thing is, most of them are set and forget kind of settings.
So let’s get started!
1. The WordPress Dashboard
When you install WordPress on your server, you get a chance to set a username and password of your choice and you get an admin URL that looks like — http://www.example.com/wp-admin/.
When you login successfully to WordPress, what you see first is the WordPress Dashboard (or simply the Dashboard). It gives you a quick glance of what’s happening on your blog — like the total number of blog posts and pages, comments, recently published posts, recent comments, etc.
In other words, the Dashboard is the backend of your WordPress site and it’s the place from where you can manage everything on your blog. Here different options are available — to publish a new blog post, create a new page, approve a comment, change settings, etc.
And you can also see the different WordPress menus (Posts, Media, Pages, Comments, Appearance, Plugins, Users, Tools, Settings) and its submenus on the left sidebar.
2. WordPress Screen Options
“Screen Options” are also context-specific and it lets you customize the WordPress screen that you are looking at. That is, you can use the Screen Options tab (located at the upper right corner of your screen) to personalize individual WordPress Dashboard sections (like Posts, Pages, Comments, etc.).
If there are options that you don’t use, you can disable them. And you can always bring them back later if needed. For instance, on the Dashboard, you can remove the items you don’t use, like ‘Welcome’, “WordPress Events and News’, or ‘Quick Draft’. That way, the screen can be made to look less cluttered and more in line with what you need to focus.
3. WordPress Help
“Help” is a context-specific menu that’s available on all WordPress pages so that you can get help for the current screen.
4. WordPress Updates
“Updates” allows you to check whether you have installed the latest version of WordPress and it also shows whether your Themes or Plugins are up-to-date or not. If there’s an update available for your WordPress site, then you will see a notification in the Toolbar (top) as well as the Sidebar (left).
5. Updating Process
Upgrading WordPress is a simple one-click process. All you need to do is click “Update Now” when you see a new version and WordPress will automatically do it for you. And to update themes and plugins, you can select all the plugins or themes that you want to update, and then click “Update Plugins” or “Update Themes” button.
6. WordPress General Settings
“General Settings” is the default Settings screen and it lets you configure/change your blog title, description, URLs, admin email, time zone, etc. Do not change the “WordPress Address (URL)” or “Site Address (URL)” unless you know its usage and purpose.
7. WordPress Writing Settings
You can publish content either from the WordPress Dashboard (using the WordPress Editor) or can use 3rd-party tools like (Blogo, Open Live Writer, etc.) or even via email. “Writing Settings” lets you change the default post category, post format, and link category.
There’s also a section called “Update Services” where you can add custom site update services so that WordPress will notify them when you publish a new blog post. You do not have to do anything there as WordPress already pre-fills it with a universal update service called Pingomatic (http://rpc.pingomatic.com/).
8. WordPress Reading Settings
“Reading Settings” lets you customize your homepage content and RSS feeds. That is, you can either show all your latest blog posts or a static page (whether it’s your about me, or an archive page, or a custom page) as your frontpage.
Also, you can change the number of blog posts shown per page on your blog and on your RSS feeds. And you can also choose whether to show only an excerpt of each blog post or to show its full content on your RSS feeds.
Finally, if you do not want search engines to index your blog (or show your website on search results) then you can check “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”.
9. WordPress Discussion Settings
“Discussion Settings” lets you change several options related to the default WordPress comment system. For instance, you can by default turn off comments completely for all blog posts by unchecking “Allow people to post comments on new articles” or can even choose to automatically close comments on blog posts older than X number of days.
Again, you can also control the way comments are approved and organized. That is, you can approve a comment automatically as soon as you get it or can hold it for moderation (I do it).
Finally, there’s another section called “Avatars”.
An avatar is an image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on avatar enabled sites.
Here you can customize the avatars of people who comment on your blog. If you want to know more about all the available Discussion options, go here.
10. WordPress Media Settings
“Media Settings” lets you change the thumbnail sizes of images that you place in a blog post and usually you don’t have to edit these settings as they’re automatically set by the WordPress theme that you are using.
You can also control how your uploaded files are organized. WordPress by default organizes your uploads by month and year. That is, if you upload a file in August 2017, then WordPress will place it in http://www.example.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08 folder (by automatically creating the folders: “2017” and “08”).
If you uncheck “Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders” then all your uploads will be placed in http://www.example.com/wp-content/uploads/ (in an unorganized way).
11. WordPress Permalink Settings
“Permalink Settings” lets you change the format of the permanent URLs of your blog posts and pages. The default permalink format of WordPress is either lengthy or not so user/search friendly. In fact, WordPress itself officially calls the default permalinks as “Ugly”. And it’s usually of the format http://www.example.com/year/month/day/post-name/ or http://www.example.com/?p=123.
But the good thing is, WordPress lets you customize the URL structure the way you want by using a custom format like http://www.example.com/post-name/ (if you want to keep it short and search engine friendly) or something like http://www.example.com/archives/post-number/ (if you like numbers). You can go here to learn more about the available permalink formats.
You can also change the URL structure of the categories and tags on your blog. The default permalink format of a category archive page is: http://www.example.com/category/category-name/ and the default permalink format of a tag archive page is: http://www.example.com/tag/tag-name/.
12. WordPress Users
“Users” lists all the existing users of your WordPress site. WordPress users can be Administrators, Editors Authors, Contributors, or Subscribers — depending upon the roles and permissions associated with each one.
When you create new users, you can define their roles as well.
Simply click the “Add New” submenu to create a new user and you can set their user roles, password, and email id when you do so.
Here’s a quick glance of user roles:
- Administrators have access to all administration features on the site and can manage other users as well.
- Editors can write and publish their own posts as well as manage those of other users.
- Authors can write and publish their own posts and are able to upload files as well.
- Contributors can write and manage their posts but cannot publish them or upload files.
- Subscribers can only manage their own profiles in the system.
13. Your WordPress Profile
Your Profile is your personal profile and it contains information about you and your account. When you create new users, you can set their basic information like username, email, name, website, password, and user role.
So if users want to edit their profile information then they can go to their respective “Your Profile” page on their WordPress dashboard and can change the dashboard theme color, password, bio, email, display name, etc. by themselves.
Also, when you visit your own WordPress site while you are logged in, you will see a toolbar at the top of all blog posts and pages. It gives immediate access to your WordPress dashboard and some of its features (Dashboard, Profile, Themes, etc.) and even shows the number of available WordPress Updates and Comments awaiting moderation.
So if you want to hide it then you can do it from “Your Profile”. Simply uncheck the “Show Toolbar when viewing site” option on “Your Profile” settings page.
Additionally, if you are a coder then you might want to disable the visual editor and you can do it from the “Your Profile” page. Just check the “Disable the visual editor when writing” option and you will only see the text view (or HTML view) of posts and pages when you write or edit one.
14. WordPress Posts
If you’re really serious about blogging then “Posts” will be the most-visited section of your blog. That’s right! “Posts” lists all the blog posts (published, scheduled, private, drafts) on your blog in a reverse chronological order so that the latest blog post is always at the top. And there’s also a Trash available so that you can recover deleted blog posts or permanently delete it.
When you enter “Posts”, you can see a sample blog posted titled “Hello world!”. And if you hover your mouse over it, it will display the following quick actions: Edit, Quick Edit, Trash, View. Delete “Hello world!” as it’s just a sample blog post without any images.
Add New Post: WordPress Editor
When you want to create a new blog post, simply click the “Add New” submenu under “Posts” and it will take you to the WordPress WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) editor.
You can write content on a WordPress editor just like you do it on a Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. And you can use the “Add Media” button to upload files from your computer or from another URL.
You can start writing a blog post by entering a title in the title field and the actual content in the post editing area. Apart from that, you can also see a lot of other widgets called Publish, Format, Categories, Tags, Featured Image, etc.
You can easily minimize or expand widgets by clicking on its title bar and can reposition them using drag and drop (except the title and post editing area). Also, you can add/remove widgets using the “Screen Options” of the WordPress editor page.
For instance, if you have multiple authors on your blog then you can enable the “Author” widget so that you can change the authorship of the blog post that you’re currently editing.
The WordPress editor gives you a handful of formatting options and you can enable even more options by clicking on the “Toolbar Toggle” button (the last button in the row of formatting options).
Again, the WordPress editor offers two modes of editing: Visual and Text. You can click the appropriate tab to switch between the two. Visual mode gives you a WYSIWYG editor (similar to Microsoft Word) and you can format your blog post using the row of formatting options. Text mode lets you add HTML code along with regular text and you can switch modes accordingly.
When you finish composing a blog post, you can optionally select tags and categories to associate with the post. And if you do not wish to publish the blog post immediately then you can save it as a draft and can even publish it as a private post by changing the settings in the “Publish” widget.
Posts can also be scheduled to be published at a future time by clicking on the “Edit” next to “Publish Immediately” and selecting a future date and time. When you choose a future date and time, the “Publish” button changes to “Schedule” and you can click on it to schedule the blog post.
15. WordPress Categories
Categories help to keep your blog posts organized, and also improves the user experience. You can create as many categories as you want and a blog post can be assigned to more than one category.
Categories can have a hierarchy as well. It means you can create categories and its subcategories if you want to. If you haven’t created any categories, then all blog posts will automatically be added under a default category called “Uncategorized”.
16. WordPress Tags
Tags are like keywords, and you can optionally assign tags to your blog posts (to self-explain what your blog post is about). Unlike categories, tags do not support a hierarchy. It means, there’s no relation between one tag and the other.
So, what’s the difference between a category and a tag? Well, tags are more specific while categories are typically more general in nature.
For instance, if I have a tech blog then I can organize the categories and tags like this:
- Apple (Subcategory)
- iPhone (tags)
- OS X
- Google (Subcategory)
- Android (tags)
- Microsoft (Subcategory)
- Lumia (tags)
- Windows Phone
Of course, I can create as many categories as I want but if I do that then the blog will have an uncountable number of categories and it results in a poor user experience.
“Media” menu takes you to the Media Library. It shows all the media files — images, videos, etc. — that you have uploaded while creating blog posts and pages (recent uploads are listed first). You can click individual items to view/edit its details or to get its direct link.
You generally do not need to access the Media Library unless you want to manage a previously uploaded file or want to upload another file manually. Click “Add New” to manually upload files from your computer. And hey, you can upload ANY file format (not just images or documents).
18. WordPress Pages
Pages are similar to posts in a sense that they can also have a title, body, media, metadata, comments, etc. but they’re different from blog posts as they’re not part of chronological blog posts.
Pages do not support categories or tags but it can have a hierarchy. That is, you can create nested pages by making one page a parent of another page. And just like the Posts, you can customize the Pages screen using Screen Options.
Also, you can add a date and time and adjust the visibility and privacy of a Page just like you do on a Post page.
Bloggers usually prfer a Page over a Post when they want to publish a static page like About Me, Contact, Sitemap, etc. and it’s also relevant when you want to create a web page that requires continuous updation.
For instance, when you republish an old blog post it will appear on your homepage and all your blog subscribers will be notified (RSS and Email) — even if you didn’t want to. But when you update a Page, your blog subscribers won’t notice it unless you are linking to it as Pages don’t appear in a blog’s RSS feed.
19. WordPress Comments
Comments section lets you manage all the comments that you have received on your WordPress site. It shows the comments in a reverse chronological order. When you hover the cursor over a comment, it shows some quick actions that lets you approve, reply, edit, spam, or even trash it. You can also moderate multiple comments at the same time by using the “Bulk Actions” menu at the top.
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