After Installing WordPress Note

What To Do After Installing WordPress

Over the years, I developed a list of what to do after installing WordPress that I follow nearly every time. For people who are new to the WordPress community, I though I’d share how I normally get up and running. If you need help installing WordPress, there is a quick video here that can walk you through that.

Change Admin Account

Some hosts with “one-click” installations of WordPress don’t give you an option regarding the name of the first administrative account. If you’re using “admin” as your username, that’s a security risk. Since it was the default for so long, hackers know that it is common and they’ll use it in their attempts on your site.

Changing it is not hard to do. First go to “Users” in your WordPress control panel and select “Add New.” Create a new user account. I’d suggest picking an obscure username. WordPress usernames can even have capital letters and spaces unlike most other online sites. Fill in your first and last name as well as your email address. If you used your email address setting up WordPress, change the address in your current account by going to Users > Your Profile first.

Pick a strong password. Really. Don’t make it short, use letters, numbers and symbols too. Since your site is out there in the wild wild internet, your password is like your deadbolt lock. Don’t leave the key by the door so anyone can walk in. Make your password tough.

Once you’ve created the new account, log out of WordPress by clicking your name in the top right hand corner and selecting “log out.” Now log back in with your new account. Go to Users and delete the original account that was labeled “admin.” You can attribute the content to your new account if you’d like to, though if this is a new site, I delete that content anyway so you can choose to delete it too. You can click on “Your Profile” and choose how your name is displayed throughout the site. This is a great option if you choose an obscure username, but still want people to know who you are.

Remove Default Content

WordPress comes with a bit of “sample” content that you really have no need for. The first thing I do is get rid of it. Here’s what to do:

  1. Go to the Posts section and select “All Posts.” Hover over the title that says “Hello World” and a small menu will appear beneath the title. Click delete. One gone.
  2. Next click “Links” (it’s just below “Media” on your left). Select the checkbox at the top right corner of the list to select all the links. The choose delete from the drop down menu of actions at the top. Now you have removed all the WordPress links.
  3. Lastly, click on “Pages” and hover over the title “Sample Page” just you did with “Hello World” and delete that too.

You just successfully removed all your unnecessary content.

Permalinks

Next I go to the “Settings” section of my WordPress control panel (it’s at the bottom left of the list). When you click on that, a sub-menu will open up. Choose permalinks from the items there. You’ll be greeted by the following panel to choose how your URLs look (that’s the web address of the inside pages/posts on your site).

Permalink Settings

Permalink Settings

There are quite a few options here to choose from. I almost always go with the one labeled “Post name.” It will give you address that look like https://www.organizedthemes.com/what-to-do-after-installing-wordpress/ which looks better than adding in all manner of date options.

Once you’ve selected one, click save.

Plugins

After I set-up permalinks, I go to the “Plugins” section. Here you can add extra functionality to WordPress through plugins. It’s one the best features of a self-hosted WordPress site. Sites hosted at WordPress.com can’t bring their own plugins.

The first plugin I activate is Akismet which is included with WordPress. It provides some protection against spam comments. Spam comments really do exist and they are perhaps even more idiotic than spam email. Akismet provides a level of protection against these.

Next, I click “Add New” from the menu under Plugins and I search for WordPress SEO by Yoast and install it. This plugin provides a great way to make sure all your page titles/descriptions are set up for search engines to find your content. One handy feature it provides is a quick preview of how your title and description will look in Google’s search results:

Yoast SEO Preview

Yoast SEO Preview

You’ll want to spend some time tweaking your SEO settings for the content you create, but for now we’re just installing the plugin.

The second plugin I add is Gravity Forms. It’s rare to have a website that doesn’t require some type of contact form and Gravity Forms is the best. Once you’ve downloaded it from their website, click “Add New” under plugins again, but this time instead of searching, click upload. Browse your computer for the file you just downloaded and select it. Once the upload finishes, select activate and you now have a the best form solution out there.

Categories

Next I go back to the “Posts” section and select categories. WordPress creates a category with the uninspiring name of “uncategorized” when it’s installed and that just won’t do. Click “Uncategorized” in the top right and you can change the name of the default category. Depending on your site’s content it could be “News” or “Opinions” or something else all-together. You can add more categories, but you must have at least one. You can also change the “slug” of the category which is the category part of the URL. This will need to be all lowercase and can’t have any spaces.

Install Theme

Now that I have a clean slate and some basic functionality, I’m ready to add in my theme. To install a WordPress theme, go to “Appearance” and click on “Themes.” At the top you’ll see a tab labeled “Install Themes.” Click on that. You can search for free themes from WordPress.org or you can install your own. To do that click “Upload” and then browse for the theme file you downloaded. Install and activate the theme.

Most likely your theme will have some options to set. Generally these can be found also in the “Appearance” section usually labeled something like “Theme Options.” You can go on and set these now or work with those later.

Widgets

The last bit of my initial set-up involves widgets. These are small content blocks that can be added to various “sidebar” or “widget areas” of your site. But WordPress adds quite a few of these that are generally useless to every new site so I want to remove those.

Go to the “Appearance” section again and select “Widgets.” In the middle you’ll see the available widgets on your site. On the right you’ll see the widget areas that are available to you. I want to remove the widgets that WordPress added by default. They will be in the widget area that’s listed at the top. To remove them, just click the title (name) of each widget and drag it and drop it back into the middle. That will remove the widget from being active on the site. If I ever need to use it after all, you can just drag it and drop it back onto the site.

All Finished

Now that those housekeeping matters are behind me, I’m ready to start working on content. Our fresh WordPress set-up is primed and ready for action.

Do you have anything you do with just about every WordPress installation that I left out? Share it with us in the comments.

25 Comments

Melina Mullinax June 15, 2020

Super Post . Ich bin ganz gespannt auf mehr Artikel dieser Art.

Reply

Aris Kuckovic January 24, 2017

Hi Bill,

Great to-do list!
I also like to deactivate user-registration and also delete all preinstalled themes, except for the one thats activated by default 🙂 I have also written a simple plugin, that can do all this for you by just activating it after install

https://wordpress.org/plugins/cleanup-wp

Best regards
Aris Kuckovic

Reply

Sagar November 16, 2016

Hi all,

I have uploaded theme in wordpress but I dont know how to use it. How can I publish it on my website?

Thanks,
Sagar

Reply

    Bill Robbins November 16, 2016

    Hi Sagar,

    You might take a look at this guide: http://easywpguide.com/wordpress-manual/ . It’s an introduction to WordPress that might be helpful as you get started with the platform.

    Generally you upload your theme and activate it. Then you go to Posts > Add New in your dashboard to start creating posts. Most themes have options to customize their appearance either in the WordPress Customizer (Appearance > Customize in your dashboard) or in a theme options page. Which one will depend on the theme and how it is made, but generally you will have options there to set how the site looks from there.

    The guide should have more general information about WordPress and hopefully the theme author has instructions about using the theme that they have created.

    Bill

    Reply

Erik February 23, 2015

Hi Bill,
great post to use as a check list after installing WordPress.

If I may add something, among the other tasks to do, bloggers should also create an XML sitemap, to notify search engines about the structure of their websites (and for future updates).

Thanks for sharing!

Reply

Divya May 21, 2014

Nice article very well written but can you tell me is it essenstial to add various other ping list to the wordpress or keep it as it is.

Reply

    Bill Robbins May 21, 2014

    Good question. I don’t typically change those. If you’d like to you certainly can, but changing them hasn’t led to much of a noticeable difference to me vs. just leaving them as is.

    Reply

Alex smith November 20, 2013

I followed all the above steps. I am currently using a cache plugin. I want to change the theme. Please assist me the required steps to do that. Is it normal to directly change the theme without altering wordpress settings??

Reply

    Bill Robbins November 20, 2013

    Good question. You’ll want to disable the caching plugin until you have your new theme completely set up. Until then, it’ll just get in the way. Many of the caching plugins have a way to turn off the caching while the plugin is enabled. I would do that and then deactivate the plugin. If you just deactivate the plugin, that may not actually turn off the caching.

    Most themes do have some set-up required, especially if your site isn’t simply a blog. You’ll need to create a home page if you don’t already have one, possibly choose the correct page template for it and then make sure it’s set to be the front page in your reading settings. There’s a quick post at http://support.organizedthemes.com/default-home-page/ that can show you how to do that.

    Beyond that, it what you need to do next will just depend on the theme you’re using. If I can help, just let me know.

    Reply

Taswir Haider May 4, 2013

That’s a great guide. Permalink is the first and foremost thing that I would look to change after installing WordPress on my site. Balance portion I will follow accordingly.

Reply

Sid May 3, 2013

Great tutorial. Changing the username “admin” is a must these days as WordPress has been targeted by brute force attacks. Right?

Reply

    Bill Robbins May 3, 2013

    It’s very important. I would support an addition to the core that prevents the name “admin” from being selected as a username at all.

    Reply

ankits3a February 24, 2013

I just installed wordpress on my blog and I followed whatever its written here.. can u please suggest some plugins??

Reply

Pina February 8, 2013

Yoast SEO Plugin is best. I love it.
Also I think no one should underestimate caching plugins like w3 total cache and so on..

Reply

    Bill Robbins February 8, 2013

    Great point. Caching plugins can be a huge help, especially if you experiment with them. On my particular server, I get significantly better results with WP Super Cache than W3 Total Cache. On my last server W3 was better. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

Saurabh January 7, 2013

Thanks. I just installed WordPress. Can you suggest any good security plugin ?

Reply

    Bill Robbins January 8, 2013

    Welcome to WordPress. For a security plugin, it really depends on what you’d like to do. I’ve implemented several of the suggestions from the WP Beginner security category that aren’t actually plugin related. I changed my database prefix, actually moved the WordPress admin directory and took other precautions with my admin account.

    A good many people recommend one of the login limiting plugins that either limits the number of attempts someone can make or limits based on IP address. Personally, I’ve never used those in part because I need to login from lots IP addresses. Also I don’t want to discourage my customers by limiting login attempts there.

    One service I do recommend is Sucuri Security. They have a free site scanner than can help detect when something malicious has happened to your site. Their pricing on repairing any damage is also really good.

    If you find a security plugin you like, share it with us. With over 20K plugins in the WordPress.org directory alone, even great ones can slip through the cracks sometimes.

    Reply

    Paul January 19, 2013

    Hey Bill, Thanks for sharing this useful guide.
    A great security plugin I’d recommend is Better WP Security by Bit51.

    Reply

Guppu Boss November 25, 2012

very nice guide I followed all the suggested points. just having problem in removing and adding widgets

Reply

    Bill Robbins November 26, 2012

    Good question. You can change out your widgets by going to the Appearance section of your WordPress control panel and selecting Widgets. The widget areas of your theme will be listed on the right and the available widgets in the middle. To remove any current widgets, drag them from the right and drop them in the middle. To add any new widgets, first open up the widget area where you’d like to add them by clicking on its name. Then drag the widget you’d like to add by dragging and dropping it into that area. Most widgets have a small configuration form you can then fill out.

    Hope that helps.

    Reply

GoWebBaby September 6, 2012

Really a very useful post for the WordPress beginners.
Thanks for sharing.

Reply

Josh Stauffer September 5, 2012

Sounds like our lists are fairly similar. For plugins, I almost always install a database backup plugin. I also hit up the General Settings page to change the Site Title, Tagline, Time Zone and change “Week Starts On” to Sunday. The last setting mentioned doesn’t matter too much but I think it helps me sleep better. Ha. 🙂

Reply

    Bill Robbins September 5, 2012

    Good thinking about the backup plugin. I’m a huge fan of Backup Buddy as it has saved me several times.

    I always forget about the time settings until I notice the odd publish times. Thanks for adding those to the list.

    Reply

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