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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.