Understanding Your WordPress Settings

WordPress Settings

In this guide, we walk through the most important WordPress settings to configure after installing WordPress.. Though there are many settings, some are more advanced and more important than others. Below are only the most essential settings.

To get started, log in to your website Admin Area. In the Screens Menu to the left, click “Settings” to display the default settings admin screen, “General Settings”.

Introduction

Assumptions

Take Aways

  • Configure general site wide settings 
  • Configure post, page and image settings
  • Understand how “Permalinks” work
  • Configure comments settings
  • Set up Privacy Page

General Site Wide Settings

The General Settings screen has 12 site wide settings you can configure. This is the first place you should go after installing your WordPress website.

Site Title and Tagline

The Site Title and Tagline fields respectively represent your site’s name and a short phrase that describes what your site is about.

The title and tagline are displayed both in the Admin Area (such as in the top left of the Toolbar) and on your website, usually in the header (as a linked text logo). The title can also appear other places on your website depending on your active theme. Often your site title is found in the footer as part of the copyright info.

WordPress Address and Site Address

*Unless you know what you’re doing, you should not change the WordPress Address or the Site Address.

The WordPress Address is where your core WordPress software files are located. The Site Address is the actual web address that someone uses to find your website. In most cases, all files are located in the same directory.

There are two reasons to change either web address:

  1. Your core files are located in a different folder than your theme related files. You can read more about giving WordPress its own directory here.
  2. You decide to update your site from insecure “http” (such as http://www.yoursite.com) to secure “https” (such as https://www.yoursite.com).

Email Address

The Email Address field stores the email address you used when installing WordPress. This email is used for admin purposes, to notify the administrator of the site of new activity such as new comments and new users. Some plugins, like Gravity Forms–one of the most popular form plugins–use this email address by default to send notifications when a user submits a form.

Membership and New User Default Role

By default, no one is able to register and create an account on your WordPress website. But, when you check the “Anyone can register” checkbox, then anyone can register.

There are 5 different user types in WordPress called User Roles. Each user role is granted a certain amount of access to the Admin Area. By default, when a user registers to your website, she signs up as a Subscriber. Subscriber has the least amount of access and permissions. They can only  “read” content and cannot edit. You can change the default user role to any of the 5 in the New User Default Role dropdown.

View a summary of user role capabilities in the WordPress User Basics article. To see a comprehensive list of capabilities for each role, visit the Roles and Capabilities page on WordPress.org.

Timezone

The Timezone is used to determine publish date for all content: your posts, pages, comments and media uploads. It’s very important to set the timezone that you live in to avoid post publication issues. For example, if you schedule a post to be published on a specific date in the future, if you live in California and leave the date as the default UTC+0, your post will publish 8 hours later than expected. Instead, select the city in your timezone in the dropdown.

Date Format, Time Format, and Week Starts On

You can choose how date and time are displayed for your posts and comments by selecting the desired radio buttons next to the Date Format and Time Format fields, respectively.

The Week Starts On dropdown field is used to set the start day for WordPress calendars. You’ll often see calendars in a sidebar. The calendar widget, for example, displays an archive of your posts in calendar format.

Post, Page and Image Settings

WordPress is commonly used to publish blog posts, articles, and other such frequently published content. In the Reading Settings and Writing Settings screens, you can update settings related to how posts are displayed, published and accessed.

Writing Settings

In the Screens Menu to the left, hover over “Settings” and click “Writing” to reveal the Writing Settings screen.

Default Post Category

The Default Post Category is the “Uncategorized” category that’s automatically created by default when you install WordPress. When you publish a post without manually selected a category, the post will be published in the Default Post Category set.

Default Post Format

Th Default Post Format is “Standard”. Unless your chosen theme has unique designs for any number of the 10 post formats AND you mostly publish non-standard posts, there is no need to change the default post format.

Update Services

One of the most useful features of WordPress is its ability to automatically notify an Update Service (or Ping Service) that new content, such as a blog post, has been published.

An Update Service (or Ping Service) notifies a search engine that your blog or website has been updated. Search engines love websites with fresh content. All WordPress installations by default use Ping-O-Matic as the update service. This service also notifies many other services.

Learn more about Update Services here.

Reading Settings

In the Screens Menu to the left, hover over “Settings” and click “Reading” to reveal the Reading Settings screen.

Homepage Displays

By default, your website home page is your blog home page. Your blog home page is an archive of your latest blog posts.

Alternatively, you can update the “Your homepage displays” field to make your homepage a “static” (non-archive) page by selecting a page from the dropdown next to “Homepage”. If you have a blog, then choose a different page–a separate web address–for your blog by selecting a page from the “Posts page” dropdown. If a page does not yet exist for the “Homepage” or “Posts page”, simply hover over Pages in the Screens Menu in the left sidebar in your Admin Area, and select “Add New”. See Creating, Editing and Managing Your Pages.

How Much Blog Content To Show?

You can select how many blog posts to show on your website and in your RSS feed by updating the numbers in the “Blog pages show at most” field and “Syndication feeds show the most recent” field, respectively.

Search Engine Visibility

By default, your website is visible to search engines. But, sometimes you may want to hide your site from search engines such as when your website is new and has no content. Select the checkbox next to “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” to hide your website from Google, Bing and all other search engines.

Media Settings

In the Screens Menu to the left, hover over “Settings” and click “Media” to reveal the Media Settings screen.

Image Sizes

WordPress automatically creates three additional images, with different sizes, for each image uploaded. When creating a post or page, you can then choose to insert any one of the these images instead of the full image uploaded.

You can update the image sizes for these additional images by changing the max width and max height for the “Thumbnail size”, “Medium size” and “Large size” images.

By default, the thumbnail, medium and large images are all proportional. For example, if you upload a landscape oriented image–wider than it is taller–, those proportions will be kept.

Select the “Crop thumbnail to exact dimensions” checkbox for “Thumbnail size” if you do not want the thumbnail image to be proportional. You may, for example, want a square image for your thumbnails. Your thumbnail image will be exactly 150px by 150px instead of 150px by whatever height is less than 150px and keeps the image’s proportion so it does not look stretched or squashed.

Uploading Files

By default, WordPress organizes your uploaded images by year and by month in an “uploads” folder. If you upload an image in March 2019, that image’s web address will be, for example, www.yoursite.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/image-name.jpg.

With all your images in the main “uploads” folder, if you delete an image and then upload an image with the same name, you do not have to go to the post or page where the image was used to update the image. The web address will be the same.

However, if your images are organized in year and month subfolders, you will have to go to the post or page where the image is used to update the image since the web address for that image will have change.

Deselect the checkbox “Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders” if you do not want all uploaded images in the same folder.

Permalinks (URLs)

In the Screens Menu to the left, hover over “Settings” and click “Permalinks” to reveal the Permalinks Settings screen.

Common Settings

A permalink is the permanent URL (web address) for your posts and pages. By default, your URLs look like www.yoursite.com/?p=100 for a post, and www.yoursite.com/?page_id=101 for a page.

Ideally, you want a custom URL that is human readable and search engine friendly. Choose from one of the pre-defined URL structures, or create your own structure.

For this website, WordPress For Absolute Beginners, we use a custom structure ‘category/post-name’. This is a good, common, and user and search friendly URL to use if you do not want or need date, time and IDs in your URL structure.

If you choose any of the pre-defined structures or a custom structure, the URL for a page will just have the page name, such as www.yoursite.com/about-us.

Optional

You can change the label for “category” or “tag” in your posts and tag pages and archives. For category, you could choose “topics” instead. For tag, you could choose “glossary” instead.

Discussion (Comments)

In the Screens Menu to the left, hover over “Settings” and click “Discussions” to reveal the Discussion Settings screen.

If you do not intend to allow comments on your website, in the first set of checkboxes “Default article settings”, deselect the checkbox next to “Allow people to post comments on new articles “.

If you intent to allow comments on your website, go through each of groups of checkboxes and select and deselect checkboxes to control how comments are moderated, who can comment, when and if comments should be closed, if notifications should be sent about new comments, and so on.

In the “Comment Moderation” and “Comment Blacklist” fields, you can moderate and block words in a comments content, name, URL, email, or IP address.

Avatars

By default, WordPress displays an avatar next to comments. An avatar is a profile image that follows you from blog to blog, and forum to forum. Millions of people use Gravitar.com to create their avatars. If your users have an avatar and they use the email address they created the avatar with to comment on a post, their avatar will show up.

Deselect the “Show Avatars” checkbox if you do not want avatars displayed with comments.

You can also block inappropriate avatars from displaying by clicking one of the “Maximum Rating” checkboxes.

You can change the default avatar from “Mystery Person” to one of the 6 other options.

Privacy Policy

In the Screens Menu to the left, hover over “Settings” and click “Privacy” to reveal the Privacy Settings screen.

If you need to add a privacy policy page to comply with national or international privacy laws, you can do so here. Either create a page or choose from a page you might have already created where it says “Change your Privacy Policy page”.

Feedback
Please let me know of any errors, grammatical or other, in the this guide via the contact form. Also feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.

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