With WordPress, the installation process is pretty straight forward. Enter some database information along with the admin super user credentials and the WordPress installation script takes over. WordPress uses a standard set of default settings. While these settings are based on common usage, there are some settings that you should change. Take the following steps to change WordPress default settings.

First, login to the administration area (dashboard). Then verify or change these default WordPress settings as required.

Settings > General

Verify the Site Title, Tagline, Membership, and Timezone settings. Most themes use the Site Title and Tagline in the header section of the website. It is also available for use throughout the website for different pages and posts. Most times, the web hosting server and the website owner’s city are not on the same timezone. This can cause issues with websites that use dates and time in their calculations. For example, the website will use the time zone setting when scheduling blog posts, selling products, and creating bookings. Set the timezone to your current city.

Settings > Reading

The majority of websites, the blog posts are listed on a page that is not the Home Page. Create a page called ‘Home’ and another page called ‘Blog’. Update the homepage displays settings to reflect the new pages. Verify the Search Engine Visibility checkbox. Sometimes, developers will have this box checked during the development of a website and forget to clear the checkbox when publishing the website on a live server. Search engines will not crawl your website (you want search engines crawling and ranking your website).

Settings > Media

Verify that the image sizes for Thumbnail, Medium, and Large sizes actually match the design of the website. Each time you upload an image to WordPress, it creates three additional images based on the sizes under Media Settings. There is no need to serve larger images (like the sizes you get from smartphones and cameras) when the website does not need them.

Settings > Permalinks

Always change your Permalinks from the default setting to ‘Post Name’ or ‘Custom Structure’. You want SEO friendly URLs for your website. Having a URL such as ‘mydomain.com/?p=234’ or ‘mydomain.com/2018/12/23/sample-page’ is not SEO friendly. As well, search engines can’t properly understand the website hierarchy.

Appearance > Themes

Delete all unused themes. Unused themes don’t typically affect the functionality of a website. However, they do take up space on the web host server. And this space means you will have larger files when you create backups. Having a smaller backup file will lead to faster file transfer times (when sending backups to a repository) and will use less bandwidth.

Plugins > Installed Plugins

Delete all unused plugins. Like unused themes, unused plugins take up extra space on your web server and increase the size of your backups. Unlike unused themes, extra plugins use extra resources and impact the loading speed of your website. Plugins may also leave your website vulnerable due to security holes (especially in older plugins).

Users > All Users

Complete your user profile. WordPress sets your username during installation and displays this username as the author when you write posts. In order to reduce the risk of user enumeration, add your First Name, Last Name in the respective fields. Also, change the Display Name (using the drop-down box) WordPress will use on posts. For example, force WordPress to display your first and last names instead of your username.

Updating these settings will help get WordPress ready for initial website development. These processes are some of the most common steps to take immediately after completing a new WordPress installation. Don’t forget to change the WordPress default settings on your website.

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