When I install WordPress, I install a comprehensive set of plugins and configure them for use. With 2 good friends having recently started WordPress blogs, here are some minimum things I do for each blog I set up. I’ll follow up with more advanced things later.
Change your category of uncategorized to a category name that will describe your most general miscellaneous topic, and no, don’t use miscellaneous. Your audience is not helped by “uncategorized”. And Google/Bing won’t know where to file you.
In Settings-General, set your time zone. You’ll thank yourself later. Well actually you won’t, because you won’t know the silly problems it saved you from.
Akismet spam filter – usually downloaded with WordPress. For blogs making money there is a licensing issue for which people turn to the TypePad spam filter. It’s essentially the same, I believe. This requires registration for a “key” – this is probably the most important thing you will do for yourself because spam will overpower your blog faster than a fox in a hen house. The spambots seem to sense the presence of the filter and they stay away. It’s fantastic.
Check the Discussion settings and make sure it makes sense to you. I don’t have any particular advice here. Remember that on each post and each page you can disallow comments individually.
Check the privacy settings. Under Settings, Privacy, there is a setting to block search engines. Some automatic install programs from hosting companies block this by default. I say to you my friend, be found! Seriously though, choose whatever you want. (On my host, “Quickinstall” blocks search engines; “Fantastico” does not.)
I highly recommend: Beginners delete the W3 total cache plugin, if it is installed. On my host, “Quickinstall” installs it with WordPress; Fantastico does not. If you have the WP Supercache plugin installed, it is fine to use – although troubleshooting this is an intermediate/advanced technical skill. If you turn it on, you have a 99% chance of it working fine, and if that is your experience then great.
For SEO and general navigation, I recommend setting the permalinks to something simpler than the default: Usually I do just the post name: /%postname%/, but sometimes, like on this blog, I put the year in the middle: /%year%/%postname%/. On network installs, the word “blog” gets inserted in there and for the interim, that’s not negotiable. If you don’t have the word “blog” in there, you’re good.
No, I don’t know what to make of the Hello Dolly plugin, but being in the know, I have my suspicions. Have you seen the clip of Carol Channing boxing with Mike Tyson?
Please feel free to comment below. If you are a beginner who has had an “aha” moment with WordPress, I’d like to hear about it. firstname.lastname@example.org