WordPress: The Complete Post-Install Checklist
Please don't hesitate to use the comments to suggest additions etc, I'll update the checklist accordingly.
Depending on how you've installed WordPress (manually or by a "one-click-install" that many hosting providers offer) - one of the very last installation steps is to choose a blog name and provide an email address. That's where this checklist begins. Click on a heading below to get started!
- Create blog title, add email address
- Change your password
- Disable visual rich editor
- Add users
- Change the tagline
- Edit Membership permissions
- Set a date and time format
- Modify Reading and Writing settings
- Edit Discussion settings
- Modify Permalinks structure
- Pick a theme
- Customize your theme
- Write down CSS info
- Change title format
- Edit blogroll
- Edit the About page
- Add some categories
- Edit the example post for testing
- Install plugins
- Check blog and test plugins
- Create a favicon.ico
- Create a shortcut to the Dashboard / setup WordPress client
- Start posting
Enter your blog title and an email address in the spaces provided. You'll be given the username admin and assigned a password after you click Continue to Second Step. Use them to sign in to your WordPress blog - which will be http://www.example.com/wp-admin/login.php
Click the Authors & Users tab. From here you can add additional users if your blog will have more than one author. Some bloggers like to post using a non-admin account, and here's the place to set that up. To understand the permissions system (who can post but not delete, who can post and edit etc) visit http://codex.wordpress.org/Roles_and_Capabilities
Decide on a membership system for your blog. This has several implications - if you're going to require people to sign in to post comments, you'll need to enable this. If you do enable Anyone can register, make sure their default role is Subscriber.
Scan through the Writing and Reading tabs. By and large, each of the settings on both of these tabs can be left as the default. You may want to consider increasing the number of Blog Pages (posts) that are displayed by default (10).
Select the Discussion tab. Here you'll have to decide how you want to deal with comments. My suggestion is to allow anyone to comment, do not force users to create an account to comment, and users should not be required to have a previously approved comment. Here's why I suggest this - the easier it is for someone to comment on your post, the more likely they are to do it. I know some of you are thinking that "opening up" WordPress to allow comments so easily is an invitation for spam, and you're right. But a few steps down I'll cover how to avoid comment spam without making it harder for actual visitors to leave messages.
Now select the Permalinks tab. To help increase your search rankings, most SEO folks suggest that you change the permalinks structure. By default, your posts will appear as (or similar to) www.example.com/?p=1. The following Custom structure will have your pages appear similar to:
Custom structure: /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/
Alight, now it's time to pick a theme. Click the Presentation tab. Again, depending on how your WordPress installation was done, you may have some Themes already installed and ready to use. If you're not happy with the defaults, you have a couple of choices. You can find, download and install a WordPress Theme that someone else has created, or you can write your own. Here are a few WordPress Theme sites to get you started:
- WordPress Theme viewer
- WordPress Themes
- Alex King's Theme viewer
- WP ThemePark
- WordPress Theme Gallery
- ThemesBase WordPress Themes
- 980+ Free WordPress 1.5 and 2.0 Themes / Templates
After you've found a theme that you're happy with (assuming you didn't write it from scratch) you'll probably want to customize it a bit. Select Theme Editor from the top nav, and then choose the file you want to edit from the list on the right side. Many bloggers like to remove the Meta info as it takes up valuable screen real-estate. The Meta info is stored in the Sidebar if you're using the default theme. You can comment out sections you don't want, or delete them entirely. You've heard it before, and it applies here - backups are always a good idea.
When you're done customizing the look and feel of your blog, write down all of the CSS information. Select Stylesheet from the list in the right column, and write down the codes for future use (font info, link colors, background colors etc). You'll find yourself looking up this information fairly often if you run ads through AdSense or Amazon (to match the ads with your blog style). Put it all in a text file or email it to yourself - whatever makes you happy - but it's a pain in the behind to have to go into the Theme Editor each time you need a color code.
Blog Name >> Blog Archive >> Post Title
Take a look at the section titled Tidy Up Those Dirty Page Titles in John Wisemans Brilliant Wordpress SEO Tips for Bloggers and Webmasters for info on why and how to change the WordPress titles.
Edit the Blogroll. The default WordPress blogroll actually does contain links to interesting blogs. But they probably don't related to your site, so you might want to consider editing them. Select Links and then Manage Links to remove/edit the defaults.
Edit the example post. Use it to test things like <blockquote> and <h2>. Add a picture to the post to make sure you like the way pictures are embedded. Don't delete this post yet, you'll want to keep it around to make sure all of your plugins work properly.
After you've selected, installed and customized your theme and layout, edited the default post and About page, it's time to install plugins. Because every blog is unique (uh mostly..) you'll want to install some plugins and not others. Google "top wordpress plugins" or figure out which ones your favorite WordPress based blogs are using and install them.
Some plugins that I've found almost mandatory are: Spam Karma 2.2 (remember Step 9? SK2 will solve all of your comment spam problems), Intouch with Subject (if you want a simple "contact me" form), AdSense Deluxe (if you're using Google AdSense), FeedBurner Plugin (if you're going to have FeedBurner handle your RSS feeds), Google Sitemap Generator (even if you don't use the Google Webmaster tools it's a good idea to have a sitemap) and last but not least, Google Analytics Plugin (if you're going to use the Google Analytics service).
Create a favicon.ico for use with your blog. Upload it.
Bookmark your Dashboard or Write Post page (located at http://www.example.com/wp-admin/post.php). Or, if you prefer to compose your blog posts using a desktop client, check out the list here.
* Don't forget: Create a "contact me" Page for the Intouch with Subject plugin.