Setting up a WordPress website can seem a bit challenging in the beginning but after learning the system it’s quite easy.
There are a few essentials when setting up your first website. After setting up several of my own and to help out my brother and newphew and everyone else just getting started, I figured I would create this simple step guide.
Initial Set-up of WordPress. I won’t get to much into installing the basic wordpress platform as it’s been quite well covered and with most web hosting providers, they offer a one click set-up. This is to assist you with what needs to be done after its been installed.
After Installation you should be able to upgrade to the most current version automatically. If not use these instructions to do so. With so many advances in wordpress technology I recommend using the most current version possible.
Now that you have WordPress installed on your server you’ll have both an admin area, ususally “YourWebsite.com/wp-admin/ you’ll have setup a user name and password to access your admin area. The admin area is where you’ll produce all your content, install themes, widgets, plugins and manage every aspect of your wordpress website.
There are several important steps when setting up your wordpress website once its been installed.
You’ll need or want to choose a theme that works best for your content type. There are several ways to select the theme or layouts for your new website, but it’s important when choosing your theme, what type of navigation you’ll need. You can choose categories or pages as a main navigation system. This is an important consideration, actually it’s an extremely important consideration. The difference between setting up using pages vs categories is quite simply but is difficult for people to understand in some cases when getting started.
The basic difference between the two are, pages stay the same, and categories are dynamic main topics they allow you to organize posts under them. An example of this would be if you have a website that covers several topics, for example “Money”. You may have a category that talks about Saving Money and another about Making Money. Each of these would be categories, one day you may want to write about a new way you learned to save money, you would write your save money post then select the category save money where it will be displayed. When a user clicks the link Save Money each article you’ve written about saving money would appear with the most recent appearing at the top.
Pages on the other hand are always the same, generally they are reserved for items that stay the same from day to day. Your “About Me” page will generally stay the same as will the Contact Us page. If you website is a business website you may have a “How to Apply” Page and it will usually stay the same. So categories are general topics to arrange posts and pages are static and generally stay the same.
Most WordPress themes are arranged offering both pages and cateories, the difference is which is simply which one you should use as the main navigation. My website Pennyroll.com works best with Category navigation as the main system because it covers many topics.
Basically if your covering several topics use categories, if your covering one topic, use pages.
Within your wordpress admin click on “Add New Themes” and you can install themes directly, as opposed to downloading them and then re uploading them via an ftp client. If you’re going to use an ftp client I recommend FileZilla it’s free, opensource, and fully featured.
Now that we have wordpress setup and a theme installed, there are many things that need to be done. Lets start at the top and work our way down. By the way this may all seem like a lot of work but it goes quite quickly and if you’re committing to writing everyday and serious about this new website, you must know that it’s going to take some time. It’s basically going to become your new hobby, so either enjoy it or it’s just not worth it.
Next well talk about the ever important plugins. Plugins are essentially small add-ons for your website. They both increase the functionally of your site and can make it easier for a visitor to use. They can also take away from your website, make it slow and decrease efficiently. Each time you add a plugin or widget you’re adding more code that the user has to process. If your adding plugins and widgets use cautions.
There are simply millions of plugins and widgets available for you to choose from. Some are quite important and others are worthless. There are however several plugins that are essential. An example of an essential plugin would be akismet. This plug-in is essential if you plan to allow comments on your blog. There are plenty of spammers out there and this little plugin will run the comments that appear on your blog against a database of comments that have been flagged as spam then automatically block them for your approval or disapproval.
Rather than write an entire section of add ons, I’ll refer you to an article about plugins I wrote on the subject.
If you’d rather have the quick rundown, here’s the list of the most important plugins to add to your WordPress website.
Akismet - Keep your comments clean
SEOPlugin Easily Optimize your pages
Both My Page Order & My Category Order – Move around your pages and categories in any order you perfer
AddToAny or SexyBookmarks – Social Networking, and sharing
Google Sitemap – easily add a sitemap to google
Contact Form 7 - Easy fully featured forms
WordPress Backup – Backup your wordpress files
Add each of these plug-ins to any new wordpress website you create.
A WordPress website by defult automatically sets up a url for each post you create. You have a few options as to how you would like them to appear. This step is quite important because it’s important to do this in the very beginning, before you ever create a post. Your goal here is to setup a url that is both friendly to search engines as well as users. The default p=123 is not either, day and name as well as month name make your content seem relative to to date ad if your content isn’t time sensitive then you should probably not use this method either, numeric isn’t a good option either. That only leaves custom as a choice. You’ll notice that this post is date time, this is because when I first setup Pennyroll.com I skipped this all important step and have now been indexed with date permalink structure. I could go back and redirect everything to a custom url I just haven’t had time to do so yet.
Day and name http://www.pennyroll.com/2009/12/16/sample-post/
Month and name http://www.pennyroll.com/2009/12/sample-post/
I recommend using custom with either /%category%/%postname%/ ORsimply /%postname%/ either one of these options will be easy for users and search engines to read and ensure that you content is not date stamped like mine is.
You’ll find the permalink setup under settings – permalinks
Just as important if not much more important is the initial setup of your webpage address url. Under the General Settings “Settings – General” you’ll have the option to enter the url of your website. This may seem like a simple step and it is, but you can make a simple yet critical mistake here. I did. The simple tip is, don’t leave out the WWW portion of the url. When I surf the web I usually put in the url as example.com I don’t usually add www when going to a website, so with out thinking I filled in this section as pennyroll.com. So my url was Pennyroll.com which caused an automatic redirect to www.pennyroll.com. My entire website was indexed incorrectly because of this little mistake.