Update: We have renamed the series to WordPress for Beginners. WordPress for Dummies is a trademarked book, we respect trademarks, we apologize for the confusion.
Welcome to WordPress, now that you have installed one of the best platform to blog with, there are a few things you might want to tweak and change to get the best out of it.
I am starting a new series called “WordPress For Beginners” that will focus on helping newcomers and moderate users optimize their WordPress installation, though I will try and cover many things here, there may still be things that may not make it to this list, so if you think I left anything out please feel free to add to this list.
This guide is based on WordPress 2.8 so few things may not be available/different if you are using a older version of WordPress.
In this post I will concentrate on exposing the different settings WordPress has and you can use after installation.
After Installing: Change Your Administrator Password
The initial administrator password is generated randomly, so you might want to change it to something that you can easily remember.
Create Another User With Administrative Privilege
Though not required, it is always good to create a new user with your name and use that for all administrative purposes, again this is not a requirement, however I personally don’t like to write blog posts using the admin user.
Change Blog Title & Tag Line
Your blog is unique and you might want to give it a nice title and tag line, to do that go to Settings -> General and update the information there.
Disable Option For Anyone To Register
Unless you want people to register and comment on your site, you do not require this feature, go to Settings –> General and uncheck the checkbox next to “Anyone Can Register” and save the settings.
Setup your Timezone, Date & Time Format
On the same general settings page, setup the timezone for your country and change the date & time format that suits you best.
Configure Writing Settings
Go to Options –> Writing and configure how you want the write panel you to display, and also other options related to converting content and correcting improper HTML in the post to be XHTML valid.
If you plan to write blog posts from a desktop or external editor, you will have to enable remote publishing, without which you may not be able to publish using a external tool or device.
If you want to publish posts using email, you can also set that up on this page itself.
Add Ping Servers
Whenever you write a new post not all services will automatically know about it, however WordPress allows users to automatically ping these services whenever you write a new post.
In the Settings –> Writing options page you can enter a list of Update services WordPress needs to ping when you write a new post. Here is a comprehensive list of services you can add there.
Update: Based on comments from Otto and Matt, I have removed this list, to get a list of services you can check the WordPress Codex: Update Services.
Setup Reading Options
By default WordPress will display the latest posts on the home page, however you can also show a static page instead of it, to change that go to Settings –> Reading and change the default page that should be shown when someone visits your blog.
In this page you can also change the number of posts that should be displayed on each page of your blog and the number of posts that should be shown when someone subscribes to your RSS feed.
You can also decide whether to show full or partial content in feeds, I suggest you keep it as full content.
Commenting, Trackbacks, Pinging & More
Whenever you write a new post, you may sometimes include a link to another site, WordPress provides you with an option to automatically notify the external blog in the form of a trackback or pingback.
In addition to that other blogs may link to you, and WordPress has the ability to provide us with an option to send you trackbacks & pingbacks.
If you do not want that to happen you can go to Settings –> Discussions and disable it.
You can also setup if you want to allow other users to comment on your posts, the criteria for allowing users to comment on your blog and so on in this page, along with displaying of Avatars for commentators.
Setup Media Options For Images
Whenever you upload a image to your blog, WordPress will resize and display it accordingly, if you want to change the size of the thumbnails and other image sizes, you can visit Settings –> Media.
Privacy & Disallowing Search Engines From Crawling Your Blog
If you want to let your blog remain private and don’t want it to be crawled by search engines, WordPress provides you a easy option to do it, go to Settings –> Privacy and change the privacy settings for your blog.
WordPress is a wonderful platform in the form that it allows users to setup how the URL for your blog should be like.
Optimized URLs are usually good for SEO, you might want to change the Permalinks for your blog by going to Settings –> Permalinks.
In addition to the available options, you can also setup custom permalinks by using tags, you can find a list of tags you can use in the permalink by visiting this WordPress Codex document for custom tags.
Image Upload Location and URL
A often overlooked area of the settings is the Settings –> Miscellaneous page, on this page you can change the default location of where images get stored when you upload it and also provide with a URL that you want the images to be appended with.
For example I use cache.techie-buzz.com instead of techie-buzz.com for my images, so I can set it up on this page.
This concludes the first part of the new WordPress for Beginners series, in the next part I will look at a bit more technical aspects of setting up your blog and installing essential plugins and themes.
Please feel free to comment and tell us about things I may have missed out.