WordPress Settings

Did you just log into WordPress for the first time and you’re feeling lost, not knowing what to do? We’re here to help! Let’s start by tweaking your website’s basic WordPress settings. This step will help your website run just the way you like it.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the WordPress settings panels, screen by screen, to get you all set up. Ready? Let’s dive in!

An overview of the WordPress Settings panel

After logging in to your WordPress website, you first want to go to the Settings panel to configure your website. There, in the sidebar, you’ll find a handful of different sections covering everything you’ll need to configure the website to your liking.

The main WordPress Settings panel.

1. The General screen

The first page you’ll come across is called General settings. This section of the WordPress settings is also the most straightforward. Here, you can view and edit basic information about your site. The first two fields let you set a title and tagline for your site:

Site title and tagline setting in WordPress.

It’s important to remember to customize your site’s tagline – a smart approach is to incorporate a primary keyword.

After filling in the website’s title and tagline, you’ll find two URL settings:

General Settings WP Address and Site Address options

The first field, your WordPress Address, is where your site is actually located, while the Site Address is the URL people can use to visit your site. In almost all cases, these will (and should) be identical. However, you may want to change one or both URLs in rare situations.

Up next is your admin email address field. This address must be correct since it’s where important information about your site is sent. After this, you’ll see an option labeled Membership:

By enabling this, you’ll let anyone who visits your site create an account. In most cases, though, it’s recommended to keep this setting disabled since it’s not something that will be beneficial to most sites. Now matter what setting you choose for this box, you’ll also want to make sure that New User Default Role is set to Subscriber. This will ensure that new members are given only the most basic permissions.

The rest of the settings under General are pretty self-explanatory:

General Settings Site Language

You can select a default language and timezone for your site and choose the format in which dates and times will appear. Finally, you can decide what day you want your site’s ‘week’ to start on, which will affect any calendar-related features (such as widgets). Once you’re done with the General settings, go to the Writing screen to configure the default options that affect how content is formatted and displayed.

2. The Writing screen

As the name suggests, the Writing screen is all about the default formatting settings for the editing screens of your posts and pages. There are only a few options here:

Writing Screen Settings

The first thing you need to do here is to select a default category for your posts, which is helpful if most of your content is on a single topic. Most users will want to leave Default Post Format set to Standard, but you might want to change this if much of your content is media-based rather than text-based.

Below the default settings, you’ll find details for one of WordPress’ lesser-known features – the option to create posts via email and publish them directly to your site. It’s a kind of an old-school feature, though, so in most cases, we’d recommend to ignore it.

Then, you’ll find a section called Update Services:

Writing Screen Option

Here, you can list services that will be notified whenever you publish a new post. We recommend leaving this as the default. After exploring and setting up the Writing screen, it’s time to move on to another important aspect of your site’s configuration:

3. The Reading screen

This screen encompasses settings that determine how your posts appear to readers.

The first step when you access this screen is to set what your homepage will display. By default, your homepage is a list of your most recent blog posts, which is useful for WordPress blogs or news sites. However, it’s less ideal for businesses, online stores, and so on. For those kinds of sites, you’ll generally want to choose A static page instead:

Reading Screen Options

This will let you pick any page on your site to be the new home page (if you don’t have any pages yet, you’ll need to create one first). You’ll also need to select a new page to be the ‘home’ for your blog posts since they’ll still need to be displayed somewhere.

After that, you can customize how many posts show up on your blog page, as well as in any feeds you have set up. You can set these as low or as high as you’d like. You can also decide whether you want feeds to display the full text of each post or just a summary. This will determine how people who subscribe to your RSS feed will see your content:

Reading Screen Settings

Last but not least, the Search Engine Visibility option is the most important setting on this page. Checking it tells search engines like Google to ignore your site, while leaving it unchecked means they will index it as normal.

In 99% of cases, this should be left unchecked. After all, search engines can be a significant source of traffic to your site. However, you may want to select this option if your site is intended to be private. In addition, it can be smart to leave this temporarily checked while you’re building your site, so search engines don’t index it when it’s incomplete.

With your site’s visibility settings optimized for maximum search engine exposure, ensuring your audience can find you is just the beginning. The next step involves engaging with that audience effectively. Let’s see how we can do that:

4. The Discussion screen

This section of the WordPress settings is all about comments on your site:

Discussion screen options

You can use the “Default post settings” group of presets to enable or disable pingbacks, trackbacks, and comments on newly published posts. There are no good or bad options to pick here – it all depends on what you want your blog to be and the way you want readers to interact with it.

Now, about “pingbacks.” A pingback notifies you via a comment if someone has linked to your content from their blog. A trackback, however, is a way other authors can let you know they’ve written something relevant to your content, even if they haven’t included a direct link. To understand whether you should enable these options, read up on the pros and cons.

There are also a lot of options here that can be invaluable for controlling spam in your comments section. For instance, you can use the Comment Moderation field to enter a list of words and URLs that can be used to automatically flag comments:

Discussion Comment Moderation

Messages containing any of the specified content will be held for approval instead of posted directly to your site. Alternatively, you can ban specific terms altogether in the Comment Blacklist field. For help deciding what those terms should be, you can check out this handy blacklist file on GitHub.

To wrap up, you can decide whether commenters will be allowed to use avatars, and tweak a few related options:

Discussion Page Avatar Settings

With that, you’re ready to move on to the next batch of WordPress settings found on the Media screen.

5. The Media screen

No matter what type of site you’re running, you’ll want to include plenty of images. This means uploading a lot of files to your Media Library.

The Media settings enable you to customize the size options for any images added to your library:

Media Settings

You can set various default sizes, from which you can choose when adding an image to a post or page. There’s plenty of advice available online on how to choose the best size options. After exploring the Media Screen, where you learned how to set default sizes for images to ensure they fit perfectly in your posts or pages, let’s move on to Permalinks:

Permalinks are the URLs for each of your WordPress posts.

For example, this post’s permalink is https://themeisle.com/blog/wordpress-settings/

To change the look and structure of those URLs, you can access the Permalinks settings panel:

WordPress permalinks

We won’t go into detail about this here since we’ve already written a comprehensive guide on permalinks in WordPress. Check it out to learn why permalinks matter, and how to choose the best structure for your site. Additionally, the Permalink screen allows you to configure the URL base for your category and tag pages as well.

Now, let’s jump to the last screen of the Settings panel:

7. The Privacy screen

The Privacy screen helps you create a privacy policy for your site. This screen was introduced in WordPress a while back in response to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act established by the EU. This created new requirements for site owners when it comes to transparency and privacy.

There are two options here. You can create a privacy policy using an existing page, or a new one:

Privacy Screen Settings

Either way, you’ll be presented with a partially-filled out page that you can customize:

Create Your Privacy Policy Page

The default content will help you include all the information your users need to be fully informed and safe. For more help building your privacy policy page, you can check out our guide on the subject. You may also want to use a privacy policy generator.

Now you know the WordPress settings!

Although WordPress is a beginner-friendly platform, new users can become overwhelmed by its many options. Even long-time users may not have explored everything the WordPress settings have to offer.

That’s why spending some time familiarizing yourself with these options is a good idea. Even if you don’t need to configure all of these settings now, you’ll know where to find them and how to use them when they become relevant.

Do you have any questions about any of the WordPress settings we’ve discussed? Ask away in the comments section below!

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