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This document offers recommended steps for the initial setup of a WordPress website. The goal is to setup the basic pages and structure that you’ll use in developing your site further.

TASK #1 — Initial Configuration

  1. SETUP — You will want to perform a standard WordPress setup including the setup of SSL for your new site before continuing with the instructions on this page. [Learn More]
  2. LOGIN — Login to your new website. When you do, you will be at the WordPress Dashboard.
  3. GENERAL — From the WordPress Dashboard, go to Settings > General.
  4. TITLE — Provide a Site Title. It’s preferable to keep the name short. Hopefully you were able to obtain a dot com website address that is simple and you have your site title contain the same words as your site address. This repetition helps people remember your organization or business name as well as the website address. The site title can include additional words considered to be helpful for being discovered on a search, such as the service you provide and the name of your location.
  5. TAGLINE — The tagline for your website offers additional information that you would like site visitors to see, or perhaps keywords that you would like search engines to consider. Organizations and businesses will sometimes have a motto or brief vision statement.
  6. TIMEZONE — Set your timezone. Click on the dropdown list, and rather than searching the entire list for your area, type in a major city name such as Chicago. Actually the first few letters should be enough to bring you to that point on the list with the city highlighted and selected. Press Enter or click the name with your mouse.
  7. DATE — Set your preferred date format.
  8. TIME — Set your preferred time format.
  9. WEEK — Set the day for the start of the week. Traditional calendars have Sunday as the first day of the week.
  10. PAGES — From the WordPress Dashboard, in the left column, choose Pages and Add New. As you create pages, you can initially provide titles for the pages and add more content later. The standard pages are described below.
  11. HOME — Create a home page for your website. This can be called Home or Welcome, or whatever you want, but the standard name is Home. You can create the page without spending a lot of time initially on the content for that page.
  12. ABOUT — On the home page of your website, you will probably want a brief introduction to your organization, business, product, service, or yourself. From that short description, you can have a link to more information on your About page. The About page might provide a longer bio or history and other background information.
  13. CONTACT — Some websites will have basic contact information in the footer of the site. However, having a dedicated contact page gives you additional space to offer more contact details. Also, some search engines like Google or Bing may provide direct links to popular pages on your site, such as the contact page.
  14. POSTS — You need to define a page where your recent posts will appear. This is sometimes referred to as a blog, or news feed. Since the term posts is familiar for most people, it is a good name for the page. When you are in the editing mode, this page will not show any content. The page is a placeholder for an automatically generated chronological listing of your recent posts.
  15. NEWS — Most announcements and news will be in the form of posts. However, changes to the site, new pages, and news from other sources won’t show up on the Posts page. It’s helpful to have a News page where you put the latest news and announcements.
  16. SERVICES — If you offer services, then create a page where they are described.
  17. PRODUCTS — If you offer products, you may want to have some featured on a products page.
  18. STORE — You may have a store hosted with a third-party such as an eBay store, Amazon store, or Etsy store. You may have more than one of these. It’s helpful to have a Store page to list your products and services or links to online stores where you sell products.
  19. RESOURCES — Whatever your organization or business does, you will likely want to have a page for resources you offer and links to other resources.
  20. STATIC PAGES — After you create the pages described above, go to the WordPress Dashboard > Settings > Reading Settings and set Home and Posts as the Homepage and Posts page. Then click the blue “Save Changes” button.
  21. COMMENTS — Unless you have the time and staffing required to respond promptly to legitimate comments, and filter out the spam, then it’s best to leave comments off. This is done by going to the WordPress Dashboard > Settings > Discussion and removing the checkmark next to “Allow people to submit comments on new posts” then scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue “Save Changes” button.

When you reach this point, your site will have the basic pages and structure needed for your site.

TASK #2 — Select Theme

Trying to find the ideal theme, or design one from scratch, can be a very time consuming task that seems to be never done. Choose a simple theme and organize your site content accordingly. It’s best not to be too dependent on a complex theme for your site design.

If your needs are simple, using a basic WordPress theme, developed by the WordPress design team, will provide speed and compatibility. If your needs are more complicated, choose the most basic them that serves your purpose.

Ideally, your site content (text, images, videos, etc.) can easily be effectively displayed using any theme.

TASK #3 — Action or Reference Site

ACTION SITES — Simple websites with clear goals help quickly guide people to the information, support, or items they need. Not much detailed content is needed for this purpose. For example, a landing page for a book or other product might have the basic information about the product, a short video, some customer reviews, and a BUY NOW or CALL TODAY button. These are action sites with a specific focus.

REFERENCE SITES — Some websites are the ‘product’ being promoted. In some cases, nothing is being sold. Information is being offered. Sites designed to serve as an online reference guide will likely contain more content. These sites need to be well designed, so site visitors can easily navigate the site, browse, and find information.

HYBRID SITES — Most large companies combine the simplicity of an action site with the additional resources available. For example, Dell and HP websites offer quick links to buy products or get support.

TASK #4 — Posts, Categories, and Tags

Once your basic site pages and structure are established, much of the content added to the site will be in the form of posts.

CATEGORIES — It’s possible to have hundreds of categories for website posts, but WordPress tends to work best with 10 to 20 categories. These are broad descriptions for site content. Tags, described below, are for more specific keywords.

TAGS — As mentioned above, Categories are a way to create larger topical groupings of site posts. WordPress is designed to handle many Tags as keywords for posts. Tags help clarify specific topics covered by a post, even if a certain word isn’t specifically mentioned in the post itself.

QUANTITY — Your site could be designed to have a finite organized and related number of posts. A site with limited content can be written like a book with links from one section to another. Alternatively, you could plan for a site of ever-expanding content. Try to plan your site structure according to the quantity of content anticipated.

RELEVANCE — It helps to have posts on topics of relevance to your site readers and related to the topic of your site.

TASK #5 — Site Stats

You will want to create a free account with StatCounter and use the WordPress plugin to evaluate how visitors are finding and using your site. [Learn More]