In a new WordPress site you first want to twiddle a few knobs and enter some settings that will make your blog engine run smoothly. Keep in mind these can be modified at anytime, but for a few of them, it’s better to do this before we start writing anything.

In your dashboard find the Settings link in the bottom of the left menu.

The WordPress Settings menu reveals other settings as submenus- General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, Permalinks, and Limit Login Attempts

Clicking that link opens your General settings, but for future reference, you can hover over the settings link to directly access any of the other ones.

Below we review the most important ones to update now,

Under General settings:

  • You can change the site title and tagline at any time. These are used in many places to describe your blog, so make sure they are accurate.
  • The only other important setting for now is Timezone. By default, this is set to UTC+0 which is appropriate if you are at the same longitude as London. From the menu, pick a city name (e.g. Toronto) that is in the same time zon as you (or the time zone you wish it to publish in). This becomes important because all content is time stamped for when it was published.

Under Reading settings:

  • If you do not want search engines to visit your site and have your content show up in search results, check the box for Discourage search engines from indexing this site.

Under Permalinks settings is where you can decide how the web addresses for your blog will be formatted.

  • The default selection is the last one on the list, which includes your blog category in links. We think that makes for long URLs, so we suggest using the second to last option Post name.

Obviously there are many more settings, but changing them is not critical at this time. We will point now that WordPress has contextual help on every screen; look for the Help tab in the top right, below your user name. Clicking this opens a drawer with some quick explanation of the current screen, plus links to more detailed WordPress documentation:

A sreenshot of the WordPress help screen for the Permalinks settings.

Changing Your Settings

Now we will edit the settings on our on account. In the top right of the WordPress Admin bar, you are represented by a generic icon and a link that says “Howdy admin”. Hover over that o open the menu, and select Edit My Profile

Screenshot of the user menu, which opens a menu including the link to Edit My Profile

In your User Profile settings, note that you can choose a different color palette for the WordPress Dashboard. Why stay with black and white?

The settings we want to add now are our first and last name, as well as a “nickname” – for his site, Alan has entered his twitter handle. But the important setting is the menu for Display Name which tells WordPress how you should be listed on the web site any place it refers to you (don’t be just “admin” or “yt65is”.

Some WordPress themes (like this site, see the bottom footer) will use the content in Biographical Info when it displays your posts.

Many themes will use an icon or avatar to represent you. If you want this, you need to create a Gravatar account that associates an image with the email address listed in your settings. It’s a handy thing, as it will also be used when you leave comments on other people’s blogs.

See Also

This activity is pretty simple. Take some time to explore some of the other settings, and post any questions you have about them to the Newbies corner discussion area. Provide as a response to this activity a link to a blog post summarizing what settings you updated or a link to a screenshot.

Example for "Adjusting a Few Key Settings in WordPress":
http://extendlabs.ca/stuff/screens/permalinks.jpg

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2 Responses Completed for this Activity

  • Adjusting the settings (Lisa Koster, @lkoster)

    This is was a very useful activity. I never even thought to look at the time zone.   There are definitely lots of settings to explore!

  • Adjusting the settings (Irene Stewart, @IrenequStewart)

    I poked around and corrected the timezones, changed a few options and update my profile. I did these things for the three main areas of my site that uses WordPress. I even set different colours for the dashboards. I took a screenshot and added this to my image holding area on my site. This was… Read more »

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