Essential Wordpress Setup

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Wordpress is a great free open-source blogging platform (that can be used as a CMS too), that just keeps getting better and better. With thousands of free plugins and themes it can be extended in an extraordinary amount of ways.

I’ve setup many wordpress blogs for Great Boxee, Laters - Read it Later client for Android, Postboxed - Postboxes nearby on Android, Peter Philip and of course this blog. So I thought it’s about time I wrote about how I set up Wordpress blogs. How this setup has served me well and ensures I get the best experience for me and my visitors. This is my essential guide to creating a blog or CMS with Wordpress.

Install Wordpress

It goes without saying I download Wordpress and follow the famous 5-minute install guide to get the basic Wordpress up and running.

This I always forget, set read permissions on the wp-content/uploads folder using your ftp program. So UNIX permissions should show to be 775. If you don’t do this, your uploaded images don’t get served up.

Plugins

These are the plugins I use to enhance my blog. There’s always similar competing ones but I’ve found these to offer great functionality and be reliable. You can download them all from the official Wordpress plugin directory. Unzip them and ftp them to your wp-content/plugins directory.

  • Vimeo Quicktags - Easily embed Vimeo videos in your posts
  • WP-SynHighlight - Prettifies your code so it looks like something you would see in your IDE

Wordpress Settings

Generally the defaults that Wordpress come with are good and can be left alone. The following will make it your own and improve on what’s there.

  • General - add your sites tagline (default is ‘Just another Wordpress Site’ which you don’t want)
  • Discussion - ‘Hold a comment in the queue if it contains’ - change this to 1 link. Uncheck ‘Comment author must have a previously approved comment’. I prefer to allow comments without approval. I get an email that a comments is there, so I can then go and act on it, if its inappropriate/spam. Akismet is on and posts with links need approval first.
  • Permalinks - Change it from the default which is not SEO or user friendly. I prefer a custom of ‘/index.php/%postname%/’ simple and clean.
  • Posts - Delete the dummy post that come with Wordpress.
  • Create Author Account - Create myself an account (besides the admin account), under who I’ll publish posts as. The admin account normally has a strong generated obscure password that I could never remember, so my own account is just an editor with a password I can remember. Make sure you change the ‘Display Name publicly as’ to your name rather than some username/nickname.
  • Robots.txt - Create a robots.txt file and ftp it to your root directory. This prevents search engines crawling private pages/scripts and indexing duplicates.

Plugin Settings

  • Aksimet - Get an Akismet api key and add it to the Akismet plugin
  • Twitter - Create twitter account (if needed) and put your twitter name in the Twitter plugin.
  • Contact Form - Create contact us page and add the contact form-7 tags/form to it. Send a test message through the form to make sure it’s working.
  • Google Analytics - Create a profile for the site in Google Analytics and add the tracking code to the analytics plugin.
  • Google Sitemaps - Add Yahoo ID to notify Yahoo of changes to content
  • WP-Touch - Tweak WP-Touch to your liking. There’s lots of options and the defaults are fine but you can change icons and colours etc if you like. Take a look in your phones browser to see how it looks.
  • Feedburner - Create an rss feed through feedburner and activate the feedburner widget with the feedburner url. This allows analytics and whole bunch of other benefits through feedburner, like subscribing to feeds by email, friendly web page to subscribe to your feed plus many more.
  • Digg Digg - Add your twitter name in the global options. Decide which social buttons to show, what to show them on (posts, pages, home etc) and where to position them. There’s too many services to show them all, so pick the well known ones.
  • All in one SEO - Enable and add values for home page. As you add post you can tweak the title, meta description and keywords.
  • Database Backup - Turn on scheduled back ups to be emailed to yourself.

Other

These are also great enhancements worth applying.

  • About - Create an ‘About’ page and fill it out. Let people know who, where, what, how and when.
  • Create an favicon icon for the site and ftp it to root (for rss readers) and to your themes root (for browsers). Favicon.co.uk is really easy for this.
  • Monitor for uptime. I Use Uptime Robot which is easy on the eyes and has an array of methods to notify you when a site is down. And Host Tracker which checks your site from over a hundred nodes around the world
  • Feedback/Customer Service - If it’s an app/software blog - Setup User Voice/Get Satisfaction/User Echo or any customer service app for feedback and customer support.
  • What are people saying about it? - Setup google alerts to know when others mention your product/site.

With over 15,000 plugins, Wordpress is extremely flexible and there is something for everyone. How do you setup yours?

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