One particular set of Admin screens has some of the most important options which allow you to determine what your website looks like and how it functions: the section titled simply Settings, which appears in the Admin Main Menu.
Settings consists of six screens: General, Reading, Writing, Discussion, Media, and Permalinks. If you have a theme or plugins activated, there may be additional screens under Settings.
When you have WordPress installed, we recommend that your first move be to check at least the short list of settings discussed here.
Settings > General
At the top of this screen are the fields for Site Title and Tagline. These are just what they sound like, and depending upon the theme, will often be displayed prominently in the website’s Header area. The Site Title usually displays in the browser’s Title Bar or Tab as well. Regardless of the theme, be sure these are both filled in with appropriate text. These two fields can be changed at any time.
The WordPress Address and Site Address fields are crucial to the working of the site. Depending upon how you installed WordPress, these may both be already filled in, but check to be sure.
In the most common setup, these will be filled in with the same URL (web address) which will also be the URL your site visitors will use to access the website. If WordPress — the set of core WordPress files — is installed into the root directory (the folder on the server which is the “trunk of the directory tree” for the website, and corresponds to http://yourdomain.com) this URL will be something like http://yourdomain.com or http://www.yourdomain.com. Of course, you’ll use your actual domain name in place of “yourdomain.com”.
If WordPress is installed in a sub-directory, for example a sub-directory named “blog”, the URL for both of these fields will be something like http://yourdomain.com/blog or http://www.yourdomain.com/blog.
There are some less common setups which require that these two fields have different URLs filled in.
Settings > Writing
As of the current version of WordPress, the Writing Settings screen has only a couple of useful settings. Default Post Category is self-explanatory, and Default Post Format may be handy when using the Post Formats feature, which we will discuss later in this Course.
It also invites the use of Press This, a WordPress browser application for clipping items from the web for use in blog posts. Unfortunately, we have found this app to be buggy and so can’t recommend it.
Post by Email is self-explanatory and could be handy for some.
Settings > Reading
On the Reading Settings screen at the very top, you’ll find a group of settings labelled Front page displays. These allow you to choose what will be displayed on the website’s home page. The first option is selected by default: Front page displays your latest posts. When this option is selected, the site’s front page will be the classic blog layout, showing a list of your most recent blog posts, usually as short excerpts.
If you select Front page displays a static page, the home page will show a WordPress Page — not a Post, but a Page which you have already created. The drop-down menu just below lets you choose which page.
If you do choose the Front page displays a static page option, and your website includes a blog, you’ll want to make a selection from the associated drop-down menu. Here you can choose another Page you’ve created — a Page, not a Post — as the location for the blog’s own index page, where the typical list of posts appears. To set this up, a page is created and named, but otherwise left blank, and then that page is chosen here.
A lot of themes have a custom home page which uses its own special template, and this type of setup may override the settings here. If that is the case, leave this setting unchanged unless the theme’s instructions say otherwise.
The last setting on the Reading Settings screen is for Search Engine Visibility, and this one is super important. When this box is checked, a special code will be added to the website which instructs search engines to ignore this site and not index it or include it in search results. This is usually exactly what you want when a site is under development. But when the site goes live, this box should be un-checked right away, assuming you want search engines to find and list the site.
Settings > Discussion
The settings on this screen are significant only for a website which includes a blog, and which is accepting comments. But for that type of site, these choices are very important.
There are a number of options to choose from, providing control over who can comment, whether comments are moderated, whether an administrator is notified, and other choices. As the owner or manager of a blog site, you’ll want to think these issues through and make decisions as to how you want to handle blog comments.
If you know that the website will definitely not be accepting comments, we recommend simply de-selecting every checkbox on the Discussion Settings screen and clicking Save.
This topic is covered in detail later in this Course.
Settings > Media
When you upload a graphic image, WordPress automatically creates several more versions of the image, each with specific pixel dimensions. This permits you to choose which size fits best when you insert the image into a post or page.
On the Media Settings screen, you can set the dimensions for three different-sized versions. When you insert an image into a page or post, these image sizes will appear as choices in the drop-down list, allowing you to choose one.
However, a lot of themes create several more sizes for their own specific design reasons. When this is the case, the theme’s sizes override the settings on this page, and you’ll see the theme’s image sizes in the drop-down list when you insert an image into a page or post.
The other option here is whether or not to have WordPress organize your uploads into month- and year-based folders on the server. Even though you may seldom or never work with the files on the server directly, we recommend keeping this checked. It provides some organization for what otherwise can become a huge and unmanageable collection of files, and there’s no down-side.
Settings > Permalinks
Permalinks is a feature which causes WordPress to give user-friendly permanent custom URLs to your WordPress posts and pages. By default, WordPress uses URLs which have numbers and punctuation marks in them. With a Permalink setting, the same page can be found with a permanent, “pretty” link, much better for aesthetics, usability and future compatibility. On this screen you can choose which Permalink setting you’d like your pages and posts to use.
Your choice may be determined by personal preference, or mainly by the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ramifications of the choice. SEO is a complex and fast-changing subject which we will address later in this Course.
Soon after a new WordPress set is set up, you should decide which type of Permalinks you want to use, and stick to the decision. It’s not a good idea to change this setting later, because external links to your posts or pages will break, and other functionality in the site could be affected.