WordPress guide, tutorial, step-by-step instructions on how to set up and customize a new WordPress (WP) website.
This guide is aimed at beginners but also includes settings other new WordPress users may find useful.
The WordPress guide will show you how to set up and make changes to a default WordPress installation.
We illustrate some useful settings to make once WordPress has been installed.
You will also find answers to some frequently asked questions about WP. If you have any questions after reading the guide please get in touch.
WordPress Set Up Guide
The tutorial assumes that you have a domain name and website hosting in place and have installed the WordPress content management system (CMS).
Sections that we will be covering are:
- The Dashboard
- Posts (blog posts)
This guide will not cover the tools or editor functions. As a WordPress beginner you will not need to know these sections to set up your website.
The first thing I do when WordPress has been installed, is install a plugin called “WP Maintenance Mode“. This sets your website as private (no visitors will see your site, only a maintenance message) whilst you make the changes. When your website is ready, you can deactivate the maintenance mode.
So, to install the maintenance mode plugin, hover over Plugins in the left hand side menu, then to Add New. In the search box that appears at the top of the plugins directory, top right type in wp maintenance mode. The plugin will be found automatically. Click on Install Now. This will add the plugin from the WordPress directory straight into your website.
Here is the plugin you are looking for (the first one you see on the left):
Once the plugin is installed, click on Activate. The plugin is activated you will then need to activate the actual maintenance mode. See below, change Deactivated to Activated – that’s it. Your website will not be found until you deactivate the status below:
So, without further delay, please find the step-by-step instructions with pictures to be able to set up a great WordPress website.
The WP Dashboard
The dashboard is where you will find sections such as “At a Glance“, “Activity“, “WordPress News” and “Quick Draft“. Navigate to the top left menu link called dashboard to see the below.
You will see the below once clicked:
This is a summary of your website activity. Any of these sections can be turned off by visiting the Screen Options.
These are found at the top of the website screen:
Untick any of these options to remove them from your dashboard, these are personal choice so it is up to you what you would like to display. As you install more plugins, more information may appear in the dashboard.
As you can see in the top dashboard image, there is an example comment, 1 post and 1 page. It is best practice to delete the examples. To delete any of the examples, simply click on them, then you are taken to the listings. Hover over the title of the listing then choose trash. This is then put into the bin. You can then empty the bin and whatever is in there will be permanently deleted.
Moving onto the “Posts” section of the menu.
This is where any blog posts (articles) you create are listed. Posts can be deleted, made sticky, or quick edited. (To make a post sticky it means it will display at the top of your blog posts).
You can add tags to a post and assign it into a category. Try not to add too many tags into a post as this will slow down your website.
See the options below when in quick edit mode:
Ideally if you create a blog post try to use more than 300 words in the text and at least one image with ALT tag included (explained in the media section). This will help search engines to find your valuable content.
By default, WordPress adds a post called “Hello World!”. You can delete this post by hovering over the title (Hello World!) and click Trash. This will removed the post from the blog. To permanently delete the post you will need to empty the bin.
If you would like to list your posts on the front page of your website (like my website) , make sure that in Settings you have chosen in the Reading Section:
You can determine which is your front page and posts page in this section.
If you have any questions regarding posts, please contact me.
Here is the media library. Your website’s area for your images and videos etc.
To add a picture to your website you will need to upload it first. You do this by clicking the Add New button as above (next to Media Library).
When you add an image make sure to give it an informative title and ALT tag. This will help website’s SEO. Please see below:
To add the uploaded image into a page or post, click Add Media as pictured below:
Pages are very similar to posts although pages are classed as more static. To create a new page, hover over Pages in the left hand menu and Add New.
Enter your page title and add your content. There are two page views, Visual and Text. Swap between the two views to see the difference. If you want to add html, use the Text view.
When you are ready for your page to go live, click Publish – this is to the right of the page:
If you want to take a look at your page before going live or rather publishing it, click Preview. The preview will open in a new window. You can also schedule when to launch a page, click edit next to Publish Immediately to see.
Any questions, let me know!
This menu allows you to change the look, design and feel of your website or blog.
The first option is Themes. By default, WordPress currently loads three themes, the current one will be Twenty Seventeen.
Themes can be changed as often as you like and will not affect your posts or pages. If you change a theme, your widgets will be affected though, so bear that in mind.
Here is the Themes screen:
WordPress has over 4500 free themes to choose from. You can also purchase premium themes too. If you see a theme and the word “Lite” appears after the theme name, this means it is not the full version. It will be functional but will not have all of the functions available unless you pay for the premium version.
To customize a theme, simply click on the blue customize button as seen above. Here you can enter and change the theme settings to your liking. These can be changed whenever you like.
To add a new theme see below. Make sure you click on Latest to show the entire directory of themes:
Featured will display a selection of featured themes and the popular are ones that are installed a lot. You can search themes by name, topic and so on.
Make sure your theme is responsive to ensure it will look good on all devices. If you need assistance with a new theme, please contact me.
The next option in the Appearance menu is Customize. Depending on the theme you choose will depend on the options available. I cannot really say too much on this as each customize section will differ.
Widgets are like gadgets. They can be added to the sidebar of your website or footer. If your theme allows other widget areas then you may add widgets to these areas.
Such widgets are things like share buttons, latest posts, latest comments and so on. To find the widgets, hover over Appearance then choose Widgets.
By default there will be some widgets added to the sidebar. To remove widgets from any area there is an option when you expand the widget. You can move widgets around by dragging them!
When you first set up a WordPress website, it is best to create a new menu. Any page you create can then be automatically assigned to that menu.
To create a new menu, go to Appearance then Menus. Go to Create New Menu, enter a name for the menu. Once saved tick the bottom two options like this:
Every time you create a new page it will be added to the menu. Pages can be moved around in the menu by drag and drop.
WordPress currently has 49,630 plugins available to us as of March 2017. Plugins add additional functionality to your website. One thing to remember though, the more plugins you have the more code that is added to your website and blog. This may in turn slow your website down.
I currently have around 16 plugins on this website. Navigate to Plugins, hover over the section and then to add a new plugin simply click the Add New button as seen above.
The default plugins screen to add news ones looks like this:
The best bit of advice I can give is that if you are on the look out for a plugin, make sure it is updated recently by the developer and read the reviews. Also, choose a plugin that is popular and has good feedback.
You will notice in the above image the star ratings, last updated, how many active installs and if the plugin is compatible with your version.
Plugins I have installed are as follows:
Akismet Anti Spam, Better Delete Revision, Contact Form by BestWebSoft, Disable Comments, Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights, Google CAPTCHA (reCAPTCHA) by BestWebSoft, Jetpack by WordPress.com, Page Builder by SiteOrigin, Remove Query Strings From Static Resources, Simple Share Buttons Adder, SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle, TablePress, TJ Custom CSS, W3 Total Cache, Wordfence Security, WP Smush and Yoast SEO.
To read the information of any of the above recommended plugins and what they do, enter the name of the plugin into the search area in the Add New plugins.
If you would like any help or further information of the plugins I have installed please get in touch.
Users section of the menu lists who has registered onto your website. As you are admin, your username will be there. By default, anyone can register on your website. To turn off registrations, head over to Settings, then General Settings and you will see:
If you would like people to register, tick the box. If not, uncheck it. There is not much more to say about users other than you can delete them if they become a nuisance!
The final menu option is Settings.
The settings menu allows you to make important changes to your WordPress website.
First off in General, you can change your website’s Title, Tagline, Membership, Timezone, Date and Time and Language settings. Set these according to your locality.
Secondly, we have Writing. Here you can change the default category and a couple of other settings.
Next we have Reading. This is how you want your readers to view your information:
If you front page is the blog page, you can change the number of blog posts to show from 10 (above) to however many you want. If you make some posts sticky, these will be added to the number you choose above. So if you show 5 at most plus 2 sticky posts, you will show 7 in total.
Do not tick Search Engine Visibility! Your website may not appear in search engines.
Next up is Discussion. If you would like people to comment on your blog posts you can set different options here. The options are pretty straight forward and are personal choice.
Media next. I haven’t changed these settings from day one.
Permalinks are how your URL’s will display. The most recommended one I have researched is Postname.
Please see below to see how to set your website as this:
Here are some frequently asked questions relating to WordPress.
What is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is the place where you can get a free website. WordPress.org is where you get a copy of the software and install it yourself onto hosting. Visit the links for the official information.
What is a WordPress theme?
WordPress themes are made by developers, they change the way your website or blog looks design wise. There are free and premium themes. There are over 4500 themes to choose from.
What are the best plugins to install 2017?
In my opinion the following plugins are a must have in 2017: Jetpack, WordFence Security, W3 Cache Plugin, Yoast SEO, Google Analytics. Contact me for more recommendations.
Final Word on WordPress
So there you have it. A WordPress guide and tutorial for beginners. I hope you found the article useful.
Remember, if you have any questions what-so-ever about this post, please let me know or leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading.