Choosing the Right Settings for Your WordPress Blog

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[This post is part of the Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]

I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the many years of blogging with WordPress and some of the biggest “DOH!” moments have come from just the Settings portion of WordPress! I literally skipped over it (too excited to get to writing) or just didn’t think it was that important.

*SMACKS FOREHEAD!*

Thankfully I’ve learned from these mistakes and now am able to quickly pick the optimal settings right out of the gate so that the first blog post that I publish is working with the right settings; hopefully you’ll be able to do the same thing!

For those that have some experience using WordPress I would highly recommend checking out my Media Section part of this post as it’s saved me countless hours (once I set it up right!):

First, the Settings >> General should be your first place to strike!

You’ll want to check all of your settings here first. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Make sure your title is short and to the point.
  • Your Tagline can be much longer, if needed. Note that this can play an important role in SEO and can oftentimes be the sub-text below a search result! This depends on your WordPress Theme that you’re using as well, so double check on how the theme you use operates!
  • The WordPress Address and Site Address are important if you’ve installed your software on a different folder other than the “root” folder.
  • I nearly always have “Membership” off for a new blog since it’s the quickest way to bloat your system with bots creating dummy spam accounts. Just keep this off for now unless your strategy out the gate is a different type of community site.
  • The Timezone Setting is really important, especially for your blog post timestamps and your analytic reporting! I didn’t learn the latter part until much later when I saw that all my reports were a few hours off! Get your timezone right!
  • I don’t touch any of the other settings here.

Moving on Settings >> Writing I change a few things here in a new installation:

The first is one of the biggest “AHA!!!” moments I’ve had: Increasing the size of the post box!

It comes standard with 10 lines of typing space as seen here in your content area:

But, if you change it to a bigger number (I choose 25 for all my blogs based on screen height) then you get much more space vertically to type:

Wow! Look at all that extra space for writing!

Next, I check the 2 boxes at the bottom for Remote Publishing since this is needed for 3rd party apps (like Mobile Apps) and other publishing apps that require the ability to interface with your blog:

Make note that if you’re not planning on using any of those types of services you best keep them un-checked since it can open up a “backdoor” for advanced hackers and the like. So far, with my additional security settings that I use, I haven’t had any issue but I know plenty of people that have had issue!

Next is the Settings >> Reading Settings:

I typically don’t touch any of it since they are fine but I do have one thing I’d like to talk about, and that is the argument surrounding “Full Text” or “Summary” for your RSS Feed.

I, without question, am in the camp of doing “Full Text” instead of an excerpt or summary of the post. I simply can’t imagine forcing my readers (who have committed to subscribing to my blog) to come to my physical blog when they don’t have to.

Sure, some people will argue strongly the other way but their arguments are typically like this:

But by offering “excerpts” only you get more traffic by making your subscribers come to your blog!

I categorically dismiss this strategy and think it’s rude! Let your readers get the full content where they sit and if your content is good enough to warrant a visit (and perhaps a comment in response) then let them choose to do so!

Enough said!

The next area is your Settings >> Discussion settings:

Typically I choose a few options here to change:

  • I pick only the last option on the “Default Article Settings”. Read more here of why I do this.
  • I request the commenter to give me their name and email because I want to get to know them!
  • I enable Threading and make it 10 levels deep. This is dependent on your WordPress Theme so check how many far you can go with threads before it breaks the styling! On that note, you should probably choose a WordPress Theme that allows up to 10 full levels!
  • Some would argue about breaking up the comments into multiple pages to get more pageviews and sometimes I choose this and sometimes I don’t.
  • The rest of the settings I keep as is.

The bottom part has to do with Gravatars, which I highly recommend you use and help your users use!

I use the default settings but typically I suggest the community to go get one if they haven’t gotten one yet. I talk more about this here.

The next section is Settings >> Media and this area is crucial:

This was something that I wish I had learned earlier in my blogging career because it could have saved me tons of time!

What I’ve learned is that by setting the Thumbnail, Medium, and Large size settings as it relates to my current blog theme then I’ll have WordPress automatically create the right sizes for my content areas every single time instead of having to manually edit the sizes post-upload!

Practically, this looks like this for TentBlogger.com (and the Standard Theme WordPress Theme’s native width for both default page template and Full Width page template):

This blog's actual media settings.

As you can see I’ve chosen the following settings:

  • Thumbnail size: 180 x 180 pixels
  • Medium size: 570 x 1,000 pixels
  • Large size: 890 x 3000 pixels

I’ve done this because the default width of a normal blog post for an image to take up the full-width of that content area is 570 pixels. In the “Full Width” page template the size is 890 pixels.

So, what I’ve asked WordPress to do is to automatically create these sizes for me the moment I finish uploading the images! That way I have the right size all the time. Here’s what it looks like when I upload a large image:

Have your blog software do the work!

As you can see it automatically creates those necessary sizes for me!

Now, all I have to do is insert those into my posts and/or pages:

Uploading image into the "Default" template.

And here is the preview of it:

See how the image goes full-width in the content area?

And here’s what it looks like via the “Full Width” page template:

I've chosen the "Full" page template.

And here’s what it looks like via preview:

Full Width page preview with the image automatically created!

Do you see how helpful these Media Settings can be for you?

Have WordPress automatically create these image sizes for you for all of your uploaded images from the very beginning! Loads of time saved instead of having to manually edit the sizes each time!

Of course (for fun) I have to show you the full image that I’m using:

The 8BIT Team

Yup, we tried a little “Godfather” action here!

Finally, you’ll want to check out the Embed Settings blog post I’ve created to explain more in depth this part:

Powerful for Embedding Media! Check out the blog post!

Don’t miss this comprehensive look at WordPress’ oEmbed feature and how that impacts your videos you embed!

And, don’t forget to check out this killer WordPress Plugin that automatically does most of this for you with some much-needed benefits for RSS readers!

The next section is Settings >> Privacy and this is pretty straight-forward:

If you want your blog to be seen by Google then choose that option! The only reason I use the other one is when I’m starting a new blog and have gotten it set up but am not ready to go “public” with it yet.

Just remember to toggle back to “visible” when you’re ready to launch!

The final section of your options is Settings >> Permalinks and I’ve decided to do an entire blog post on this so check out the next post in the series! here: Choosing the Right Permalink Settings for Your WordPress Blog!

Which setting is the best?

So, hope that run-through helps you guys!

Remember, getting the right settings in place from the very start is your best bet in the long-run instead of changing it up mid-stream!

Any thoughts? Anything that you do differently for your blog? Love to hear it!

[This post is part of the Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]

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