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You can customize your WordPress Settings in the WordPress Admin dashboard; this section contains multiple subpanels and can differ depending on the plugins you have installed. Today, I’m going to review the six default subpanels – General, Reading, Writing, Discussion, Media, and Permalinks. If you install plugins on your site, you might see other setting subfields.
Complete your site title, tagline, WordPress address, email address, date, and time settings. You can customize how the date looks in your theme in this section, such as 12/10/2017 or December 10, 2017. The WordPress codex provides documentation on custom formats, and you can see a mockup as you type in the date. There is an option for “Membership” that says anyone can register. Do not check this button unless you know what you want a membership for; this is for exceptional circumstances.
When I conduct my site audits, I frequently see that clients do not have the Email Address, Site Language, or Time Zone completed. Do a quick check of your site and make sure you have those completed. For your email address, I recommend a same-domain email.
Define your default post formats and category options. Most people have their default category set as “Uncategorized” which is awful for SEO. I will often delete this category and select their most popular category. You can also set your default post format. For most people, the standard is the default, but there are exceptions. By customizing these to what you do most frequently, you will save yourself time when you write.
Out of all the setting subsections, Reading is the one you might tweak the most. Overall, this section defines how visitors read your site. If you want to have a home landing page (much like a website), you will select a specific page for your front page and a particular page for your posts. You can also customize the number of blog posts per pages, and how many items will show up in people’s feeds by default. You can set up whether people read the full article in the feed or just a summary. My personal preference is for the full-text as a blog reader. I don’t think abbreviated previews lead to click-throughs as much as people would think, but I always encourage clients to follow their personal preference.
If you have one of my premade or custom themes, you can control how many posts show up on your blog feed, archive, and search templates in the Customizer.
Discussion allows you to customize your comment settings. If you are running into an issue with your comments, always check this section first. A benefit of WordPress is that if you have a WordPress blog or site, and someone links to a specific post or page, you can receive a notification. I like these pings – they’ve helped me find copycats! It lets me know what other people are reading my blog and connect with like-minded people. You can turn comment approval on/off in this section.
You can also elect to show avatars in this subsection. For most of my site’s I deactivate this feature. The avatar loading process is slow, and site speed is a client focus. If you are interested in knowing more about WordPress Comments, check out this post!
Media settings can have a significant impact on your site load speed. Large images take longer to load. If your theme uses a small version of an image, it can elect to pull a “medium size” version of the image you uploaded rather than the full-size. The thumbnail image should look crisp when you use it in your theme.
Media sizes also emphasize a crucial point about consistent image ratios. Honestly, image consistency in size is one thing that defines my clients who have okay photography from those that have excellent photography. The outstanding blog photographers typically always upload their images with a consistent ratio, often 2:3 but sometimes 3:4. They will then customize their media settings to align with that image ratio:
- Thumbnail: 200 by 300
- Medium: 400 by 600
- Large: 600 by 900
Permalinks are the URL structure for your posts and pages. It is an SEO best practice to use a permalink structure that will include the post name. You might have started your blog on blogger, and then you are limited to your permalink options. You don’t want to change your permalink unless you know what you are doing. Otherwise, it could result in hundreds or thousands of broken URLs and a loss of website traffic. Curious about permalinks? Check out this in-depth blog post!
You might also like Understanding How to Use WordPress Widgets and How to Complete a WordPress Post. Want more WordPress tutorials? Check out more posts! This post was originally written on February 10, 2015, and was updated in 2018.