WordPress is undoubtedly the Giant among all CMS platforms. It is the most popular content management system being used today and this WordPress Infographic verifies the power of WordPress.

Today I’m writing down some tips that I wish I knew when started using WordPress. This post is intended for WordPress users and all bloggers, regardless of their CMS they might be using. This is because most of the techniques given here can be applied to any CMS. The article starts off from the beginner level, but progresses towards advance levels as you go through it.

The First Steps

WordPress Starting Guide

In this section, we will learn what to do and how to do it, after we create our WordPress website.

Make Your Profile

By default, you get a username of Admin and a silly (though secure but silly) computer generated password. Change it. Change your name as well, otherwise all your comment replies will be from Admin, which doesn’t sound very reader friendly, your personal name would enhance the interactivity.

Adding some Biographical Info is also essential. Otherwise there’ll just be an empty box of About the Author below all your posts. You can change all this information by clicking on Profile link in your WordPress Dashboard (in Admin Panel).

Default(er) About Us Page

We all delete the “Hello World” post when we start using WordPress, but sometimes we forget edit the default about us page. That’s a blunder, you should do it right away.

Choose a Theme

There are millions of free and paid themes available for WordPress. The paid themes offer good customization and reliability, but I believe if you try hard enough to find God, you can find him, what’s a theme then. I always use free themes, to find them, you can visit this list of Free Web Template Providers, almost all of these sites offer free WordPress themes.

Install Essential Plugins

The owner of Designzzz hates to use plugins, that’s because the more plugins we use, the heavier our site will get. But we still are using a few plugins because there’s no alternative. The conclusion is that you should use the essential ones, but don’t flood your WordPress with them. Here’s a list of plugins which I suggest you should install at the initial stage.

Spam Blocker: The moment your site starts to become a hit, an avalanche of spam comments will strike you. To defend yourself, you should use a spam blocking plugin. Akismet is a plugin that comes embedded with WordPress, you can enable it from Plugins section in your Dashboard

Sitemap Generator: This will generate a sitemap so that search engines, such as Google could easily find all the pages of your website.

Basic SEO: This plugin will give you advanced options, such as meta tags to boost your website’s search engine ranking.

Cache: This plugin reduces your server load and the site becomes faster, and a bit more reliable.

I have shared some free collections of WordPress Plugins, you should check them out. All the kinds of plugins I just mentioned are available in these posts.

Maintaining Your WordPress

Graph going up

Now when your site is running, it is time to take it to a level above. In this section we learn how we can do that.

Changing Theme

According to me, changing your theme is not a good idea. It distracts visitors. But sometimes, we just have to do it, if we realize that the theme we selected earlier was a wrong one, for any reason, such as that theme is SEO unfriendly or it is heavy and loads slowly. There can be several other reasons as well. So if you change your theme, these are the steps you should follow.

  • Save Sidebar Code: copy from sidebar.php
  • Google Analytics: and/or other tracker codes would reapply in header.php
  • Plugins Active: verify whether your plugins are running properly in your new theme
  • RSS Feed: check if it is working properly
  • Cross Browser Testing: you can use Browser Shots to check how your site is displayed on all the browsers.

Changing the theme might not be a good idea but keep updating it is an entirely different matter. Changing its font sizes or some styles makes it better. To learn making these changes, kindly visit our series of WordPress Editing, the links are followed:

Upgrading WordPress

WordPress keeps sending software updates. This includes bug fixes and function additions. But since the programming structure can change after an update, it is possible that your site stops working, or some problems will come up after the update. Here are the precautionary measures you should take before updating your blog.

De-Activate Plugins: If you are using WordPress 2.6 or a lower version, and you don’t deactivate the plugins before upgrading your WordPress, a Fatal Error message could spoil the mood of a visitor when he tries to open your upgraded site.

Back Up: The golden rule of everything. Keep a backup of your theme and your database.

Work on Weekends: make these updates on the weekends, this is quite helpful because weekend usually has lower traffic volumes. So even if something goes wrong, you know the majority of your visitors is unaffected.

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