Creating a WordPress website is easy enough to do. Installing WordPress is a piece of cake too because most hosting providers include WordPress pre-installed once you sign up for a WordPress hosting plan. And from there, your website is ready to go.
That said, if you want to run the most secure and fast loading website possible, there are some things you should do before you start publishing content or setting up an online shop.
One thing you can do to optimize your website speed and load time from the beginning is to do some quick tweaks to the default WordPress settings. To optimize your website from the very start, check out these default WordPress settings that every website owner needs to change after installing WordPress, whether you’re a blogger, business owner, or ecommerce shop owner.
1. Reset Your Password
One of the easiest ways to make your WordPress website more secure is to change the default password you use to sign into the WordPress dashboard.
To do this, navigate to Users > Your Profile in the WordPress dashboard and scroll down to the section labeled Account Management.
Then, click Generate Password to get a new password.
Copy and save this password for future use. If it’s hidden and you need to see it, click Show.
Click Update Profile at the bottom of the page to save your new password. This new password will be the one used to log into your WordPress dashboard.
Adding to this, you also might consider changing the admin username so you don’t leave your site open to brute force attacks and other spammers trying to hack into your account.
To learn more about the different WordPress user roles, check out this tutorial.
2. Change the Site Title, Tagline, and Timezone
If you navigate to Settings > General in the WordPress dashboard, you’ll notice a bunch of different settings that, by default, have been set for you.
Here you’ll want to focus on three: site title, tagline, and timezone.
Change the default site title from “My WordPress Website” to something more relevant that will help communicate to your site visitors what you have to offer, brand your business, and boost your search rankings.
The default tagline for a WordPress website is “Just another WordPress site,” which isn’t very professional. Adding a short tagline will further explain to site visitors what your site is all about and what people can expect to find.
Lastly, changing the timezone from the default Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to the one you and the majority of your site visitors live in will decrease confusion when it comes to eCommerce orders, the time and date of published posts and media uploads, comments left on blogs, and even countdown timers.
Want to make a few more changes? Uncheck the Membership checkbox to prevent site visitors (especially spammers) from registering on your website and accessing your login page. Also, change the default date and time formats and pick which day to start the week on.
3. Delete Default Post, Page, and Comment Content
WordPress comes with default dummy content that acts as placeholders before you add your own content. This includes a sample post, page, and comment.
Deleting this content is easy to do and will ensure your site visitors don’t see this content once they start coming to your website.
For the sample post, go to Posts > All Posts in your WordPress dashboard. Find the post labeled “Hello world!” and click on the Trash link.
To delete the sample page, go to Pages > All Pages and trash the “Sample Page” just as you did the sample post.
Lastly, to delete the example comment, go to Comment and delete the default comment.
4. Delete Unused Themes
You’ll want a well-designed and fast loading WordPress theme so that your website can impress your visitors. This probably means that you will test and install a bunch of themes before you decide on the right one for you.
Any theme that you don’t intend to use you should delete, because they take up unnecessary space but more importantly themes, especially those that are not updated, are potential security risks.
So how do you uninstall a theme that is inactive?
You go to Appearance -> Themes and you hover over the theme and click on Theme Details. Then, on the bottom-right corner, press Delete.
5. Add a Contact Form
Giving site visitors a way to get in touch with you is crucial for instilling trust and encouraging conversions. Unfortunately, the default WordPress installation doesn’t come with a built-in contact form.
That’s why it’s up to you to add one to your site.
There are many WordPress contact form plugins, both free and premium, to choose from. Here is a list of some of the best ones you can install.
You can add a contact form anywhere on your website so people can reach out when they need help. Or, you can create a Contact Us page and add it to your site’s navigation menu so people can easily find it.
6. Create Permalinks that are Optimized for Search Engines
Permalinks are the URLs people see in their browser when they click on your website’s pages.
Default WordPress permalinks look like this: http://yourdomain.com/p=123.
While this link is short, it is not SEO friendly for search engine bots crawling your site and indexing you for relevant search results.
To make your permalinks short and SEO friendly, go to Settings > Permalinks and select the Post name option.
This will create a permalink that shows part of each post name in the URL, which is easily visible crawlers indexing your site, and understandable to site visitors arriving on your site.
Take a look at this example:
Creating pretty permalinks will help you drive more traffic to your site, display keywords in the URL, and boost overall SEO.
7. Configure Media Settings
By default, WordPress will create multiple sizes of every image you upload to your site. This adds too many files to your website that are unnecessary, which bloats your site and causes its speed and performance to slow.
To fix this, go to Settings > Media and set all the widths and heights to 0:
This will prevent WordPress from generating images of all sizes every time you upload a new image.
8. Create a Better Default Category
When you publish posts on your website they are required to have at least one category. If you don’t assign a category to a blog post when you write it, WordPress automatically assigns it to the “Uncategorized” category.
To change the default category so site visitors can better understand the content of your blog posts, go to Posts > Categories to create a new category.
Next, go to Settings > Writing and choose the new category you created from the Default Post Category dropdown menu.
Lastly, go back to Posts > Categories, click on the Uncategorized category checkbox, and delete it.
9. Change the Default Gravatar
WordPress uses Gravatar to display photos in author bios and in WordPress comments. If you don’t have a Gravatar to use, WordPress will use the default mystery man, like in this example below:
To use a Gravatar on your website, go to Gravatar’s website and create an account using the email you used to set up your WordPress website.
Then, upload the image you want people seeing in your author bio and when you comment on your site. This image will also show on any other WordPress sites where you leave comments.
If you want to change the default avatars used for people that comment on your site that don’t have a Gravatar, go to Settings > Discussion in the WordPress dashboard and scroll down to the section labeled Avatars.
Select the avatar you like best and save your changes.
10. Customize Your User Profile
When you launch your WordPress website, the username you use to log in to your site will be the one displaying next to your blog posts and comments.
To change this to your real name, or even a nickname, go to Users > Your Profile and scroll down to the section labeled Name. Fill in the sections First Name, Last Name, and Nickname.
Then, go to the dropdown labeled Display name publicly as and choose the name you want appearing on your website.
11. Change Your WordPress Email
When you installed WordPress, you probably used your own personal email. That means that your WordPress email that receives notifications when someone leaves a comment, fills out your contact form, or does anything else on your website that you receive emails alerts for, is also your personal email.
If you want to have all site notifications sent to a business email, or someone on your team that is responsible for monitoring notifications, start by going to Settings > General.
Find the section labeled Email Address and input the email you want notifications sent to.
Remember to use an active email because WordPress will send a confirmation email to it.
12. Replace the WordPress Logo
Every WordPress login page comes with the default WordPress logo.
If you want to appear more professional, brand your business, and even customize the background of the login page use a WordPress plugin to change the look of the default login page.
For help with this, check out one of these WordPress plugins:
Changing the default WordPress login page is also helpful if you build client websites that use WordPress as a content management system. You can brand the login page they access to see progress on their website with your company logo, name, and color schemes.
13. Change the Homepage
By default, WordPress displays your site’s blogs on the homepage. However, if you’re running a small business website, don’t have a lot of blog content to display, or want to guide people to your ecommerce shop instead, you might want to use a static page as your homepage instead.
To do this, go to Settings > Reading and select the A static page option under Your homepage displays.
Using a static homepage allows you to create custom layouts for people to view once they land on your website, which can be beneficial even for blogs.
And there you have it! Thirteen of the most common default WordPress settings that you’ll want to change after installing WordPress on a popular web host like HostGator.
Whether you’re a blogger, business owner, or an online shop owner, optimizing your WordPress install from the start will help your site run seamlessly for site visitors. After all, people come to your website in search of something valuable, whether it be content, products, or services, and don’t want to be hassled with slow loading pages, dummy content, or default WordPress design.
And you definitely don’t want your newly created website to be vulnerable to things like brute force attacks, spammers, or other malicious activity.
So, after installing WordPress, but before you start publishing content or selling online products, take the time to change some of these key default settings so your site looks good, renders properly, is safe and secure, and is fully optimized.
What do you think?
Are there any default WordPress settings that have been left off this list that you think are worth adding? If so, we would love to hear all about it in the comments below!
Matt Ahlgren is a web developer and online marketer with nearly 15 years of experience in the online marketing space. He blogs about WordPress, web development and web hosting over at www.websitehostingrating.com