Setting up your new WordPress site

Setting up a new WordPress site can feel overwhelming. Where do you start? Follow this checklist of quick steps to make your brand new site look professional. 

  • Before you start, it will help to have a blog post written, an about page written, and a picture for your about page. It’s okay if they aren’t finished; you can edit them later.
  • Navigate by finding the menu item indicated in the lefthand vertical menu on the WordPress dashboard.

1. Change the site title

Settings>General. You can set it as your name, or any other title relevant to your site. It will appear at the top of your site.

2. Change or delete the tagline (site description)

Settings>General. Don’t use “musings” or “ramblings.”

3. Change permalink default structure

Settings>Permalinks. This will set how permalinks for your posts appear. What you choose is up to you, but we recommend that you choose one that displays the post name (shown as “sample-post” in the examples).

4. Delete “Hello World” post

Posts>All Posts. If you plan to have blog posts on your site, you may want to create one or two initial posts with featured images. (You can edit them later.) 

5. Delete sample page

Pages>All Pages. Don’t simply edit the sample page, as the slug is often “sample.” Instead, create a new About page with a brief bio that you can edit later.

6. Install and activate Jetpack plugin

Plugins>Add New>Search for Jetpack. Installing the Jetpack plugin gives you a lot of additional features, including a contact page and a spam catcher. 

7. Delete “uncategorized” category

Posts>Categories. Create new categories that will apply to your future posts (you can create more later). 

8. Change default post category

Settings>Writing>Default post category. Select one of the categories you created.

9. Delete default widgets

Appearance>Widgets. Delete all. To prevent them from automatically resetting, add a blank text widget. Later, you can add the widgets you want to appear in your sidebar and footer (best to do after you’ve chosen a theme).

10. Delete default comment

Comments>Select default comment, move to trash. 

11. Add a contact page

Pages>Add New. If you’ve installed the Jetpack plugin, you’ll see a button that says “Add contact form.” Set it to go to you.

12. Install a new theme

Appearance>Themes>Add New. To apply a new theme to your site, select “install” and then “activate.” You can also do a live preview of an installed theme before you activate it. You can change themes anytime you want. Don’t do too much customization if you think your theme will change. 

13. Customize your site

Appearance>Customize. Your customization options vary from theme to theme. You may want to:

  • Change the header (you can make a custom header to spec in Canva – find the dimensions under the header options).
  • Set a background image. Choose a small, repeatable background image. Light, neutral backgrounds are best for readability. (Subtle Patterns is a good resource.)
  • Set up menu(s) (You must have items created – pages, categories, etc. – to put on the menu.)

14. Set the page that is displayed on the homepage (optional)

Settings>Reading. For most themes, your homepage will automatically display a feed of your latest blog posts. If you would like your homepage to display your about page or another static page, select it here. 

15. Enable or turn off comments (optional)

Settings>Discussion. You can customize your discussion settings for comments here. 


Thanks to Evelyn Helminen for this helpful list!


Need more help with WordPress? You can find resources on the MiddCreate Examples site and here on the DLC website. You can also make an appointment at the DLC.