Having an Initial WordPress Setup Checklist means shaving hours off development time when there is an error with security or performance in the website. This WordPress setup checklist will help you to build your website faster and with a strong foundation. These steps are a must-do for each website, keeping the long run in mind.
You’re not doing the most basic required steps.
Usually, while starting a new WordPress project, We tend to forget some steps that is the most required for every website. You miss crucial steps which might save your life in future. Building WordPress websites the correct way can help in making the sites faster, proﬁtable and fun. But only with the right foundation in place.
A Initial WordPress Setup Checklist – the perfect foundation
Having an initial WordPress setup checklist means shaving hours off development time in future when there is an error. Use these steps to make the sites foolproof from various security, performance issues.
It’s the key to build a better foundation for your WordPress sites.
The Big Picture
ONE-TIME WORDPRESS SETUP IN EACH NEW PROJECT
1. Install a fresh copy of WordPress
You can install WordPress on your website using the hosting cPanel. 1-click installer like Softaculous is available in the hosting panel for easy setup. You can contact us if you face any issues. After Installation, Login to your Dashboard using your credentials you entered during the installation of WordPress.
2. Follow Initial WordPress Setup Checklist
Yes, A One Time process every time you do to make a foundation for your website, which will have a fast, smooth workﬂow ahead and everything entirely in place. It might take you about 30 minutes max. Once you are well versed, it might take lesser time, too, for the below initial WordPress Setup Checklist.
Initial WordPress Setup Checklist
1. Fix WordPress’s Settings
Yes, this is our first step in the initial WordPress setup checklist. There are various WordPress settings you can change, but some deﬁnitely need tweaking for maximum eﬀect.
1. SETTINGS > PERMALINKS
•Select the ‘Post Name’ option. Best Option for SEO purpose.
(Default in WordPress is ‘Day and Name’ as permalink structure)
TIP: if you change this once a site is live, you’ll have to redirect all old URLs to the new ones for search engines. You can either use the Rankmath SEO plugin or install any redirection plugins to do the same.
2. SETTINGS > GENERAL > TITLE
•Set Title Correctly.
•Set Tagline Correctly.
•Also, Below, you can choose either a city in the same timezone as you or a UTC.
E.g., For India, you can choose Kolkata or UTC +5:30
3. SETTINGS > READING
•Set ‘Your homepage displays’ to ‘A static page’.
•Choose your home page and blog page. Create them now—blank pages are ﬁne for now.
2. Install and Conﬁgure Your Theme
Choose a page builder-friendly theme. We recommend Astra or GeneratePress. Both are superb. You’ll need the paid versions to get the best out of them. Initially, you can try the Free versions and later climb up the ladder with premium paid plans.
If you are using the Elementor page builder, check our article – 7 Best Free Elementor Themes for WordPress for 2021.
Configure Theme Options
•You’ll ﬁnd these in each theme’s control panel (E.g., For Astra Theme – Appearance >Astra Options). Activate only those options which are required.
•Also, Go To Appearance> Customization and do the basic settings of setting up the colours, typography, etc.
•Also, Check the sidebar widgets and remove the unnecessary ones from Appearance > Widgets.
3. Install 2 Plugins (Alternative for Child Theme)
Usually, and in the past, everyone used to create a child theme to avoid your changes being overwritten by new theme updates. Not anymore. These two amazing plugins do the same job for you:
•Simple CSS (for adding any custom bits of CSS)
•Header Footer Code Manager/ Code Snippets (for adding any custom bits of code)
And this was step number three on our initial WordPress setup checklist. Let’s jump into the next main and essential ones.
4. Install Six Essential Plugins
In WordPress, there’s certain standard functionality you must have on every single site you build. So we install those now on our site, and that is step number four on our initial WordPress setup checklist.
1. SECURITY & ANTI-SPAM
I like Wordfence for security. You can activate it to get email notification on someone logging into the WP Dashboard. You can also activate the 2FA system for more security and access via an OTP system or Google Authenticator, where you get the Time-based One-time Password Algorithm.
I love Akismet Spam Protection for stopping spam in its roots. It prevents your site from publishing malicious content. You can signup for an account for free and start using the services.
I like UpdraftPlus for backups. Set up an automated backup schedule to Google Drive/Dropbox right now. You’ll thank me later for making you do this step. Backups are so important in the new age of technology; there are thousands of websites getting hacked each day.
Having a regular backup keeps you from saving time and energy behind the development of your website. And with Updraft, you can get your website restored within a couple of clicks and in few hours.
4. WP MAIL SMTP
In WordPress, by default, your email functionality is disabled at times. Installing WP Mail SMTP enables email functionality. It fixes your email deliverability by reconfiguring WordPress to use a proper SMTP provider when sending emails to ensure your emails reach the inbox of your website visitors or subscribers.
Install RankMath SEO. It makes WordPress much more search engine friendly. It has an Easy to Follow Setup Wizard that sets up your WordPress Website’s SEO perfectly. It also has a Clean & Simple User Interface that helps you preview how your post will appear in the SERPs, preview rich snippets and social channels.
We ourselves are using the RankMath Pro Plugin on our website for SEO work. So you can rest assured now of the performance and advanced SEO modules available in the Rankmath SEO plugin.
If you use the Elementor page builder, you will love RankMath for its compatibility with the Elementor Page Builder plugin.
To learn more about Elementor – Check the article – Elementor Page Builder: A Free 101 Guide for Every Beginner.
6. IMAGE COMPRESSION
The very best image compression plugin is TinyPNG. It reduces the size of your images right down automatically for faster page load speeds.
We suggest you go ahead and compress your images on the TinyPNG website before uploading them to the WordPress media library. You will see a huge difference in the image size, but the quality of the image will be intact.
5. Install Google Analytics & Google Search Console
If you want to know your user perspective related stats from your website and if you want to know the search-related stats, then signup and configure the below on your website, and that is step number five of our initial WordPress setup checklist.
1. GOOGLE ANALYTICS
•Google Analytics is user-oriented, providing data related to those who visit and interact with your website. You can check stats like how many visitors visited your website, new vs returning customers, conversion and event tracking, to name a few, can be seen in Google Analytics. This is a must-use feature for every website.
2. GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
•Google Search Console, on the other hand, is search-engine focused, providing tools and insights that can help site owners improve visibility and presence in the SERPs. Submit your sitemap in the google search console to get your website pages and posts listed on Google.
Now to configure both the above Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your WordPress Website, you don’t need to depend on multiple plugins anymore. Google itself has introduced a WordPress plugin, i.e., Site Kit by Google. Using this, you can easily set up and configure both the above 2 plugins with just a couple of clicks and literally in minutes.
Site Kit shows key metrics and insights from different Google products like – Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, PageSpeed Insights, Tag Manager, etc.… in your WordPress dashboard itself.
QUESTION – Why no page speed plugin in Initial WordPress Setup?
I often see people advise: “Just install this page speed plugin or that page speed plugin”.
Although this seems a desirable solution to a slow site. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
If you don’t know what the settings do or how they aﬀect YOUR particular situation, just installing a page speed plugin can do more harm than good—too many factors to explain here. Page speed is a complex topic.
- Use the best hosting you can aﬀord. This is a huge factor. I recommend the TMD Hosting.
- Use an excellent image compression plugin. As said in the above paragraph – TinyPNG.
- Page speed plugins like WP Rocket are great. The default settings work great, and we use the same, but…
- Check if your hosting provides page caching on the server. If it does, don’t have a plugin doing the same.
Also, some web hosting has default cache plugins pre-installed on your WordPress dashboard. Just make sure you don’t add 2 cache plugins at the same time. It will break your site, and you may need a developer to resolve it or get in touch with the hosting provider to resolve the same.
And we’re done with the initial WordPress Setup Checklist.
You now have a rock-solid, best practice starting point, ready to start developing immediately.
Enjoy your new, stable foundation WordPress site prepared for the future! Below, you can get all the points of the initial WordPress setup checklist in one overview. You can print or save it for your future reference and check every time you start developing a website.
WordPress Setup Checklist Quick Overview
1. Fix WordPress’s Settings
1.Settings > Permalinks > Set As Post Name
2.Settings > General > Set Title, Tagline, Timezone
3.Settings > Reading > Set A Static Page
2. Install and Conﬁgure Your Theme – Astra or GeneratePress
1.Theme Options Setting
3.Edit Sidebar Widgets
3. Install 2 Plugins (Alternative for Child Theme)
2.Header Footer Code Manager / Code Snippets
4. Install Essential Plugins
1.Malware & Security – Wordfence
2.Anti-Spam – Akismet Spam Protection
3.Backup – UpdraftPlus
4.SMTP – WP Mail SMTP
5.SEO – Rankmath SEO Plugin
6.Image Compression – TinyPNG
5. Install Google Analytics & Google Search Console using Google Site Kit Plugin
6. Install Page Speed or Caching Plugin – WP Rocket (If Needed)
I hope you liked the initial WordPress Checklist. Use this as a base and do the setup for all your fresh WordPress Setup, and you can use this to check your existing WordPress websites to make them more robust and secured for the future.
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We have also compiled a list of WordPress tools that we use and recommend to make things more manageable; you can check the article here – Best WordPress Tools: A Useful 101 Guide For Web Developers.
If we missed anything in the above list of initial WordPress setup configuration, let us know in the comments, and we will include them in the list above when we update this article. If you want any specific checklist apart from the above, please let us know about the same in the comments section.