WordPress has so many options and features once in the dashboard. And once we add a theme and various widgets: presto, there’s even more. But no matter what you are using WordPress for—if you have one site or a hundred— there are features you might want to understand more clearly.
When in WordPress, think before you…
…leave that meta widget on your sidebar.
I know. It makes it easier for you to log in to your dashboard without having to type in the URL. And often it’s there by default, which is a good thing, right? No, the meta widget is confusing to your readers and most will wonder what the heck it is. And yes, it’s nice to have the RSS for your posts, but do people really understand what it means when it says “Entries RSS” instead? If you want an RSS for your comments, find a better place. And finally, most people care less about a link to WordPress.org.
…backup your database with the Export Tool.
Some WordPress peeps actually recommend using the Export Tool to keep your database backed up. Sure, if you select “all content,” you can export all of your posts and custom posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, and navigation menus. But chances are your theme and plugins store information in the database as well. So, you are better off using a plugin to back up your database. I recommend either WP-DB-Backup for just your database, or BackupBuddy for the full backed (that latter being an affiliate link, but also my preferred backup plugin — use the discount code ITMEMBER35 through September 30, 2012 and get 35% off this plugin).
…apply full justification to the text on your posts and pages.
Honestly, I wish they would just remove the full justification button in the editing window. You know, the one that lets your text line up evenly on the left and right, like the text in newspapers and magazines? Because it sucks on the web. It’s horrible, it’s hard to read, and it can place horrendous spaces between words. Avoid it at all costs!
…change themes without some preparation.
Uploading and choosing a new theme is easy, and activating it, even easier. And with 3.4, you can now preview the new theme before activating it. But beware, because your site may explode or go terribly sideways. Depending on the theme you are using—or planning to use—you could be talking about a redesign. Changing themes can be easy, but can also be a nightmare. So click the preview to see what might happen before you do any changes.
…before you go live, check your Privacy Settinggs.
In your settings there is an option to allow search engines to index this site, or ask search engines not to index this site. I have found this set differently as a default, so it’s best to check. It’s better when designing your site to choose to not index it. You don’t want Google indexing half-written pages or possibly even junk text.
But when you go live, remember to change it. Write it somewhere, put it on your whiteboard, do whatever you need to. Because, damn, if you have chosen to not let it index your site, chances are Google won’t find you. And if you call me after 6 months and say you aren’t showing up on Google, and I ask you to check your privacy settings, I’d better not hear you say,”Oh, shit”.
…add those shiny social media buttons just because everyone else has them.
This happens all the time. A client will ask me to put Twitter, Facebook, and other icons in their sidebar because so-and-so has them. If you are not active on a platform, don’t invite people there. It’s pointless. Those buggers are for connecting, not to look pretty. If I click on your Twitter icon, and the last tweet you did was two months ago that said “My cat just peed on the kitchen floor”, well, do you really think that I will want to come back to your blog?
…push that publish button until you are ready.
I saved the most essential one for last. There is a reason you can save your post as a draft. And that’s because once it’s published, it’s out there and you can’t take it back. Sure you can delete, but that’s like an after-thought. This is especially important to think about when you are pissed off at someone or, perhaps, you have just returned from a long happy hour. You get thinking stupid things and bam, you write a rant about someone. You go to sleep feeling good about it, but when morning time and that clear head hits you, you realize that you blew it. But the damage has already been done.