Changing Permalinks in WordPress

This will also be in my upcoming post on improving SEO in WordPress, but since I promised to write about everything I’m doing on this blog, I’ll make a separate post about it now. Permalink structure refers to the way URLs are formed within WordPress. For example, the default permalink structure in WordPress looks like this:

http://alexmansfield.com/?p=123

Not very pretty, useful, or search engine friendly. A human can’t read “?p=123” and tell what the page is about and neither can a search engine. Thankfully, WordPress makes it easy to change the way your URLs look. Just login to WordPress and go to Settings>Permalinks. First, there are some built in options, such as:

http://alexmansfield.com/2009/06/sample-post/

These are an improvement over “?p=123” but they’re still not that great. Very few people will include a date in their search, so the date is pretty much just wasting space in your URL. But you don’t have to settle for these built in options. WordPress also gives you the opportunity to specify your own permalink structure. Here’s what I use:

/%category%/%postname%

That displays the category that the post is assigned to, followed by the name of the post. Short and sweet. Unless of course, you use categories like “This-is-the-best-category-on-my-website-and-you-should-read-all-about-it.”

Do you have a different permalink structure that you prefer. Tell us why in the comments section!

How to Change the Tagline in WordPress

The default tagline “Just another WordPress weblog” is obviously not the description I would choose for my blog. Today I’m going to change it, and I’ll show you how to change yours as well.

1. Login

If you’re already logged in to WordPress, skip step 1 🙂

2. Change the tagline

You can change the tagline by going to Settings>General. Tagline is the second item on the page. Enter your new tagline and click Save Changes.

Easy enough? If not, comment below.

How to Install a WordPress Theme

Installing a New wordpress theme is quite simple. With very little effort, you can transform the look and feel of your blog. I started this blog less than a week ago and I’m definitely getting tired of looking at the default theme. Eventually I’ll create my own theme for this blog, but for now I’m focusing primarily on content, so I’ll just install a freely available theme. So as I download and install the new theme, I’m going to walk you through the steps I take. Here we go…

1. Download a theme

There are lots of places to find free WordPress themes. There are lots of free themes in the wordpress.org free themes directory. Smashing Apps has a list of 13 Premium-Like WordPress Themes That Are Free. Finally, Instant Shift has a huge list of 140+ Brilliant Free WordPress Themes. For this blog, I’m going to download the Thematic WordPress Theme from themeshaper.com. It is plain and simple, which is just what I’m looking for at the moment. Once you’ve found a theme that you like, download it to your computer and unzip it.

2. Upload the theme

Using your FTP client of choice, upload the theme folder to the /wp-content/themes directory on your server.

3. Activate the theme

Sign into WordPress and click Appearance link. You should see the theme that you just uploaded in the list of themes. Click the new theme and you will be presented with a preview. Click Activate in the top right corner and your blog should look brand new!

If you have any questions about installing themes, please post them in the comments below.

Installing WordPress Automatically

In my last post, I explained step by step how to install WordPress manually. However, not everyone is a web developer, so I figured I should mention that there are a few ways to use WordPress without installing it yourself. First, you could hire me to do it! But that isn’t really the point of this post. I’m going to explain two other ways to use WordPress without installing it yourself.

First, you can sign up for a free account at wordpress.com and they’ll set you up with everything you need to get started. However, there will be a number of limitations on what you can do. They provide you with a limited amount of space, allow a limited number of file types to be uploaded, and limit the ways you can embed external content such as videos from other sites. Customizing the look and feel of your site is also off limits under the free plan.

To get more control of your site, you can sign up for web hosting with a company that supports automatic WordPress installs. There are quite a number of web hosts that provide such a service and you are free to do as much research as you’d like. Personally, I prefer Dreamhost. They have one of the nicest control panels I’ve seen and they provide a one-click WordPress install. When a new version of WordPress comes out, they are quick to provide a simple upgrade option.

Here’s how easy it is to install WordPress at Dreamhost.

1. Sign up

Not much to say about this one. Just go to dreamhost.com and click sign up!

2. Login

Simply go to https://panel.dreamhost.com and enter your username and password.

3. Start the install

Click “Goodies” in the menu on the left, and then choose “One-Click Installs” from the sub-menu.

wordpress-auto-2

4. Choose a mode (easy or advanced)

Next you’ll be presented with this screen:

wordpress-auto-3

I would suggest choosing “Advanced Mode” since easy mode will result in many of the same limitations that we would have run into with a wordpress.com account. Don’t worry, advanced mode doesn’t take any advanced skills.

5. Finish the install

After choosing advanced mode, you will be presented with a number of options. You can accept the default answers for all of them. The only thing you need to do is choose a database name. You can enter pretty much whatever you’d like. It doesn’t really make any difference what you name your database. If you don’t have an existing hostname for your database, it will give you the option of creating one. That’s it! It’s that simple. Click the “Install it for me now!” button and you’re set.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave a note below.

Installing WordPress Manually

As promised, here is a step-by-step guide to installing WordPress manually.

1. Download WordPress

Go to http://wordpress.org/download/ and download WordPress.

installingwordpress-1

Click the “Download WordPress” button and save the .zip file to your computer. I personally use Linux, so I chose to download the more compressed .tar.gz file from the small link below the button, but for most people the .zip file is the better choice.

2. Extract the .zip or .tar.gz file

You downloaded a compressed folder of all the files needed to install WordPress. However, you need to extract/unzip the folder before you upload it to your server.

3. Upload the files to your web host using FTP

I assume that you’re familiar with how to do this. If not, you can watch this video tutorial about using FireFTP, a free addon for Firefox.

I like to keep my WordPress files in their own directory to keep them separate from the rest of my files. This is a matter of personal preference, so feel free to put them wherever you’d like.

Please note: WordPress will be installed in whatever folder it is uploaded to. That can be changed, but it is beyond the scope of this tutorial.

4. Create a database

Next you’ll need to set up a database for Worpress to use. The steps you’ll have to follow to accomplish this depend on who hosts your website. If you don’t know how to do this already, please contact your web host and ask them about it.

5. Create a configuration file

Once you’ve created your database, open your web browser and go to the folder where you uploaded WordPress. You should see a page similar to this:

installingwordpress-2

Click the “Create a Configuration File” button.

6. Database access

Next you’ll be greeted with this screen:

installingwordpress-3

Before moving on, you’ll need to know your database name, database username and password, and database host. If you have all the required information, click the “Let’s go!” button, which will take you to this page:

installingwordpress-4

Fill out the form with your specific information and click the “Submit” button.

7. Install WordPress

If everything went well, you should see this page:

installingwordpress-5

Click the “Run the install” button to continue.

8. One last thing

This is the last step before the WordPress installer runs.

installingwordpress-6

Here you need to enter your blog title, your email address, and choose whether or not you would like your blog to appear in search engines. Once that’s taken care of, click the “Install WordPress” button and that should do it. You will be presented with a page displaying your administrator username and password.

That’s all there is to a basic WordPress installation. However, there are a few more steps that should be taken to increase both security and functionality. In my next post I’ll detail the first steps I take after installing WordPress to make it more functional and more secure.

Newer Entries »