Obviously in my line of work I get the chance to see many different self-built websites and discuss them with their owners.  The following are some of the most common minor tweaks I find myself suggesting to people.  (They apply only to WordPress sites.)

1. “Posted by admin.”

I see this really often and it bothers me a lot as it’s just so easy to change!  Who wants to be known publicly as “admin” when they’ve authored a blog post? All you need to do is change your “label,” either to your first name, your full name, or a nickname. Even if you don’t feel it appropriate to put your own name, why not choose your business or website name – or even just your initials?  To make this change, go to Users > Your Profile, scroll down a little and type in your name or “nickname” – the name you want to appear as the author of the blog posts – in the “Name” area. Select your choice from the “Display name publicly” dropdown, and save the change.

2. Re-name your “Uncategorized” blog post category.

Yes, of course you do need a “catch-all” category for blog posts that don’t fit in anywhere else. But it looks so uncaring not to name this default category something more meaningful than just “Uncategorized!”  Again, it’s easy to change the name of the default category to “Blog” or “Updates” or “News” – and you’ll find that all the posts that have already been filed under this category will automatically appear under the new classification, so there isn’t even any sorting out to do. Go to Posts > Categories, mouse over “Uncategorized” where you see it in the list of blog post categories, click on “Quick Edit” and change the name and the slug (just type the same thing twice); click “Update Category.” Now your blog posts look so much more cared-for!

3. Change your permalinks.

Warning – you’ll want to do this at the beginning of your setup – if you do it once you have any amount of content on your site, you’ll mess up your menu and any internal links – plus anyone who’s bookmarked your pages or posts won’t be taken back to the right place in future.  So do this before you launch, and preferably right from the beginning.

WordPress automatically saves pages and posts with a web address that looks like this:
http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123

This doesn’t look very elegant if you’re quoting a web address to someone in an email, for example – and more importantly, it doesn’t mean anything to Google. What you want is a web address for each page and post that looks like this:

http://www.yourdomain.com/page-title

as Google will be able to make sense of whatever page title you have given the page or the post (of course, you’ll have considered the search engines when you decided on the page title).

To do this, just go to Settings > Permalinks, select the radio button entitled “Post name,” and save the change.

4. Display your email address.

I’m always pointing out the necessity of displaying your email address to site visitors in case they’re unwilling to contact you via an email form (a big percentage of my workshop participants tell me that they are always suspicious of using email forms). But at the same time, you do need your email address to be protected.  We often see email addresses displayed as email AT yourdomain.com – this works, but it looks rather clumsy, and the email address isn’t an active link.  Far better to install the Email Protector plugin (by Pixeline) and have your email address appear as a link (this happens automatically once the plugin is installed) that’s protected from spam harvesters.

(Note that your email address may not be protected by the plugin if you type it into a sidebar widget.)

5. Make use of short menu item labels.

Menus that wrap onto two lines are a particular bête noir of mine – unless, of course, your theme accommodates them easily, or was especially designed for a double row of menu items. One way to save real estate in your menu area is to cut down on the length of the navigation labels, while still keeping the longer title on the page itself, if necessary.  (Of course, the title you give to a page is by default the label that’s given to that page when you add it to the menu.)  FAQ is a good example – it doesn’t make any sense to take up all that space by writing “Frequently Asked Questions” in the menu area, whereas you’ll probably want it to appear in full on the page itself.

Your home page is another example of a situation when you’re likely to want a different label in the menu to what is written on the page. You’ll want to have “Home” in the menu as it’s what people expect (plus it’s short) – but you certainly don’t want “Home” written as a title prominently at the top of your home page – it looks terrible, and is completely meaningless. (Note, this only applies if your theme doesn’t let you remove the title on the home page – all premium themes will allow you to do this, or the home page layout will automatically be set up not to show the title.)

What to do in these situations? First change the title of the page to the longer version of the title that you want to appear on the page (or save it directly with a long title if you are creating the page from scratch). So, create a page that is called “Frequently Asked Questions,” or give your existing home page a new title that you won’t mind seeing written very visibly at the top of the home page (perhaps a one-sentence introduction containing your main keywords – or at any rate something that sounds engaging to your visitors).

Then go to Appearance > Menus and add the new page to the menu (if it isn’t there already). When the item is in the central area, you’ll see that it has the long name you’ve just given it; click on the small triangle to the right of the menu item next to “Page,” write the shorter label that you want to see in the menu in the “Navigation Label” field (“Home” or “FAQ,” to continue with the same examples), and save the menu. Now check your live site, and you’ll see the change – plus a shorter, neater-looking menu.

menu

I hope you find these five easy-to-implement WordPress tips helpful.