Building Modern Church Websites, Part 4: Starting with Settings

At this point, you should have your WordPress installed and running on your working web server. The next step is to log in, go to site administration, and then settings. Before starting to seriously begin building a website under wordpress, it’s good to take a few minutes to think about all of the options on each built in settings screen.

General Settings

  • Site Title: This will show up at the top of every page on your website. It should be set to something that includes the full name of your church, and perhaps the city your church is in, in order to help you get found by search engines like Google.
  • Tagline: This should be a short slogan or descriptive phrase about your website. It is used by search engines, and will show up in different places, depending on what theme you are using
  • WordPress Address and Site address: the defaults WordPress has chosen should be fine. Only change these if you are having problems.
  • E-mail Address: it is important that this email address is correct and working. Important notices about comments, account sign ups, and updates will be sent here.
  • Membership: This can be safely left set as anyone can register. This way, as more people want to help out, they can create website accounts themselves. You will still need to approve them before they can modify the website.
  • New User Default Role: This should be left as subscriber, for now. Changing this can give people who have newly created website accounts the ability to do more things without requiring your approval.
  • Timezone: Make sure both that the timezone is set to the timezone of your church in WordPress, and that the time wordPress shows is correct. If it is not, posts will seem to have been written on incorrect times and dates. If WordPress is showing an incorrect time, it means either that your timezone is set incorrectly, or that the time on your server is set wrong.
  • Date Format: In order to make sure your site is indexed correctly on some search engines, it is important to use full month names in your WordPress dates.
  • Time Format: This should be set to the time format that people in your church normally use.
  • Week starts On: This should be left set to Sunday.

Writing Settings

Most of the settings on this page are fine. Make sure you have checked the box for WordPress should correct invalidly nested XHTML automatically, as this can help you avoid errors that could disable your website entirely. If you use a tool like MacJournal or Windows Live Writer, make sure to check both of the boxes under Remote Publishing. I do not recommend using the post by E-mail feature, as E-mailed posts are not always formatted correctly. Also, if a spammer gets hold of the post by E-mail address for your website, they could make a huge mess extremely quickly.

Reading Settings

For now, most of these are okay. Once we have created some pages for our website, we’ll go back and change “Front Page Displays” to our welcome page, instead of just showing recent posts. Also, in order for our website e-mails to work correctly, make sure the full text option is selected for each article in a feed.

Discussion Settings

It’s important to think carefully about these settings. You want to allow enough discussion to make your website an open and friendly place, but you also want to avoid spam and abuse. I recommend checking the box for Comment Author Must Fill Out Name and e-mail, as well as checking _Commenter must have a previously approved comment_ under before comment appears. I also recommend holding a comment in the moderation queue if it has 1 or more links. Church websites need to be more careful than most about what we link to. If you do select Show Avatars, make sure the maximum rating is set to G. You may want to set the default avatar to one of the generated options, in order to make comments from different individuals more visually distinctive.

Media Settings

Unless you are having problems uploading or posting media like pictures or audio, none of these should need to be changed.

Privacy Settings

Make sure that Allow Search Engines to Index this Site is checked. If it isn’t, your church website won’t do you much good as a promotional tool!

Permalink Settings

In order to make WordPress create friendly, and easier to remember URLs for your posts, pages, tags, and categories, the option day and name should be checked on this page. Everything else can be left as default.

Next Week

Now that the website is running, and basic configuration has been done, next week it will be time to decide the overall look of the website!

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