Want to learn some simple tricks to maximize the way you use WordPress? You’ve come to the right place!
Even the most seasoned WordPress bloggers may be surprised to learn some of the things on this list. I speak from experience! I write, edit, and manage content in WordPress every day, but there are a couple of items on this list that I had no idea about until I reached out to our team of in-house developers about sharing their super-duper “secret” WordPress tricks.
So, whether you’re a seasoned blogger or only just dipping your toes into the WordPress world, here are 12 tips and tricks that will streamline your WordPress experience.
Table of Contents
- Dashboard screen options
- Quick bulk editing
- Shortcodes and auto-embeds
- Image compression
- Default image dimensions
- Streamlined SEO titles/metas
- Hiding the WordPress toolbar
- Proper use of categories and tags
- Establishing redirects
- WordPress keyboard shortcuts
- Assigning appropriate user roles
- Timezones and time/date formatting
1. Customizing your dashboard screen options
Ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information displayed when perusing the list of Pages or Posts in your WordPress dashboard? Maybe you have so many columns enabled that the table is starting to look something like this:
Not only is this confusing, but it makes it incredibly challenging and cumbersome to accomplish basic tasks. Fortunately, this confusion is easily remedied thanks to WordPress Screen Options:
This tool, which appears on nearly every page on your dashboard, allows you to choose exactly what information you want to see. For example, if you wanted a very minimal Posts dashboard, you might uncheck all columns so that you only see Post titles:
Another great thing about screen options is that they are unique to every user. This means that when you customize WordPress screen options, it only affects your user account, which means you don’t have to worry about messing up another user’s preferred dashboard settings.
Want to learn more about how to make the most of screen options? Check out our post, “Create a Zen Workspace Using Screen Options in WordPress,” for the full picture.
2. Quick bulk editing directly from your dashboard
Need to change the author of multiple blog posts? Need to add the same category or tag to multiple blog posts? Need to quickly unpublish multiple blog posts at once?
You could go through every single blog post and change these things manually, but depending on how many pages or posts you need to adjust, this could take ages. Luckily, the WordPress dashboard has a Bulk Actions tool that makes it easy to make sweeping changes to your pages and posts in no time.
Using this bulk editing tool is super easy. Here’s a brief video demonstration of how it works:
- Select the items you want to edit in bulk
- Click on the dropdown menu at the top of the page called “Bulk Actions”
- Select “Edit” to change details like author, categories, tags, publishing status, and more.
- Click on “Update” to apply your changes.
In addition to bulk editing, you can also use the Bulk Actions tool to delete (“Move to Trash”) or duplicate (“Clone”) multiple items. Pretty nifty!
3. Taking advantage of shortcodes and auto-embeds
Shortcodes simplify the process of adding hosted media and other elements within your content. No need to deal with long, complicated strings of code! Simply pop in a bracketed shortcode tag and add the appropriate attributes as necessary. Shortcodes that come standard with WordPress include:
In addition to the basic WordPress shortcodes above, plugin developers are able to create their own shortcodes for use with their software.
Like how easy it is to use shortcodes? Then you’ll love using auto-embeds for any media/files not hosted on your site! Auto-embeds take the simplicity of shortcodes a step further by allowing you to paste a simple URL from a site supported by WordPress auto-embed functionality.
For example, let’s say you wanted to embed a YouTube video into a post. All you would need to do is copy and paste the URL directly into the editor. When published, the post should display the video as if you had added an actual embed code. Embedding a YouTube video is even more streamlined if you’re using the Gutenberg visual editor. In that case, the video will immediately render as a playable embed within the editor itself — no need to preview or publish to view it! See for yourself:
Currently, WordPress supports auto-embed functionality from 28 different sites, including video sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, and TED, as well as popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit.
4. Installing an automatic image compression plugin
We all love big, beautiful imagery, but if you haven’t properly optimized images on your site, it won’t matter how astounding the images are. The vast majority of users will abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, and huge image files are often to blame.
Of course, no one wants to spend their precious time resizing large image files before uploading, which is why we strongly recommend installing an image compression plugin that will automatically take care of the work for you.
The image compression plugin we use and recommend to our clients is Imagify, which does a fantastic job of compressing image file sizes without sacrificing quality.
5. Adjusting default image dimensions to best suit your site
We’ve talked about the importance of installing an image compression plugin to reduce image file weight, but your image optimization efforts shouldn’t stop there.
Another important action to optimize your site’s images is making sure the settings for default image dimensions best suit your design and content. This is controlled through a little known page in your dashboard called Media Settings (located under Settings > Media).
Why is it a good idea to review your Media Settings? Well, whenever you upload an image, WordPress automatically creates multiple versions of it in different sizes — Thumbnail, Medium, and Large. But sometimes that “Large” version may be much larger than necessary. After all, it doesn’t make sense to have a “Large” image size of 2000px if your max content width is ~800px.
Fine-tuning your Media Settings ensures that any images you upload are appropriately sized to fit within the design of your site. Plus, cutting down on those 2000px-sized images also helps you save server space!
6. Simplifying SEO titles and meta descriptions
If you don’t have the Yoast plugin already, you’re seriously missing out. Yoast is not only the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress. It’s one of the most popular WordPress plugins, period! One of the features that helped establish this reputation is its search engine snippet preview editor, which makes it super simple to add SEO titles and meta descriptions as you publish new content.
When installed, the Yoast SEO box will appear underneath the body text editor on your pages, posts, and other content types. It will look something like this:
The plugin guides you on the appropriate length of your title and meta description, and it also allows you to insert snippet variables to speed up the process further. The snippet preview at the top shows you what the particular page or post will look like in search engine results.
In addition to coaching you on how to create a solid SEO title and meta description, Yoast provides additional controls and analysis tools to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward in the SEO arena.
7. Hiding the WordPress toolbar
While the trusty WordPress toolbar you see at the top of a page while logged in can serve as a useful anchor for editing site content, there are times you might want to get rid of it. Perhaps it partially blocks a top navigational menu item, or maybe you don’t want to have to log out of WordPress just to view your site without the toolbar.
The controls for hiding and unhiding the WordPress toolbar can be found in the Dashboard under Users > Your Profile.
It’s important to note that checking that box will only affect your user account. If your site has other user accounts, their toolbar will remain unless they take the same steps.
8. Using categories and tags properly
If you’re serious about your WordPress site’s SEO and information architecture, then you need to be serious about taxonomy. What is taxonomy? It’s simply the way things are logically grouped together. If you have a WordPress site, the taxonomy of your blog posts is largely dictated by a system of categories and tags.
There is often a lot of confusion surrounding how to use categories and tags, but the basic concept is this:
- Categories are primary, high-level topics of your site. Most posts should clearly fit within a single category.
- Tags are used for logical groupings that apply across multiple categories.
Generally, a post will have a single category and one or more tags. Need a little more schooling on this subject? Don’t miss our guide on how to use WordPress categories and tags.
9. Establishing redirects after changing or deleting URLs
If you change or delete a URL on your site, it’s important to implement a redirect from that former URL to a new page. If you don’t take this step, users and search engine bots trying to access a URL that no longer exists will be presented with a 404 error. Not only is a 404 error a bad user experience for people visiting your site, but it can ding you in your search engine rankings. Redirecting that old URL to a new one solves this problem.
So, how do you set up a redirect? It’s actually pretty simple! Your first step is to install the Redirection plugin. Once you’ve installed the plugin, you can access it in the WordPress dashboard under Tools > Redirection. To establish a new redirect, click on “Add New” at the top of the page and the following form will pop up:
All you need to do is add the URL being changed or deleted into the “Source URL” field, and then add the URL you want to redirect to in the “Target URL” field. Then click “Add Redirect” and you’re done!
10. Familiarizing yourself with WordPress keyboard shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts are invaluable if you spend a lot of time creating, editing, or managing content in a WordPress site.
While many keyboard shortcuts are fairly universal (such as ctrl/command+C to copy and ctrl/command+P to paste), there are many WordPress-specific keyboard shortcuts that allow you to speed up content formatting in the visual editor or streamline comment moderation.
Keyboard shortcuts will vary based on whether you’re using Windows/Linux or a Mac. WordPress.org provides a full list of WordPress keyboard shortcuts and how to use them based on your operating system.
11. Assigning appropriate WordPress user roles
If everyone on your team has an Administrator user role on your WordPress site, you could be setting yourself up for heartache should one of those accounts totally wreck your site. We’ve seen it happen, folks! Site hacks caused by bad password habits and phishing scams are the most common culprits, though sometimes it turns out to be an accidental inside job by “over-permissioned” users who were poking at plugins, themes, or other site settings without knowing what they were doing.
Luckily, it’s super easy to prevent these sticky situations, though — just assign appropriate roles and permissions for each user account you create!
WordPress comes standard with five user roles, each with varying degrees of permissions and abilities. Trying to figure out which roles are best suited for people on your team? Here’s a breakdown of the permissions of each role:
- Administrators have full control of every aspect of a WordPress site. They can alter site settings, change themes, add or remove plugins, create new users, and so much more. This role is typically reserved for the site owner(s) and/or developers.
- Editors have full control over the management of your site’s content areas, but they may not alter site settings, plugins, themes, or add new users.
- Authors may write, edit, publish, and delete their own posts, but not anyone else’s.
- Contributors may write and edit their own posts, but cannot publish posts or upload new images to the site.
- Subscribers may only login to their account, edit their profile, and change their passwords. This role is most often used in situations in which you want a user to login before viewing a post of adding a comment to a post.
12. Setting the timezone and time/date formatting on your site
If you’re scheduling content to publish on your WordPress site, then setting the correct time zone is critical. Otherwise, you might schedule a post to publish at 9:00 AM only to see it publish several hours off, depending on where your time zone is set. To access timezone settings, navigate to Settings > General, and find this section:
Just below the timezone section, you’ll see an additional section for date and time formatting. Want the date to appear like “YYYY/MM/DD” instead of spelling it out? Prefer to use military time over an AM/PM time? This is where you control those preferences:
That’s all folks … for now!
There are so many ways to maximize and streamline your WordPress user experience. Did we miss one tip or trick that should definitely be on the list? Let us know in the comments!