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The 5 Most Underused WordPress Features

WordPress LogoWhen it comes to blogging, you need to know how to use your tools to their maximum potential. Whether they’re for researching, writing, publishing or promotion, knowing how to use the tools of your trade is vital to your success.

However, of all of those tools, none is more important than your blogging platform as it’s the only one that can be useful for every single stage of the writing process. For more and more bloggers, that tool of choice is WordPress.

But while WordPress has earned its popularity by being a robust blogging platform that almost anyone can pick up and use, there are many features of the platform that many of its users either aren’t aware of or simply don’t take adequate advantage of.

While the total number of such features is too great too count, a few features stand out as being drastically underused. Here are five of those features and why they don’t get the love they deserve.

Post Slug

The post slug feature is one that doesn’t seem to get a great deal of love. Though it’s incredibly useful for SEO and was optimized in version 2.5 of WordPress to be easier to use, some thought it had been removed.

Basically, the post slug feature allows you to edit the URL for the post or page you are working on. WordPress automatically generates your slug based upon your title but if you want to make sure that it has the desired keywords for SEO, you can easily add them in or you can remove unnecessary words. Also, if you want to write your own, click on “Screen Options” and click the “Post Slug” box, which will give you a text box to write yours from scratch.

It’s a powerful tool, especially if you want a posts URL to be different than its title, but it’s a feature that many WordPress users are aware of or know how to use.

Featured Image

WordPress Featured Image tool, simply put, allows you to associate an image with a post.

What exactly this does depends on the theme though most default WordPress themes, including those on WordPress.com, use featured images in one way or another. Often it’s to change the header image of the site for that post/page though, other themes, especially magazine layouts, use it to choose what image is associated with the post on the front page.

But even on sites where the featured image isn’t built to use the featured image that way, it can still be used to select which image is displayed in the Facebook thumbnail.

In short, it can give you much greater control over how your image is displayed in social media and may be worth adding even if your theme doesn’t use it directly.

Scheduled Posting

Say that you’re going away for a week, finally taking that vacation you deserve, but what happens to your blog? Does it just idle for a week or do you log in every so often to post new things?

With schedules posts, you don’t have to do either.

Basically, every WordPress post lets you change the date and time of publication. You can easily set it into the past if you don’t want it to appear at the top or, more usefully, you can set it into the future so that it will appear online automatically.

This is much easier than the alternative of saving drafts and then posting them by hand later as its easy to forget to follow through when the time comes.

In short, this lets your WordPress site take care of itself while you’re gone and make it as if you never left at all.

Media Library

If you run a large blog and use images routinely in your posts, you probably upload the same image or the same type of image pretty regularly. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply find the old images you used rather than finding it on your computer and uploading a duplicate or a near-duplicate to your server?

With Media Library you can do just that.

When writing a post, click the “Add Media” button as you normally do and, rather than simply dropping in your files or hitting the “Select Files” button, click the “Media Library” button at the top and you’ll be presented with a searchable and date-filterable list of your previously uploaded images.

If you correctly set your image information as you went and/or set your file names well, you can easily find what you’re looking for and reuse your past work rather than starting over.

Custom (Static) Home Page

WordPress is best known as a blogging platform but, in truth, it’s actually a fairly robust CMS that can be used to manage a large variety of site types.

One of the most important features is the ability to set a custom or static front page for your site. Located in your reading settings, which in turn is under your settings menu, you can select a created page to be the home page of your site.

Though will have to designate a different page for your posts, usually a blank page called “Blog” or something to the like, this feature makes WordPress useful out of the box for managing non-blog websites.

Bottom Line

All in all, WordPress is an extremely powerful and robust blogging platform/CMS. But even though it’s well-known for being easy to pick up, install and use, much of the power is buried underneath the surface.

If all you use WordPress for is setting up a site and posting new content to it, you’re likely missing out on a great deal of it’s best features.

However, these are just a sampling of some of WordPress’ most underused features. There are many others out there and probably several that apply to your use of WordPress.

So take some time to explore your WordPress administration area and read through the Codex. You’ll likely find plenty of other things that you didn’t know WordPress can do that can help you in your day-to-day blogging.

Categories: WordPress Tips
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Comments

  1. John Paul ) says: 8/22/2012

    I pretty much use everything on the list except post scheduling.

    I def need to start utilizing that to free up more of my time.

    Great list.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 8/23/2012

      Glad you liked the list. Post scheduling is one of my favorite features these days. I don’t use it as much as I should, but it’s as great tool that can save a lot of headaches.

      Reply

  2. Tom Gray ) says: 8/23/2012

    Thanks for the list. I use everything including the featured image but only if the theme I’m using consumes it so knowing that I can use it to control the social media image associated with a post is something I’ll look into.

    As far as the Post Slug goes, for some time WordPress has allowed you to directly edit your page URL by clicking the highlighted portion of the permalink (or the edit button next to it) that appears beneath the post or page title. Of course, you need to have user/search friendly permalinks set up by going to Settings|Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard.

    Finally, your note to correctly set your image information in Media Library is spot on. It’s amazing how many images you can accumulate over time so having a strong cataloging scheme is essential in quickly finding images for reuse.

    Reply

  3. Jonathan Bailey ) says: 8/23/2012

    Thanks for the clarification on the post slug issue, that’s what I was trying to explain but I think I missed the mark a bit. Appreciate the follow up!

    The media library, man is that a powerful tool. I have over 2,000 images on my main site, so nice to have them searchable. It’s saved me so much time over the years.

    I should really do a whole post on that some time.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Reply

    • Tom Gray ) says: 8/23/2012

      I was thinking the same thing about the media library, I have kind of a half a##ed system in place to catalog images but I know there’s a better way. Nothing more frustrating then knowing you have an image somewhere but you just can’t put your fingers on it. I just had an ‘aha’ moment though. Went to google image search and entered the command “site:mysite.com *.jpg” and it brought up all the jpeg images that’d been published. That’ll help locate published images that I’ve ‘lost’ at least!

      Reply

  4. Dean Saliba ) says: 8/24/2012

    Scheduled posting is something that I deliberately avoid using because it has never worked on any of the blogs the scheduled posts would simply stay pending with red writing next to it to say it had failed. I’m not the only one who suffers with this either.

    Reply

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