Welcome to the second installment of WordPress 101. If you missed the first section, 2 Ways to Install WordPress, you can find it here.
Today it’s time to learn about our WordPress dashboard. The Dashboard is one of the most important things to learn about in WordPress. It’s easy to use but has some surprising features! First let’s cover some WordPress terminology.
- Dashboard: The Main Administrative page you are brought to when you log into your WordPress site. It’s where you run your site from.
- Theme: The files that determine how your site will look.
- Plugins: Extra add ons that give your WordPress special functions. Common plugins include ones that display contact forms, ads, or email pop ups.
- Posts: These are your blog posts.
- Pages: Pages are similar to posts but should be used for content that is not published regularly, for example common pages are About and Contact pages.
Now on to the dashboard…
When you first log into your site your dashboard will look something like this. Plugins often change how your dashboard looks, so your dashboard might not look exactly like the one shown in the images below. You’ll notice that the dashboard has a large menu full of options on the left-hand side. This is how you navigate your dashboard. Wherever you want to go in your WordPress site you can get there from here.
One of the great things about WordPress is that you don’t have to know any coding at all in order to change how your blog looks or where content is positioned. Your theme will take care of most of the looks of your blog for you. Widgets are areas of your site where you can drag and drop features or content. Most blog themes will have at least a “Sidebar” widget area. If you navigate to Widgets you can view the widgets that are available and active on your blog. Simply drag and drop your widgets around to activate, deactivate or move them. Want to change your theme? No problem, go to appearance > theme and view themes you have installed as well as free themes available from the WordPress community. Appearance also lets you control your menus, you know, those “tabs” you see often at the top of your blog. Go to appearance > menus to reorganize them or change them completely.
Plugins give your blog many awesome functions. To see which plugins you have installed go to your plugins option on your dashboard menu. Here you will be able to see which plugins are installed, if any need updates, as well as the option to install new plugins – including the ability to browse or search WordPress’s plugin directory. Not sure which ones you should have installed? I’ve got some recommendations for you here.
What’s blogging without blog posts? A lot of sitting around I guess. Blog posts are the main thing you’ll be wanting to do, I suspect! WordPress makes it easy to create, edit, and manage your blog posts. You can access all your posts, and create a new one by visiting the Posts link on the side of your dashboard. From there you can edit old posts, or create new ones. Creating posts is easy, and works much like any text editor like Word. You can add images, create links, and format your text with no coding knowledge! WordPress also now auto-saves your posts, so you don’t have to worry about loosing your work, and you can go back and see old revisions.
You probably have images you’d like to include in your blog posts or other places on your blog. Visit the media library to upload images or other media types, view your images and even edit them. All of the images you upload here are easily accessible for your use when you create a post or a page.
Pages is very similar to Posts. You can create and edit your Pages here. Like posts you don’t need any coding knowledge to create your pages. With the help of Widgets you can create forms or image galleries, and of course you have access to WordPress’ rich text editor.
In many cases you may not use the Users section very often. If you are the only users of your blog then you may only use it rarely. This is where you can edit your user profile. Some themes will display some or all of the information you share in your user profile. It’s always a good idea to complete it in case a plugin or theme needs to pull that information. If you have a multi-user blog you can create, edit and manage other users accounts here as well. You can give users specific rights and privileges, as well as delete and edit users.
Settings is pretty self explanatory. This contains many of the settings you might want to change for your blog. It covers anything from permalink formats to the timezone your blog runs in, to the blog name and tagline. You’ll want to visit settings shortly after setting up your blog to make sure everything there is to your liking. Under Settings you might find you have many other sub-menu options, plugins will often add their own settings under the general Settings heading. If you are looking for the settings for one of your plugins, it’s probably hiding here.
If you have a Genesis theme you will see the Genesis options. This is simply the options for the Genesis theme and the genesis child theme. Your non-genesis theme may have another “theme options” setting, or some themes have no them options or use the theme options under “Appearance”. Genesis plugins will also put their settings here as well.
These are some lesser known functions of your dashboard. Firstly, you can drag and drop any of the boxes you see on your dashboard around. Organize them however you want! You can also hide the content in the widgets by clicking the small arrow on each widget’s title. For example in the screenshot below you can see that the Activity and Jetpack sections have been minimized, while Quick Draft has not been minimized. The second lesser known function is that little tab that says screen options up near the top of your screen. This will give you even more options to organize your dashboard, including the ability to completely hide any of the widgets seen on your dashboard!
The best way to get to know your dashboard is to explore it! So get out there and click those dashboard buttons! Don’t worry you can’t hurt anything and won’t break your site (WordPress has started giving you a handy warning when you access pages that let you edit code of your plugins and themes that tells you ‘Hey, if you don’t know what you are doing you probably shouldn’t mess with this’).
Do you have any questions about the WordPress Dashboard? Let me know in the comments!
Don’t forget to check back next WordPress Wednesday for more WordPress 101, next week it’s time to learn more about Posts & Pages.