A Beginner’s Tutorial To Using WordPress Dashboard

New to blogging or using WordPress for your business website? Are you getting confused between the multiple links and settings available in the dashboard?

Well, don’t you worry because we have created a WordPress dashboard tutorial for you! From the very introduction to dashboard login to tips and tricks to utilizing your tools, we have it all in this article.

Navigating the dashboard isn’t as complicated as it seems at first glance. It’s easy once you get the hang of the menu, links, and settings. But beginner WordPress users need a little guidance to start with. 

So, without further ado, let’s talk WordPress!

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How to Access Your WordPress Dashboard

You already know WordPress is the world’s most popular web publishing platform, heralded by bloggers and entrepreneurs alike. And while their free version has its own merits, for the sake of this post, we will be discussing their self-hosting WordPress.org.

Once you have installed WordPress onto your host site, you can access your dashboard. Here, you can start developing and tuning your website.

To log in to your dashboard, you only need to do an extra step when you type in the URL, depending on where you have WordPress installed. You have to add the extension wp-admin to the end of the URL.

Examples of how that will look like:

If you installed it in the document root of the URL

mywebdomain.com/wp-admin

If you installed it on a blog on your domain

mywebdomain.com/blog/wp-admin

You will find a login page, where you can enter the username and password you created during installation. And there you have it – the dashboard with all the side tabs and site maintenance tools. You can select which widgets appear here in the Screen Settings option.

But, don’t fret about those details yet. You will have time to do that later. For now, let’s get an overview of what you can accomplish in the dash.

For Creating & Managing Content

These tabs will allow you to control your site’s content and traffic information. 

Posts

This will redirect you to a new page where you can view all of your website’s pages. The pages host blogs or content you posted. You can view all posts or browse the categories and tags.

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Here, you can create new pages by clicking on the ‘Add New’. That will take you to the post editor page. 

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by clicking on the ‘Add New’

On this page, you can set the title, visibility, and publish time of your post. Then you can select the categories, tags, and featured images you want to add.

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If you’re not happy with the published content, don’t worry. You can update it through the posts page whenever you wish.

Media

Any sort of media files- images, video, gifs, etc.- will be stored in this page. 

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They get automatically added when you upload media to your posts. But you can also upload new files here manually if you wish. You can search this database through a search bar, and it comes in handy when you’re looking to reuse a file.

Pages

The pages tab allows you to view all the pages of your site. Pages are a website’s navigation portal. For example, you can create a privacy policy page that you can redirect your readers to. 

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Here, you can even make drafts of new pages you want to add.

Comments

Here, you will be able to view and manage all the comments that people have left on your website. You can see which post/page the comment is from well as the author information. You can reply or edit your replies from here.

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Through this page, you can approve which comments to publicize. So, you don’t have to worry about inappropriate comments or language that can affect your site’s image.

Plugins

In this screen, you can choose from thousands of plugins to add to your website. Plugins can add features and more functionality. Some can tailor to your users’ needs well. However, too many will slow down your website. Choose them carefully.

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If you want to add a plugin, simply click on Add New then Install.

Users

This option is for adding other users to your website. You may need this if you have page moderators or client handlers for your site.

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As the admin, you have the power to set the number of permissions these user profiles will have. You can even edit your own here.

Tools

Tools tab has a few tools to make your tasks easier. There is a bookmarklet feature called Press that allows you to publish posts quickly through a browser button. 

Other important tools are import and export. As a beginner, you may not find this useful. However, if you want to move site data to or from another WordPress in the future, this will come in handy.

Make Your Site Look Better in the Appearance tab

Here, you get to customize and play around with themes so your site can become eye-catching to the visitors.

Themes

In this subsection of the Appearance page, you will find all your uploaded themes.

WordPress comes with a default theme, but you will find most users opt not to use it. That is due to the larger variety of more customizable options that are available in the WordPress Themes Directory. You will find many free and premium ones to download there. Or, you may have a professional build a theme for you outside of WordPress.

Through the Add New button at the top, you can upload new themes or search the Directory.

The ones uploaded will all be displayed on this screen, and the one you’re currently using will be showing as active. You can see live previews for the inactive ones if you’re considering changing it.

Customize

This menu option lets you further customize your theme.

The available tabs will depend on the theme and what it will allow you to change. For example, some have options to change color, header image, background image, etc.

Widgets

Widgets are content sections that appear in various places throughout your webpage. They often appear as sidebars or footers. The area they occupy is dependent on your theme configurations. Installing plugins sometimes add new widgets to your site. You can use the Customize tab to edit your widgets.

Some widgets, like Recent Comments and Categories, are installed by default though not all are necessary. You can add the new widgets under the Available Widgets and delete unneeded ones. An inactive section is also there for widgets not in use. 

It’s a good idea to keep the usage of widgets to the point. Too many will clutter up your website. 

Menus

If your theme comes with menu customization, you will find this tab. You can add menu items as well as edit them through here. They can be posts, pages, links, etc. 

As you know, the menu section is largely how a user navigates the site, so make sure you pay special attention to it.

Under Manage Locations, you can select which menus to assign to your Header, Footer, and Social Links menus. Although, as we mentioned, the locations are based on your theme. So, you may not find these exact locations but you get the idea.

Theme Editor

In this tab, you will gain access to the code files of your theme. And we recommend you not to use it. Firstly, this should be left untouched if you have no CSS coding knowledge.

But even if you do, it may cause problems down the line. Whatever edit you added to the code will be lost in the next update. And you should keep your themes updated to keep them safe from evolving malware circling the web.

Tailor Your Settings

To make your site easy to use and maximize its functionality, you should take a peek at the settings. With time, you may find yourself coming back to update it. Still, it’s a good idea to know what you’re working with from the get-go.

General

The general settings tab is where you can configure some basic information on your site. 

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The Site Title is the first thing that pops up. This will typically be the name of your blog. WordPress uses this title to recognize your site. Then you can add a tagline, which is a few words explaining your site’s intention. It’s like the motto of your site, so make it interesting.

Next, you can set the date and time formats as well as the timezone and language of the site. You can also edit your site address and administration email address here. This email is not visible to your users and is for WordPress to contact you.

Writing

Using the writing settings, you can make some defaults and formats for your content.

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Default Post Category allows you to select categories for your posts. If you don’t add any when publishing or remove them afterward, these will automatically add to the post.

Default Post Formats have some styles of presenting your content and posts in a drop-down menu. The settings you will see here are the ones that your theme supports.

In Update Services, you can add a list of services that you want to notify whenever you publish something new.

Reading

The reading settings are important as this is where you set the front page of your site. This can be a static page or several posts displaying together, for example, the latest posts. You can select this under Your homepage displays.

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One thing to note is that if you select a page, the format you originally set your page to will be ignored. The theme’s homepage design will control the display. 

You have further options to select the maximum number of blog posts that will display on a single page in your website. You can customize your website feed by selecting whether posts should show as full pieces or summaries.

Finally, another significant thing you can do here is to control your site’s search visibility. You will, like most blog sites, find that the largest chunk of your traffic comes from search engines. 

Yet, when your site is in the development phase or undergoing updates, you may want to hide it. Unchecking the visibility will prevent engines from indexing your site.

Discussion

The discussion screen gives you full control over your comment section and whether other sites can ping back to you on the dashboard.

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Pingbacks are when you link to other websites and your ping shows up in the comment section of that post, as long as that website enables that option. 

This screen is quite detailed so we suggest you take a look for yourself. But to give you a brief overview: you can choose whether users need to register to post comments, if threads are allowed, the order in which comments are displayed, etc.

There is also an email section where you can set up email notifications if certain actions are performed.

Media

In media, you can select in which size the media files will be uploaded to the library. By default, you get a thumbnail, medium, and large-size options.

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A permalink is a URL/web address that is linked to all of your blog posts. These are usually permanent and unchanging.

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Through this screen, you can set the default permalink structure for your website. Or, you can create a custom structure of your choosing. Some common structures are day and name, month and name, post name, etc.

Privacy

Recently, privacy policies have become a requirement for websites. You can create a privacy policy through their existing page or create one of your own. Either way, you will get a half-filled page that you can customize to your needs.

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To Wrap Up

Using the WordPress dashboard admin panel for the first time may seem challenging. However, once you get the overall idea and play around with the screens for a bit, you’ll find it easy to start configuring your website. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get to website building with the smartest and most popular content management platform- WordPress!

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