If you have already logged into the WordPress Dashboard and it seems like it is very confusing, don’t worry, my beginner’s guide will take you step by step through the sections.
The images of the dashboard in this tutorial are from a website hosted using Bluehost. You can still follow along even if your hosting provider is GoDaddy, SiteGround, HostGator, or any other big-name provider, this user guide will get you started with creating a website using self-hosted WordPress software.
For the beginners that are not sure how to login to see your WordPress Dashboard..
Let’s get you logged into the WordPress Dashboard (also called the admin panel).
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The URL to login to your WordPress Dashboard is:
- If you installed to the root of your domain, the URL would be http://yoursite.com/wp-admin
- If you installed in a folder called “blog” on your domain you would type in http://yoursite.com/blog/wp-admin
Change “yoursite.com” with your domain name to access your WordPress dashboard.
Quick Tip: If you are having problems getting to the login screen, check the e-mail from your hosting provider for the URL.
When you type in the URL to access your log in, you will arrive at this screen:
Type in your username (or email) and password to open the WordPress dashboard.
If this is your first time getting into your WordPress dashboard (admin panel), you may have a screen that looks like this: (If you don’t that’s ok, too)
In the event that you have this screen, just click on “I don’t need help“. I will go over the layout of your dashboard to get you familiar with all the sections and help you customize the dashboard to fit your needs.
8 Sections of Your WordPress Dashboard
1. Information Bar
This bar at the top of your WordPress dashboard has a lot of things for such a small area.
WordPress Logo – When you hoover of it, a sub-menu will show up
About WordPress – It’s a welcome to WordPress. There are three tabs:
What’s New – The newest update is explained.
Credits – Credit to the great people who are helping with the project.
Freedoms – The freedoms you have to use, update or modify this open-source software.
WordPress.org – This takes you to WordPress.org home page, where you can find support, plugins, themes, and much more information.
Documentation – Takes you to WordPress Codex, which is an online help manual.
Support forums – If you need help and can’t find the information online, use the support forums to find your solution. There are so many great people there to help you.
Feedback – This also takes you to the support forum area.
Believe it or not, for a long time I had no idea that there was so much information hiding under that little WordPress Logo.
The little house is your site name. Additionally, you can visit your site by hovering your mouse over the site name and click on “visit site”.
Two arrows in a circle with a number next to it. This lets you know if any themes or plugins you have installed need to be updated. You may or may not have this on your dashboard. If you don’t right now, in time to come you will see it.
Message icon shows how many new comments you have on your posts.
+New lets you quickly add a post, media, page, or a new user.
View Post – This will show up on the information bar when you are writing or editing a post. Click on it while you are writing the new post to see a preview.
Howdy, Your Name – This shows the username that you are logged in as. You can change the name that shows up by hovering over your name. Click on Your Profile – type in your name you prefer under Nickname – then use the pulldown menu next to Display name publicly as and choose the name you prefer. Then, go to the bottom of the page and click “Update Profile”.
2. Screen Options
When you click on the down area next to screen options, a box will show up with all the different widgets on your dashboard. You can check the box to have that section show up or uncheck the box to remove any of those items from your dashboard.
3. Main Menu in the WordPress Dashboard
Feeling lost when you look at the main menu? I realize this looks like a lot of things to understand but you will start learning WordPress as you are creating your site and will be able to move around quickly.
Dashboard – You can click on this to take you back to your dashboard at any time.
Home – Also takes you back to the dashboard.
Updates – This screen will show you if you are running the current version of WordPress or if there is a new update. It is best to keep your site up to date so make sure you update when they release a new version.
JetPack – is a plugin through WordPress.com. If this was installed when you set up your site, it is your choice if you want to use this plugin. JetPack is a free plugin and it gives you visitor stats, security services, speeds up images, and helps you get more traffic.
In case you decide you don’t want to use it, you can deactivate and delete it: go to Plugins – Installed Plugins – click on Deactivate on the JetPack plugin. Then click Delete.
Posts – When you hoover over Posts – this sub-menu will come up – All Posts, Add New, Categories, Tags.
All Posts, you will see a list of all your posts and the information about each one. The title, author, which categories and tags they have, how many comments, and the date published (or if it is still a draft).
Add New – Let’s you create a new post.
Categories – This is where you can add, edit or delete your categories. It helps to use categories in your website as it helps your visitors find related information. You can have multiple categories for any post but you must show one as your primary.
Tags – The place to add, edit or delete your tags. Tags are also optional when you are writing your post. Here is a good explanation of the differences between Categories and Tags.
Media – When you hoover over Media – the sub-menu comes up – Library and Add New.
Library – This shows all of the images, audio, and video that you have uploaded for your website. Using the dropdown menu – you are able to see only images or audio or video. Also, easily find any media that is not attached to any of your posts or pages by clicking on “Unattached” to see them. This helps you keep the media folder clean of any unused items for your website. You are also able to upload any new media within this section.
Add New – Here you are able to upload any new media for your site.
Pages – the sub-menu has All Pages and Add New.
All Pages – This will show you a list of all your pages and the information about each one. The title, author, the categories and tags they are filed under, how many comments, and the date published (or if it is still a draft).
Add New – Let’s you create a new page for your website.
Comments – This shows you a list of all the comments on your posts (pages don’t have comments). In addition, it shows you who wrote it (author), what the comment is, In Response To (the post title), and the date it was Submitted On. You can filter them by All, Pending, Approved, Spam, or Trash.
MarketPlace – This will be on the menu if your website is installed on Bluehost or HostGator. You can find themes, plugins, services, graphics, business tools, and your purchases through this app. These are all extra items that you need to pay for. However, you can find free themes and plugins through the “Appearance” tab. You can deactivate and delete by going to Plugins – Installed Plugins – find MOJO Marketplace and click Deactivate. To keep your plugin section clean, go ahead and Delete it.
Appearance – the sub-menu has Themes, Customize, Widgets, Menus, Header, Background, Premium Themes, Editor. You may not have all of these sub-menus, so if you don’t, it is nothing to worry about.
Themes – From this area, you are able to find free themes from WordPress.org. Through this menu, you are able to install (or upload) a new one or delete (remove) any you don’t want.
To delete (remove) a theme from your WordPress Dashboard.
- Go to Appearance
- Click on Themes – Hover mouse over the one you want to delete
- Then click Theme Details
- In the bottom right-hand corner, click on Delete
Customize – You can customize the activated theme for your website your taste. However, if you are using a free theme, you may not be able to customize everything you want to. When you purchase a “premium” theme, you are able to customize any area of your template.
Widgets – A WordPress Widget is a block that performs a specific function on a web page or post. You can add widgets to sidebars and footers. You can use any predefined ones or use HTML to create one with the information you want in that block.
Menus – This area helps you build your navigation for your website. You can use create your own and add pages, posts, custom links, and categories to your menu. If you want, you can create different menus: For Example: A menu at the top of your page, place a different one in a side-bar widget, and have another different one in your footer.
Header – Just about all themes let you change the header by adding uploading an image. You can personalize your website look with a header image. Quick Tip: If you created a blog using WordPress to attach to your website and your website was not created by WordPress, you can use the header image from your website to have your site and blog match.
Background – You may have a photography site and want to upload an image to the background. The background section lets you do that and personalize your site much more than just a plain white background. Actually, no matter what type of site you have, you could add a background if you want.
Premium Themes – These premium themes are through MOJO Marketplace. There are many more premium themes online than just the ones shown in this section. If you have a free theme your using, see if you can purchase it to get more customization for your website look.
Editor – In this area, you can look at the coding for your WordPress theme. However, do not change any templates if you don’t have any knowledge of coding. As you get familiar with WordPress and decide you want to start to learn about coding, make sure you save the original template before making changes.
Plugins – in the sub-menu is Installed Plugins, Add New, Editor
Installed Plugins – All of the plugins for your website will be listed here whether they are activated or deactivated. This section lets you activate, deactivate, and delete plugins. Quick Tip: If a plugin is deactivated, it is best to delete it. If at a later time you decide you want it back, you can reinstall it.
Add New – To add a function that is not built-in to WordPress software, search WordPress.org plugins to find and install the feature you want. As of the writing of this tutorial, there are over 47,000 free plugins available.
Editor – This is where all of the coding for the installed plugins on your website. DO NOT edit any of this code if you are not extremely comfortable with coding as it could make your plugin not work properly.
Users – the sub-menu is All Users, Add New, Your Profile
All Users – This will show you all the users for your website. You can set each user for the role they have:
- Administrator – Access to all administrative options and features.
- Editor – Can manage and publish posts. Editors review posts submitted by contributors and then schedule the posts for review.
- Author – Is able to publish their own posts whenever they wish.
- Contributor – Can write posts but not allowed to publish them. They need to submit their posts for review.
- Subscriber – Only allowed basic functions: such as changing their profile and leaving comments.
Add New – From here you can add any new profiles to your website. If you have guest writers, you are able to set up their profile and define which role they will have.
Your Profile – This is the place to change your name for the posts you write. You can also put information about yourself, a profile picture, and much more information. Many people may not fill this out if they are the only ones writing articles for their website.
Tools – this sub-menu shows under tools – Available Tools, Import, Export
Available Tools – Press This is a feature in WordPress to lets you share content with your readers from another web page to yours. If you use this feature it will take a copy of the area you want and link back to the site where you got it. Here is a more in-depth article about this feature. Guide to WordPress Press This.
Import – Using this feature allows you to import posts or comments easily from another system. You can choose from Blogger, LiveJournal, Movable Type, and TypePad, Tumblr, and WordPress. You can also convert existing categories to tags or tags to categories in this feature.
Export – This will export a copy of your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags to your computer.
Quick tip: This is NOT a full back-up of your website. You need to either pay your hosting company to backup your full site or use a plugin.
Settings – under the setting is General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, Permalinks
General – under this area is your site name, tagline, your URL, e-mail address associated with your website to get updates and notifications, time zone, date and time format, and the site language.
To change your site language in the WordPress Dashboard:
- Click on Settings
- Go To General
- Towards the bottom of the page is Site Language. Use the pull-down menu to find it.
- At bottom of the page – click Save Changes.
Writing – This area allows you to change the default post category and format and post via e-mail.
Reading – Here you can set your static front page (homepage), how many posts to show on a blog page, and your search engine visibility.
Quick Tip: The Search Engine Visibility may be checked by default when you installed WordPress. Make sure you uncheck this when you are ready to go live with your new website.
Discussion – There are many settings in here for comments and what you will allow to be posted automatically or the comment can be held until you manually approve it.
Quick Tip: I recommend checking the box next to Comment Must Be Manually Approved to help cut down on spam.
Media – All of the images you upload can be set for the maximum dimension. The three sizes are Thumbnail, Medium, and Large.
Permalinks – This is where you can change what your links for your posts and pages look like.
The default is set at Day and Name: http://mygreatsite.com/2016/10/16/awesome-article/
But many people prefer to use the “pretty link”: http://mygreatsite.com/awesome-new-article
To change your permalink to use a “pretty link”:
- Go to Permalinks
- Click on Post Name
- Then Save Changes
Quick Tip: If you have existing posts or pages already showing in the search engines and change your permalink it changes your URL. Your visitors will arrive at a 404-page error (page not found). So whichever one permalink you choose when you are building your website, try to stay with it.
OptinMonster – This may have been installed as default when you set up WordPress. If you are not sure what this plugin does, here is more information about OptinMonster. If you are not going to use OptinMonster, you can deactivate it and delete it through the Plugins area.
4. Welcome Box
This box helps you by showing you some actions you can take: From Get Started, Next Steps, or More Actions. You can remove this box by clicking on the Dismiss in the top right corner.
Quick Tip: The boxes (#5 – #8) are widgets on your dashboard. You can remove them by using the Screen Option at the top of the dashboard. To fit your needs, you can move these widgets around. Just hover over the name (4 arrows will come up) and then left-click your mouse and move them around.
5. At a Glance
You are able to see quickly how many posts, pages, and comments within your site. It also shows the theme you have currently installed and the current version of WordPress. If your site is live and you see Search Engines Discouraged, click on it to take you to the Reading area so you can uncheck the box.
6. Quick Draft
Maybe you have a great idea for a new post but don’t have time to write it, you can put it in here and work on it later.
This widget shows your recently published and any recent comments.
8. WordPress News
New articles from WordPress.org and other related sites.
I know, that seems like a lot of information but hopefully, this guide taught you a little bit more on how to use WordPress after installing it on your web host.
And as I said earlier, you will become very familiar with it quickly.
I hope this WordPress dashboard tutorial for beginners has helped you learn more about where the functions are at in your dashboard.
Did I miss anything in this beginner’s tutorial? I would love to hear your comments, questions, or feedback.
Finally, is it time for you to….
Create Yours: Step by Step,