One of the hardest parts of learning to blog on any platform is simply figuring out where things are on your main page for the platform, or in WordPress’ case, the Dashboard. The WordPress dashboard is where everything for the site is run (there is also the behind the scenes items on your hosting/server’s site, but most people don’t ever go into that). If you’re new to the WordPress platform, it may be confusing or overwhelming not knowing where to find things, which is exactly why I want to walk you through the ins and outs of the dashboard!
Everyone’s dashboard may look a little different depending on what each person has installed. In order to show you the dashboard, I installed WordPress on a test site of mine so that you can see the dashboard “out of the box.”
After logging in to your site, above is what you’ll see! The main page of the dashboard will show many of the things you’ll need quick access to, while the lefthand sidebar will contain the other things you may need to access to use your site. You can customize what is shown on the main dashboard page using the “screen options” drop down in the top righthand corner of your screen.
Some plugins will have the ability to add certain views or settings onto the main dashboard page. Google Analytics is one of those! It’s great to be able to see your stats without having to login to a site separately.
On the left hand sidebar, you’ll see I currently have some updates that need to be made. When I click on the “updates” tab, all of the updates to my theme, WordPress, and plugins will show. It’s SO important to update these whenever you see them available!
Going down the sidebar, the next big thing you’ll see is posts. This is where you’ll write, edit and publish your blog posts! When you click on Posts, a new window will open showing you all of your posts. To start a new post, click new post at the top. It will open a new window where you can draft your post. You’ll see two small tabs on the top right hand corner of your editor, one says visual and one says text. Use visual most of the time, but if you need to drop in any HTML, you’ll switch to the text side.
On the top right hand side, you’ll see the publish section. If you need to schedule a post, you’d click edit next to publish immediately and change to the date and/or time you want the post to publish. After you click okay, you’ll notice the blue publish button switches to a blue schedule button.
Scroll down to assign categories and tags to your post. To edit existing categories or tags, hover over posts and you’ll see a drop down with tags and categories. You can create new ones here or within your post editor.
You also may want to assign a featured image if your theme needs it for various features. If you set a featured image, that will be the image that your RSS feed (or Bloglovin’) will pull and usually other social media sites will, too.
One of my favorite WordPress features is the media library. In Blogger, you always had to add an image every time because there was no way to see images you had uploaded previously. WordPress has a library so you can see all of the images you’ve added and reuse the same one again, instead of creating a new URL for that image. This is also where you’d go to get the URL for an image you had previously uploaded.
The bulk of the other things you’ll need are located within this menu. Here you’ll find where you can change your theme, customize your widgets on your sidebar or homepage, change your navigation menu and access your CSS code. For a lot of people, using the customize tab on the menu is the only place they’ll need to go to make changes to their blog. The difference between this and other ways is that the customize menu will only have things that are defaulted to the theme- as opposed to going in and changing the coding itself. For most people though, it has the options you’d need. It also updates visually so you can see what you are changing, though your changes won’t be live until you press save.
Within the customize menu, you can change colors, change your site title (which you should do even if you have a header!), change your header and add widgets.
If you’re starting a brand new site, you won’t have any menus set up. The first thing you’ll need to do is go to Appearance – Menus and create a menu. After creating a menu, you can add pages to it. On the left you’ll see a section that says Pages and has options for most recent, all or to search. You can also add categories, which will bring up a feed of the posts tagged with whichever category you select. Finally you can add a custom link as well. A heads up with custom links, they will open in the same window (as will the other links).
To view your plugins, simply go to the plugins tab on your sidebar. There you’ll be able to see all of your plugins, both active and inactive. To add a new plugin, click the add new button on the sidebar or next to the Plugin page title. You’ll be shown six plugins by default and you can search for other plugins using the search bar. Once you find one you want to install, you just press install now and it will automatically add it. Depending on the plugin, you may have a settings page right on the sidebar or within another submenu.
The rest of the parts of the dashboard are fairly user friendly, but I would definitely recommend going through them and exploring to try to get yourself familiar with them.
If I missed any major sections that need explaining, please comment and let me know! I’d love to add them to the post.