WordPress is very easy to learn and use. However, the dashboard can be quite confusing for beginners. There are a lot of links, features, and terminology you might not understand.
Maybe you’ve just started a blog and you have no idea how to use the platform. That’s why I’ve put together this beginner’s guide to the WordPress dashboard.
In this guide, I will talk you through every aspect of the platform. I will tell you what the admin dashboard looks like, what each component does, and I will also define some of the most used terms.
DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through one of my links, I’ll receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
What is WordPress?
WordPress.org, also called the self-hosted WordPress, is a content management system (CMS). It’s where you manage the backend of your website, aka the functionality and the aesthetic side.
Does WordPress cost money?
No, WordPress is free to use. However, to run your blog on WordPress, you’ll need a web host, and web hosting does cost money.
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is what allows your blog to be viewed on the internet. It’s where all the information about your website is stored.
There are a lot of web hosting services to choose from. Blogology is run on Namehero. I’ve been using namehero for over two years now and I’m happy with the service.
What do I like about SiteGround so much?
#1 Fast web hosting service
Loading speed is a very important aspect of running a website. Google’s research on the bounce rate shows that users are likely to bounce back if the website doesn’t load within 3 seconds. This, of course, affects your SEO.
#2 Excellent customer support service
Whenever I had a problem with the hosting, the customer service was able to help me with whatever I was struggling with. The customer support is available 24/7.
#3 Free SSL certificate for all domains
An SSL certificate is very important. It’s what allows your website to run on HTTPS instead of HTTP. What’s the difference? HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP. SSL helps to protect the information sent between the website and the user’s device that could be hacked by hackers.
What are widgets in WordPress?
Widgets are components that add functionality to specific areas of your blog. That can be the sidebar, the footer, the homepage, and really anywhere on your blog as long as your theme allows it.
What are some examples of widgets?
- Author bio
- Recent posts or comments
- Most popular posts
Some plugins can come with widgets of their own.
How to add a widget to your blog?
Click on Widgets, select a widget of your choice in the Available Widgets section, drag and drop it to one of the areas on the right.
What are menus in WordPress?
Menus in WordPress are used to add navigation to your website.
Here on Blogology, there are three menus. There’s the top bar at the very top of the site with links to the most important pages on the blog. Those are home, about, contact, categories, and blog. That’s the main menu.
Then there’s the menu with other pages I consider the most important in terms of the blogging niche. Those are Start the blog, Write the blog, Grow the blog, Monetize the blog, and Tools. If you are on a mobile device, you can see those items in the drop-down menu underneath the Blogology logo.
If you scroll all the way down, you’ll see the footer menu. This is where the legal pages and the sitemap are located.
How to create a new menu?
Edit Menus > Create a New Menu. You pick a name and click on Save Menu. You can then add items of your choice from the selection on the left.
You’ll then have to go to Customize > Menus > Create a new menu. You’ll select the menu and the location where you want the menu to appear.
The background option will take you to the customize option, specifically to the background image settings. As you can probably tell, here’s where you can change the background of your blog.
3.6.6 THEME EDITOR
In Theme Editor you can edit the theme’s code. If you don’t know how to code, don’t change anything in this section. If you do want to make some major changes to your theme, such as changes to the code, you should first create a child theme.
What is a WordPress child theme?
A child theme is a sub-theme of a parent theme. It inherits its functionality, style, and features.
The theme you install is the parent theme. You shouldn’t make any changes to its code. Instead, create a child theme.
If you want to make trivial changes to your theme, such as changing the colors, adding items to menus, and so on, you don’t need a child theme.
What are plugins in WordPress?
Plugins are tools that add functionality to your site without coding. This doesn’t have to be a specific area. Some plugins can improve the overall performance of your blog.
You can use plugins to improve the security of your website, the loading speed, and a lot more.
If you’ve seen a component on another blog you’d like to add to your website, chances are that there’s a plugin for it.
NOTE: Too many plugins can slow down your website and that is a problem from the SEO perspective. Users and search engines don’t like slow loading websites.
How to add plugins?
Click on Plugins > Add New and type in the name of the plugin you want to install. Click Install and don’t forget to Activate.
You can deactivate or delete a plugin in the list of your installed plugins.
You can also upload a new plugin here.
In the plugin editor, you can edit the PHP file of a plugin of your choice. If you don’t know what you are doing here, don’t change anything here.
If you do want to make changes to the plugins’ codes, you should create a child theme.
If your blog has more than one author, here’s where you can edit their profiles. If you’re the only contributor to your blog, you’re unlikely to access this section often.
However, if there are more authors or you do guest posting, you’ll need to add user accounts. You can then edit them here.
In the tools section, you’ll find options for exporting and importing content, which you’d use if you were migrating sites.
Then you’ll find the options to export and erase personal data, and site health. In site health, you’ll find important information about the configuration of your website.
As you can probably tell, here you can manage the settings of your blog.
This is the general settings of your website and includes:
- Site language
This tab allows you to manage:
- Default category
- Default blog post format
- Editor settings
In the reading tab, you can configure a static homepage and other settings of the appearance of your blog posts.
The discussion settings let you configure comments.
Here you’ll be able to set the sizes of images uploaded to your WordPress site.
Here you can set the permalink structure. I highly recommend you choose the post name option.
NOTE: It’s important you set the permalink structure before you publish any content on your blog.
3.11 COLLAPSE MENU
The collapse menu lets you minimize the menu.
I hope this guide to the WordPress dashboard was helpful. WordPress is easy to learn, but the platform can seem overwhelming when you see it for the first time.
If you ever come across some issues with WordPress, I highly recommend WPBeginner. They are experts in anything WordPress-related, and you’ll be able to find a solution to pretty much any issue on their website.