Intro to WordPress – Day One – Getting Around The Dashboard

by | Nov 26, 2018 | news, wordpress basics, wordpress tutorial

Getting started with WordPress may seem a bit daunting, particularly if you’ve never touched a website before. The good news is that if you’re updating content such as adding text and/or images, it’s pretty hard to do anything that will seriously ‘break’ your WordPress website. In fact, if you’re familiar with software such as Microsoft Word, you’ll probably find that the text editor is fairly intuitive – if only you could find the stupid thing!

Finding your way around the Dashboard

If you’ve just landed on the Dashboard and you’re wondering where to start, today’s post is all about figuring it out. The Dashboard is the default page that you’ll be directed to upon logging in to WordPress. It gives some details about recent activity, any new or pending updates, what version of WordPress the site is running on, and so on. Depending upon the plugins that you’re using, these may also place information on that very first page. To the left of the screen, you’ll see a black column on desktop or a scaled version on mobile, with a list of different options extending down the page. Some are fairly self explanatory, but others make not be as obvious straight away. I’ll explain more about how to make changes in future posts, but for now, let’s just look at what’s there and where to find things.

The Basics

The basics are the things that I believe you’ll use over and over again if you’re regularly making updates on your site, in particular the Posts, Media and Pages. It is in these sections that you will create new content, upload new images and add in new pages if your site grows or your business information changes.  

Posts: Create new blog entries or news articles for your site. Add, remove and manage post categories and tags. View all the previous posts uploaded to the website.

Media: Upload new images, PDFs, videos or audio to the site. Create Galleries to display on site pages. Delete unwanted images.

Pages: If you’re created any pages for your website, the Pages section is where you’ll find the pages and from there you can add new pages, edit existing ones and even delete old pages if required.

Set and Forget

WordPress offers a range of settings to tailor your site to your location and requirements. This includes setting the timezones, site name and tag line, whether your front page is the blog posts or a nominated page and so on. Unless you move around a lot and want to adjust the site each time or you’re really still not sure what to call you site(?), these are things that you’ll should really only need to set once and then forget about.

More Advanced Options

The advanced options are not necessarily more complicated, but changing them can impact the entire site and this tends to be things you’ll change less frequently, for example Appearance and Users. While you may frequently add new posts, you are less likely to make the changes that are accessed via Appearance. This includes, but is not limited to, Themes, Widgets and Menus. An update of the site Theme for example will change the entire look and feel of the site, which is something that the average user does rarely. You are also far less likely to add in new menu items and users than you are to add in new posts.

Appearance: This includes Menus, Widget and Themes.

Users: This is a section where you can update your own, or other user passwords, add in new users, and delete users that no longer require access to the site.


This is How You Break Things!

Now I know I said it’s hard to break things, but this is the exception. Jumping back to the Appearance section again, you’ll see an option called ‘Editor’. This option takes you to a section where you can directly edit the underlying theme files. If you’re not familiar with doing that, it’s a sure fire way to create problems on the site, particularly if you start making changes to any of the theme php files. Fortunately, WordPress will step in and prompt you when you start to navigate to that section (see image). Unless you are an experienced developer, I’d recommend that you back away slowly to avoid breaking your website. FWIW, I personally, I think that even if you’re comfortable making changes to the WordPress php files, editor is not the place to be doing it.   

This is a very short intro in the scheme of things, but once you’ve understood where different elements live, you’ll find that moving on to adding content and images is a straight forward process.

Check out the next post for details on creating posts and pages and adding media content!