WordPress For Non-Techies: Free WordPress Tutorials – WPCompendium.org

The WordPress Dashboard

The WordPress control area of your website is one of the most important areas of WordPress to master. In this step-by-step tutorial you are going to learn how to use the WP control area.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WP admin section that will become more useful to you as you gain a better knowledge of using WordPress.

Please note: In this tutorial, we assume that you already have installed a WordPress website or blog on your domain and that you know how to log into your site.

If you need help logging into WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you don’t know whether or not your website is built using WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you want to learn more about why you should choose WordPress and the benefits of using the WordPress CMS platform to power your website or blog, see this section:

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Your WP Control Section

Once you are logged into your WordPress site via the login page, you will typically be presented with the WordPress Dashboard, which is the admin section of your website or blog.

Your WordPress Site Dashboard

Your WordPress administration dashboard is the place where all of your website’s administration and management tasks are performed.

Your Dashboard is divided into a number of areas that provide you with access to things such as:

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Section

Let’s complete the step-by-step tutorial below, then, to learn more about using your Dashboard and your site’s main admin sections.

Understanding The WordPress Dashboard

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a complete redesign of the administration area …

Although the new design was mostly cosmetic and aimed at giving WordPress users and developers cleaner typography for a better optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and a more aesthetic experience, this has also affected much of the existing information about WordPress around the web, including thousands of tutorials and articles about WordPress online, in print and on video that are now outdated.

With the ability to create an individual look and feel of the dashboard, you can also expect to see other improvements to back-end features when WordPress releases new versions.

If new versions of WordPress include changes to any of the functional aspects or features of the software, then rest assured that we will keep you informed about it here.

Important: If your website runs on an older version of WordPress 3.8, then make sure you upgrade to the latest version immediately, as newer versions of WordPress contain many bug and security fixes.

The Dashboard

Dashboard Messages

Depending on how your site is managed and maintained, you may or may not see the messages below.

The first time you log into a new WordPress site, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside the Dashboard …

If you are new to using your website and want to spend a few minutes learning more about WordPress, just click on the links in the “Get Started” or “Next Step” sections.

To dismiss the “Welcome” message and prevent it from displaying again the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the message block …

Note: You will also see “Welcome to WordPress” messages in your dashboard whenever your site gets updated to a new version of WordPress …

Once again, feel free to go through the information displayed in the “welcome” message if you want to know more about new features and updates to the software.

To go back to the dashboard, you can select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) in your admin menu section …

Or scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link to dismiss the message and go back to your Dashboard …

WordPress Dashboard Screen Areas

Your Dashboard gives you access to all of the main features and controls required to administrate your website …

The WordPress Dashboard is divided into different areas

your site’s main Dashboard screen is divided into a number of different sections:

WordPress Admin Area: Header Section

Header Section

The header area displays updates, messages, warnings and notifications …

A whole range of updates, warnings and notifications can display in the header, depending on what admin section you are working on, what action has been completed, or which plugins you have installed on your site …

Screen Options Feature

The Screen Options feature is located in the top-right corner of your WordPress admin screen, in the header area …

It displays different options and features on your screen, depending on which area of the administration backend you are currently on …

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to configure options like which panels of your Dashboard screen you want to hide/display …

If you are in the Posts section of your site management area, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to select entirely different options, like displaying or hiding information in the listings section (e.g. tags, comments, etc…), specifying the number of posts to display per page, and other configurable settings depending on which plugins you have installed on your website …

Tip: Some web developers or designers may choose to hide elements from displaying on your dashboard because they may know from experience that most users probably won’t be using to access these features, or simply to give sections of your site a less “cluttered” look, or to prevent accidental errors from happening.

If you are looking for a specific feature or information block in your administration area and can’t seem to find it, or don’t know where to look for it, just try clicking on the Screen Options tab … you may just find what you were looking for!

Go here to learn more:

Online Help Section

You can access the official WordPress documentation and user help forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located on the top right-hand corner of the screen …

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays context-specific information.

As an example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post section, clicking on the Help tab will bring up helpful information specifically related to editing posts …

Tip: To learn more about any particular area of WordPress whilst logged into the WP administration area, just click on the Help tab.

WordPress Admin Area: Toolbar

The Toolbar displays at the very top of your Dashboard screen and provides you and your logged in site users with access to various administrative functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

Many Toolbar items can flyout to display additional information by hovering your mouse over the icons …

For example, you can quickly see what needs updating …

You can also see at a glance how many comments are currently awaiting moderation, create new pages and posts, add new media or links into your content, add new users to your site and a whole lot more …

You can also see what effect any updates you make to your pages or content will have on your site as seen by your site visitors.

Tip: Open your ”front end” in a new window to continue working on your site …

As long as you remain logged into your admin area, the admin toolbar will continue displaying on your browser while you’re viewing the “front end” of your website.

This is great, because it allows you to easily return to your control panel and continue working on your content without having to log back in …

As you begin adding new functionality to your site, you may notice that additional items begin to display on your toolbar …

Important: If you log in and cannot see the Toolbar when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar is enabled on your ”Profile” area.

The section below shows you how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Area

At the far right of the Admin Toolbar is the “Howdy, User” section with an image of your Gravatar.

Hover over this section with your mouse and it displays your name and username, with links pointing to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

How To Enable Your Toolbar When Viewing Your Site

Click on the “Howdy, User” tab and select Edit My Profile

Make sure that Show Toolbar when viewing site is enabled in the Toolbar information area of your Profile screen …

Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button before leaving this section to update your settings …

Now, you should be able to see the WordPress Toolbar displayed at the top of your screen when you visit your site …

WordPress Administration Section: Navigation Menu

On the left side of the Dashboard screen is the main navigation menu containing links to all the management features of your website or blog …

Your WordPress Admin Menu

Keep in mind that what users see inside the Dashboard area when logged in will depend on the role and capabilities they have been assigned by the admin and how the site administrator has configured settings and options for different features.

In order to access all of the WordPress dashboard functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

User Roles give users different capabilities and can limit access to site features

Users assigned roles other than that of an administrator (e.g. ”Contributor”, “Author”, etc.) get access to fewer menu options inside the dashboard …

Different Roles Get Access To Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WP Dashboard

Irrespective of the role assigned to a user, some admin menu features like “Collapse menu” remain accessible to all.

Click the Collapse menu button at the bottom of the menu section …

And the admin menu shrinks into a narrow bar with only a list of icons showing …

This is a useful function if you need to create more to work in your admin area.

If you are working with the collapsed menu and are not sure what the icons mean, just click on the bottom icon to expand all items, or hover over an icon to display its submenus …

If you hover your mouse over a menu item, a sub-menu will fly out …

To add submenus to the admin menu bar while you’re working, click on a menu item …

We plan to provide helpful tutorials about each of the navigation menu items in future blog posts.

WordPress Administration Area: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your administration page is the main working area. This is where you will get access to most of your site’s information, do most of your admin work, create, edit and delete pages, posts and content related to these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, modify site options, and so on.

When you log into WordPress, the Dashboard will display a number of  panels with information about various activities taking place on your site, including updates and notices from different WordPress-related sources …

Occasionally, you may even find that new panels have been added to your WordPress dashboard.

For example, in version 4.8, WordPress added a new dashboard panel that displays nearby WordCamps and local WordPress Meetups in your area …

(WordPress Events and News)

You can learn more about it here: WordPress 4.8

As your site grows with content and functionality (e.g. adding e-commerce or a support helpdesk, etc.) and more visitors begin to interact with your site, you might see that your work area begins to look really busy …

Fortunately, you can customize the WordPress dashboard by hiding, minimizing and reorganizing the layout and display of your Admin panels.

For a quick and easy tutorial on how to customize your WordPress Dashboard, go here:

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

The footer section is found at the bottom of your WP Dashboard area and displays links to WordPress as well as your site’s current WordPress version …

Congratulations! Now you know how to navigate around your WordPress dashboard and admin areas.

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"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)