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

The WordPress Dashboard

In this tutorial, you are going to learn how to use the WP admin area and master using the WP control panel, the WP functions and settings menu and the main administrative modules of your web site.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WP administration area that will become more useful to you as you master using WordPress.

Please note: In this tutorial, we are assuming that you or your business already has a self-hosted WordPress website installed on your domain and that you know how to log into your website.

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

If you’re not sure whether or not your website was built using WordPress, see this tutorial:

To learn more about 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

After you’ve logged into your WordPress site via the login page, you will normally be presented with the Dashboard, which is your website’s administration section.

The Dashboard

The WP Dashboard is where all of your site’s admin tasks are run from.

Your Dashboard is divided into several sections that provide you with access to the following:

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Feature

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

Your WordPress Administration Area – An Overview

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a modern design to the Dashboard area …

Even though the new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of 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the web, including thousands of tutorials and articles about WordPress online, in print and on video that are now outdated.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 your administration area, you can expect to see new design changes to backend 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 post an update about it on this site.

Important: If your site runs on an older version of WordPress 3.8, then make sure you upgrade to the latest version immediately, as many bug and security fixes are made whenever a new version is released.

The WP Dashboard

Dashboard Messages

Depending on whether you or someone else manages your site, 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 WordPress and want to spend a few minutes learning more about WordPress, you can click on the “Get Started” or “Next Step” links.

To dismiss the “Welcome” message or prevent it from showing 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” notices displayed whenever your site gets updated to a new version of WordPress …

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 return to your dashboard, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on the admin menu section …

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

Dashboard Screen Sections

Your Dashboard gives someone with the role of an administrator access to all of the main controls and features that you will need to manage the site …

Your WP Dashboard is divided into different areas

Your main Dashboard screen is divided into a number of different areas:

WP Dashboard Area: Header Section

Header Area

The header area displays updates, warnings and notifications …

A whole range of system updates, messages, banners, announcements, notifications and warnings can display on your header section, 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 Tab

The Screen Options feature is located in the top-right corner of your WP dashboard 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 viewing …

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to specify options like which panels of your Dashboard work area you want to view or keep hidden …

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

Tip: Some developers or designers may choose to prevent backend features from displaying in your dashboard because they may assume that most users won’t be needing to access these features, or simply to give parts of your site a less “cluttered” look, or to prevent accidental errors from happening.

If you are looking for a specific functionality or element in your admin section 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 searching for!

Go here to learn more:

WordPress Online Help Section

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

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays information that is relevant to the particular section that you are in.

As an example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post area of your site admin, clicking on the Help tab will bring up help information relevant to editing posts …

Tip: To learn more about a specific feature, function or area of WordPress whilst logged into the admin area, just click on the Help tab.

WordPress Admin Area: Toolbar

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

Many Toolbar items can flyout to display additional information when you hover over the icons with your mouse …

For example, you can quickly see what needs updating …

You can also view how many comments are currently awaiting moderation, create new pages or posts, insert new media or links into your content, add new users to your site and much more …

The admin toolbar also lets you view how any modifications made to your posts, pages or settings will affect what visitors see on your site. Just hover your mouse over the website title displayed in the toolbar and click on Visit Site.

Tip: To continue working on your site and also view your home page, right-click on the Visit Site link and choose either “Open Link In New Tab”, or “Open Link In New Window” in your web browser to view your site in a separate window …

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

This is great, because it lets you easily get back into your dashboard and continue working on your pages without having to log back in …

Depending where in the admin area you are currently working on and what plugins you have installed on your blog, you may see different kinds of information showing on the WordPress toolbar …

Important: If you are logged in and cannot view the Toolbar when viewing your site, then make sure that you have enabled it on your site.

Here’s how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Section

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

If you hover your mouse over this area it expands to display your name and username, and links to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

Enabling Your Admin Toolbar

Click on the “Howdy, Your UserName” tab at the very top right hand corner of your dashboard and choose Edit My Profile

Check that Show Toolbar when viewing site is enabled inside the Toolbar subsection of your Profile screen …

Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button at the bottom of your screen 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 Admin Area: Navigation Menu

On the left-hand side of the administration screen is the main navigation menu that contains links to all your administrative features …

The WordPress Admin Menu

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

In order to access all of the WordPress admin section functions and capabilities, you must be an administrator of the site. …

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

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

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

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

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

And the menu will shrink into a narrow column with only a list of icons displaying for all functions …

Use this feature if you need more space in your admin working 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 menu items, or hover over an icon to display its submenus …

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

To add sub-menus to the navigation menu bar while you’re working, click on a menu item …

We plan to provide helpful tutorials about using menu features and functions in future blog posts.

WordPress Administration Area: Main Working Area

The large area in the middle of your admin page is your main working area. This is where you will have access to most of your site’s information, do most of your admin work, create, modify and delete posts, pages and content within these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, modify your site settings, etc…

When you log into your admin area, the Dashboard will display a number of  blocks with information about various activities taking place on your site, plus updates and announcements from a range of different 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 will find that this area can start to look very busy …

Fortunately, you can declutter your work area by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your your information blocks.

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

The footer area is found at the bottom of your WP Administration screen and displays links to WordPress and your current WordPress version …

As you can see, knowing how to use your WP admin area is essential to the success of your web presence.

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"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

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