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

The WordPress Dashboard

In this tutorial, you are going to learn your way around the WordPress administration area and get familiar with the WP control panel, the WordPress admin menu and the main administrative areas of your website.

You will also discover some of the “hidden” features of the WP control area that will become more useful to you as your proficiency with WordPress increases.

Please note: This tutorial assumes that you or your business already has a self-hosted WordPress site 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:

If you want to learn more about WordPress and the advantages of using the WordPress Content Management System to power your website or blog, see this section:

***

Your WordPress Administration Area

Once you’ve logged into your blog via the login page, you should be presented with the Dashboard, which is your website’s admin section.

The Dashboard

Your WP admin area is the place where all of your website’s administration tasks are performed.

The Dashboard is divided into a number of useful sections 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 administration sections.

Understanding Your WordPress Control Area

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced new design changes to the administration area …

Although the new design was mostly cosmetic and and intended to give WordPress users and developers cleaner typography for clarity, readability and more options on customizing the look of the backend pages, it 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the web, including thousands of tutorials and articles about WordPress online, in print and on video that are now outdated.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 customize the look and feel of the WP dashboard, expect to see other design changes to backend features when WordPress releases new versions.

If any newer versions of WordPress include new software features, then you can be sure that we will post an update 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 many bug and security fixes are made whenever WordPress releases a new version.

The WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Announcements

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 site that uses WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed at the top of your Dashboard …

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

To hide the “Welcome” message or 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 panel …

Note: You will also see “Welcome to WordPress” announcements displayed whenever WordPress gets updated to the latest version …

Feel free to read 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 your dashboard, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) in your admin menu …

Or scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link to dismiss the message and return to your main Dashboard …

WordPress Dashboard Screen Areas

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

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main Dashboard screen is divided into the following sections:

WP Administration Area: Header Section

Header Area

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

A whole range of system updates, notifications and warnings can display in the header, depending on what area 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 found in the top-right corner of your WordPress administration 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 working on …

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you 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 allows you to specify entirely different settings, 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 options depending on which plugins you have installed on your website …

Tip: Some web developers or web designers may choose to hide elements from displaying on your dashboard because they may decide that most users won’t be using 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 element in your control panel and can’t 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 are looking for!

Go here to learn more:

WordPress Online Help Documentation

You can access the official WordPress documentation and user support forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located at the top of your screen …

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

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

Tip: To learn more about any function of WordPress when logged into the administration area, 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 a range of important admin functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

Most Toolbar items can expand to display more information by hovering your mouse over the icons …

For example, the “updates” icon on the toolbar lets you see what needs to be updated on your site …

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

You can also view your site the way your visitors will see it as you are making changes.

Tip: Open your site in a new browser window to keep working in the backend of your site …

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 allows you to easily return to your control panel and continue working on your content without having to log back in …

As you begin to add new plugins to your site, you may notice that additional items begin to appear on your admin toolbar …

Important: If you are logged in and the Toolbar is not displaying when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar is enabled on your site.

Here’s how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Section

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

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

Enabling Your Toolbar

Click on the “Howdy, Your UserName” tab and choose Edit My Profile

Check that Show Toolbar when viewing site is enabled inside the Toolbar section of your Profile area …

Remember to click the Update Profile button at the bottom of your page 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 Section: Navigation Menu

On the left-hand side of the Dashboard is the main navigation menu linking to all the administrative functions that you can control on your website …

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 admin area functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

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

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

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

Regardless 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 navigation menu section …

And the admin menu shrinks into a narrow strip with only a list of icons displaying for all functions …

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

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

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

To add submenus to the navigation menu column 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 administration screen is the main work area. This is where you will have access to most of your site’s information, do most of your admin work, create, edit and delete pages, posts and content inside 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, your Dashboard displays a number of  panels with information about various activities happening on your site, including updates and content feeds from several 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 users begin to interact with your site, this section will start looking very busy …

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

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

The footer section is found at the bottom of your WP Administration 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 features.

***

"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum