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

The WordPress Dashboard

In this step-by-step tutorial, you are going to learn how to use the WordPress admin area and familiarize yourself with the WP dashboard, the WordPress functions and settings menu and the main admin areas of your site.

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

Note: In this tutorial, we are assuming that you already have installed a self-hosted WordPress website 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 is powered by WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you want to learn more about why you should choose WordPress and the advantages 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 blog via the login form, you should be taken to your WordPress Dashboard, which is the administration section of your site.

The WordPress Dashboard

Your WordPress Dashboard is where all of your website’s management and admin is controlled from.

The Dashboard is divided into a number of useful sections that provide you with immediate access to tools and features such as:

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Feature

Go through the step-by-step tutorial below, then, to learn more about your Dashboard and your site’s main administration features.

Your WordPress Administration Panel Explained

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a redesigned look to the administration area …

Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and and intended to give WordPress users and web developers cleaner typography for clarity, readability and more choices on styling the look of the administration section, 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 in need of being updated.

With the ability to create an individual look and feel of the WP administration area, expect to see new improvements to backend features whenever WordPress releases new versions.

If new versions of WordPress include new features or functionality, then rest assured that we will post an update about what’s new on this site.

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 a new version of WordPress is released.

The WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Announcements

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 your 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 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 showing again the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the screen …

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

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

To go back to your dashboard, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on your menu section …

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

WP Dashboard Screen Areas

Your Dashboard gives you access to all of the main features required to administrate the site …

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main screen of your Dashboard is divided into the following sections:

WordPress Administration Area: Header Section

Header Area

The header area displays system updates, warnings and notifications …

A whole range of messages, announcements, banners, notifications and warnings can appear on your header, depending on what area you are working on, what action has been performed, 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 admin screen, in the header section …

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

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to specify options such as which panels of your Dashboard screen you want to hide or display …

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 Posts table, and other configurable options depending on the plugins you have installed on your website or blog …

Tip: Some developers or designers may choose to prevent elements from displaying inside your admin area because they may decide that most users probably won’t be using 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 feature or element 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 are looking for!

Go here to learn more:

Online Help Area

You can access the official WordPress documentation and user help forums by clicking on the Help tab located on the top right-hand corner of your header area, next to “Screen Options” …

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

For example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post area, clicking on the Help tab will bring up helpful information and tutorials specifically related to editing posts …

Tip: To learn more about a specific function of WordPress when logged into the WP administration area, just click on the Help tab.

WordPress Admin Area: Toolbar

The WordPress 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 important administrative functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

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

For example, the “updates” icon on the toolbar lets you see if the WordPress software or any plugins or themes are out of date …

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

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

Tip: To keep working on your site and also see 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 to display on your screen while you’re viewing the “front end” of your site.

This is great, because it allows you to easily get back into your backend section and continue working on your site without having to log back in …

As you begin adding new functionality to your website, you may see that new items begin to appear on your admin toolbar …

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

Here’s how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

At the far right at the top of your screen is the “Howdy, User” section with your Gravatar image.

Hover over this panel with your mouse and it will expand with your name and username, and links to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

How To Enable Your Toolbar When Viewing Your Site

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

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

Remember to click the Update Profile button before leaving 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 linking to all your administrative functions …

Your 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 administration area features, 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”, ”Editor”, etc.) get access to fewer menu options inside the dashboard …

Different Roles Get Assigned Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WP Dashboard

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

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

And your menu will shrink into a narrow band with only a set of icons displaying for all functions …

This is a useful feature to create more space in your admin working area.

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

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

To add submenus to the navigation 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 Admin Section: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your admin page is your work 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 posts, pages and content associated with these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, modify your site settings, etc…

When you log into WordPress, your Dashboard displays a number of  blocks with information about various activities happening on your site, plus updates and content feeds from several 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 you get busier and start adding more content and functionality (e.g. adding e-commerce or a support helpdesk, etc.) and more users begin to interact with your site, this section can start looking very busy …

Fortunately, you can customize the admin area by hiding, minimizing and reorganizing the layout and display of your Dashboard panels.

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

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

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

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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)