For complete beginners, the WordPress dashboard looks a bit confusing. Among all the different menus, widgets, buttons and options, they have a hard time in figuring out which thing does what. That is why we have decided to create an in-depth guide of the WordPress dashboard for the beginners.
After reading the tutorial, you will have a clear idea about the available options in the dashboard. You will also know which option to use when and how to use them.
Since you are reading this post, I am assuming that you already have WordPress installed in your website. Once WordPress is installed, you can access the dashboard by going to this URL –
Replace ‘yoursite’ with your actual domain name. For example, if your website name is example.com, then the URL should be – example.com/wp-admin/
Once you are in the page, you will be asked to provide the username and password. Provide the details you used during installing WordPress and click ‘Log In’.
Walking through the Dashboard
The Top Menu
Hovering over your website name will reveal a link to visit your site. The next button will show how many unapproved comments are on your site. The ‘+New’ button will let you create a new post, page, media or user. We will discuss these things later in the tutorial.
On the other part of the menu bar, you will find your username, which includes separate links to edit your profile and log out.
On the left side of the dashboard, you will find the menu bar. We will discuss them shortly. Let’s focus on the widgets first.
The WordPress Dashboard
Except the welcome box, all the other widgets could be minimized by clicking the upward arrow icon. It is also possible to hide any widget. To do that, click ‘Screen Options’ button from the top-right corner. Uncheck the widget you don’t want to see, and it will be hidden automatically.
The welcome banner will provide you with some quick links to customize your website, write a blog post, manage the widgets, menus, etc.
‘At a Glance’ will display the number of posts and pages your website currently has. It will tell you how many comments are there; the WordPress version and what theme is currently active.
In the ‘Activity’ section, you will find all the recent activities that took place in your website. Besides the published posts, you will also see a list of the five latest comments. You can reply, edit, delete, approve or disapprove them right from the widget.
The ‘Quick Draft’ widget does what it sounds like; it allows you to save draft posts right from the widget, hence the name. You will also be able to view the last three draft posts.
Lastly, in the ‘WordPress News’ widget, you will see the latest updates from WordPress. The updates are collected from WordPress blog and other leading WordPress news sites.
While these are the widgets that are included by default, you can add more widgets by adding third-party plugins. We will talk about installing plugins shortly.
There are two ways to add a new post or page –
1. You can hover over the ‘+ New’ button on top and select post or page.
2. You can go to Posts -> Add New or Pages -> Add New from the left menu.
Adding a New Post
If you have selected post, you will be taken to a page like the following –
As you can see, the page is divided into two sections. On the left, you have the title and post editor sections. Just above the post editor, you will see a button titled ‘Add Media’. This button will let you add images to your post. However, since you don’t have uploaded any image yet, I will skip this section for now.
Then, in the post editor, you will have two rows of editorial buttons followed by a large text area for writing your post. The editorial buttons let you do the common editing tasks including bold, italic, underline, indent, numbering, bullet points, alignment, linking, text size, text color, special characters, etc.
On the right, there are several boxes, which are called meta boxes.The first one is titled ‘Publish’.
In this meta box, you will find options to save the post as a draft or see a preview. You can also make the post sticky, password protected or private from the Visibility options. And if you want to publish the post anytime in the future, you can fix the time by clicking the ‘Edit’ link next to Publish immediately.
If you want to delete the post, click ‘Move to Trash’. And finally, click ‘Publish’ to publish the post immediately.
As the name suggests, this section lets you select a category for the post. If you don’t select any group, ‘Uncategorized’ will be selected by default. You can create new categories by clicking the ‘+ Add New Category’ link.
If you want to include tag(s) for your post, you can provide them here. If you are using multiple tags, separate them by using commas. Once you are done, click ‘Add’.
If you go to Pages -> Add New, you will be taken to a page that almost looks like the new post page.
The only changes you will notice are – the Format, Categories, and Tags meta boxes are gone, and there is a new one titled ‘Page Attributes’. From the new section, you can set the parent and choose the template and order of the page. To know more about these options, check out this detailed article.
All the other sections and features of the post work exactly like the new post page.
Now that you know how to add new posts and pages let’s see how to add media, I mean images. There are two ways of doing this –
1. You can hover over the ‘Add New’ button on top and select ‘Media’.
2. You can go to Media -> Add New from the left menu.
It doesn’t matter whichever way you go; it will take you to a page like the following –
You can either drop the image into the rectangular box or click the ‘Select Files’ button. You can upload the images by selecting them and clicking ‘Open’. Once the pictures are uploaded, you will find them in the Media -> Library page.
From the library page, you can edit, delete or view any image.
Adding Images to a Post / Page
Now, let’s see how to add images to a post or page. To do that, go back to the post editor and click the ‘Add Media’ button. You can add an image from three sources –
- From the uploaded images,
- Upload new images or
- From an external URL.
If you want to add an uploaded image, click on the image. Then, go through the available options on the right side. You can provide alt tag, title, caption and description for the image. In the attachment section, you can set the image alignment, and link the image to a URL. After making the necessary changes, click ‘Insert into post’.
To upload a new image, go to the ‘Upload Files’ tab, upload the file and then set the options for the image.
Lastly, if you want to use an image from another website, click ‘Insert from URL’ from the left sidebar. Provide the URL and link text (optional) and click ‘Insert into post’.
Adding a Featured Image
To set a featured image, click the ‘Set featured image’ from the ‘Featured Image’ meta box. In the resulting window, select the image, provide a title, alt, caption, description and click ‘Set featured image’. That’s it.
One of the main reasons of WordPress’ immense popularity is its large library of free themes and plugins. While we will have a separate tutorial on how to choose a perfect theme for your website, here I will show you how to install and activate a new theme and plugin.
To add a new theme, go to Appearance -> Themes and click ‘Add New’. In the next screen, you will be provided with a list of free themes from the WordPress.org theme directory. You can install any of them by clicking the ‘Install’ button.
Alternatively, you can download a zipped archive of the theme and upload it manually. To do it, click the ‘Upload Theme’ button. In the next screen, click ‘Choose File’, select the file and click ‘Open’.
Once the theme is uploaded, you will be taken to a screen like the following –
From this page, you can see a preview of the theme or activate it. To view a list of all the installed themes, go to Appearance -> Themes. From that page, you can activate, delete or preview any theme.
Adding a new plugin is very similar to the theme adding process. To add a new plugin, go to Plugins -> Add New. From that page, you can either install a plugin directly or upload a plugin.
Once you have installed a new plugin, you will have the option to activate the plugin or get back to the plugins page.
To view the list of all the installed plugins, go to Plugins -> Installed Plugins. From that page, you can activate, delete or edit any plugin.
To view a list of all the users of your website, go to Users -> All Users. From that page, you can edit or delete any account. To add a new user, click the ‘Add New’ button. In the resulting page, provide the username, email address, password, set the role and other details for the user and click ‘Add New User’.
When adding new users, you should think carefully about what role you are giving them. You will find more information about the various roles and the relevant capabilities in this codex page.
If you want to update your profile, you can do so by going to the Users -> Your Profile page. Besides changing regular details like first name, last name, display name etc., you can also change your website, biographical info and change your password.
After making all the changes, click ‘Update Profile’.
Wrapping It Up
Phew, that was quite a long read! However, if you have read the post thoroughly, you have a clear idea about the available menus, widgets, and options.
However, if you are still confused or want to know more about a certain feature, let me know that by leaving a comment below. I will try my best to help you.