How To Get To & Use The WordPress Admin Dashboard
If you recently started a WordPress website or blog and you’re having trouble finding or knowing how to use the WordPress admin page, don’t fret! You’re in the right place. If you don’t even know what the WordPress admin dashboard (or page) is, it’s the central back-end of your website (or blog) that allows you to customize features, add content, make design changes, etc. – It’s super important.
When I started my first blog I had no idea how to access WordPress admin and I kept clicking through a million different steps from my hosting company every time I wanted to get to my dashboard! It was time consuming and a pain but I didn’t know any other way. I also learned how to use the WordPress admin dashboard primarily just by trial and error clicking around everywhere. You can get to a familiar place by learning it that way, but I want to save you some headache by sharing a few of the MANY things that I’ve learned since then!
If you just started a WordPress site (or are just ready to stop learning by trial and error) the below tutorial covers many of the basics for using your WordPress dashboard.
Note: All of the tutorial items below are for a WordPress site that is self-hosted. If you are using a WordPress.com site (where “wordpress” is in your domain name) most of the below information is still the same, but you might notice a few small differences in the options under some of your menu headings.
How To Get To Your WordPress Dashboard Login:
First, let’s talk about how to get to your WordPress admin page. (You don’t have to click through multiple selections from your hosting provider every time!) It’s SUPER easy using your WordPress admin login URL.
Yep, you have a URL specific to your site that you can simply type in to get to your WordPress dashboard. It’s really that easy.
(Replace the words “yourdomainname” with your website name.)
After you type this in a window should appear for you to login to your dashboard. You can login with WordPress.com or with your username and password. I always use my username and password here. Simply click on that option, input your username and password, and hit “Login.”
Your dashboard should appear!
(There is an option on the WordPress login window if you can’t remember your username or password. Simply click on “Lost your password?” just below the white window.)
How To Use The Basics In Your WordPress Admin Page:
To use the basics in your WordPress admin page, you are going to pay primary attention to the options down the black left-hand menu. (In fact, I don’t ever even pay attention to what actually shows up in the center of the dashboard screen when you first login.)
Each of the options down the left-hand menu offer different functions that help to design your site, impact it’s functionality, or give you a way to add content to it. We’re going to take a look at each one.
Note: We’re going to skip looking at the “Dashboard” menu option because, like I said, I never even look at it! There is not much value offered by the “Dashboard” screen unless you really like seeing WordPress news and a very brief overview of some aspects of your site.
1. Posts – Posts is where you can add posts to your site! (No surprise there.) If you click on the word “Posts” in the left-hand menu you will see options to click to All Posts, Add New, Categories, and Tags. I usually do everything through the “All Posts” screen, but if you want to jump directly to adding a new post, category, or tag then you can click on the corresponding option. For this tutorial, click on “All Posts.”
In this screen you will see all of your existing posts listed along with their author, category, tags, stats, and date. Beneath each one you will see listed the options to Edit, Quick Edit, Trash, or View. If you want to edit any old posts, simply click on the Edit button and it will take you to the same screen that you originally wrote the post in so you can make any changes and then select the “Update” button on the right hand side of that screen. Clicking on Quick Edit allows you to quickly change some of the post basics like it’s title, slug, date, category, and tags. You can simply change any of those details and then click the blue “Update” button. Trash and view are pretty self-explanatory. If you want to trash your post click “Trash” and if you want to see what your post looks like on the front-end of your site click “View.”
To add a new post to your site from the “All Posts” screen, simply click on the “Add New” button next to the Posts title in the top left corner of the page. This will take you to the input screen to add a new post. Type in your title, content, search engine details, select your category (or create one), and hit the blue “Publish” button on the right hand side of the screen when you are ready to have your post appear on your site.
2. Media – The “Media” left-hand menu option allows you to view all of the pictures that you have uploaded for your site in the past or to add new ones. (Note – you can also add new pictures to your Media library by uploading them directly in your post writing screen. You don’t have to upload them here first.)
To see your Media Library with all of your existing photos for your site, click on the “Media” left-hand menu option and then click on “Library.” You can click on individual images here to edit or you can bulk select images to delete.
To add new images to your site’s media library click on the left-hand menu option for “Media” and then click “Add New.” This will take you to a screen where you can click the “Select Files” button to find an image on your computer and upload it to your site. (Again, you can also do this by clicking on “Add Media” within your post writing screen.)
Again, you can add a page to your site with the quick shortcut here by selecting “Pages” in the left-hand menu and then hitting “Add New.” The screen it takes you to is very similar to your post writing screen and allows you to type content and add images, etc. to create a page for your site.
You can also add new pages to your site by clicking on “Pages” in the left-hand menu and then selecting “All Pages” and “Add New” up in the top left of the screen next to the Pages title. (This is the way I typically do it.) Both options will take you to the same screen to create a new page. In the “All Pages” option you can also see all of your existing pages on your site and edit them similarly to the way that you can your posts in the “All Posts” screen. You can edit them in the original screen by selecting “Edit” beneath the title of any page, or you can make simple edits to title, etc. by selecting “Quick Edit” beneath the title, or view or delete a page with the “View” or “Trash” options.
4. Comments – Here is where you can see any comments that are left on any of your posts or pages where you have comments enabled. The screen is pretty self-explanatory. You will see options below each comment to unapprove it if you don’t want it to show up on your page or post, to reply to it, to make and edit or quick edit (I pretty much never touch those options), to see history of comments from that user, or to trash the comment or mark it as spam.
5. Appearance – This menu has a whole lot of options under it to help you manage the design of your site. You can change your site’s theme (overall layout) by clicking on “Appearance” and then selecting “Themes.” If you want to keep your current theme but change some of the settings within it, you can click on “Appearance” and then “Customize.” This opens a whole new screen away from your WordPress Admin Dashboard where you can make changes to settings, colors, etc. The options within that screen will be different for every WordPress theme. You can make changes and decide you don’t want to implement them by just hitting the “x” in the top left corner of that screen or you can make changes that appear on the front-end of your site by clicking on the blue “Publish” button after you make them. To navigate back to your WordPress dashboard from the customize window simply click on the “x” in the top left corner.
The “Appearance” menu option also offers the ability to choose widgets and place them on your site’s sidebar, footers, etc. You can access these by clicking on “Widgets” beneath the “Appearance” menu option. You will see a list of available widgets for your site on the left and titles for each of your site’s widget compatible areas on the right. Simply drag a widget from the left to one of the widget areas on the right and customize its options with the small downward arrow on the right to see it appear on your site.
You can also customize your site’s menus with the “Menus” option under the “Appearance” option. On the menu screen you will see a list on the left with headings like Pages, Posts, Custom Links, etc. You will also see a window on the right with the title “Menu Structure.” Above both of these is a bar that says in it “Select a menu to edit” with a drop-down list (if your theme has multiple menus). Every theme is different but if yours has multiple menus you can select a menu to edit in that bar. Then simply click on the pages, posts, or links you want to add to your menu from the left-hand list and click the button “Add to Menu” to put them on that menu. You can then drag and drop them into a custom order or drag some of them to be sub-options beneath others using the right-hand screen. When you’re done creating or customizing your menus make sure you click the blue “Save Menu” button on the right of the screen.
The “Background” option beneath “Appearance” simply allows you to customize the background color or image on your site. This function is also available through the “Customize” option.
The “Edit CSS” option allows you to enter additional CSS to your site and “Editor” allows you to access all of your site’s code. I HIGHLY recommend not touching either of these options unless you feel confident that you know exactly what you are doing with them!
6. Plugins – The plugins menu option allows you to add pre-packaged functionality to your site through plugins. Selecting “Installed Plugins” brings you to a list of all of your existing plugins. Beneath each one you can access it’s settings or activate or deactivate it. (You will also often see a prompt to update certain plugins on this screen. You can do that simply by clicking on “update now.”) If you want to add a new plugin from this screen simply click on the “Add New” button at the top next to the Plugins heading. You can then search for a plugin using the search bar in the top right corner and add it to your plugins by clicking on the “Install Now” button. Once you install a plugin make sure you customize the settings that you want and activate it in the “Installed Plugins” menu screen.
You can also access the screen to add a new plugin directly from the menu option beneath “Plugins” that reads “Add New.” The “Editor” menu option beneath “Plugins” is another one that is better left untouched if you aren’t fully confident that you know what you are doing with it!
7. Users – the “All Users” menu option beneath this one brings up a screen that lists all of the users who have access to your site’s dashboard. You can edit or delete viewers by clicking the options beneath their names. You can also click on the sub-menu option “Add New” to create a new user to have access to your site. Additionally, the “Your Profile” sub-menu option allows you to make changes to the details of your own user profile for your site.
8. Tools – This menu option lists any tools that you have access to on your site and allows you to import/export tools or personal data. This is an menu item that I never need to touch!
9. Settings – There are A LOT of sub-menu options under the “Settings” menu header. Basically, if you need to alter any of the core settings for your site’s functionality you will probably find access to do so here.
- “General” allows you to change things like your site’s title, tagline, URL, and date and time formats.
- “Writing” allows you to select which kind of editor you want to use and your default post category. (I don’t really ever edit anything there.)
- “Reading” allows you to customize which content shows up on your homepage (ie. static page vs. post feed), how many posts show on blog feed pages, which text shows with post excerpts, etc.
- “Discussion” hosts many of the options regarding your comments set-up. You will probably want to customize many of those items to your personal preferences.
- The “Media” option allows you to set pixel settings for standard image sizes on your site.
- “Permalinks” is an important setting to adjust on your site. Clicking on this sub-menu option allows you to specify how you want post URLs to format for your site. If you want to rank on search engines well make sure that you select “Post name” here! That will remove any date references from your post URL allow you to customize each URL in your post writing screen before you publish it.
That’s it in a nutshell! You now know how to access your WordPress Admin Dashboard and use many of it’s basic features. To dig into each of these dashboards deeper you can access tutorials and info from WordPress themselves at learn.wordpress.com. They’ve got resources on everything from picking a theme to creating posts and configuring widgets.
Happy website building!