A Tour of the WordPress Dashboard

In this video series we’ll walk you through the basics of WordPress administration, and begin getting comfortable with the different WordPress dashboard screens. During this series, it’s not required for you to follow along on your own site, just review the videos and to begin understanding what each screen does and how they work.

In the last video in this series, “Initial Site Setup”, you can begin following along on your own site, which will help you take the first steps you should perform, each time you create a new website with WordPress.

The WordPress Admin Layout & Home Screen

The WordPress admin interface has both a “back-end” view and a “Front-end” view so you have access to the admin tools no matter how you’re viewing your site. You can use the home screen as a splash page which will show you important and relevant information about your site and content.

Please watch the video below for an overview of the layout of the administration areas as well as how to use the Home screen.

Keeping WordPress up to Date

One of the most important things to do when running your own WordPress website is keeping the core software, plugins and themes up to date. This keeps your site performing properly as well as keeping it secure. Luckily, this is a very easy process.

Please watch the video below to learn about the update process and how easy it is when using WordPress.

Quick Reference

To update software in WordPress:

  • Before running updates, it’s recommended to take a manual backup with your host.
  • Hover over “Dashboard” in the main admin menu, and click on “Updates”.
  • If an update for WordPress core is available, click the update button and wait for the process to complete, then hover over “Dashboard” again and click “Updates”.
  • Under the plugins section, click the “Select All” checkbox, then click the update button under the list of plugins that require an update. Wait for the process to finish, then click on the link provided to return to the WordPress updates page.
  • Under the themes section, click the “Select All” checkbox, then click the update button under the list of themes that require an update. Wait for the process to finish, then click on the link provided to return to the WordPress updates page.
  • If you are running a multilingual site, under “Translations”, if updated translations are available, click the “Update Translations” button, wait for the process to complete.

The Difference Between Pages & Posts

The first thing to discuss is the difference between a WordPress page and a post. A page is a content container, which can hold our static content as well as display posts, such as blog entries. A post, in an individual article, which can be viewed on a page, as well as having several posts listed on an index page (such as a blog page). Think of pages as content containers, and posts as an individual type of content.

Watch the video below to learn more about posts and pages.

Creating and Managing Posts

The video below covers how to create and manage posts within your WordPress website. If your website is planning on having a blog or regularly updated news articles, this will be one of the first things you’ll set about doing.

Watch the video below to learn more about creating and managing posts within WordPress.

Quick Review

To create a new post:

  • Hover over “Posts” then click on “Add New”.
  • Enter in a title, your post content using the visual editor and optionally enter in an excerpt.
  • Select or add a category for your blog post, no more than 1 or 2 categories per post.
  • Optionally add in tags for your post.
  • Optionally add in a featured image for your post.
  • Click “Publish”.

Editing a post is done the same way, except instead of “Publish”, the blue button on the right will say “Update”.

Adding and Managing Categories:

  • Hover over “Posts” and click “Categories”.
  • Enter in a category name, optionally a slug and parent if applicable.
  • Click “Add New Category”

Tags are managed the same way, except under the “Tags” menu item under posts.

Media & Comments

For image-heavy sites you may want to upload images in bulk and use them as needed, this can be done through the media library interface. Please watch the video below to learn more about media, as well as managing comments that users leave on your posts.

Creating and Managing Pages

Setting up pages is similar to posts, but pages will be mostly static content that make up the structure or containers for content of your website. In this video we discuss creating and managing pages, as well as dictating which page should act as our home page, and which should act as our blog page.

Please watch the video below to learn about building and managing your WordPress pages.

Quick Review

To create a page in WordPress:

  • Hover over “Pages” in your WordPress admin menu and click “Add New”.
  • Enter in a title and page content.
  • If applicable, select a parent for this page. The parent and child relationship between pages helps us create a structure for our site, such as a “Services” page, and then individual pages for each of our services, which would select “Services” as the parent.
  • Click “Publish”.

To determine which page should act as your home page and your blog page:

  • Hover over “Settings” and click on “Reading”.
  • To have your website landing/home page display your latest posts, make sure “Your Homepage displays” is set to “Your Latest Posts”.
  • To have your website landing/home page display a static page called “Home” (or whatever you prefer to call it), change “Your Homepage displays” to “A Static Page”, then select your home page and blog page (posts page) from the respective dropdowns.
  • Click “Save Changes”.

WordPress Themes and the Customizer

WordPress themes allow you to manage the front-end design and style of your website, as well as which tools you’ll be using to build pages and posts.

The majority of WordPress themes have “Customizer” options. The WordPress customizer is an easy interface to change base options (such as colors, titles, logos and headers) for your theme.

Please watch the video below to learn how to install and manage themes, as well as setup and configure them using the WordPress customizer.

WordPress Widgets

WordPress widgets are a powerful tool to display content outside of the main content area (such as page content) of your WordPress website. The bits of information you see in a sidebar (the side section you see on some pages), and in the footer of a website are usually powered by widgets. Which areas are available to be populated by widgets is determined by your theme.

Please review the video below to learn more about widgets and how to insert them into your site.

WordPress Menus

Managing menus and navigation for your website is incredibly easy with WordPress and all done through a simple drag and drop interface.

Please watch the video below to review how to create, manage and update menus in WordPress.

WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins are how we extend and power up functionality for our website. They can be simple or very complex, but the installation and activation of plugins is very easy.

Please review the video below to see how to install and activate WordPress plugins.

WordPress Users

You can use the WordPress users interface to add, remove or edit users in your system. This video covers that process, as well as covering important information about how you should handle your own administrator and editor accounts. We’ll also detail the different roles that are included with WordPress.

Please watch the video below for an overview of the WordPress users interface.

WordPress Settings

There are several categories of settings in your WordPress website that will dictate how it operates. This video will briefly walk you through each section so you can start to get an idea of what configuration options are managed in each section.

We’ll also discuss permalinks and setting up a proper URL structure for your website.

More on WordPress Settings:

Initial Site Setup

Now that you’ve taken a tour of the dashboard and gotten used to the different administration pages, it’s time to begin configuring and setting up your own website.

In this tutorial you can begin following along on your own site. We’ll cover creating our pages, posts and post categories, creating our page menus, configuring our settings, setting up our URL structure with permalinks, and more.

New Site Checklist

  • Run all available updates.
  • Delete two plugins installed by default (Hello Dolly and Akismet)
  • Delete all base themes we’re not going to use except for the latest twentyseventeen.
  • Delete Sample Page.
  • Create your pages in the system, titles only, no content, with structure in tact (Parent/Child), etc. For a blog-only site you won’t need to create a page for home or blog, as your default website will load up your latest posts. If you’re creating any other type of site, create a page for Home, and if applicable, create a blog page.
  • Under General — Reading — Set your home page and blog page as needed.
  • Optionally input your posts with their scheduled publish dates.
  • Setup your post categories.
  • Create your page menus.
  • Manage widgets for your blog page sidebar if needed. Delete meta widget unless needed.
  • Choose your Permalinks structure. Recommended is category/postname.
  • Make sure search engines discouraged under settings -> Reading is checked.

Special Note for Pantheon Users

If you are using Pantheon as your host, you should also at this time install the following plugins, as some tutorials we cover will require them.

  • Pantheon Advanced Page Cache — Better Cache management from within your WordPress website. Works only with Pantheon hosting.
  • WordPress Native PHP Sessions — Helps with plugins such as WPML which require native sessions. When working with Pantheon — if you get a blank white screen, it most likely requires this plugin. Install this by default to avoid issues.