In this guide, we will teach you how to use the WordPress dashboard and all of its features. However, if you don’t have a website yet, please refer to our beginners guide on how to start a website. If you do know how to create a website but haven’t started yet and don’t know which hosting to choose, we highly recommend SiteGround. First of all, to log in to your dashboard you need to type in your website URL, and then type /wp-admin/ and after that you’ll need to log in, and the WordPress dashboard will be available to you.
How To Use WordPress
We will go through every setting in WordPress and give you thorough information at the best of our knowledge. Remember that each time you add a plugin, most of the time it’ll add a new section in the settings. We will cover only the vanilla WordPress without any plugins installed. We want you to know everything there is about a base WordPress, how to add pages and posts, arrange menus, add users, install a theme. Furthermore, you’ll learn every functionality there is, from the basic ones, to advanced. This article is the only A-Z full WordPress tutorial for beginners.
How To Use The WordPress Main Dashboard
The dashboard is the central hub of your website. You can see an overview of your website here, and update the different components your site has.
Dashboard – Home (How To See An Overview Of The Back-end Of WordPress)
In the home page, you can see all sorts of information, for instance, you can see how many pages you have on your website, what version of WordPress you have, and more. When you add plugins, you’ll have information about them on the home page and shortcuts to different configurations.
Dashboard – Updates (How To Update WordPress Version, Plugins And Themes)
First of all, the updates tab allows you to update the WordPress version, as well as the plugins and the theme you’re using. We recommend that you’ll always keep everything up to date so that the website will function correctly. But before you’re making any significant update, do a local backup. Some plugins do local backups like UpdraftPlus.
Here you can view/edit/delete all of the posts that you’ve already created. You can also add new posts, create new categories which you can assign to the blog posts, and create tags.
Posts – All Posts (How To Edit, Delete And View Posts In WordPress)
Here you’ll see all of your posts that you’ve either published or drafts. if you hover over a post, you can edit it, quick edit it, delete it or preview it (if you want to check that the post looks excellent before publishing.) You can filter posts by categories (which we will show you how to do later) or by date.
After you move a post(s) to trash, they won’t get deleted permanently. To delete posts permanently, you have to go to trash and click on delete permanently.
You can quick edit one post, or a couple of posts simultaneously. If you want to edit one post, hover over it and click quick edit. if you want to edit a number of posts, mark them, go to bulk actions, edit and apply.
The quick edit feature is convenient if you want to make quick adjustments. If you want to edit the actual content of the post, click on the edit button instead. But here you can change the title, date, category(s), tags, allow or disable comments, change the status from draft to publish, set a password, or make the post private.
What “Allow Pings” is?
We want to clarify some things that new people that use WordPress might not know. Allow pings means that every time you update your blog post and add content, WordPress will notify search engines that you did that. So you don’t want to turn that off.
What’s The Difference between A Password Protected Post and Private Post?
The difference between a password and private is that if you choose private, only an administrator or an editor user (we will get to the different user roles in the users’ section) can see the content. Any other type of users or visitors can’t see the content. But if you have multiple administrators and editors and want specific ones to see the post, you can’t because every editor and administrator will see it. That is why you can put a password instead and give it to specific people.
What’s The Difference between Pending Review And Draft?
The difference between a pending review and draft status is that a draft is an unfinished content. And “pending review” is a tracking method for your editors to see which piece of content needs analysis before publishing. For example, if you have a user with a contributor role, he can only save posts as drafts or send them for review. He cannot publish articles. In other words, if I’m a contributor and finished writing the blog post, I’ll press “pending review.” And the editor or site owner will see the post, fix what’s needs fixing, and publish it.
The sticky option allows the post to be on the top of the first page until you make another sticky post. In other words, the post will be first, even if it’s not your newest blog post.
If you want to edit multiple posts, the interface is quite similar. You have the same features except for the passwords, make private, and dates. All other options are available, and changes will apply to all of the posts you chose.
Posts – Add New (How To Add A New Post In WordPress And Use The Block Editor)
When you click on add new, you’ll see the same interface you’ll encounter if you edit an existing post. It looks different than the quick edit, and this is a new editor that came out recently that’s called the block editor. In essence, it’s a drag and drop editor that allows you a lot of functionality and editing features.
There are tons of blocks (between 40-50), so we won’t cover all of them in detail here. But the basic ones you’ll often use are paragraphs, headings, photos. If you type, enter you create a new block, a new section. Each block is editable. For instance, you can transform a paragraph to a heading. You can align to the center, left or right, make it bold, add links, duplicate it, remove it.
If you hover over a block you’ll have an arrow down to move it down, arrow up to move it up. Or you can left-click the mouse and drag it to where you want. On the top left, we already showed you the plus sign with all the blocks, after that, you have a Redo button, Undo button, a content structure button that will tell you how many words, headings, paragraphs, and blocks your post have. The last one is the block navigation button, it’s an overview of your entire blog post, and you can quickly navigate to any section by clicking on it from the block navigation.
Settings – Cog Wheel
The right menu allows you to customize different settings of a single block or the whole document. Every type of block has different settings. For example, in a button block, you can change its colors, style, like circled or squared. In paragraph block settings, you could change the text size, text color, background color, etc. So when you’re in a particular block, the block’s settings would be individual, and the document settings apply to the whole post.
The document settings are the same you’ll find in the quick edit we’ve talked about before. However, there are settings you won’t find in the quick settings that are available in the document settings and vice versa. For example, settings you’ll find only in the document settings are: change when to publish the article (immediately, or set a specific time.) Except (optional blog post summary you can write that you’ll see in the blog page itself along with featured image) as well as a featured image that’ll be the primary image of the post and your unique theme settings. The setting that’s only available in the quick edit is to change the date of the blog post. All other options are the same.
Settings – Dots Settings
The last setting there is on the page of the blog post editor is the three dots right next to the cog-wheel. Those settings are settings of the editor software itself. You can choose from there for example, if you want to work with full screen, spotlight mode (which will grey out all other blocks you’re not on, to focus your attention. The top toolbar allows you to get access to the block settings in the high menu (we’ll show all of those three settings in a picture below). You can copy all of the text in the post from there in one click, change to a code editor and more.
Posts – Categories (What Are Categories On WordPress And How To Add Them)
Categories on WordPress allows you to separate your blog posts into sections. The separation is good for SEO because that’s how you help Google to know what your blog posts are about and help Google rank your posts based on their subject. If you don’t use categories, Google could be confused about what your site is about if you’re talking about different topics. For example, our website talks about WordPress, affiliate marketing, web design. So if we’re not using categories, Google would think “well, is your site about affiliate marketing? Web design? WordPress? Make up your mind!”. Now because we use categories, Google knows that the primary goal of this website is to help people create an online business, and we divide every post into groups that are related to that goal. Simple.
How To Create A New Category
Creating a new category is very easy. Choose a name, slug (we’ve talked about it before, and we recommend that the slug would be the same name as the category name). Also, you can choose a parent category, like vegetables – tomatoes. While the former is the parent category, and the latter is the new subcategory you’re creating.
On the right, you can mark any existing categories you like and delete them. You can hover over a category and view it’s contents, edit, or quick edit it. Furthermore, you can search for groups if you have a lot of them in the top right. If you choose to quick edit, you could only change the name and the slug. If you edit the category, you can change everything, and you would see the same screen as the one you see on the left when you create a new one.
Posts – Tags (How To Create Tags And What’s The Difference Between Tags And Categories)
First of all, the tags page looks the same as the categories page, so we won’t explain how to use it because you already know. Adding a tag works like adding a category. The differences between them are that firstly, “tags” don’t have a hierarchy, meaning you can’t have sub-tags. Secondly, you need to think of them like hashtags. Adding tags could help Google know the specific subjects your post is tackling. It’s a deeper level of sectioning. For example, you can write a post about tomato soup. To clarify the hierarchy between tags and categories: the main “category” is vegetables, the subcategory is tomatoes, and the “tag” is tomato soup. Makes sense?
Here you can add new media (pictures, audio, video) you can delete them, edit them, or view them. Keep in mind that you can add and edit new media from within blog posts as well. However, this is your central media hub, which you can see and organize all of the media files.
Media – Library (How To Edit, Delete And View Your Media Files In WordPress)
As you can see from the picture, you can search for media items on the top right. On the top left, you can filter media items by types (video, audio, pictures.) You can filter media items by dates, and view, delete or edit a media type. However, if you want to delete a couple of things at once, you can mark them, click on bulk actions, change to delete permanently and click on apply. If you want our best recommendation for free stock pictures and design website, go to Canva. We’ve made a blog post about free stock images if you want more. Click here to read it.
What’s The Difference Between Alt Text, Caption And Description?
Alternative text is crucial for SEO. Visitors won’t see the alt text, but Google and other search engines will. So it’s essential that you’ll write keywords in the alt text. The caption is the text the users see below the image in the blog post itself, while description can be way longer and you can see it when you open the image in a new tab (if you click on the image).
Media – Add New (How To Add Media To WordPress)
This section is self-explanatory. You can either drag a file from your computer to that page or click on “select files” and choose a file from your computer manually. After you upload a file, you’ll have a temporary option to immediately edit it in that same page instead of going back to the media library.
We will make this explanation short because adding a page is exactly like adding a blog post. The same options and settings, the same block editor, everything is the same across the board, as the posts. However, you’d want to use a page builder to design a page and not use the block editor to write content onto the page. What you have to do is create a new page, give it only a title, and publish it. Then you can go back to the page and edit it with a page builder.
Here you can see all of the comments on your website. You can view other’s people comments and your comments. You can see comments that you’ve deleted, ones that pending approval (if you’ve configured in the settings that each comment need your authorization) and comments you’ve approved. For each “comment,” you can see the date someone wrote it, and in which article. Managing “comments” is straightforward. There isn’t anything special to explain further.
Here you can install a new theme, customize your existing theme, switch to a different theme, add widgets, menus, and go to your theme’s settings. A “theme” if you don’t know, is the core design of your website: in other words, your menu structure, header, footer. You can use a page builder to design the content of the pages themselves.
Appearance – Themes (How To Change And Add A Theme)
Appearance – Customize (How To Customize Your WordPress Theme)
The theme customizer looks the same, no matter which theme you choose. However, depending on which theme you choose, you’ll see different options and settings. You can make changes on desktop, tablet, and mobile. You can go to any page you like and see the changes immediately. It’s not a drag-and-drop experience like in a page builder. Instead, you have to click on each setting you want to change, the classic way. To have the changes you need to click on the publish button. We will do a full tutorial in the future about the theme customizer because getting in depth would require a fully detailed article.
Appearance – Widgets (How To Add Widgets In WordPress)
Here you can drag and drop widgets to your footer, header or primary sidebar. A different way to do that is to click on the widget, select where you want it and click on add widget. Very simple.
Appearance – Menus (How To Add Menus To WordPress)
Here you can add pages, categories, links, and posts to the menu of the header. You can create sub-menus as well by dragging an item slightly to the right of an existing menu item. Furthermore, you can add a single post as a subcategory of a page. You can also add custom links and categories. We won’t talk about the theme settings because each theme has a different one.
How To Use WordPress Plugins
If you don’t know what plugins are, they are like applications in your smartphone. They are extensions that make WordPress awesome by adding additional functionality. When you install a plugin, you also have to activate it. Plugins are deactivated by default.
Here you can manage your user and add users to different individuals. Each user has its privileges, but you should be very careful and assign proper roles to different people and understand the difference between each one. Adding a new user is self-explanatory. The only thing that’s important for you to know is the difference between different roles.
- Admin – has every privilege. He can create, edit, and delete any content. Manage plugins and themes; edit the code. Delete other user accounts.
- Editor – An editor has full access to everyone’s pages and posts. He can create, delete, edit, and publish posts. He can moderate comments and manage categories and links. However, an editor cannot change themes, install plugins, and make broad changes to the site.
- Author – can delete create, edit and publish only his posts but not other’s.
- Contributor – can delete create and edit only his posts but not other’s but also can’t publish them.
- Subscriber – Can only read the content.
If you want a more thorough explanation about the different roles and getting to more detail, click here to read the full documentation from WordPress. Furthermore, if you go to “Your Profile,” you can change different settings like the color scheme, name, nickname, password, etc.
- Import – here you can import comments and posts from another system, for example, if you have another blog on blogger.
- Export – If you want to export posts, media, pages from your site to another site, you can do that here. Once you click on “Download export file” you’ll have to go to your other site, and on the Import section, choose “WordPress” and upload your export file. Simple.
- Site Health – This is entirely new. Here you can see all sorts of problems and issues WordPress detected on your site and how to fix them. For example, if your website doesn’t have HTTPS, or if you have inactive plugins.
- Export Personal Data – you can export a user’s data if you want or if one of your users requests that.
- Delete Personal Data – you can delete a user’s data. If you delete a user, you should probably delete its data from the database.
Here you can change the settings of your site. However, be careful because you don’t want to change some of them after your website is up and running with blog posts. We’ll talk about all of the settings and which you can safely change, and which you should be careful about changing.
Settings – General
- Site Title – This is your site’s name.
- Tagline – This is a short description of your site.
- WordPress Address (URL) – This is where the WordPress backend and files reside. Don’t change that if you don’t know what you’re doing, and you don’t have a reason to change it unless you want to move all your WordPress files to another folder in your hosting.
- Site Address (URL) – The site address is the actual URL that your visitors see. Don’t change it unless you want to change the domain of your site.
- Email Address – If you want to change your administrative email, you can change it here.
- Membership – You can make a membership website if you want. If it’s a regular website, don’t change it.
- New User Default Role – This is the default role that WordPress assigns to new users. We recommend that you leave it at the default setting, which is “subscriber” because it’s the least capable role.
- All other settings are self-explanatory. You can change the language of WordPress, timezone, date format, time format.
Settings – Writing
Here you can set the default post category (by default it’s uncategorized) and the default post format (if it’s a regular blog post, keep it as standard). Furthermore, you can enable post by mail. In other words, every email sent to the address you configure will become blog posts. So if you’ll send a message to that address from a different address, WordPress will publish it as a blog post.
Settings – Reading
You can set the home page to display your latest posts (recommended if it’s a small blog) or set it to a static page (You create and design your home page, and select it here so WordPress will display it). Furthermore, you can set the posts page as the blog page as well. You can set the number of blog posts that’ll be displayed in a single page, and also choose whether the description in the blog page of the article before a user clicks on it will be the start of the full text, or a summary (the excerpt we talked about before). If you want search engines to do not find your content, you can click the tickbox to discourage indexing (not recommended for SEO at all).
Settings – Discussion & Media
We’ll bind the last four categories into groups of two because they are short and not need much explaining. The discussion settings are settings related to comments, and WordPress explains well what each setting does. So read them and decide to change them if necessary. The media settings are settings that control the size of images. In other words, if you want, you can change the default sizes.
Settings – Permalinks & Privacy
How To Use WordPress – In Conclusion
In conclusion, we went through every functionality in WordPress. Now you can start making your website with the full power of WordPress! Furthermore, we hope you enjoyed learning and that you’ll be a pro WordPress user. Thank you for reading!