WordPress 101: Dashboard & Admin

Dashboard

The Dashboard is the main admin of your site. When you first log in using the /wp-login.php/ link, you will be routed to the WP Dashboard. It usually contains the following sections:

  • Right Now – This section shows how many pages, posts, categories, tags and comments are currently on your site. By clicking on the numbers next to those words, or the words themselves, you will be directed to the section of your site that allows you to add/edit pages, posts, categories, etc. (Yes, the VanHalen song gets stuck in my head every time I see this box on the Dashboard. I can’t help it.)
  • Recent Comments – This section shows all of the recent comments on your site, both posted and pending. You can approve/unapprove comments from this section, as well as edit or delete them.
  • Quickpress – This allows you to post a quick blog post to the default blog category without needing to go to Posts > Add New and opening the entire editor.
  • Recent Drafts – This shows all the posts in progress that have been saved as a draft and not yet published so that you can get back to them easily.
  • Plugins – This shows the plugins WordPress is currently pushing for one reason or another. (Popularity, newest, etc.)
  • WordPress Blog & Other WordPress News – These are two RSS readers that currently display news from WordPress sources. You can hover over the top-right corner of these boxes and click the “Configure” link to change these to show RSS feeds from other sites.
Posts

All Posts shows the list of all current blog posts on your site. It also has a link at the top of the page to add a new post. You can view all posts, all published posts, all drafts, or all posts in the trash from this page. There is also a “Bulk Actions” drop-down that allows you to delete multiple posts at the same time.

Add New allows you to add a new blog post with the full visual/html editor – when to publish it, format, categories, tags and any applicable post-related plugins. Categories and Tags allow you to add, edit or delete overall categories and tags. It is another way to create categories and tags aside from doing it within the post.

Media

Media only has two sections – Library and Add New. The library shows a list of all media – videos, pdf/excel/doc files, zip files, photos, music, flash – that has been uploaded through the WordPress admin. It will not show anything that has been added via FTP. The Add New link allows you to upload a new file that you can attach to a post/page or use elsewhere with the direct link. Many WordPress sites have a limit on how large of a file you can upload through the Media section of the admin.

Links

For the most part, unless you are using the “Links” widget, this section is as good as nonexistent. Here’s where you can add links and categorize them.

Pages

Depending on your theme, there aren’t many differences between “Pages” and “Posts”. They both have the same editor screen, roughly. Posts has “Categories” and “Pages” have navigation structure, however. Pages display by default in your main navigation, posts display on the blog page, if it exists. The All Pages link shows a list of all pages in navigational hierarchy. The Add New link lets you add a new page.

Comments

This is the only section in the admin sidebar that doesn’t have drop-down options. Clicking on the Comments header shows all comments on your site. You can view pending, approved, spam or trashed comments by clicking on the sorting links at the top of the page. This is where you’ll want to go if you want to edit comments, view old ones, or batch edit/post/unpost/delete them.

Appearance

Depending on your theme, you will have different sub-links here, and some of them may not be needed. You can generally consider this an advanced section of the Dashboard. Themes lets you pick and choose the theme for your site, and download new ones from WordPress. Widgets lets you drag-and-drop pre-set site functions into the widgetized areas of your site – usually the footer and/or sidebar – like “Recent Posts”, “Links” and “Meta”. Editor lets you view and edit the CSS and PHP files for the current active theme of your site.

Plugins

Installed Plugins shows you a list of currently installed plugins on your site, activate/deactivate/delete links for them, and their descriptions. Add New connects you to the WordPress plugins codex to allow you to search for and install new plugins. Be wary when adding plugins to your site – not all plugins function flawlessly with all versions of WordPress and all other plugins. If you are having issues on your site after installing a plugin – even one that is reported as working on your version of WordPress – usually the only solution is to either edit the plugin in PHP to make it work, or to uninstall it. Editor lets you edit the PHP and CSS of the plugins directory.

Users

All Users shows a list of all users who are signed up for your site. Unless you have turned on user registration, the only one here will be you. Add New allows you to add other users to your site without needing to turn on registration. Your Profile lets you edit your WordPress profile – image, name, email address, etc.

Tools / Settings

These two sections are more advanced, and the sub-links within these sections depend a lot on what plugins you have installed. Import lets you import pages/posts/tags/categories/etc from other blog sources. Export lets you export all of your pages/posts/tags/categories/comments/etc from your site to import into another. General is for all the general settings of your site – site name, tagline, url, email address, date/time format. Writing defines post settings, for the most part, and allows you to define the height of the editor window. Reading determines which pages are your home/blog pages, and how many posts are displayed at a time on post pages. Discussion is for Comments – determining what fields are required to leave a comment, blacklisting IP addresses, email addresses and keywords, and choosing what type of default gravatar is to be displayed. Media is for file sizes and default folders for uploaded media. Privacy determines whether or not your site is able to be crawled by search engines. Permalinks determines the format of your posts and pages. I like to choose “custom” and have this be my permalink structure: /%category%/%postname%.html

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