How to Navigate WordPress Admin Dashboard like a Pro
You’re new to WordPress and you want to get accustomed to using the platform. We’ll walk you through the options of the WordPress dashboard, so you can see for yourself how simple the interface really is.
What is WordPress Dashboard and Admin Area?
WordPress Admin is the administrative area of a website/blog built on WordPress. It’s the backend where you’ll make modifications, adjust settings, publish posts or pages and configure the appearance of the website.
It’s made up of two main parts: the left-hand menu (with sections for various customizations) and the work area (in the middle of the screen, with quick commands for modifying the website).
We’ll explain all these, but let’s start from the beginning:
WordPress Dashboard Login
To access the WordPress dashboard, you need to:
- Type in the browser the website address + “/wp-admin” = so that it looks like this: website.com/wp-admin. If this doesn’t apply to you, you may have installed WordPress incorrectly so check this link on how to install it.
- Fill in the USERNAME and PASSWORD fields with the user id and password you used when installing the WordPress platform
- Press Log In.
What to do if you can’t log in to your WordPress Admin Dashboard?
Case 1: you forgot your password.
This is a common case, and the issue can be quickly fixed. Simply click on “Lost your password?”, provide the username or email address you used when installing WordPress, and you’ll receive an email for the new password.
Case 2: password reset is not working.
In this case, you have to manually edit your database, in PhpMyAdmin, after having accessed cPanel. You have to retrieve the login and password for your cPanel, go to PhpMyAdmin in the Databases section, and select the “users” table. Choose MD5, then click on user_pass and change the password.
If you still have trouble logging in to the WordPress dashboard, check how to fix WordPress login issues.
WordPress Login Successful! What to Do Next?
Options in the Work Area (Dashboard)
This is the main area where you can make modifications and updates to the website or blog.
- Getting Started (General Appearance)
Customize your site – clicking this link, you’ll be taken to the Customizer (an interface where you can adjust settings for the website appearance, and preview them in real time)
Change your theme completely – clicking this link, you’ll go to an interface for visualizing themes, selecting and activating a different theme than the one already installed.
- Next Steps (Main customizations, pages and posts)
Edit your front page – this is an option for making edits to the front page (homepage) of your website. You can add text, customize existing text (using bold, italics, bulleted list, blockquote, alignment variants), you can add links, media (images, videos) or insert a Read More tag.
Add additional pages – this is a shortcut for adding new pages to the website. You only have to enter a title and start writing the text. The editing options will help you properly customize the page content.
Add a blog post – this is a shortcut for adding a new blog post to the website/blog. Similarly to pages, blog posts need titles, and some copy you can add in the corresponding spaces. The editing options will serve to giving the desired appearance to your blog post content.
View your site – this link takes you to the live version of the website. You can thus check what it looks like for users, assess its quality and decide on what improvements it needs.
- More Actions
Manage widgets or menus – to better organize elements within the website, you’ll have to adjust widgets and/or menus. This command helps you access the customization sections for widgets and menus.
Turn comments on or off – if you say content, you say comments. And this option allows you to control these, by activating/deactivating comments.
Learn more about getting started – this will take you to further instructions on how to get started using WordPress to manage a beautiful, useful and attractive website/blog.
- At a Glance
This section is an overview of the current website situation: number of posts and pages (the links take you to their list), number of comments (the link takes you to the comments table), WordPress version currently in use and active theme.
- Quick Draft
This section is for instantly putting your inspiration down, by noting a title and a few words about what’s next to write. After you’ve filled in the spaces, click “Save draft” and this piece will be stored in the posts list, waiting for development before it’s published.
This is a record of the latest activity on the blog. It lists recently published blog articles, and recent comments (with stats about approved comments, comments pending approval, spam and comments in trash). Hovering your mouse over one comment, you can take action and approve/delete/mark as spam/edit or reply to the respective comment.
- WordPress News and Events
This last section features news about WordPress/the WordPress community and noteworthy events in this area.
Options in the WordPress Admin Area, in the left-hand menu
The left-hand menu in the WordPress Admin area contains sections that take you to more in-depth customizations of your website/blog.
All posts – by accessing this subsection, you’ll see the full list of posts (both published posts and drafts). You’ll also see information regarding the authors of the posts, the date when the posts were published or modified, categories where the posts belong to, and what comments correspond to posts.
See how to create posts in WordPress in a simple way.
From here, you can add a new post, save it as draft or publish it immediately.
Fill in the title of the post.
Add content for the post body.
Customize the body text using the options in the toolbar:
- Give text a proper structure, by formatting it as paragraph, heading 1…6;
- Mark text in bold
- Mark text with italics
- Show text in a list, using bulleted list
- Show text in a list, using numbered list
- Insert blockquote
- Choose text alignment (left, center, right)
- Insert a link into the text and edit it when needed
- Insert a Read More tag, that will break the text, so that only the upper part will display on the blog home page
- Expand the list of options, using “Toolbar Toggle” (for text strikethrough, text color, insertion of a horizontal line, increasing or decreasing indent, etc.)
Click Save as Draft or hit Publish.
Here, you can create categories you’ll assign posts to. You’ll have to give a name to the category, specify the URL version of the name (called “slug”) and you can also add a description for that category.
Check how to manage categories and tags in WordPress.
In this section, you can add tags you’ll attach to blog posts. Like for categories, you’ll give a name to the tag, specify the URL version of the tag name (“slug”) and you can add a description for the respective tag.
From this section, you can manage the pages in your website/blog.
Pages are very easy to create, in a way that is similar to posts. However, pages are meant for static content, and they do not have a publish date. Important pages in a website/blog are the About us page, the Contact page, the FAQ page, the Terms and Conditions page, etc. In comparison, posts represent temporal content, they have a publish date and they are the main content of a blog.
Check this video that shows the differences between WordPress posts and WordPress pages.
All pages – you can view the list of all pages in your website, with their titles, the author, date when the pages were published, and comments corresponding to them.
This section (Add new page) is similar to Add new post. Therefore, the editing options are the same, allowing you to use bold text, italics, structure text in paragraphs or headings, align text, integrate links or add media to the page.
Immediately after posts, the Media section is available, with 2 subsections:
This is the list of all media files that were uploaded. You’ll find them in a table, with the date when they were uploaded, and the page/post they were attached to.
Add new media file
Here, you can easily drop images or video files, so they are added to the media library for your blog/website.
Check the explanations about how to add media files in WordPress.
Here, you’ll find the list of comments to your blog posts. Hovering your mouse over a comment will let you use buttons for approving/replying to/editing/deleting comments or marking them as spam.
View how you can manage comments for your WordPress site/blog.
This is the section you’ll use most for customizing the appearance of your website/blog.
It’s a section dedicated to your themes list. Using this interface, you’ll activate one of the existing themes in the list, or you can upload a premium theme you’ve bought.
By clicking “Customize” in the sidebar menu, you’ll go to the customizer corresponding to the active theme on site, where you can adjust website settings.
Check this video on how to use the Customizer of a WordPress theme.
This area in the WordPress Admin Dashboard allows you to add widgets – small blocks with certain functions in the website.
- You’ll find the list of available widgets on the left side of the screen.
- The possible locations for widgets are listed on the right side of the screen.
To add widgets in the website, you’ll have to drag and drop the selected items from the left, to the corresponding website location from the right.
- The sidebar widget area comes pre-populated with some widgets, which you can edit, delete or replace with other widgets.
Resource on how to manage widgets.
This section is destined to adding menus in the website.
To create a new menu, you only need to give the menu a name and click the button for “Create new menu”.
- On the left side of the screen, there’s a list with all the pages, posts, custom links and categories.
- On the right side of the screen, there’s a list of options for customizing the menu.
Select items from the left-side list, to add them to the menu. Then, choose where the menu should be located (primary menu, footer, top bar left or top bar right).
Further explanations on creating a menu in WordPress.
By clicking on “Header”, you’ll be directed to the customizer, where you can apply changes to the website header.
By clicking on “Background”, you’ll be directed to the customizer, where you can make changes to the background of the website pages.
Check how to install plugins in WordPress.
In this subsection, you’ll find a list of the recommended plugins you’ll have to install for the WordPress site. Install or update them, directly from the plugins table.
There’s also a dedicated section for plugins.
In that section, you have an overview of the plugins that are installed, plugins that need modifications, and you’ll also find there new plugins you need for the site.
Installed plugins – here, you’ll see the list of installed plugins, with details about which plugin version your website is using. You can activate/deactivate plugins, or delete some of them, if no longer needed.
Add new – browse through the list of available plugins or enter the name of the desired plugin in the search box and pick the plugin you’ll want to install. After selection, you need to install and activate the plugin, for it to work on the website.
Editor – this section is for editing the code for plugins. It’s recommended that you should not make major changes to these lines of code, as they might affect the plugins functionality.
When you access the WordPress editor, under “Appearance”, you’ll find the source code for different parts of the website. Here, you can make some modifications, according to how you want the website to look. However, it’s not recommended that you make major changes to these lines of code, as they might result in incompatibilities that break your site.
Settings in the WordPress Admin Dashboard
The settings section is one that you shouldn’t pass over, when making customizations for the new website or blog. These modifications apply sitewide.
From the “General Settings” subsection of the WordPress admin panel, you can:
- Add a site title – it sums up what the website is about
- Add a tagline – it serves as a motto for the entire website
- WordPress address/URL – this is the address you want the website to be found at. It helps defining whether you want the website address to be a domain or a subdomain (version with or version without www.)
- E-mail address – enter the email address you want to use for admin purposes
- Set the site language – form here, you’ll set the language for the website. After making changes, you’ll have the WordPress dashboard and admin area displayed in the language you’ve selected.
- Timezone – this setting is important especially for blogs. To show accurate data concerning the date blog posts are published, set the timezone that corresponds to your geographic area, and that of most of your readers.
- Date format – set the format for date display, in the blog posts
- Time format – set the format for the time display, in the blog posts.
From here, you can set:
- What content to show to your users on the homepage: it might be a static page (useful in case of a website), or it might be a page showing latest posts (useful in case of blogs).
- Set the number of articles that blog pages show
- Set if the articles in a feed are displayed in full text or as summary
- If the website is not yet ready to be indexed by and ranked in search engines, check “Discourage search engines from indexing site”.
These settings refer to customizations for the comments. Comments settings and comments moderation can be adjusted from here.
Permalinks are the permanent links (or URLs) of posts and pages in your website.
There are different settings for the permalinks structure, as you can see in the screenshot below:
Users and user roles
In the left-hand menu of the WordPress admin dashboard, you’ll also find a section destined to users and user roles.
User roles are important for making teams work effectively and protect the website as well.
Here are the roles explained:
This is the most powerful user role. The administrator can publish, edit or delete posts/pages, and they can also make site-wide changes, such as change the theme or manage plugins.
Editors have the right to manage content (theirs or other users’) – edit, publish or delete articles, manage comments and categories. However, they cannot make site-wide changes, like in the case of the administrator.
Authors have limited access to the WordPress admin dashboard. They can only produce content, edit their own content, publish it and upload media files to it.
Contributors can only edit or delete their own posts and read all posts. However, they cannot publish posts.
The subscriber role allows users only to read posts. This option is useful for subscription-based websites, when only logged in people can access website content.
A Final Word
Now that you’ve got familiar with the WordPress dashboard and admin area, you should be able to start building your website or blog, step by step. The above information covers all the main aspects you should consider for website customization. So, it’s time you started customizing your website, are you ready?