WordPress Beginner’s Boot Camp Article 2 – Driving the WordPress Dashboard

Posted OnDec 13, 2013     CategoryQuestion & Answer     CommentsNo comment

Welcome to Session Two – Driving the WordPress Dashboard!

WordPress Dashboard:
You’ve taken time to build out your site purpose and content – now let’s take a moment to review the essential technical components of WordPress.  First things first – let’s log into the WordPress dashboard. Your login url will look similar to this: http://yourdomain.wordpress.com/wp-admin/.  Once logged in, you will see the dashboard interface and corresponding “tool set” on the left hand side.  The dashboard is the heart and soul of your site and where you update content and media.  It also serves as a resource for WordPress information and highlights a list of recently completed activity on your site.

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Don’t be alarmed!  I know the “tool set” looks involved and confusing – but I promise I’ll make it easy to understand. Go ahead and move your mouse down the “tool set.”  Each item within the list has a sub-menu with additional options.  The example below shows the drop down options available under “Dashboard.”

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I’m going to go over the most important menu options for understanding how your WordPress.com site functions.  During this session,  I will only highlight the most important features for getting your web presence up and running.

Have You Got the Look?
One of the most important components of your website – second only to content – is appearance.  Yes – we all know that appearances shouldn’t matter (never judge a book by its cover) but appearance is extremely important when it comes to websites. Visitors will make immediate judgments about your reliability, accuracy and legitimacy based on how your site looks and operates. Let’s make sure you are always putting your best face forward.

Changing the Appearance:
One of the great features of WordPress.com are themes.  Themes make it easy to change the look and feel of your site.

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Themes are designed by WordPress developers as well as users and there are literally thousands available. The standard default theme for WordPress installations is Twenty-Fourteen, shown below.

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Let’s take a closer look!  Return to your dashboard and click on “Appearance” to view some of the currently available themes.  There are free themes and premium themes to choose from.  Take a moment now to review the themes and pick out a few that speak to you (figuratively, not literally) and then click “live preview.”  This shows exactly how the theme will look on your site.  Pick the one you like best then go ahead and click “Activate.” Voila!  Your site theme is set! Additional information on Appearance and Themes will be discussed in greater detail in Session Three of WordPress Beginners Boot Camp.

Posts & Pages:
A quick word on posts and pages. When I was trying to build my site I was really confused about posts and pages.  I thought a post WAS a page.  Guess what?  I was wrong.  Thankfully, I’m here to help you learn from all of my mistakes.

So, what is a page?  A page is static and once created becomes part of the website structure.  “About Us” is a classic example of a page.

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Take a moment to think about what pages you’d like to set up for your site.  “About Us” and “Contact Us” are give-ins, but what other pages do you need to effectively deliver your message?  I recommend visiting websites you enjoy and looking at those pages for ideas.  Once you’ve figured out what pages you want to set up, write them down and keep them available for Session Three where we will talk about building pages in greater detail.

A post, on the other hand, is a content item on a blog or a designated page. Posts are displayed in reverse chronological order on your homepage, blog and RSS feed.  Categories and tags are important for posts, but not relevant for pages.  Overall, if your focus is creating a website you need to place initial development emphasis on building pages.  You can worry about posts later.  Additional information on Posts, Pages Categories and Tags will be discussed in greater detail in Session Three of WordPress Beginners Boot Camp.

I’m a User, Baby:
Finally, let’s take a look at the Users Screen.

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The Users screen is important because this is where you set back-end access for your site. Back-end access is where modifications to your site take place. Follow the next steps to walk through the user set up process.

  • Click on “Users” then the subcategory “All Users.”

  • This screen shows a list of all your users. From here you can add, modify or delete existing users and authors accounts.

  • Next, click on “My Profile” on the left hand side of the screen.  Here you enter information about you as author and administrator of the site.

  • Go ahead and complete this section – then click “update profile.”

The remaining options under Users will be discussed in greater detail in Session 3 of WordPress Beginner’s Boot Camp.

I hope you found this brief overview of the most important components of the dashboard helpful.  We are now ready to move on to the real work – I can’t wait to dig into all the goodies with you in our next session!

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