Now that you’ve set up your web hosting, domain and installed WordPress it’s time to learn how everything works.
This is a giant post covering every section of the WordPress dashboard. I recommend you bookmark this guide so you can refer to it later if you don’t finish working through everything.
Because this post is so large I’ve divided it up into sections and made this table of contents:
Table of Contents
- 10.1 General Settings
- 10.2 Writing Settings
- 10.3 Reading Settings
- 10.4 Discussion Settings
- 10.5 Media Settings
- 10.6 Permalink Settings
If you visit your site you’ll see a coming soon page that Bluehost set up for you. Now visit www.yoursite.com/wp-admin and you’ll see the WordPress login screen.
Go ahead and enter the username and password you set up when you installed WordPress and log in.
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You’re going to see a bunch of stuff and we’re going to clean this up before we get into everything.
Close that little pop-up message that says congratulations.
You’re now looking at the main screen of the WordPress dashboard.
When you installed WordPress a couple of plugins got installed automatically. I don’t like it when things get installed automatically for me so the first thing we’re going to do is remove them.
Mouseover Plugins in the menu on the left and then click on Installed Plugins.
You’ll see that there are 5 plugins installed. We’re going to remove everything. At some point in the future you might want to have Jetpack or Akismet but you can easily install them again at any point.
Click the check boxes to select all the plugins. Then click on the Bulk Actions drop-down menu, select Deactivate and then click the Apply button.
Now all of these plugins have been turned off. Select them all again, click on Bulk Actions, select Delete and hit Apply.
It’ll tell you you’re about to delete some plugins. Click the button that says Yes delete these files and data.
The plugins will delete and you’ll find yourself looking at an empty plugin screen. Click on the Dashboard option at the top of the menu on the left and you’ll be back on a much cleaner main screen.
Now it’s time to learn how everything works.
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1. The WordPress Dashboard
This is the first screen you’re going to see every time you log into your website.
1. The Top Bar
This top bar will always be visible when you’re logged into your website unless you disable this in the user settings.
Clicking on the WordPress icon will give you some links to find out some more information about WordPress
The house icon with the name of your site will give you a dropdown menu with an option that takes you to the homepage of your site. If you mouse over this again on your homepage you’ll get an option to return to the main dashboard or a couple other common sections.
+ New gives you the option to quickly make a new post, page, media or user. You can click this anywhere on your site or in the dashboard.
On the right of the bar where it says Howdy Admin (or Howdy whatever your username is) you’ll see your Gravatar which is probably blank right now (we’ll talk about that more later) and if you click here you can log out of your site.
2. The Main Dashboard Menu
This is the main menu for the different sections of the dashboard.
Posts: this section is where you make and edit blog posts.
Pages: this section is where you make and edit pages.
Media: this section is where you upload and manage pictures, videos and other media.
Comments: here you can see all the comments that people have left on your blog posts.
Appearance: this section gives you various options to control your site’s appearance.
Plugins: this is where you install and remove various WordPress plugins.
Users: here you can change your user options and add or remove users.
Tools: there’s actually not much here. Some plugins will add options to this section.
Settings: this is where you control various back-end settings for your website.
3. Widget Area
In this main area of the window you can put various widgets with information about your site.
At a glance gives you a quick overview of how many pages, posts and whatnot you have.
Activity shows you the recent activity on your site, the latest posts, edits and comments for example.
Quick draft let’s you type out an incredibly quick blog post without using the post editor.
And WordPress news is just news about WordPress.
If you want you can rearrange these widgets however you want by clicking and dragging them.
4. Screen Options and Help
Each section of the dashboard will have options and clicking here brings down a little tray with these options. On the main dashboard page the options here control which widgets you see on the main dashboard page.
I usually un-check everything except the Activity.
Help gives you a bit of information and links to things like the WordPress support forums. I’ve never really had a need to use this.
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This is the section of the dashboard where you’re going to control everything related to your blog posts.
Click on posts and it’ll take you to the main posts screen which has a list of all your blog posts.
1. Post List
This is a list of all your blog posts. WordPress automatically created a little post called “Hello world!”. You can feel free to delete this.
You’ll see various information about the post like the author, category, tags, number of comments and the date.
If you click on the title of the post it’ll take you to the editor where you can edit the post.
If you mouse over the title it’ll give you a couple of options like edit, delete, etc.
The bulk actions drop down will let you edit or delete a bunch of posts at once and the all dates and all categories drop downs will let you filter your posts based on dates or categories if you’re looking for something specific.
You can also use the search field on the right to find a post too.
2. Add New Button
This is what you click when you want to make a new blog post. It’ll take you to the post editor and you can start writing.
3. Screen Options
Here you can control what columns you see in the post list, how many posts you see per page in the list and whether you just want to show the title (list view) or the title with the first sentence or so (excerpt view).
2.1 The Post Editor
Go ahead and click on the add new button and you’ll find yourself on what’s called the WYSIWYG Editor. WYSIWYG stands for “what you see is what you get”.
1. WYSIWYG Editor
The text field that says “Enter title here” is where you enter the title of your post.
The big text area is where you type your post and it functions much like any normal word processor.
Above the text area you’ll see icons for standard things like bold, italic or
strikethrough text, bullet points and a numbered list.
The quotation marks are for if you want your text to stand out in a block quote like this.
The horizontal line button creates a horizontal line across the page.
Next you have left, center and right aligned text.
The chain link icon is for making links. Select the text you want to be a link and then click this button. You can then enter the URL for your link or if you’re linking to a page on your own site you can select it here.
The next button is for a “read more tag”. If you have a large amount of text you can use this to break it up into multiple pages.
The last icon toggles whether or not you want to see some advanced options which gives you another line of icons in the toolbar.
The paragraph drop down gives you a couple of options for your text. When you have text on an internet it can be a standard paragraph like this.
It can also be one of 6 different sized headings so you can divide your content up into different sections to make it easier to follow.
This is Heading 1
This is Heading 2
This is Heading 3
This is Heading 4
This is Heading 5
This is Heading 6
The next icon is for underlined text followed by the justify text option.
The A with a line icon lets you select the colour of your text if you don’t want it to be black.
This next icon with a T is a bit interesting. If you copy text from somewhere and paste it into the WordPress editor WordPress will try to keep the formatting as close as possible. Things like bold text or different sizes will carry over to the editor.
This option lets you copy text from a source and then paste it as plain text which won’t keep any of that formatting so you can easily format it however you want.
The eraser icon clears all the formatting from the text you select.
The Omega icon lets you enter special characters and symbols.
The next two icons let you increase or decrease indents in your text.
Then you have undo and redo buttons and finally you have an icon that shows you some keyboard shortcuts if you click it.
Visual vs Text Tabs
Right now you’re looking at the visible tab which shows you how your post will actually look with all its formatting.
Clicking the text tab will show you just text with all the HTML coding that’s controlling all your formatting.
If this looks scary and intimidating then don’t worry because you don’t ever need to come in here.
If you know HTML and you need to make some edits that you can’t do with the tools in the toolbar then you can come in here and directly enter your HTML code.
The Add Media Button
This button let’s you insert media such as images into your posts. Clicking it brings up a screen that looks like this:
You can drag and drop files from your desktop or click the Select Files button to browse your computer.
The Media Library tab contains a list of all the media you’ve uploaded to the site so you can reuse things like images multiple times.
Create Gallery will let you select multiple images and insert a gallery of them into your post. The appearance of this gallery will vary depending on what theme you’re using.
Featured Image lets you select an image to set as the featured image of the post right from this screen.
Insert from URL lets you insert an image from a URL. I’ve never done this and I always upload the image to my site directly.
Once you upload an image you’ll see a screen like this:
The image you just uploaded is selected (it’s also the only image uploaded to this site). All of the media you upload to the site will appear here with the newest one first.
On the left of the screen you’ll see some information you can edit before you insert the image into your post.
Clicking Edit image lets you do some basic edits like crop or rotate and Delete Permanently will remove the image from your media library.
The URL is the direct path to the image on your website.
The Title is a little big of text that will appear if you mouse over the image. It’ll help your SEO if you enter a descriptive title for your image.
The Caption is simply a short caption that will appear below the image once you insert it into your post. The caption’s appearance will vary depending on what theme you’re using.
The Alt Text is very important for your site’s SEO. Because search engine spiders can’t read images when they crawl your site enter some text that describes what the image is so the spiders can read that.
I’ve never used the Description and I’m not even sure why you’d enter something here. Some themes might use it maybe?
The Attachment Display Settings will let you select the alignment of the image, let you create a link so when you click the image it’ll take you to whatever URL you want and finally you can change the size. You can insert the full sized image into the post or smaller versions if you want.
When you’re all done click Insert into post and the image will be added to your post.
You can upload the following file types to the media library:
Images: .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif
Documents: .pdf, .doc, .docx, .key, .ppt, .pptx, .pps, .ppsx, .odt, .xls, .xlsx
Audio: .mp3, .m4a, .ogg, .wav
Video: .mp4, .m4v, .mov, .wmv, .avi, .mpg, .ogv, .3gp, .3g2
2. The Sidebar
The sidebar here has a bunch of different options for your post.
The first section is where you publish your post. When it’s all done you can click the Publish button and it’ll go live on your site.
If you’re not done yet you can save your draft here and also preview how it will look when it’s published.
You can also change the visibility of your post to make it visible to everyone or just certain users who are logged in.
Finally you can schedule your post to automatically get published at a future date which is pretty cool. If you want you can write a bunch of posts at once and then schedule them to appear on your site over a period of time.
Different WordPress themes will have different options for the types of posts you’re posting. A standard post is what you’re going to be doing 99% of them time.
You can play around with the other options because they’ll give you a few different options for your post. Keep in mind though that the options in this section will change depending on what theme you’re going to use.
This is where you choose a category from your pre-existing list of categories. You can also create a new category right here too.
You can add tags to your posts to organize them further.
Finally you can add a featured image. These will be in most themes and will show the image at the top of the blog post and it should also show on your blog page as well.
The featured image will display slightly differently depending on what WordPress theme you’re using. The featured image for this post is the grey couch with the white laptop on a coffee table right at the top of the page.
3. Screen Options
The screen options control what sections you see on this page. The most important ones are already enabled and the disabled ones you probably don’t need.
Excerpt lets you write a short summary of your post that may or may not be used in your WordPress theme. Usually you don’t ever need to write an excerpt.
You don’t ever need to use Send Trackbacks so just ignore this.
Custom Fields is something you don’t need to use either. Some advanced WordPress themes might use them but you probably won’t ever use them yourself.
Discussion gives you the option to turn on or off comments for this post.
The Slug is the URL friendly version of the title. We’re going to let WordPress take care of this itself so no need to worry about this.
Author gives you the option to change the author of the post if you have multiple users.
You then have the option to have all the widgets on this page in one or two columns and that last check box turns the distraction free editor icon on an off in the editor toolbar.
Clicking on Categories in the left menu will take you to a screen where you control all of the categories for your posts.
There’s two main sections to this area. The left side is where you can create and edit categories and the right side is the list of your categories.
1. Add a New Category
To create a new category simply enter the name of the category in the first field.
In the slug field you enter the URL friendly version of the category. For example if your Category is named “Online Marketing” the slug would be “online-marketing”. You can’t have spaces and everything is usually lowercase.
WordPress will create a URL for each category. If the slug is “online-marketing” the URL will be www.yoursite.com/category/online-marketing. If you visit this page you’ll see a blog page that lists all the posts in that specific category.
The parent lets you make a hierarchy of categories. Say for example you have a master category called “Marketing” and you want to organize things further than you would make “Marketing” the parent category and “Online Marketing” the child category. All this really does is help keep things organized.
The description is optional. Some themes will show the description on the category page (www.yoursite.com/category/category-name). Type an explanation of the category here and it’ll appear on the category page if your theme has that feature.
2. Category List
This functions pretty much exactly like the list of your posts. You can delete and edit categories here and use the bulk actions drop-down to affect multiple categories at once.
The count is how many posts are using that category.
3. Screen Options
Tags are a further way to categories your posts. Say for example you have a category called Music. Tags you might want to use are Jazz, Rock, Classical, etc.
Like categories you can click on a tag or visit the tag URL and see a list of all the posts that have that tag.
This is basically a simplified version of the categories screen. You add and edit tags on the left and there’s a list of all your tags on the right.
The Screen Options here are the same as the categories page too. You can choose which columns display in the list and how many entries before it’s broken up into multiple pages.
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3. Media Library
Click on the Media option in the menu and you’ll be in the media library where you can manage all the media for your website.
Right now you’re looking at thumbnails of all the media uploaded to the site. There’s just the one image I uploaded earlier.
We pretty much covered everything here in the Add Media Button section.
On this screen you have a couple of options for deleting or editing multiple items at once. You can display everything as thumbnails or a list.
If you click on a media item you get a familiar screen where you can edit the Title, Alt text and Caption. WordPress will remember what you enter here so the next time you go to use that image it’ll include that Title, Alt text and Caption.
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This section lets you create and edit the pages on your website. It’s essentially a simplified version of the posts section.
What’s the difference between Posts and Pages? As far as your browser or your SEO is concerned posts and pages are pretty much the same thing. The difference is how WordPress handles them. Pages are simply a page on your website. Posts on the other hand automatically get organized by WordPress into a blog where they’re sorted by date, given a sidebar, have comments enabled and other post related features like that.
This screen lists all your site’s pages much like the posts screen. You can edit or delete pages here or click the Add New button to make a new page.
The screen options simply let you control which columns are in the list and how many items appear in the list before it’s broken into multiple pages.
If you click on the Add New button you’ll be taken to the page editor which is basically a simplified version of the posts editor.
Here you have the exact same WYSIWYG editor that you have for posts.
In the sidebar you have the same publish section where you can save your draft, change visibility of the page or schedule it to go live later.
The Page Attributes section is new. The parent drop down lets you set a hierarchy of pages much like you could do with categories.
If you have a page about music and then multiple pages for kinds of music like Jazz, Rock or Classical you’d make Music the parent page and Jazz, Rock and Classical the child pages.
Some themes have what are called bread crumbs which look like Home > Music > Jazz. This helps organize your site and if a user enters your site on a random page it helps them know where they are.
If you have a very simple website you don’t need to worry about this. If you have a more complicated site with tons of pages then this is an excellent way to organize everything.
The order thing you don’t need to worry about. Some themes have features that might be dependant on the order of your pages and by entering a number here you can set the order of your pages. You probably won’t ever use this.
The Featured image works just like it does in posts however most themes don’t use featured images for pages so you can ignore this.
The Screen Options here are pretty much exactly the same as the Screen Options in the post editor you just have slightly less items you can enable or disable since you don’t have things like Categories or Tags for pages.
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This section is where you manage all the comments people leave on your posts.
By default you have one comment that was left by WordPress so you could see how everything works. Feel free to delete this comment.
At the top you’ll see All, Pending, Approved, Spam and Trash. By default All is selected which shows you all comments. When you start getting a lot of comments you can use these to sort them.
In your site options which we’ll get to later you can set comments to not appear until they’re approved. With this option selected all new comments will show up under Pending.
Approved will show you all the comments that have been approved and are live on your blog.
Spam will show you all the comments WordPress thinks are spam. You can review and either delete or approve them here. There’s also a convenient Empty Spam button that’ll let you delete all the spam comments at once.
Trash holds all the comments you deleted and there’s an Empty Trash button to get rid of them all at once.
The list of comments shows you the name of the comments with their Gravatar, the comment itself, which post it was made on and the date.
In the Screen Options you can select which columns you want to see and how many comments per page you want to see as well.
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WordPress comes with 4 themes by default all made by the WordPress team. They make a new one each year and Twenty Sixteen is enabled by default.
Themes are my absolute favourite part of WordPress. I’m an ok web designer but I can get a theme made by an awesome professional designer that looks way better than anything I could ever make. I can install it in seconds and my site’s entire design is then taken care of.
The themes operate separately from your site’s content so you can switch themes whenever you want and it won’t affect your content (unless you used some theme specific options somewhere, then you might have to update a few things).
You can click on a theme to see its details and then either view a live preview of it or activate it.
When you’re viewing the theme details you can also delete the theme. I like to keep my stuff as clean as possible so I always delete everything except the theme I’m currently using.
Click on the Add New button at the top and it’ll take you to a giant library of all the free themes that are available.
You can search through thousands and thousands of themes and use the Feature Filter option to sort them based on whatever features you’re looking for.
If you click on a theme here you’ll see a preview and the option to install the theme.
While you can pick any free theme that you like keep in mind that not all free themes are created equal. Some might be glitchy, be complicated to use, not have the features you need, etc. Plus your site isn’t going to look as professional as it could. If you’re making a serious website I recommend you pay for a premium theme. The Genesis Framework is an excellent choice and is super easy to use.
Clicking on Customize will take you to a completely different looking screen.
On the left you have various customization options and on the right you have a preview of your site.
Every theme will have different options here but in general this section is for customizing things like the colours of your site. Since we have the default Twenty Sixteen theme activated there aren’t too many options here to customize.
You can make changes in the options and see a preview of your changes on your site. If you’re happy with how everything looks then you can click save and exit back to the dashboard.
Your site has various sections like the sidebar or footer where you can attach widgets, this section lets you control those widgets.
On the left you have a collection of different widgets and on the right you have the sections that you can use the widgets in.
Different themes and plugins might give you new widgets and new sections to put them in. With the default Twenty Sixteen theme we have 3 widget areas, the Sidebar and Content Bottom 1 and 2.
By default there’s a bunch of widgets already set up in your sidebar. You can leave these or drag them out of the Sidebar box to remove them.
If you drag a widget down to the Inactive Widgets area it’ll save it there so you can use it again somewhere in the future.
Each widget is going to have its own settings which you can see by clicking on the little arrow when the widget has been dragged into a section.
These are convenient because if you drag a widget to the sidebar for example it will show up on every page or post that uses the sidebar.
There’s only one item under the Screen Options called Accessibility Mode. Enabling this changes how this screen works a bit. Instead of dragging widgets to sections like the sidebar you’ll see buttons to add them or buttons to edit them.
This section as you might have guessed lets you control your site’s menu. You can create as many menus as you want and then assign them to specific menu spots on your site depending on how your theme is designed.
The first thing you should do is create your main menu so go ahead and give it a name like “Main Menu” or whatever you want and click the Create Menu button.
1. These are the items that you can add to your menu
You’ll find your site’s pages and posts here as well as your categories if you want to link to a category page. Custom links gives you the option to link to a specific URL either on your website or another one.
2. Menu Structure
You can re-arrange the order of your menu items and drag items under other items to make them appear in drop-down menus.
3. Menu Settings
If you check off Automatically add new top-level pages to this menu then if you ever create a new page and it’s not a child page then it’ll automatically be added to the menu.
The theme locations has the options of where in your theme the menu can appear. In the Twenty Sixteen theme there’s a Primary Menu option which will be the main menu at the top of the site and a smaller social links menu.
If you check Primary Menu the menu you created will appear in the Primary Menu location at the top of the site.
4. Manage Locations
This takes you to a different screen where you can assign the menus to specific places in your theme. These options already in the Menu Settings so I’m not sure why you need this. If you have a ton of menus I guess it might make it easier to swap in a new one.
5. Screen Options
The Boxes items control which items show up on the left to add to the menu. If you never want to add categories to your menu for example you don’t have to show them.
Show advanced menu properties gives you a bunch more options for the individual menu items. You probably don’t ever need to use these but here’s what it looks like with none of these enabled by default and every on enabled.
Navigation Label is what you’re going to see and be able to click on in the menu on your website.
The Title Attribute is the text you’ll see when you mouse over the link in a little tooltip. If your page title is really long for example you could put a shortened title like “Welcome” and in the Title Attribute put something like “Welcome to my really cool blog” since that’s probably too long for your menu. This helps slightly with SEO.
The Open link in a new tab will make it so if you click the link it’ll open in a new tab. Pretty self explanatory.
CSS Classes let you apply CSS classes to this menu item. CSS is a programming language that lets you edit the styling of items on your site. Instead of having to change the colour of a link every time you make a link on your site you can instead enter CSS code that says “make every link on this site whatever colour”.
If you only want to apply some formatting to a few specific things you can create a CSS class and then apply that class to the items.
For example if you want all the links in your menu to be blue and plain text but you want one to be red and bold you could create a CSS class with the red and bold formatting and then add it to that menu item.
This is a bit more advanced and you probably won’t ever need to worry about this. Your theme might have some classes you can use or a section to enter your own CSS code.
Link Relationship (XFN): XFN stands for XHTML Friends Network and lets you define your relationship with people you’re linking to. For example if you’re linking to a friend’s blog you can enter “friend” here and it’ll add a friend tag to the code of the link.
This is completely optional and I wouldn’t ever bother using this. You can learn more about XFN Relationships in the WordPress Codex here.
Finally the Description lets you add a description to the menu item that may or may not appear depending on if your theme shows it or not.
A Quick Demo Menu
In this demo I have 4 menu items, the first one is the sample page WordPress created. The second item is the Hello world! post WordPress created and if you mouse over this option in the menu a drop-down will appear with the Uncategorized category. Clicking that will take you to a page with all the uncategorized blog posts. The last item is a custom link I created to a random site.
You can drag and drop these into any order and by dragging an item underneath another item like I did with “Uncategorized” you can create sub menus. If your theme supports it you can great a sub menu within a sub menu.
Here’s how that menu looks on the actual site itself (I’ve moused over Hello world!):
Menu Pro Tip! If you want to create a drop-down in your menu but you don’t have something to put in the main menu to mouse over or you just don’t want people to click on this you can by using a custom link. Click on Custom Link and where it says URL type a #. Then in the link text type whatever you want the item in your menu to say and add it to your menu. No matter how many times you click on this menu item nothing will happen and mousing over it will display your sub menu.
6.5 Other Appearance Options
You’ll see a couple of other options under appearance in the dashboard menu. Header and Background are part of the Twenty Sixteen theme, clicking them will take you to the Header and Background sections of the customize screen we talked about earlier.
These options probably won’t show up here if you’re using a different theme.
Editor takes you to a section where you can edit the code of the different page templates and important PHP files of your website.
I recommend that you don’t mess around in here unless you absolutely know what you’re doing as you might break something. A lot of themes don’t even have this option to prevent you from causing problems.
if you do decide to mess around in here and you break something don’t panic. You can simply uninstall and reinstall a fresh version of the theme.
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If you click on plugins the screen will be nice and empty because you have no plugins installed (if you followed my instructions at the beginning and removed the default ones).
If you click the Add New button it’ll take you to a plugin library much like the theme library we saw earlier.
Plugins will give your site all kinds of extra functionality. I personally don’t use too many plugins but if there’s something you want your site to be able to do there’s a very good chance someone created a plugin to help with that.
Anyone can create a WordPress plugin and a bunch of them are garbage and who knows what they might do to your site.
Fortunately though you can see reviews of the plugin, how many people have it installed, when it was last updated and if it’s compatible with your version of WordPress.
Click the Install Now button to install the plugin on your site.
If you happen to have downloaded a plugin from a website you can upload a .zip file for the plugin by clicking the Upload Plugin button at the top.
The Editor option in the dashboard menu will let you edit the code of files related to your plugins. Don’t ever use this as you’ll probably break your plugins if you mess around with them.
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This is where you create and edit the users of your website. By default you only have one administrator user (yourself) but you can create more with various levels of access to your site.
Clicking on users takes you to a list of all your users just like the other lists you’ve already seen like posts, pages, categories, etc.
Click on the Add New button and it’ll take you to a screen where you can create a new user.
Most of this information is pretty self explanatory.
You only need to add a username and an email. You can leave First Name, Last Name and Website blank if you want.
Clicking the Show password button will show you the strong password WordPress generated for the user and you can change it to something else.
If the Send User Notification option is checked the user will receive an email notification with their username and password.
The Role is how much site access you want to give to the user.
Administrators have access to everything on the site and can change whatever they want.
Editors can only publish and manage posts however they can edit posts by other users.
Authors can only publish and manage their own posts.
Contributors can write and manage their own posts but they can’t publish them.
Subscribers can’t do anything except manage their own profile. You would have subscribers if you had a forum or a members only area set up.
If you click on Your Profile in the dashboard menu you’ll be on the edit user screen for yourself with some extra options.
Disable the visual editor when writing will remove almost all the items in the WYSIWYG editor. If these are distracting you then you can remove them I guess.
Admin Colour Scheme has 8 different colour schemes for the admin dashboard. My favourite is Midnight.
Keyboard Shortcuts gives you the option to use various keyboard shortcuts when you’re moderating comments. If you want to learn and use these go ahead and enable this.
Toolbar turns on or off that toolbar at the top of the site when you’re browsing the site itself outside of the dashboard. I find this very convenient so I always leave this on.
In the Name section you can enter some more information about your name and then select how you want to display your name publicly. You can show your username, actual name or a nickname.
The Contact Info section lets you change your email address and enter a website which might be displayed in some themes.
The Biographical Info section is often shown at the end of posts where it says something like “about the author”. This may or may not show up on your site depending on your theme.
Your Profile Picture will show up in the about the author section if your theme has one of those and it’ll show up when you leave and reply to comments on your site.
You have to go to the Gravatar site and set it up there. Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar. Once you set up a Gravatar any time you leave a comment on any WordPress site with the email address you used for your Gravatar account it’ll show your profile picture which is kind of neat.
Finally under Account Management you can set a new password and log out of any browsers and computers you’re logged in under.
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There’s not much here right now but certain plugins and themes might add options here.
This section helps you import posts from another blog you might have with another service like Blogger, LiveJournal, Tumblr or TypePad.
You’ll have to install separate plugins to perform the imports.
This section will let you export all of your site’s content so you can import it into another site.
If your posts only have text in them then that’s great. If you have a lot of media on your site though you’ll have to upload that to the new site separately.
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10.1 General Settings
Remember when you installed WordPress and it asked for a Site Title? That title is here and you can change it if you want.
You can also enter a Tagline or slogan for your site describing what it’s about.
Your theme might pull the Site Title and Tagline and add it to your website’s header. The title and tagline might also automatically get added to your site’s meta data which affects your site’s SEO.
The WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) are the URLs for both your site and your WordPress database. You never need to change these unless you’re moving your site to a different domain.
The Email Address is where WordPress will send alerts if something happens with your site like a new user is created.
If you check “Anyone can register” under the Membership then anyone can create a new user on your site. Their role will be whatever you have selected in New User Default Role which is set to Subscriber by default. You would enable this if you’re running a forum or something like that on your site. Otherwise ignore this.
Next you have various settings for your timezone and date format.
Make sure your timezone is set correctly otherwise if you go to schedule posts they’ll get published at the wrong time.
This will only affect the dashboard though, everything on your site will stay as is.
10.2 Writing Settings
The Default Post Category and Default Post Format are simply what category and format is selected by default when you make a new post. If you find you’re using a category or format almost all the time you can make those the default here.
Post via email is an interesting feature where you can set up an email address so that if you ever email that address the content of that email is published on your site as a post.
I would never use this and always prefer to post in WordPress itself so I can do things like add images and make sure everything looks good.
Update Services lets you choose which services WordPress will automatically ping when you create a new post.
You don’t need to make any changes here.
10.3 Reading Settings
By default your home page will show a list of all your latest blog posts. If you want to choose a static page and use a specific home page that you created you can do so here.
If you choose a specific home page you’ll need to create a specific blog page too. In most cases you can just go create a blank page, name it blog and select it here. Some themes will have various options you can then use on this blog page too.
Next you can choose how many posts show up per blog page and in RSS feeds. I usually have between 5 to 10 posts per blog page. The more you have the slower your blog pages will load. I always just leave 10 for the RSS feeds.
People can subscribe to your site through an RSS feed and then any time you make a new post it’ll show up in their feed reader.
You can choose to show the entire post in the RSS feed or if you select summary they’ll have to click through and visit your site to read the whole post.
I wouldn’t ever check this though.
10.4 Discussion Settings
These are all the settings related to the comments on your blog.
Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article: this will attempt to send a notification to any other WordPress sites you link to so they can come check you out if they want.
Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles: this will let you receive a notification if another WordPress site links to one of your posts.
Allow people to post comments on new articles: this is your master switch to either turn off or turn on comments for your whole blog.
Other Comment Settings
Comment author must fill out name and email: this prevents anonymous comments.
Users must be registered and logged in to comment: use this if you only want the members of your site to be able to leave comments.
Automatically close comments on articles older than X days: You can set it so that after a certain number of days people can’t leave comments on your articles anymore.
Enable threaded (nested) comments X levels deep: Nested comments are when someone replies to a comment and then maybe someone replies to the reply. Each additional comment gets indented to help keep everything organized. This controls how many times the replies get indented (nested).
Break comments into pages: if you find you’re getting ridiculous numbers of comments you can break them up into separate pages to help keep it organized and improve load time.
Finally you can choose to have the oldest comments displayed first or the newest ones displayed first.
Email me Whenever
You can get an email whenever there’s a new comment. At first you might want this but if you start getting hundreds of comments you’ll probably want to turn this off.
Before A Comment Appears
You can set it so every single comment has to be manually approved or you can set it so that if a user has proved themselves with an approved comment in the past any new comment they make will automatically appear on the site.
Comment Moderation and Blacklist
Here you can automatically mark comments as spam based on number of links in the comments or by certain words and IP addresses.
The comments can either be held for moderation or sent straight to the trash.
These settings control the avatars of users who leave comments on your site. You can choose whether or not to show them and the rating of the avatars that are allowed.
When you make a new Gravatar you have to select a rating of either G, PG, R or X so you can use the settings here to not show adult avatars.
10.5 Media Settings
Remember when you went to insert an image into a post and you had the option to insert the full sized image or sizes like thumbnail, medium and large? This is where you can set the size in pixels of these options.
10.6 Permalink Settings
These settings control the individual URLs for each page and post on your site.
I strongly recommend that you select Post name. As part of your site’s Search Engine Optimization you need clear descriptive URLs for each page. Selecting post name will make it so that if you have a post called “How to Build a Website” your URL will be www.mysite.com/how-to-build-a-website which is perfect and then you never have to worry about editing your URLs.
Category Base and Tag Base let you change the URLs for your categories and tags.
By default the URL for a category will be www.yoursite.com/category/category-name. If you change the base to “topics” for example the URL will become www.yoursite.com/topics/category-name.
The same thing goes for tags. If you change the Tag base to something like “themes” the URL for that tag will change from www.yoursite.com/tag/tag-name to www.yoursite.com/themes/tag-name.
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You’ve now gone over all of the main sections of the WordPress dashboard and you should be feeling quite comfortable with your new website.
Remember that the options covered here are the default options. Different themes and plugins will add new options to the dashboard but knowing what you know now it shouldn’t be hard to figure out.
No matter what you do it’s pretty hard to permanently mess up your website. If you break something with a theme or a plugin you can always just remove the plugin or theme and 99% of the time that’ll fix the problem.
You can go ahead and start blogging or setting up your website now and look forward to posts about how to use specific plugins and themes that I find really useful coming in the future.
This post appeared on the Realty Digital Marketing Professional Community here: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to WordPress