Getting Familiar with WordPress Pt 2: Your Dashboard
Getting Familiar with WordPress Pt 2: Your Dashboard
The dashboard is one of the most important things that you will need to learn with any WordPress installation, as stated in Getting Familiar with WordPress: Moving To WordPress Part 1.
One of the first things that you need to do after creating a new WordPress installation is to take a look at the themes that are available. I really love that WordPress.com now has the option of Twenty Eleven and Twenty Ten as theme choices, but just because these are two of the most popular themes doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t explore other options. So, if you want to explore other themes you can do so. Remember if you don’t like any theme that you have selected you can always change it, even after you have started blogging. It will not alter any of the content that you’ve created. So go ahead and log in to your new WordPress site and we will get started with exploring your dashboard. I’d like to start with the look of your blog first so we will start with the Appearance option on your dashboard.
On your dashboard scroll down to APPEARANCE on the left navigation menu, it will be the 9th option. After selecting appearance you will be on the page that allows you to see what template that you currently have selected OR if you have not selected a template. You will be able to see all available templates on this page. After you select your template chose ACTIVATE to make that theme live, then you will be able to customize that theme/template according to the options available for that particular theme.
You can use the blue menu bar to the right to start customizing your current theme. There are two options for customizing; there is a limited option that allows color changes, header selection from a list of images and a few other options. How many minor changes that you can make to your theme depends on the theme that you select. You can also pay for an upgrade, which allows more custom options for your theme. If you find that the theme that you have selected is not to your liking, you can always go back and select another one.
So now that you have selected your theme you should get familiar with your dashboard. Don’t let the layout confuse or overwhelm you. If you go back to the navigation menu on the left you will see quite a few options that we haven’t yet covered. I am going to scroll all the way to the bottom of this menu and have you start with Settings. I will cover how to create a Post last so you will have your entire page set up before you create your first post. So let’s get started:
- SETTINGS: You will see this if you scroll all the way to the bottom of your navigation menu. This menu allows you to set up a bit of back end functionality to your new WordPress page. Within the setting menu, you can set up general settings, writing, reading, discussion, media, sharing, polls, ratings and more. If you click into each one of these categories you will be prompted through some very easy criteria to fill out.
- TOOLS: Although this category is there, I usually leave this area untouched.
- USERS: In this area you should see yourself listed as a user. You will also have the option of adding other users, this would be used if you planned to share the blog with someone else or allow guess bloggers.
- APPEARANCE: This is an area that you will use for more than just changing the template of your page. There are other options that you will use in this area such as WIDGETS. The widgets area will be used to add information to the navigation area on your ACTUAL page. If you click into widgets you will see Primary widget area, Secondary Widget, First Footer, Second Footer, Third Footer and Fourth Footer to the right. These widgets will emulate what’s on the front page of your WordPress site. THEN you will see a list of available widgets in the middle of the page. There will be a variety of widgets to select that allow you to customize the look of your site. ALL of the available widgets that you see on the list can be dragged to the list on the right and will automatically display on your WordPress site. The images that you’ve dragged from the available widgets will be highlighted in blue in the right navigation menu. Also you can drag more than one widget to any area. For example, suppose you would like to have a Facebook Like box and Links together, you can drag both of those widgets to the primary widget Area or another widget area if you like. Also if you change your mind about a widget placement you can drag it to a box at the bottom called Inactive Widgets.
- FEEDBACK: This is an area that would be used if you chose to set up polls.
- COMMENTS: All of your blog comments will be here. From this area you would chose to add comments to the approve list or spam list after your blog is set up and you start to get comments on your posts.
- PAGES: This is an option that you want to take a look at. This is an area allows you to add the typical pages to your site. You can add an About Us section; Contact us and anything else that you would find relevant. These pages would display wherever your template has them place on your page. Most templates have pages in some form of navigation at the top of the page.
- LINKS: This is an area that would allow you to set up a list of links to other websites. If you have websites that you’d like to showcase this is an area that you would create the link. Remember if you create a list of links here, you will have to go to the WIDGETS area in the Appearance category and select to add the LINKS widget to your page using the navigation menu. See the APPEARANCE section above for a quick refresher.
- MEDIA: This is an area where all of your images and media will be stored. If you add an image to a blog post it will be in this area for future use.
- POSTS: Whoo hoo we made it! The firs thing you want to do in this area, after selecting POSTS is to go to the submenu Categories. This allows you to set up different categories that you will use for your blog posts. For instance if your blog is about Smart Phones, you would set up one category for iOS, Android and maybe even Blackberry if you are delusional LOL. Anyway, you get the point. So this allows you to place each of your blog posts in different categories. You can also take advantage of using one of the widgets to place a list of categories on your front page for your blog readers. Again use the drag and drop widget I described in the APPEARANCE section. Ok, so not that you have a few categories set up we are ready to go over posts. Read more about Posts below
POSTS: Now that we are all set up we can start our first post!
Click the Posts option and click the button ADD NEW. This is very much like writing a word doc, very simple. Name your post first and after you do that you will notice a few buttons below the area that you just used to add the name of your post.
Add Media button is first; this is where you add images for your post. You can chose to Select Files, which will give you the browse, search your computer option OR you can literally drag the image into this space from a folder on your computer. I like the drag option personally.
You will see a list of your images, including the image that you just dragged into this area, so you will need to now insert that image into your post. Remember earlier when we went over MEDIA and I stated that media is where your images will be stored; well you just added your first image to be stored. OK so to the right you will see a thumbnail of your image and under it a few options, you can change the title of your image, add a caption, alt text and description. You can choose how you want to align in [center, left or right] and the size of the image using the drop down menu. You will also see a Link to option, if you want the image to link to another location and open to another page add the link here if not select NONE. After you select all of your options remember to click the blue Insert into your post button. This will insert your photo into your post.
NOW you can write some text for your blog. After you’ve finish adding your content look at the right navigation menu for CATEGORIES, this is where you select the category for your blog post. Remember we set up categories for smart phones? So this is where you would add that category to help classify your blog for your readers. You can also add a new category here if; after you started writing your post you determine that you do not have the proper category for that post. If you scroll down you can add tags to your blog post and a few other options. When you are done you can save it as a draft so you can come back to it later, preview it or go right to the blue Publish button.
If you select Publish, YOUR first WordPress blog post is NOW live. Share it with your friends and followers!
What do you think? Have you enjoyed Getting Familiar with WordPress Pt 2: Your Dashboard? ARE you loving WordPress or are you like WTH?!!! If you need additional help, my FACEBOOK wall is always open. If I get enough feedback I may create a video series! It’s up to you.
- Getting Familiar with WordPress: Moving To WordPress Part 1 (wordpressmobile.net)