How to Use the WordPress Dashboard

Do you want to learn how to use the WordPress dashboard?

A solid choice picking WordPress as your website platform by the way.

According to a survey, as of 2020 WordPress is constantly growing and has a current market share of over 30% of websites on the internet. [source]

Rest assured WordPress platform is even used by professionals to create quality professional-looking websites.

This is why all of my blogs are on the WordPress platform. Including Just Online Business.

So let me show you all you need to know about your WordPress Dashboard.

What is the WordPress Dashboard?

The WordPress dashboard is the backend of your site. It is the area where you get to control all aspects of your website. 

Things like:

  • controlling how your website looks
  • Adding pages and posts
  • Adding new features to your site

Only you as the owner of the website gets access to this area.

How to Access the WordPress Dashboard?

The default way to access your WordPress dashboard is:

“site name + /admin” or “site name + /wp-admin”

It Looks like this:

yourwebsite.com/admin

Or 

yourwebsite.com/wp-admin

Since I can’t speak for every website, if the above method doesn’t work, change the “admin” part to “login” instead.

WordPress Dashboard Login Screen

Once you see a box where you can add your credentials just add your username and password of your site to login to the WordPress backend.

Things You Should do When You First Login

Setting up WordPress Dashboard Home

When you first log in to the WordPress dashboard you will see a screen like this:

WordPress Dashboard Home

Here everything looks a bit cluttered, so I actually want you to make some changes here.

Let’s get rid of some of these widget boxes that we don’t need so your WordPress dashboard home isn’t so cluttered.

WordPress Dashboard Home Screen Options

To do this, click on the Screen Options on the top right-hand side and I unchecked everything except for “At a Glance” which shows an overview of how many posts and pages and comments your website has in total. Activity widget I decided to keep as well, which shows recent activity on your site.

Also, note that these widget boxes are draggable to wherever you want to place them. To do that just hover your mouse over the top of the widget and the mouse should change the icon to 4 directional pointers where you can drag those widget boxes.

How to Reposition WordPress Dashboard Home Widgets

Setup Site Title and Time Zone

Ok now, another important thing to setup is your site title and time zone.

To do this click on Settings > General in the left side menu.

WordPress Dashboard General Settings

Here you can add the title of your website and change the timezone as displayed on the screenshot above.

How to Use the WordPress Dashboard

Now, I’m going to break down aspects of setting up your site. These are the things you’ll access on a regular basis.

How to Change the WordPress Theme

A theme changes the look of your site. It may add different features to your site as well. 

To change the theme of your website, just click on Appearance > Themes in the left sidebar. 

How to Use the WordPress Dashboard - Add or Manage Themes in WordPress

Here you can see the themes that are already installed on your WordPress backend. You can choose to activate any one of them here. You can also add a new theme by clicking on the Add New button.

Then to edit your theme settings simply click on Appearance > Customize.

You may also find a separate area to edit the theme in more detail. And since my theme is called GeneratePress, it has a special area under Appearance called GeneratePress that allows me to further edit the theme to my liking.

Edit GeneratePress Theme Options

Yours will look different depending on the theme you’re using.

Also note that when you change themes, usually they come with some default pages, posts, and comments. It is best if you delete this default content. 

To do that click on Posts > then delete any default posts if there’s any by clicking on the Trash button. If you have multiple items you can also do a bulk delete by checking the boxes and selecting the Move to Trash option on the dropdown menu.

Like this:

Delete Default WordPress Posts

Deleting takes it to the Trash section of WordPress, kind of like the Recycle Bin of your computer. So I usually go to the Trash section and delete it there too.

How to Use the WordPress Dashboard - Emptying WordPress Items From Trash

Then go to Pages section from the left sidebar and do the same.

Lastly, go to the comments section and delete if there are any default comments that came with the theme.

How to add Pages and Posts

So this is where you add the core content for your website. The pages and posts visitors to your site see are all created and managed here.

Since many people get confused with the difference between pages and posts, here’s a short explanation.

Although the end result of posts and pages are identical. Pages are generally used for static content that doesn’t change on a regular basis

Things like:

Contact Us

Privacy Policy

About Us

FAQ

These are usually created as Pages.

Everything else is usually created as a Post. Hopefully, that will help simplify things.

To add a new page to your website. Simply click on Pages > Add New

How to Use the WordPress Dashboard - Add Pages in WordPress

To add a new post is the same method as adding a page. Instead of clicking on Pages, go to Posts > Add New.

What are Plugins & How to Add Them

Plugins are what makes WordPress great. It adds functionality and features to your website that you want. At the time of writing, there are over 50,000 WordPress plugins available. This is why WordPress is the most popular platform people use to create websites. There’s almost nothing a WordPress site can’t do.

If you want to have a contact us form, there’s a plugin to do that.

If you want to get your website to load faster by using a cache function, there’s a plugin for that.

To add and manage plugins, Click on Plugins. Here you can activate or deactivate plugins you already have. 

You can add new plugins by clicking on the Add New button.

How to Use the WordPress Dashboard - Add Plugins to WordPress

How to Add a Menu to Your WordPress Website

A menu provides navigation to your readers. The most common menus are top menu and footer menus. 

To add a menu to your site go to Appearance > Menus

Here you can add pages or posts you want to the menu and hit create menu.

How to Use the WordPress Dashboard - Creating a WordPress Menu

Here you can add pages that you have created to the menu. Remember to save your menu by hitting the Save menu button after you make any changes.

And you can check how the changes you made looks on your site by hovering over your website title at the top left corner and click Visit Site.

How to Preview Changes to WordPress Settings

How to Backup a WordPress Site Manually

Backing up your website regularly is so important to guard against losing your work in an unforeseen site crash or other problem.

A website can crash or break in a rare instance for a number of reasons like:

  • Edits you made to the website
  • Plugin causing issues
  • Updates to WordPress that has issues
  • And a few more…

So it is recommended that anytime before you make major changes to your website and after the changes are done it is backed up.

There are 2 most popular ways to do this. 

One is via a plugin that does it for you automatically.

The other way is manual, which I prefer to do right now and it is the method I’m going to teach you right now.

All you have to do on the sidebar of your WordPress backend is to click on Tools > Export

How to Use the WordPress Dashboard - Manually Back up a WordPress Website

Here choose the All Content option and hit the Download Export File tab.

Now keep that downloaded file if in case you need to restore your website to the way it was when you backed it up.

And if you ever needed to import your backup file, all you have to do is go to the Import tab and choose the WordPress file Import option to upload your backup.

How to Update WordPress, Plugins & Themes

Ok lastly, I want to touch on how to update your WordPress, plugins, and theme. 

The WordPress version, plugins and theme need regular updates to get the latest features, improvements, and security patches. So it is recommended that you update these on a regular basis.

It is also good practice to back up your website before you make any updates to your site.

To access all your website updates simply go to  Dashboard > Updates

How to Use the WordPress Dashboard - Update WordPress Plugins and Themes

Here you can see all the updates that are available to you all in one place. If Multiple updates are available you can just checkmark all of them and bulk update them all at once.

Conclusion

I hope everything was clear enough for you to understand how to use the WordPress dashboard. It might seem all too much at the beginning but you’ll see that after a few days of using it, it is easy to use. 

I covered all the core things you need to know when it comes to setting up and using the WordPress backend. 

And one more thing…

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So was this post helpful to you? Do you have any questions? Please leave your feedback below. 

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4 thoughts on “How to Use the WordPress Dashboard”

  1. Hi Shaun,

    This article came in super handy! I’ve recently started using WordPress and you’ve explained them great with good screenshots as well. Gotten a few tips from your article. Huge thank you!

    Cheers.
    SAM

    Reply
  2. Hey,

    I am really pleased I came across your article. I have not been using WordPress for very long, so I am a very basic understanding of using the dashboard. It’s great to learn of all the different features I can use on the dashboard that will help me with both my pages and my posts.

    I have a friend who has even less experience than me, so I am going to share this article with him because I know it will help him. I will encourage him to comment and if he has any questions then he should get in touch. If that is OK with you?

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.

    All the best,

    Tom

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Tom Cancel reply