When an administrator logs into a WordPress website he/she gets access to the “back end” of the site (as opposed to the “front end”, which is what the public sees when they visit the site). The back end is the control center for the website.
The main page in the back end is called the Dashboard. In a car the dashboard is where all the controls are. It’s the same in a WordPress website. The Dashboard is where the administrator accesses links to edit all of the content on the website.
This WordPress Primer post explains most of the links on the left side of the Dashboard.
Site Stats–gives a graphical depiction of how many unique persons clicked on a certain post or page over a day, a week, a month, etc. “Unique” means a different individual. When a user clicks on a post or page more than once, only one of those clicks counts as a unique visitor click.
Updates–lists all updates available for the core software of WordPress, plugins, and themes (see definitions below). Updates should be installed to keep the website secure and to take advantage of new features. When an update is available the administrator sees a black circle with a number inside it. The number indicates the total number of updates available for installation. Before updating one should backup the database of the site and all site files, just in case something goes wrong in the updating process. There are plugins (see definition below) to make site backup easy. Clicking on the “update automatically” link updates software easily and quickly.
Posts–Posts are articles published to the blog section of the website. WordPress, a lean and easy-to-use content management system, was originally designed for blogging, but now is sometimes used to maintain websites without blogs. Another way to use WordPress, exemplified by Teledavis.com, is to move the blog posts from the front of the site to one of the inside pages, accessible via the top navigation menu.
All Posts–chronologically lists all blog posts on the site, with the most recent ones on top.
Add New–click on this control link to add a new post to the site.
Categories–click on this control link to see present post categories and add new ones. After a site has accumulated many posts the administrator assigns a category to each, in order to make it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for. The administrator creates the categories, according to the topics that would be of interest to visitors. The categories can often be accessed in a pull-down menu that appears in the site sidebar. See an example at CyberKenBlog.
Post Tags–click on this control link to see all tags that have been put on blog posts and to add new tags to posts. A tag is a word or phrase appropriate to the content of a post or page, and which makes your pages and posts easy to index by internet search engines. If you want visitors to find o your posts and pages, make sure to tag them abundantly with words or phrases that Googlers would likely use.
Library–a list of all pictures and other files that have been uploaded to the site’s resource bank in order to insert them into pages and posts
All Links–a list of all live links that appear on the site, both in pages, posts, and in sidebars; these links may connect to content on the site or elsewhere on the internet.
Add New–click on this control link to make a new live link.
Link Categories–click on this control link to see all categories assigned to links, and to add new categories.
All Pages–a list of all pages on the site. A page contains content that remains fairly constant and does not need to be changed frequently, such as an “About Us” page, or a “Contact Us” page.
Add New–click on this control link to add a new page to the site.
Comments–a list of all comments left by visitors to the site. The administrator gets an email when a comment is left, and can then approve or disapprove the comment in the comments section of the Dashboard. If the administrator approves a comment it will then appear below the post, on the “front end” for all site visitors to see.
Themes–Themes are software packages which when installed give a certain look to the site, for instance, the number and layout ofcolumns, and text colors and styles. Themes also facilitate special features, like the slider at CyberKenBlog.com, which shows excerpts of recent blog posts at the top of the site. Numerous themes can be installed on the same WordPress site, but only one can be active at a time. Changes in a site’s appearance take effect immediately when the administrator deactivates one theme and activates another. There are hundreds of free themes for WordPress, and thousands of commercial ones.
Widgets–Widgets are graphical aids providing easy control of what viewers will see in various areas of a web page. It’s much easier to show rather than tell how widgets work! Basically, widgets let an administrator place blocks of content and configure the content that will appear in those blocks.
Plugins–are small software packages that perform specific tasks on the website. Clicking on the plugins link shows a link to all installed plugins, and lets the administrator add new ones. Most plugins are free, and are very easy to install and uninstall. Some plugins continue to be supported by coders after the initial version, but some are not. Before you download a plugin one should make sure that it is compatible with the version of core WordPress software installed at the site.
Users–lists all the persons who may read, edit, administer the content of a post or page, and leave comments. The users section lets the administrator control who can do what: read, edit, administratrate, leave comments.
This post has covered just the major links on a WordPress Dashboard. Look to CyberKenBlog for more detailed instructions.
In the next post for WordPress Primer I’ll explain how to log in to the “back end” of a WordPress website.
View the next post: Two Ways to Log In to Back End of a WordPress Website