Understanding the WordPress Dashboard

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So, you’ve got a new WordPress website. Now what? If you built it yourself, you should be well-acquainted with the WordPress Dashboard already. Feel free to skip this tutorial. If we built your WordPress site for you (more likely), then read on or skip down to the short video overview about the dashboard.

What’s the Dashboard?

The WordPress Dashboard is the administrative section of your WordPress website, sometimes called the “backend.” It’s where you land when you log in to add or edit your website’s or blog’s content. It contains all the options you need to add and edit content, including adding and editing posts, pages, and images.

Using the Dashboard as an Editor

Unless you have an Administrator account, we assign the role of “Editor” to most our network users. For an Editor, the WordPress Dashboard is fairly simple and provides access to:

  • Posts
  • Media
  • Pages
  • Comments
  • Profile
  • Tools

For the most part, you will be using only three things to add content to your site: posts, pages, and media. If you have a blog that allows commments (and most blogs do), the Comments menu will allow you to moderate and approve comments. The Profile menu allows you to control how your name is displayed on the site, the “look” of your editing screen for posts and pages, and to add a profile with information about you, including various social media links (though it will depend on your theme whether any of these social media links are displayed). As an editor, the “Tools” menu item has only one function—called PressThis—which I’ve never used. I would ignore the Tools menu.

The Dashboard also has various default “Dashboard Widgets,” which we will sometimes customize for you, either to delete some useless widgets or to add a specific widget, such as one that keeps you informed about posts on Lawyerist or Lawyerist Sites. For the most part, dashboard widgets provide information, though some dashboard widgets allow you to make administrative changes to your site or site functions.

Using the Dashboard as an Administrator

If you’ve upgraded your Lawyerist Sites account so that you are an Administrator on the site, you should see all the various WordPress tools, including settings for Forms (if we’ve installed a form plugin), Users, Settings, and any number of WordPress plugins that use the dashboard for configuration. Basically, you get the kitchen sink—but you should also know what you are doing and should not need this tutorial.

Video Tutorial

We subscribe to a service that provides simple and easy to follow video tutorials for WordPress. The following is a short video (exactly 3:14) providing an overview of the WordPress Dashboard.

Other Resources

WordPress has recently updated its online resources and has a nice set of instructions for getting started, including:

About Gregory D. Luce

Gregory Luce is the editor of Bitter Lawyer and a co-owner of Lawyerist Media, LLC. He still manages to handle a few pro bono cases and to provide ridiculous legal advice to his kids.