WordPress Dashboard Overview

In this workshop, we’ll cover everything you need to know to find your way around your WordPress site’s Dashboard. Starting a new site can feel daunting, but once you know the tools available to you – and where to find them – it is easier to take those first steps forward.

We’ll cover the very basics, from how to log in to what you see when you log in. Then, we’ll provide an overview of the different menu items you see in the sidebar of your site’s Dashboard, and what they’re for. Finally, we’ll cover a few tips and tricks for managing your Dashboard. Think of this as your roadmap to navigating your site!

Learning outcomes

  1. Familiarity with what the WordPress Dashboard is and how to navigate it.
  2. An understanding of how to find the different tools you need to manage your site, including why certain modules might not appear (Screen Options).
  3. Clarity on the difference between posts and pages, and generally how to structure your site.

Comprehension questions

  • What is the WordPress Dashboard?
  • How can you navigate from the Dashboard to the front page of your site?
  • Where can you change your site’s title?
  • How can you add new users or contributors to your site?
  • For which type of content is it better to use a page, rather than a post?


Courtney P.K. 0:09
Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us for this workshop about the WordPress dashboard today. My name is Courtney Patubo Kranzke key. I’ve been a WordPress user since 2004, and a full time contributor to the WordPress open source project since 2016. Joining me for this workshop as well is Cami and Erica.

Cami Kaos 0:31
Hi, I’m Cami Kaos. for about the last eight years I have been a community organizer for the WordPress open source project. Like Courtney and Erica, I am sponsored to work on the project full time by Automattic. Even before that, though, I was a WordPress enthusiast starting out as a blogger using WordPress for my personal blog. Since what feels like the beginning of time, that was probably about a year after the software launched.

Erica Varlese 0:59
And I’m Erica Varlese. I started using WordPress as a blogger nearly a decade ago. And recently I joined Courtney and Cami as a full time contributor to the WordPress open source project. In this workshop, we’ll be taking a look at the WordPress dashboard. Our goal is to make sure you understand how to access your site’s dashboard, how to navigate it, and a general familiarity with where things are in the dashboard. So let’s get started. First things first. In order to access your site’s dashboard, you first need to log into your site. Typically to log into your site, you want to enter the following into your browser’s address bar, your website comm slash WP dash admin. Of course replace your website comm with the actual URL for your website. Enter your username and password. You can check the remember me box if you’ll be using the same computer to return to the website later and want to be logged in automatically. If you’re using a public or shared computer, it’s a good idea to leave this box unchecked for security reasons. If this box is checked, your browser keeps you logged in for 14 days. If unchecked, you’re logged out when you put the browser or after two days. And if you don’t remember your password, you can click the lost your password link below the form. Here enter your username or email address and you’ll receive a link to create a new password via email.

Once we log into the dashboard, we can see the admin bar. The admin bar is the dark gray menu that appears across the top of the dashboard. It also appears across the top of the site itself when you’re logged in. However, it’s not visible to public visitors to your site. In the very top left location of the admin bar, you’ll see the WordPress icon. When you hover over this icon, a dynamic menu with four links appears wordpress.org links to the main WordPress site which contains downloads and documentation for the WordPress application. Documentation links to the official WordPress support documentation support links to the support area of wordpress.org and feedback links to the support forum on wordpress.org that is dedicated to requests and feedback. The next icon on the admin bar is the home icon for your site. clicking this link takes you to the public facing homepage of your site. Once you’re there, the link in this position takes you back to the dashboard. Like a toggle. There are two notification icons that can appear in the admin bar. Comments are always visible. If there are comments pending on your site. This icon changes color and the number of comments is displayed next to the icon. clicking this icon takes you to the comments page. There’s also an updates icon that appears when there’s updates available to your plugins themes or WordPress core files. clicking this icon takes you to the updates page which is also accessible in the left sidebar under dashboard updates. Hovering over new brings up a menu of links to create new items such as pages, posts, media items, or even adding new users. The actual contents of this list depends on your user role. For example, if your role doesn’t allow you to create new users, you won’t see users in this menu. Some plugins also add items to this menu. Note that this menu duplicate some links in the sidebar menu, which we’ll get to in a few minutes. And all the way in the right corner of the admin bar you’ll see your username and Avatar. From this menu clicking on either your name or edit profile will take you to the Edit Profile page. Clicking on log out will log you out. Just below the dark gray admin bar are two tabs, the Screen Options tab and the Help tab. The Screen Options tab appears on most administrative pages and it allows you to control the elements that appear on that page. These are the elements that appear to you when Other people log into the dashboard, they’ll see the selections that they have chosen. If you click the Screen Options tab, you’ll see a list of the administrative widgets that are available on that page. Each widget has a checkbox to control the display on that page. different pages will have different selections, and some pages like the editor will have a lot more than this. It is common for a screen to be missing a widget or an element. So if you’re on a page where you think an additional widget should be appearing, for example, if you’re following a tutorial, checking the Screen Options tab can often be the solution. The Help tab, which is also located directly below the dark rate admin bar contains information about the current page. In this case, it gives you an overview information about the left hand navigation menu, how to control the Page Layout, and the content that you see on this page. Each page in the admin area will display relevant information under its Help tab.

In the body of the dashboard, you’ll find a number of administrative widgets or panels. You’ve seen how these can be shown or hidden using the checkboxes in the Screen Options tab. Their position can also be changed simply by dragging and dropping them.

As a note, this is just one of the possible WordPress dashboard configurations. The dashboard view will change based on what plugins you have active and your hosting company and how you personally configure it. There are a number of widgets here that are included when WordPress is installed. This includes the Site Health status widget, which gives you an overview of your site’s health, which can touch on things like security updates and best practices. Clicking on the Site Health screen link will give you more information. When using the quick draft widget. Anything entered into this forum will be saved as a draft post. That is it will be saved but not published on your site. This is handy for jotting down quick ideas for posts that you would like to come back to and finish later. The Add a glance widget gives you some quick total for the number of pages, posts and comments that are currently on your site. It also displays the current theme and the version of WordPress that you’re using. Activity shows your most recent posts and comments. And the WordPress events and news panel is a great way to get involved with the WordPress community. Based on your location, you’ll see a list of different WordPress related events and meetups in this widget, as well as online meetups and events. Below that you’ll find the most recent news posts about WordPress. Some plugins will also add their own administrative widgets. And these can be selected in the Screen Options tab and drag and drop just like those installed by WordPress. Now the most common way of moving around in the admin area is by using the navigation links in the left sidebar. Some of these are used much more frequently than others, particularly post pages and comments. With that in mind, you’ll notice that more of the content focused menu items like post pages and comments are located in the top section. Whereas menu items focused on functionality, appearance and other settings are grouped together down here. When there are sub menu items, they’re displayed in dynamic flyout menus. And after you’ve clicked on a menu item with sub menus, the sub menus will be displayed in the sidebar below. The menu items in the sidebar will vary depending on the role assigned to you as a user. For instance, a user with the role of author wouldn’t see any of the menu items that are unrelated to editing posts and pages. A user with the role of admin however, will see everything available for the site. Plugins also add items to this menu in positions that are controlled by the plugin author. Let’s open and take a look at the postless page. When you click on the title of the post, it will open that post in the editor. However, when you hover over the title of the post, you’ll also notice additional links below the title. These include edit, which is the same as clicking on the title, Quick Edit, trash and view. Quick Edit allows you to change much of the meta information about the post without opening it in the editor. You can quickly change the posts, categories, tags and several other items that we’ll learn more about later. Trash moves the post to the trash folder. You can recover anything that you’ve put into the trash for up to 30 days. Unless you’ve intentionally deleted it or unless your WordPress install has designated a different length of time and view links to the publicly visible post that is live on your site. You can use the checkboxes Next to the posts to perform actions on multiple items. After checking one or more boxes, the bulk actions drop down menu shows you the actions that can be performed. As you can see the actions here are edit and move to trash. If you select Edit and click Apply, you’ll see the same menu that we did earlier for quick edit, except now any changes that are applied will be applied to all items with checkboxes. When the Update button is clicked, be careful, you can change a lot of things with just one click doing this. Selecting move to trash and clicking apply moves all of the check posts to the trash folder. When we look at the list of posts in the trash, the rollover links include restore, and delete permanently. You can also filter the list of posts by date, month and year, and categories. Lastly, you can search for words or phrases that may be contained in your posts. Any posts that contains the search words will be displayed after you enter the keywords into the search bar, and then click on the search Post button.

Courtney P.K. 11:06
So here we have the Media Library. The Media Library can display items in the grid view as seen here. Which is as thumbnails only or a ListView. If you click on the other icon here, which is more like the posts list view that we just saw. The only bulk action for the Media Library items is delete permanently, which is pretty self explanatory. And there’s a column that’s unique to Media Library, which is the one called uploaded to the third column here. This tells you which page or post, a particular item is being used on. Note that this column may be blank if the item was uploaded directly to the library, and is not attached to a page or post. The pages list is similar to the posts list but has fewer columns. This reflects the simpler nature of pages versus posts, which we’ll discuss a bit later. However, the behavior remains the same when you move the cursor over a page title. There is still a bulk actions drop down list here with the same options that you saw in the post list. And next we have comments. The common screen comment screen appears much like the posts and page screen. Here you see a list of all the comments on your site. As you hover over each comment, you can see the different options that are available to you. Such as approver unapprove, reply, quick edit, edit, spam, and trash. To the left, you can see the commenters information, like their name, their Gravatar and their email address. As you move your cursor to the right, you can also see which post or page that this comment was left on. And all the way to the right. You’ll find the date and time that the comment was submitted. Or not number of options under the appearance menu that unsurprisingly, let you change your site’s appearance. We won’t go into detail on all of these in this workshop. But as a brief overview. The appearance section is where you can do things like changing your site’s theme. Accessing the customizer for your site, set up widgets, menus, your site background, and even access the code for your site’s theme. Be warned that editing the code will apply to your site right away once it’s saved. So in other words, be careful. For the most part you won’t need to access this. But it’s helpful to know where to find this and what this section of your site does. And next we have plugins. We also won’t be going into plugins in great detail in this workshop. At the plugin menu is where you can install, manage and uninstalled plugins for your site. plugins are basically pieces of software that you can use to install it to extend the functionality of your site. From the plugins page, you can activate, deactivate and generally manage all the plugins that are installed on your site. From add new, you can of course add a new plugin to your site. The plugin editor is just like the theme editor. So here you can change the actual code behind the plugins on your site. tread carefully. Under the users menu item, you can perform over Have actions to manage users on your site. This means actions like editing your own profile, or adding new users if you have more than one person authoring posts on your site. The left hand sidebar will also have these sections called tools, and settings. So the contents of these sections are dependent on the user role, and also the plugins that may be installed on the site. As a brief summary, though, these two menu items offer a variety of tools, and settings that allow you to change the general behavior of your site. We’ll go into this in a bit more detail in a moment. Now that we know where to find everything in the dashboard, let’s go back to these two items up here, posts and pages. There, their dashboard pages look at pretty much the same. As you can see here.

They do similar things. So what’s the difference? If we take a look at the pages for adding a new post, and adding a new page, we’ll see some similarities. Both look, well pretty much the same. And in fact, the editing experience is almost entirely identical. When writing either a post or a page, you add a title, you add some content to the body of the post or the page, and then you publish it. However, when we look at the add new post page, we can see some differences. Here, we have some additional options like categories, and tags. posts, unlike pages are far more dynamic content. When you publish a post, it will appear in generally reverse chronological order on your posts page. So that when visitors come to your site, they will always be presented with the latest posts. And other words, posts are a bit more ephemeral and will change over time as you add new content. pages on the other hand are for more static content. So a page generally will always stay the same. Though just like a post, you can update it whenever you want. pages are used for things like an about page, contact page, or even something like the history of your site or company. In other words, they stay pretty consistent. So how to know which to use are you publishing an update news that you want to highlight to returning visitors or maybe a book review for the month of September when you plan to publish another in October, you’re likely looking at a post Are you publishing information about you or your company? Alissa services you provide or a way to inquire about working with you. That’s probably a page.

Cami Kaos 18:11
Now, let’s look at settings. We’ll start with General. If you did not set up your site title and tagline when you installed WordPress, or if you’d like to change or redefine these items, you can change them here. By default, WordPress includes just another WordPress site as your site’s tagline. You can see where I’ve changed mine. Use descriptive language for your website here as search engines will display this information prominently. The theme you select may or may not display the tagline the URL settings for your website, WordPress address and site address should be set up automatically with your WordPress install and are rarely changed in the settings area. With that said, there are cases where you may need to change these settings, such as if you implement SSL and need to change the protocol to HTTPS. Just be careful. It might seem strange to have two different URL settings, but they have different purposes. The WordPress Codex describes them like this. The site address URL setting is the address you want people to type into their browser to reach your WordPress blog. The WordPress address URL setting is the address where your WordPress core files reside. Most of the time, the two URL settings will be the same, but there are times when they may be different, such as when the WordPress install is in a subdirectory. In that case, the site address will include the path the email address should be filled out from your WordPress install. However, you should check it or change it here to reflect the email address to which administrative email should be sent regarding activity on your site, as well as lost password reset emails. with WordPress, you have the option To allow anyone to register for your site or not. If you select this option, the new user default role is set to subscriber so that new users have limited access to your WordPress dashboard. You can change this However, this subscriber level is recommended. You can always change a user’s role after they’ve registered to give them more access or capabilities. You can select your preferred language from the drop down list here under site language. Next, we can look at timezone date and time formats and weekday start, select the options that are applicable to you. When you select your weekday start preference. WordPress has a calendar widget which will refer to this setting if you use that widget on your website. Don’t forget to save your changes. Next, we’ll look at the writing settings. Writing settings generally refer to the settings for your blog posts on your site. To start the default post category and the default post format can be set here. Both of these will determine the default category or post format for any new posts on your site. You will still be able to change categories and post formats on individual posts. By default, these are set to uncategorized and standard. Post via email is a more advanced options where you can configure your site to accept and publish new posts by sending the body of the post to a specified email address. If this is something you’re interested in, there are a handful of tutorials and support documentation you can use to learn more. Update services is also a more advanced area where you can add the address for various RSS feed style services to update when you add new content to your site. Next, we’ll look at the reading settings. The reading settings generally refer to how content is displayed on your site. The first option we see here has to do with the default homepage for your site. By default, your site will display your posts page with all of your blog posts on the homepage. If you prefer to have a static homepage, you can change that setting here and designate an alternate page as your posts page. If you don’t plan to blog at all, you can simply leave the post page blank or not publish your posts. Blog pages and syndication feeds show how many posts are displayed at a time. By default. This is set to 10 which means when someone visits your posts page, they will see 10 posts by default before they need to use some sort of pagination to view your older posts. This also applies to RSS feeds or syndication feeds.

For each post in a feed include allows you to select whether or not the entire body of your post is displayed in an RSS feed versus a short excerpt. Finally, search engine visibility allows you to change the settings as to whether or not search engines can crawl your site.

Now we’ll look at discussion settings. The discussion settings allow you to determine the settings for comments on your site. Default post settings determines the default settings for comments on your posts. checking these options will make them active. For example, selecting attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the post will default to notifying sites that you’ve linked to your posts have a pingback which is a notification similar to a comment letting the author know that you’ve linked their post. As noted these settings can be changed for individual posts. The other comments settings include other default settings, like whether or not commenters must include their name and email if they need to be registered to your site to comment. When to close comments automatically in your posts. show a comment cookies opt in checkbox, enabling nested comments raking comments into pages and whether older or newer comments should be displayed at the top. Email me whenever allows you to select when you receive an email regarding your comments before a comment appears, provides you with some comment moderation tools, like requiring that comments be manually approved, or a comment author must have previously have approved comments in order to appear automatically without moderation. comment moderation settings allow you to set rules about comments such as how many links They can include are any specific words that you would prefer to place into a moderation queue before they can appear on your site. Finally, avatars allows you to select the default avatars that appear and related settings for commenters on your site. Now we’ll look at media settings. From the media settings, you can see that WordPress has default image sizes already set. You can change these global defaults on the setting screen. You can also choose to use the WordPress image file system, which organizes images into folders based on the month and the year when they were uploaded to the site.

permalinks determine the URL of each page and post on your website, as well as your category and tag archives. The recommended permalinks structure in most cases is the post name, sometimes referred to as pretty permalinks. This can improve the aesthetics, usability and forward compatibility of your links, as well as improve the ranking of your site and search engines. Once set, these should not be changed. In order to avoid broken links, you can also have the option to set a custom URL structure here. And last but not least, privacy. Under the privacy settings, you can select which page to display your site’s privacy policy. That’s it for settings.

Courtney P.K. 26:37
So now you know how to interact with most of the screens that you’ll encounter in the dashboard and the entire administrative area. If there’s anything you see in your dashboard that wasn’t covered here, there’s a good chance that it was added by a plugin.

Erica Varlese 26:51
And if we covered something that you don’t see, it’s a good idea to reach out to your site admin to see if that’s something that might be limited by your permissions. In many cases, you won’t need access to all these.

Cami Kaos 27:01
Hopefully this helps you better understand all the options available to you and your dashboard, what they do and how to navigate them. Thanks for learning with us!

Workshop Details


Erica Varlese

Hi! I’m a Community Deputy, WordCamp organizer, Project Translation Editor (PTE) for Brazilian Portuguese, and former Polyglots team rep. My contributions to the WordPress project are sponsored by Automattic, and I spend most of my time contributing to the Polyglots and Community teams. My WordPress journey began a little more than 10 years ago, when I started my blog while working as a freelance writer. In my offline life, I love travel, coffee, and learning languages.

Cami Kaos

Cami lives, works, and parents in the rainy city of Portland, Oregon. She’s had a love of WordPress and WordCamps since the last century, when she happened to stumble upon the first WordCamp Portland. SFrom 2013 to 2020, she worked at Automattic, as a community organizer for the WordPress open-source project.

Courtney P.K.

I’ve been using WordPress since 2004, and have been a full time sponsored contributor to the WordPress open source project since 2016.