About this guide
In this guide, we will take a closer look at managing your WordPress blog. Once you create your blog you will learn how to customize it, make design and layout changes, create your first post or page and much more.
The WordPress front and back ends
WordPress was first released on May 27 in 2003 by its founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little under licensed GPLv2 with released version was 0.7. Currently the version has reached the number of 4.7.1 which was released on January 11, 2017
The WordPress platform consists of two areas: your blog’s front end and back end. The front end is what your visitors will see when they come to your blog. Many of the tasks performed in the back end will be visible on the front end, such as theme customizations, plugin functionality enhancements and content publication. There are also actions that can be performed by you and your visitors directly from the front end of the blog, including commenting and social sharing.
The back end, known as the WordPress dashboard, allows you to fully manage your blog’s content, community, functionality and design. It is accessible only by users who you designate and assign an account on your blog. In order to access your WordPress dashboard, you need to type: example.com/wp-admin in the address bar of your browser and log in using your WordPress username and password.
Navigating the dashboard
Watch a quick demo (4:03)
The Dashboard is the center of blog administration. It consists of three main parts: left side menu, top toolbar and middle section.
The left-hand column of your WordPress dashboard is where you’ll find all of your admin options and where most of your creative effort will be focused. This column includes menu options for each of the following functional areas:
Find updates to the WordPress platform along with plugins and themes you have installed.
View all posts (blog content), add a new post, view and create categories, view and create tags.
View your media library (images, documents and other file uploads) and upload new files.
View and add new static pages to your blog.
Comment manager where you will approve or delete new comments on blog posts and pages.
Manage themes, customize your blog design (dependent upon theme), manage widgets, manage menu items and edit your blog’s header (dependent upon theme).
Manage and add new plugins to enhance WordPress functionality.
Manage users, add new users and update your WordPress profile (name, password, and details).
Tools to import and export content to and from your WordPress blog.
Edit general blog settings, writing settings, reading settings, discussion (comment) settings, media settings and permalinks (URL formatting for your blog).
In addition to the general menu items in the left hand column mentioned above, you’ll also find menu options for plugins you have installed. Depending on the plugin’s purpose and coding, it’s settings can be added to any standard menu (posts, pages, comments, appearance, plugins, users, tools or settings) or as a new menu item anywhere in the left-hand column.
video popup-youtubeA closer look at each area of a dashboard
WordPress, like any popular CMS, releases both minor and major updates to their platform in order to introduce new features, fix bugs and increase security. In the past, you would be given the choice to update to the latest version of WordPress through your Dashboard using a one-click install process or by downloading the latest version and installing it yourself.
For anyone who has WordPress 4.3 or above, updates to the core WordPress platform are automatically installed on your website. You are still responsible for updating your plugins and themes when updates become available. If you don’t want WordPress to automatically update the core of their platform, you can find directions on how to configure automatic updates in the WordPress Codex.
The Posts menu allows you to control the new content you add to your blog. Blog posts are published on your blog in descending order (newest first). In the Posts menu, you will find the following options:
on WordPress sites around the world
A list all of your posts in the dashboard. You can use the listing to quickly edit single or multiple post categories, tags, status, author and ability to comment.
This is where you go to add a new post to your blog.
Your WordPress installation comes with a unique media manager. With it, you can upload rich media content and assign it to posts, pages, sidebars and headers—anything from photos and videos to audio files. Media can be previewed, added, edited or deleted. In the Media menu, you will find the following options:
View all of the media uploaded to your WordPress blog.
Add new media to your WordPress blog.
Pages provide static content or information to the readers. Standard pages that WordPress bloggers use include: About, Contact, Advertise, Products, Services and Resources. The following options are available on the Pages menu, you will find the following options:
A list of all pages in the dashboard. You can use the listing to quickly edit single or multiple pages’ status, author, parent, template and ability to comment.
Add new pages to your blog.
Posts vs. Pages
Your blog content will be displayed in pages and posts. While they have similarities, they serve different purposes and have different behaviors.
They both have the following in common:
- A title/headline and specific content.
- Meta information (author, date of publishing, etc.).
- They can be added, deleted, updated or edited.
- They will be available for everyone or only a limited number of users based on your choice of settings.
- They can contain anything from plain text to media-rich content (video, audio, photo, links, etc.).
- They can be altered or extended via plugins.
- What sets posts and pages apart:
Pages are generally not a part of your main blog’s content. For example, if you have a travel blog, you would write posts about your latest travels. You would reserve pages for things that relate to you and the blog, such as a page with information about you or a page with a contact form to contact you.
Posts are part of your main blog’s content. They will show up as new entries within your blog and your RSS feed (Rich Site Summary is a web feed used to distribute information from your blog to subscribers.) Pages will only be displayed when you link to them directly and never within your RSS feed.
The Comments feature is the best way to manage reader interaction. It allows readers to add comments on the topic, ask questions and provide feedback. It allows you and your readers to stay engaged with the community and interact around your specific niche market. Both blog posts and pages can accept comments. Most WordPress themes come equipped with comment layout functionality. However, it is up to you to engage with your readers and encourage them to leave comments on your blog. Check for new comments regularly. Approve them promptly and reply to them as needed.
In the Comments section, you will have the ability to moderate comments, including approving them, marking them as spam or deleting them entirely.
This menu is where most of the activity of changing the design and layout of your blog will take place. Here you can search for and install new themes and make additional customizations to your blog’s header image, colors and background.
In the Appearance menu, you will find the following options: (We’re presenting options that are commonly available. Keep in mind that options will vary, depending on the theme you choose.)
Themes – This is where you can search for themes on the WordPress network or install themes you have downloaded from elsewhere. We will talk about theme selection momentarily.
Watch a quick demo (2:05)
Customize – Depending on the theme you have chosen, you will be able to use the Customize section to make changes to the theme’s design in a visual editor. Things that can be customized include: Title and Tagline, Color, Background Image, Static Front Page, and Featured Content.
Watch a quick demo (1:51)
Widgets – Widgets are boxes you can add to various areas of your WordPress blog. Depending on the theme you have chosen, this can include the homepage, header, sidebar and footer. Adding widgets is a simple task, and it works using a drag & drop building experience. Widgets can showcase a social media links, a search bar, subscription links, about text for the blog, most recent posts, most recent comments, links to other blogs you like, and more.
Watch a quick demo (2:09)
Menus – Depending on the theme you have chosen, you can create one or more menus that will appear horizontally in your header.
Watch a quick demo (2:40)
Header – Depending on the theme you have chosen, you can upload a graphic at a specific size (determined by your theme) which will be displayed at the top of your blog.
Watch a quick demo (1:18)
Background – Depending on the theme you have chosen, you can change background colors or upload your own background image.
Watch a quick demo (1:12)
Editor – The editor is for advanced users and involves code knowledge. It gives you the option of editing theme code for specific functionality and design changes. Because visitors will be able to immediately see any changes that you save in your theme’s code, it’s usually safer to edit copies of your files offline, test, and upload your changes when they are verified. If you are going to use editor, always make sure you backup current version of your blog before editing your files. If there is a problem, you can always upload a previous version of the code to fix it.
Watch a quick demo (1:16)
Now, let’s look at the areas in your WordPress dashboard where you can do most of your customizations.
Plugins are bundled pieces of code which affect the way your blog looks or feels. They can add new functionality to your blog, extend your theme’s capabilities, and customize your blog as a whole or in part.
While a majority of plugins are free, there are plenty that are offered for a fee based on their unique functionality.
List of the best recommended plugins for new bloggers
To save you time, we’ve selected some important plugins for your immediate blogging needs. They cover many aspects of your blogging experience, enhance the functionality of your blog and make it more professional and attractive to your readers.
Google Analytics – The top choice when it comes to monitoring and analyzing your website traffic.
Contact Form 7 – A contact form with flexible email options.
Disqus Commenting System – An alternative to the basic WordPress comment system with advanced administrative and comment capabilities.
Yoast SEO – A comprehensive SEO plugin for your blog. The best out there for free.
WP Super Cache – Helps with the load time of your WordPress blog.
Akismet – Protection from comment spam (you won’t need this if you go with Disqus for comments).
YARPP – Creates a related posts list at the end of each of your posts automatically to encourage people to continue browsing your site.
Authors Widget – A great way to display multiple authors and their activity on-site.
Additional menu options
This section allows you to add new users to your WordPress blog, customize your own user profile, and edit users you have added to your WordPress blog. You can assign each user the following roles:
Able to perform all actions on the blog. This should be reserved for you as the site owner and only those you trust highly with your blog as they have the power to do anything, including lock you out of your own site.
Access and edit all posts, pages, comments, categories, tags, and links.
Publish and edit articles, posts, and upload media.
Write and edit own posts, but is not able to publish without consent.
Can only read and comment on posts or pages
With tools you are able to execute some extended tasks on your WordPress blog.
This section comes with pre-installed option called “Press This” that provides a quick and easy way to clip text, images and videos from any site and share them on your blog. Under “Press This,” there is also a categories-to-tags converter.
Enables to import data from other blogging platforms into WordPress.
Enables to export blog content which can later be imported into new WordPress installation. It is a very useful way to backup your blog content.
This menu contains all of the settings options for your WordPress site.
Configure basic options for your WordPress site, including the site name, description, URL, timezone, date format, and main administrator email.
Set default categories and post formats for your content. WordPress will automatically assign a category and format if you don’t.
Set the home page for your site (either a static page or the latest blog posts), the number of blog posts on your homepage and archives, the number of items in your RSS feed, and whether you want to show your full post or a summary in your RSS feed.
Control how comments are received on your blog. The optimum setting is to moderate all new-comment authors and automatically approve comments by previously approved comment authors. Also, hold in moderation comments with multiple links as this is a sign of a spammer.
Customize the default sizes for images uploaded to your blog.
Customize the URL structure for your blog. The best option is to have a structure that allows keywords from your post/page titles to be implemented into your URL, also known as the post name structure.
Useful Resources to help you maintain and grow your blog:
Remember you will need to visit and learn about each section of your Dashboard and get comfortable with the management options. Doing so will allow you to improve your blog’s design, functionality, and personality. Once you know what it takes to customize your blog, make the necessary tweaks to make it stand out and please your readers.