Ah, WordPress. Getting Started can be fun and empowering, but for some it can be overwhelming at the same time. This post is for companies and individuals who are not programmers. They haven’t “installed” WordPress. In fact, WordPress is likely a brand new name. If you are reading this you are likely going off of the expertise of someone else (it could even be me) just hoping and praying that this new CMS wonder tool is as easy as you’ve been told. You don’t know what HTML is, nor do you really even care. You just know that you need a website, you need content on it, and that this WordPress thing is supposed to help you get there. My hope is that this small series will help beginners get comfortable with WordPress and that they can make it a fun part of their business rather than see it as the neglected chore that is always the last on a long list of things to do.
The WordPress Basics Introduction series is created in reference to version 3.9. This first post will cover the basics for the logging in and also provide an introduction to the administrative panel. I also included some entry terminology and definition of the layout you will find once you successfully get into the WordPress administrative panel. You might be interested to read some of the documentation by WordPress here for beginners as well.
Logging Into WordPress
So you have your brand new website setup and you are itching to add some content (or at least make some much needed modifications that the first person you’ve shown the site to has just conveniently pointed out). To manage your website you will need to login to the administrative panel. To do so there are two potential url locations (be sure to change yourdomain.com to your domain name):
At this point you should see the login screen and, hopefully, you have a username and password as well. If not, it is time to talk to the site administrator or the person who setup the website to get access to the Administrative Panel.
Introducing the Administrative Panel
Now that you are logged into the Administrative Panel, you will notice some key areas to take note of. The top of the page contains the header. Within the left side of the header resides the name of your website/blog which will link to your main page. The right side of the header will display your username, which can be hovered over to reveal the “Log out” link.
On the far left of the screen you will see a menu and, if you are logged in as an administrator, it might feel like there are way too many items. As someone just getting familiar with WordPress, you would be correct. As a rookie in the WordPress arena, you just need to worry about a few of the menu items. Usually those items are Posts, Pages and Media. We’ll go more into detail about that later.
Some Important Notes about the Menu
On the left side of your screen lives the main navigation menu. It is important to note though that the main navigation menu has some interactivity to it that is good to know about.
First of all, the menu can collapse. At the bottom of the menu under “Settings”, you’ll notice a fun little left pointing arrow icon labelled “Collapse Menu”. Clicking that arrow will collapse the entire menu to just show icons. A helpful trick if you want more room on your screen. A real pain if you’re new and don’t know what the icons stand for (especially if you clicked it by accident and don’t realize what happened). But not to worry, clicking the arrow again will expand the menu, restoring peace and order to the soul of an inexperienced blogger.
Secondly, each menu item also contains a set of options that are revealed when you hover over or click on them – bringing solution or confusion depending on the item and what lies within. As a beginner, you don’t need to worry yourself over every option that vies for a piece of your attention. The extra options simply automatically show up when they are needed.
That should be plenty for you to at least understand how the menu works.
Discover The Dashboard
Next on the list is the dashboard. Dashboards are fun ways to give you an overview of the information that is most likely the most important. The “At a Glance” section is the first that will come up. It will show you the number of posts and pages that are on your site. Also, you will see an overview on Comments showing you how many approved comments you have. You will also notice a display for pending comments as well as spam.
Now, there are definitely more items on the Dashboard, but remember we’re worried about the basics. The other items will become clearer as you go along and we’ll have posts to help you advance through it. Now that you have this down, take a short breather. When you are ready for the next step, come on back, and continue to Posts or Pages?
Some Important Terms
Content Management System (CMS): CMS is one of those catchy acronyms you’ve probably heard your web developer throw at you in every other sentence. Once you know that CMS stands for Content Management System, you’ve probably figured it out. Yep, you’ve got it a system for managing content.
WordPress: WordPress is one of many Content Management Systems around and has proven itself to be one of the easier to use and effective for informational and blogging websites.
Administrative Panel: The Administrative Panel is the area that you have access to after logging in. It acts as a control center for you website. Clicking here will take you to an in-depth explanation.
Main Navigation Menu: This is the primary navigation menu found in the Adminstrative Panel.
Dashboard: Also referred to as Information Central. The Dashboard provides you with some basic information about your site as well as some links to facilitate jumping in and working with Posts, Pages and Comments. You’ll also find some quick editing tools for quickly adding a post or managing comments.
Administrator: An Administrator is the highest role that a user can have in WordPress. As such, the adminstrator has full access to what WordPress has to offer in the Administrative Panel.