WordPress dashboard explained

How to Use The WordPress Dashboard – Detailed Overview of the Admin Area

It can be quite confusing when you first access your newly installed WordPress website. There are numerous things inside and it’s often hard to understand from where you need to start.

WordPress admin panel also known as the WordPress login page or the Dashboard, is the place you make all of the changes to your site.

Over the years the login page gone through some slight changes to ease our development process. However, few things have changed in regards the functions.

In this post, I will show you what are the main components of the WordPress admin section and help you get familiar with the backend so that you can create the best site for your needs.

Let’s begin:

How to use WordPress dashboard

Of course, the first step will be to actually access your WordPress. To do so, type yourdomain.com/wp-admin inside your browser. Of course, change the yourdomain to the actual name of your site. Once you see a login screen, type the admin user and password. Click Log in:

Access WordPress Dashboard

This is how the WordPress admin dashboard looks like:

WordPress Dashboard Explained

Pretty clean, right?

Now, since you know how to access the admin area of your site, let’s go through the available settings once by one.

WordPress Admin Panel Explained

Ok, we are in our new admin panel, let’s now take a look at all the available settings one by one:

Dashboard Section

The first screen, the one you saw in the picture above, it’s like a welcome screen. Here are listed a couple of useful links that will direct you to different sections of your WordPress. Click on customize to change the configurations of your current theme, quickly add new posts or page, also the new comments will appear, and etc. If your site is a brand new, you won’t see much and to be honest we don’t need to waste time for this section.

Posts Section

The posts section inside your WordPress admin area is keeping all of your posts organized. It’s probably the most used section because you will want more blog posts added to your website.

First, start by adding your new categories from Posts > Categories:

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To start writing articles, go to Posts > Add new:

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Of course, the all posts will lead to a menu where all of your previous posts will be listed.

Media Section

Inside the media are stored all of the images/pdf’s/audio files you upload. Add new ones r see your library by clicking on the corresponding buttons:

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You can also search images using the search field.

Page Section

In the beginning, you might be a bit confused by the pages and posts section and what is the difference between them.

Create page in WordPress

Let me explain:

Pages are used for creating the foundations of your site. For example: About; Home; Sales; Contact us page and etc. Their URL structure is yourdomain.com + the chosen keyword while writing the page (e.g. yourdomain.com/about). On the other hand. Posts are used to be published under a specific category. You can’t use New posts to create about section, simply because it will be listed in category Uncategorized and the URL structure will be yourdomain.com/uncategorized/about (as you can see this is not cool).

Still don’t get it?

Ok, let me try again: Consider pages as static things on your site. When you create a Contact Us page you will probably update it once per year. A contact us page also don’t have a place for comments because that’s not the main purpose of this page. The same goes for the Homepage. The pages section is to create something that won’t be changed.

Posts, on the other hand, is a new blog post that will have a comment section and also social media buttons. Each new blog posts will be published under specific category. This will allow users to easily navigate through your site.

The layout of the posts and the pages inside the WordPress are similar but don’t get confused, they have different purposes.


Will show your pending, approved,spam and deleted comments:

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You will rarely access this section because the new comments will be listed in the main dashboard.

Appearance Section

Really important section inside your WordPress admin page. Since there are a couple of extra sections, I will go through them one by one:

Themes – Install, Activate, Delete or upload WordPress themes.

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Customize – The features inside this section are different depending on the theme you are going to use. Through the customizer, you can add logo, change the site description and other cool stuff. Make sure to check it out. Remember that each different theme will have different options inside:

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Widget section – From here you configure your sidebar and footer. You can add social media links to your website, subscription boxes. I’m sure you’ve seen other sites that have a lot of interesting things inside their sidebar. Also, the options here will vary depending on the theme you’re going to use:

WordPress Dashboard Explained 7

Menus – This section is organizing your menu elements, your navigation bar. Here you can add pages, links or categories and they will appear on the top of your site, right next to your logo.

So, click on Create a New Menu > Create Menu:

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Choose what you want to add and also arrange the things inside:

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You can play around with it and see how it looks on your main website.

Editor –You can edit the CSS of your theme and mess around with the code:

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I don’t advice you to touch anything inside this section unless you don’t know what you are doing.

Also, keep in mind that the number of sections here, inside the Appearance section, will vary depending on the plugins and the themes you are going to use.

Plugins Section

Are extensions that add different functionality to your WordPress website. This section here is the place where you can install new and manage your existing plugins:

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  • Installed plugins – In this window are listed all of your installed plugins. You can easily install or deactivate them by using the corresponding buttons below each of the plugins.
  • Add new – Easily install free or premium plugins. If a plugin is listed in the WordPress.org repository (meaning that is free), you can then installed it only by searching for it and clicking install. If you have a plugin downloaded on your local machine (free or premium) just upload it using  the button on the top of the page:
  • Editor – Edit the CSS of the installed plugins. Again, I don’t advice you to touch anything inside this section unless you don’t know what you are doing.

Users Section

All of the people that can access your WordPress admin area are listed here. In case you are wondering why you would want someone else to access your WordPress dashboard, I can provide you with a couple of reasons.

  • You can hire a writer to write posts for your blog section;
  • You can hire a developer to make changes to your site;
  • You can allow people to subscribe to content that is not visible for the other visitors;
  • And more.

Summary of roles:

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  • Administrator: nothing is off limits;
  • Editor: has access to all posts, pages, comments, categories, tags, and links;
  • Author: can write, upload photos to, edit, and publish their own posts;
  • Contributor:  has no publishing or uploading capability, but can write and edit their own posts until they are published;
  • Subscriber: (public sites) / Viewer (private sites only) – can read and comment on posts and pages.

Tools Section

This section is often used for importing demo data of demo themes provided by theme developers:

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Additionally, it may list settings of some of the plugins you installed. If you are looking for the settings of a plugin and you are not finding it anywhere else, make sure to check this section also.

Settings Section

A couple of important configurations are listed in this section. See below for details:

  • General – Change your site title and tagline; configure your WordPress URL address (don’t need to touch that); check the admin email; change the time zone/date and the site language if necessary:
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  • Writing – Change the default post category and format.
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  • Reading – Decide if you want to make your front page a static page or to show the latest posts. Also, you can discourage search engines from indexing this site, which I don’t recommend using unless you don’t want to make your website public yet.
WordPress settings
  • Discussion – This section allows you to manage the comments on your site. Enable disable comments or blacklist specific emails, IP or other to prevent spam messages:
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  • Media – Media section will give you permissions to modify the default sizes of media files. Most probably you will never access this section:
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  • Permalinks – Change the permalink structure of your website URL. This is really important and I highly recommend updating this structure before doing anything else. The most used is Custom Structure with these fields added inside the empty fields: 
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The above basically means that your URL will look like that: yourdomain.com/category/your-blog-post/

Final Thoughts

These are the basics.

Keep in mind that each WordPress theme and plugin will most probably add its own menu inside your WordPress admin panel. So, don’t get scated when you see a new menu. 

Keep in mind that it’s best to delete plugins and themes that you’re not using. Even if some plugin is not active it adds code inside your site and it’s making it slower.

Comment below if you have other question related to the WordPress admin dashboard. I will be happy to help:

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