A new Bright Thought experience is coming January 2019!

Introduction To WordPress! (Part 2)

Erik

We are picking up where we left off in part 1 of your introduction to WordPress and continue with the overview of the WordPress dashboard and the items that you will find there.

Comments:

The comments tab will display all of the comments that have been made on your website. Depending upon your setting for comment (which we will cover shortly) you will either have comments that are waiting moderation or just the list of comments that are currently visible on your site under their respective posts. Once you click on the comments tab there will be an initial comment so you can see how they will appear in this area.

WordPress Dashboard Comments Tab

If you hover over the comment you will be presented with a number of moderation options to you to choose from.

WordPress Dashboard Comments Hover

Since this post is already approved you will see the option to unapprove the comment, if this comment was awaiting moderation then you would be presented with the option to approve this comment. You have the option to reply to a commenter from the dashboard giving you an easy and fast method to interact and respond to your readers as they may leave you questions or feedback. Quick Edit allows you to change the comment itself, the author of the comment, the authors email address, and the authors URL with leaving the page. Edit is the same thing as Quick Edit where you can change the same aspects of the comment however you leave the page and have the additional option of changing the status of the post to Approved, Pending, or Spam. Below is a screenshot of the Edit screen:

WordPress Dashboard Comment Editor

The final two options for a comment is to either mark it as spam or put the comment into the trash. If you are using plugins to help you prevent spam from showing up on your site such “Akismet” then marking comments as spam will help it learn and better prevent spam from showing up on your site. If you are not using such a plugin than simply deleting a comment by clicking the trash button is an easy solution for unwanted comments.

To learn more about the WordPress commenting system you can visit the WordPress Codex.

Appearance:

In the appearance tab this is where you can control most things that have to do with the appearance of your WordPress website.

Themes:

Initially if you click the Appearance link you will go the the Themes area which is the first submenu option in Appearance. The themes area will have all of the available themes that are currently installed in your WordPress installation. By default you will have three base themes Twenty Fourteen, Twenty Fifteen, and Twenty Sixteen.

WordPress Dashboard Initial Themes

You do have the option of adding a new theme to your installation by either clicking the “Add New” button at the top of the screen or the “Add New Theme” box underneath the initial themes that you have. Once you click one of these options you will be presented with the WordPress repository that has hundreds of free themes for you to choose from.

WordPress Add New Theme

It is very simple to install and activate new themes into your WordPress installation. By hovering over a theme that is already installed you will see an option to “Activate” the theme which will change the look of your front facing site to match the styling of that theme. If you are installing a new theme the same actions will allow you install it, by simply hovering over the theme that you are interested in installing and clicking the “Install” button.

Customize:

This tab is always available no matter what theme you currently have active. The options available in Customize can change based on the theme and the features that it has developed into it. Most themes have certain items that should be present and that is a designated menu and widget area, which controls for these items will be available in Customize. The main thing that customize can be used for is to add your sites Favicon, and this option will be available under “Site Identity”. Under this section you will be able to change your sites title, tagline, and then at the bottom you will see a place to upload a favicon image.

A number of themes will add additional options to the Customize area to give you more control over the theme itself. While other themes will add a “Theme Options” menu item which normally will show either as a top level menu item or as another submenu option under appearance.

Widgets:

The widgets tab is where you can add items to and from designated widget area within the theme that you are using. Most themes have at least one widget area while other themes can have a multitude of widget areas located around the site. By default WordPress comes with a number of widgets for you to take advantage of.

WordPress Widget Page

These widgets take advantage of the base functionality of WordPress by allowing you to display various items on your sidebar. Each widget will allow you to define a title which will be displayed directly above the widget item itself as seen in the screen shot below.

WordPress Widget Display

A good amount of themes and plugins that you install will offer there own widgets that you can use. You’ll find that widgets are a great way to add additional content to your website in a clean and efficient manner. Sites that utilize widgets in areas such as the header and the footer make using widgets a great choice when you can visitors to see certain content on every page.

To learn more about the widgets click here.

Menus:

Menus is the area of the site were you control your sites navigation and the area of the website in which they will appear. Below is a screenshot of a basic example of what you menu area will look like once you have added some menu items.

WordPress Menu

When you first use the menu area you will not have a menu created and there will be an area available for you to do so as soon as first click to this area. Once you have created your first menu you will have four initial options to how you can add menu items Pages, Posts, Custom Links, and Categories. The Page option will display all of the Pages that you have created so far and will let you easily add them as menu items. Post and Categories works in the same manner displaying all available posts and categories with in your site so far.

The Custom Links option allows you to add links to your site of pages that are not housed on your website. For example, if you want to add a link to Google in your menu you would do it using this option. If you are using a plugin or theme that adds custom posts types than you will also see other options available as well for adding menu items which will be named according to whatever the author named it.

Once you have all of all of your menu items added you need to choose where you want the menu to be displayed in the screenshot above there are to places that a menu could be added the Header and Footer. Once, you choose the area that you want the menu to be displayed click save and then your menu is now available for the world to see.

If you want to learn more about menus click here.

Editor:

If you are not familiar with HTML, CSS, and PHP you most likely will never use this area. The Editor allows you to directly edit the code used to create your theme. Changing the coding here without have knowledge of code could prove disastrous and ultimately could break your website.

Plugins:

The plugins are used to extend the functionality of your WordPress website. There are thousands of plugins for you to choose from in the WordPress repository and other sources such as Code Canyon. These plugins can added drag and drop page builders, form builders, slideshow, etc… However I would recommend not to get to plugin happy and install everything under the sun as with to many plugins you may run into conflict where one plugin does not play well with another.

When you first click into the plugin area there will be to pre-installed plugins. Akismet is the first plugin installed which helps prevent spam from making its way onto your site. The second plugin is Hello Dolly which randomly displays lyrics from the popular song in the upper hand corner of your admin screen.

WordPress Installed Plugins

When you first click the plugins link it will take you to the installed plugins screen that you see above that gives you the options to Activate/Deactivate, Edit, and Delete a plugin. The Edit option is similar to the Editor under the Appearance tab in which it will show you the code that was involved in developing the plugin. I would recommend against editing the code of a plugin as you could completely break the plugin. You will also notice that there is an Editor submenu item underneath Plugins which is the same thing as Edit and should also be avoided unless you have coding knowledge.

When adding a new plugin you can either choose from the WordPress repository which contains hundreds of plugins to choose from. I would recommend look at the rating of the plugins to ensure that they are quality as well as the last time the plugin was updated.

WordPress Add New Plugin

From this screen you have ability to search for plugins within the repository and install them easily by just clicking the Install Now button in the upper right hand corner of the plugin. If the plugin that you want to install is a premium plugin that is not available in the repository you can click the Upload Plugin button at the top of the screen. From there you will be able to upload the zip file of your plugin and WordPress will install it.

Users:

The user tab is where you can control the people that have access to your WordPress installation. Initially you will be the only name in the user list as you can see below I am the only one in my user list.

WordPress Users This list will display the users username, name, email address, role, and the number of posts that they have. The main thing to look at here is the users role which determines the level of access that they have to items in your dashboard. To get a better understanding of the user roles and the capabilities that they have see this link.

When you are ready to add a new user and allow them access to your WordPress dashboard click the Add New button at the top of the screen and you will be presented with a screen like below.

WordPress Add New User

Adding a new user is very straight forward. You just have to make sure that you enter all of the persons information in correctly ensuring that once you are finished that they receive the welcome email from WordPress with their username and password as well as the link that they need to use to login. Once the person is registered they will be able to edit their profile by clicking the Your Profile submenu option.

WordPress User Profile Edit

The profile editor will allow the person to edit everything about themselves with the exception of their username. The users profile picture is not managed through the profile editor it is actually managed with Gravatar which allows the users profile image to be displayed on any WordPress site that they comment on using their registered email address.

Tools:

The tools section provides simply tools to help you add content to your site or export it. Available Tools is the first section that you will see upon clicking the tools link. There you will see a tool called Press This, which allows you to take snippets of the web and turn them into posts on your site. The Press This tool is probably the most powerful tool that is available in the tools screen. There is also a tools to convert your categories to tags and vice vera which can come in handy in certain instances.

WordPress Tools

The import submenu allows you to bring in content from your old website that may or may not have been WordPress. As you can see in the screenshot below there a number of tools that can be used to import content from your previous blog or even from another publication that you would like to post on your site.

WordPress Import Tool

The final tool is the export, which will allow you to export the content of your site in an XML file so that you may import it into another WordPress site or another site that supports importing WordPress content.

Summary

So far we have covered the majority of the WordPress dashboard and explained what each item does and how you can use them. If you missed the first post of the series you can read that using the link below. The final post covering the setting will be available next week.

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