So you’ve created a WordPress website and you’ve come to find that the WordPress dashboard seems to be anything but user-friendly at first glance. You’re not wrong. While it’s not quite as daunting as it looks, it does take some time to get used to. We’ll show you how to navigate the WordPress dashboard so that you can easily build your small business website.
Log In to the WordPress Dashboard
To start, log in to your WordPress dashboard. If you’re not sure how to do this, type your domain name (e.g., yourbusiness.com) plus “/wp-admin/” (e.g., yourdomain.com/wp-admin/) into the URL search bar and hit enter. This should open up your WordPress login page, where you can input your username (or email address) and password.
If you run into any issues accessing your WordPress dashboard, try logging into your account through your web hosting provider. For more information, check out this article on how to find your WordPress login URL.
WordPress Dashboard Overview
Now that you’ve logged into your WordPress account, you will now see your WordPress dashboard. The dashboard has a standard layout and consists of three main sections. First, the horizontal top bar. Second, the sidebar, which serves as your directory of options. And third, the body, which will display different information depending on which option you have selected from the left-hand sidebar.
The WordPress dashboard, or admin page, is divided into three main parts:
- Top bar: If you’re running a blog, you’ll see a notification icon for new comments posted on your articles. Also, on the far right of the top bar is a link to edit your WordPress profile or log out of WordPress.
- Sidebar: The left-hand vertical sidebar is your primary way to navigate throughout your site. For example, to edit existing webpages or to create new ones, click “Pages,” or to update your website’s main navigation, go to “Appearance” and then click “Menus.”
- Body: The main controls of the admin page. When you first log in, you’ll see notifications, recent activity, and other updates. This screen changes depending on the menu selected on the sidebar.
Navigating Your WordPress Dashboard
The vertical left-hand sidebar is your go-to source for customizing and building your WordPress website. It houses everything you need, from web pages and blog posts to adding new plugins for additional functionality, adding users, changing your theme, and customizing your theme. The most common sidebar options are “Posts,” which houses your blog, “Pages,” which houses your web pages, “Appearance,” which is all things site design (from themes to your site icon), “Plugins,” which is where you’ll add new capabilities to your site, and “Settings.”
Sidebar Quick Reference
The sidebar includes several different menus to edit or manage your website. While it may initially look overwhelming, your focus will be on only a few of the available options. Let’s start with the top six, which are used to add site content and adjust plugins.
Here are the most frequently used menu options in the WordPress dashboard:
- Posts: If your website includes a blog, use this menu to write, edit, or publish new blog posts.
- Pages: Create new website pages, such as your homepage, “About Us,” or “Contact Us.”
- Appearance: Adjust the design of your website, including color schemes, fonts, your site title, logo, site icon, and formatting. This is also where you can install new WordPress themes.
- Plugins: WordPress plugins are used to add more functionality to your site. For example, you could use the Elementor plugin to easily edit pages in a drag-and-drop page builder, use Yoast SEO to help your posts get found in search engines, or use a contact form builder, such as WPForms, to easily build custom forms.
- Users: Those who will have different people editing, managing, or contributing to the website (e.g., additional blog authors) can have their own unique login with varying degrees of site permissions.
- Settings: This is where you will find additional admin controls, such as changing your default language and time zone.
For further insight, let’s take a look at each of these options:
Pages: Add or Edit Webpages
For any business website, “Pages” is where you’ll spend most of your time building your site. Pages is where you can manage and edit existing web pages, as well as create new web pages. As you build new pages or edit existing pages, do note that there are additional page options on the right-hand side of the page editing screen. There, you can update your slug, add a featured image, and set page attributes.
Here’s what you can do from the “Pages” menu option:
- Edit existing webpages
- Delete existing webpages
- Add new webpages
Granted, the default WordPress page editor is not user-friendly. If you want an easier way to design web pages, use a page builder plugin. Most are available for free and enable you to convert the traditional editor into a drag-and-drop editor. Learn more about the best page builder plugins for you.
Posts: Add or Edit Blog Posts
Websites that include a blog, or simply are a blog, will use “Posts” to create new blog posts and to manage existing blog posts. Unlike pages, posts are more straightforward, as blog posts tend to have fewer elements in terms of web design elements. Like pages, you can change your post’s permalink (or URL slug) and add a featured image from the right-hand sidebar, as well select blog categories and add tags.
Here’s what you can do from the “Posts” menu option:
- Edit existing blog posts (some templates come with demo content)
- Delete existing blog posts
- Add new blog posts
Building a blog? Get the step-by-step instructions on how to create a blog.
Appearance: Homepage, Site Logo, Site Icon & More
When you’re first building a new website, you’ll spend a lot of time in “Appearance.” First off, themes are housed under this tab, so you’ll need to first change your WordPress theme (which serves as your site’s template). Then, you’ll also need to use Appearance to customize elements of your site, such as your logo, site title, tagline, and site icon. Here, you will also customize your site’s menu, menu locations (e.g., header and footer), and manage widgets.
Here are some of the things you can do from the “Appearance” menu option:
- Change your theme (Appearance > Themes)
- Update site identity, such as your logo, site title, tagline, and site icon (Appearance > Customize > Site Identity)
- Select homepage settings (Appearance > Customize > Homepage Settings)
- Manage widgets (Appearance > Widgets)
- Update and create site menus (Appearance > Menus)
Haven’t chosen a theme yet? Check out the 25 best WordPress themes for business.
Plugins: Add New Plugins & Manage Existing Plugins
Plugins are snippets of code that add additional functionality to your website. No matter what you need, whether it’s creating custom quizzes for your site, getting user insights, or changing your login URL, there’s a plugin for it. For reference, the average business website has about 20 to 30 plugins. In other words, you’re going to need plugins, and you’re likely going to need many of them.
Here’s what the “Plugins” menu option is used for:
- Add new plugins (Plugins > Add New)
- Manage existing plugins (Plugins > Installed Plugins)
- Deactivate and delete unused plugins (Plugins > Installed Plugins > Hover and click “Deactivate”)
Want more insight into how to find and install plugins? Get all the information you need on WordPress plugins.
Users: Add New Users, Roles & Permissions
If you’re planning to have multiple site editors, or if you want to have multiple blog authors, you can give others permission to your site via Users. From there, you can add new users and manage existing users. This includes setting user roles, such as admin (which grants complete access), or author (which enables users to write, edit, and publish posts). Within Users, you can customize user permissions and access.
Here’s what you can accomplish from the “Users” menu option:
- Manage users, including roles and permissions (Users > All Users)
- Add new users (Users > Add New)
Settings: Permalinks, Admin Email, Date & Time Settings & More
If you’re looking to make a sitewide change, and you’re not finding it under “Appearance,” chances are it lives within “Settings.” For example, Settings houses everything and anything from your site language and date and time format, as well as permalinks and plugins such as Google Analytics and your SSL certificate plugin.
Here are a few of the things you can do using the “Settings” menu option:
- Change language
- Set date and time structure
- Manage permalinks
- Manage your SSL certificate
- Access some plugins
Building a WordPress Website? Follow Along With Our WordPress Tutorial Video
For extra assistance, follow along with our article on how to make a WordPress website.
The WordPress dashboard, or admin page, can be confusing at first. However, most users will find that they really only need to become familiar with a few of the menus, such as pages, posts, appearance, and plugins. Once you become fluent in using these menu options, you will quickly find that WordPress is surprisingly user-friendly.