Your Site’s Command Center
The dashboard and admin menu is where all the magic happens. The dashboard is where you can monitor your site’s overall functionality. Your total current pages, posts, categories, tags, comments, spam protections, and widgets are all tallied here for quick reference in the Right Now section. Quick Press allows you to zip off a quick blog post right from the dashboard, or archive a draft for later publication. Your most Recent Comments are displayed here as well, where you can edit, reply, or mark them as spam. The Stats module displays a graph of your blog’s traffic, as well as links to other popular areas of your blog. All of these modules can be moved, hidden, opened or closed to fully customize your dashboard experience.
The admin menu is where you adjust your site’s settings and permissions, change your theme’s options, access your widgets, find and activate a new plugin, add a page, create a new post, administrate your menu, upload new media, monitor your comments and spam, and add new users to a multi-user blog setup. Additionally, in the WordPress.com dashboard, you can see comments you’ve made on other blogs, access your full site statistics, and quickly jump to your own blogs or blogs that you follow. There’s also a store link here for paid upgrades to your WordPress.com site’s functionality.
Next we’ll address the most common WordPress.com admin menu features that you’ll be using on a daily basis, with some extra WordPress.org features addressed afterwards.
The posts menu is fairly straightforward, allowing you to view all posts and select editing options from underneath each, or to add a new post right from the menu. You can also view and edit all of your categories and tags from the posts menu option. When viewing your categories, there’s an option at the bottom of the page to convert categories to tags, if you choose. Conversely, a convert tags to categories option exists on the tags page as well. Finally, copy a post allows you to select an existing post to base your new post on, so you can maintain consistency with your titles, headings, categories, tags, and formatting. This is a great time saver as well.
When creating a new post (or page), there will be several menu options displayed to the right and below your main text area. Above the main text area is a selection of familiar word processing tools to help format the appearance of your text content. The publish menu on the right allows you to change your post’s status between draft and publish, its visibility between public (with a stick post to front page option), private, and password protected, and to adjust the date and time of your post. The publicize feature, as mentioned earlier, gives you the option of simultaneously publishing your post to your selected social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. These can be pre-set or added individually at the time of posting. The add categories and add tags menu options continue down the right hand side, followed by the featured image setting. The featured image allows you to associate an image with your post, which can be displayed in various sizes and locations, depending on your theme. For example, our current theme, Fresh & Clean, will display a smaller thumbnail of the featured image beside it’s associated post on the main blog page. If the featured image is 840 pixels or wider and post is set to sticky, it will display in full size at the top of the page, as seen on this homepage. Assigning multiple sticky posts will create an image slider, which is useful to display a collection of portfolio images on your home blog page.
Most of the pages options are the same or very similar to those described above in the posts section. You can view and edit all pages from a main pages list, and add a new page or copy a page layout from the admin menu options. The publish menu is the same, minus the sticky post option. The add categories and tags menus are also missing, as you don’t apply these options to your static site pages. The featured image is also an option for a page. A new menu exclusive to creating pages is the page attributes menu, also found to the right of your main text area. Here we have the parent attribute, which allows you to arrange your pages in hierarchies. For example, you might have a Directions page that has From the City and From the Highway below it as drop-down menu options. The template selector allows you to choose alternate templates for the page, if your theme has any, such as a full width layout. You can assign a number to your pages to change the order in which they are displayed on your site and within the site’s menu.
The media library is where you can upload, organize, and format all of the images used within your site (WordPress.org users can also upload and host video clips, as can WordPress.com users with the paid VideoPress upgrade). Images can be inserted into posts using the add media button above the text area, bringing up the media library as shown above. You can then upload a file from your computer into the library, or select the insert from URL option to link to an image located elsewhere online. Once an image is selected, you can add a title, caption, description, and the alt text to be displayed when an image doesn’t load. Before inserting the image into your page or post, you can specify its alignment (left, center, right), an associated link, if any, and the size to display the image, ranging from a small thumbnail up to its full original size. Other options available from the media library include setting featured images, and creating a gallery from selected or uploaded images.
The appearance menu contains several key options for adjusting the look and feel of your site. Themes, as previously discussed, can be accessed, changed, and edited here. Available widgets can be implemented from this menu as well. More detailed information on widgets, their function and placement is contained over on this page. Your free theme will typically offer one default menu option, with a potential second menu placement accessible through a widget. Your menu structure is assembled using the hierarchy and names of your site’s pages, as we discussed earlier. Menus employ a drag and drop setup, so you can easily order your parent (main) pages as you’d like them to appear in your menu, as well as nesting any child (secondary) pages beneath them to create sub-menu options. You can also add a custom URL to a menu option to link directly to another website, as opposed to linking to one of your site’s existing pages. The header image (my trusty persian rug) that appears at the top of your site, if your theme supports it, can be uploaded, sized, and cropped here, or it can be removed altogether. You can also choose to have your site’s title and tagline appear over top of your header image, if desired, and choose the colour for the text as well. The font is usually pre-determined by your theme. Your background colour or image can also be set here, again if your theme allows for it. This image can be tiled, or made to appear full size as the entire background. Custom design is currently a premium option on WordPress.com. The mobile setting allows you to customize your site’s appearance on mobile devices, if your theme is responsive and permits these options.
These settings contain all the nuts and bolts of your standard overall site preferences and permissions. The general settings contain your site’s title and tagline, your main email contact, along with your date and time display preferences. Your writing options include your default category and link settings, as well as the press this bookmarklet. Adding this feature to your browser’s menu bar allows you to select snippets directly from other websites for inclusion in your blog posts. You can also activate your post by email option here, allowing you to post to your blog via a specified email address. The reading settings allow you to set your site’s front page to display either your recent posts or a static page. If you opt for displaying posts, you can set the number of posts to be shown per page. The introduction text that’s displayed to your new blog followers, once they’ve subscribed to your site updates, can also be customized in the reading settings. The discussion section contains multiple checkboxes for different commenting options, such as notifications and commenter permissions. The media settings let you set your different image sizes (thumbnail, medium, large), as well as a couple of gallery display options. Sharing options are tied to the publicize posting feature, allowing you to pre-set your social media links to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Yahoo. You can also enable/disable which social sharing buttons you’d like to appear under each blog post. A Polldaddy account is required to implement polls on your site. Ratings, when generated, can be displayed in various locations in relation to your post.