Your WordPress Dashboard, Theme and Plugins Explained

Whenever you’re dealing with anything slightly technical, there are going to be many terms you’ll need to know about. But luckily, with a blogging platform such as WordPress, there are not too many terms and once you know them, you won’t have to remember them. You’ll just be able to use them. And with WordPress, you log into a dashboard. You choose a theme and you might add additional plugins to your blog so let’s talk about what all those things do and why they’re all very important for you.

First of all, when you have a website, when you have a WordPress blog, people see the front end of it. They see the content that you have already written. The comments have already been posted. But how do you write that content in the first place, You log in to what some people call the back ends or the control panel or the administration area. But WordPress keeps it simple and calls it the dashboard. You log in and it shows everything you need to know right there. It shows the post that you’ve written. It shows comments that might need to be approved or any kind of problems with blog. It’s the WordPress dashboard and you can log in to it by going to whatever the address of your WordPress site is and add /wp-admin to the end of it. Once you go there, you will be able to do anything. Add new post, delete post, rearrange post, change navigation. Do any of that stuff from your WordPress dashboard.

But if you have a brand new site, the first thing you’re going to want to do is to set up the design or appearance or what’s called the theme of your WordPress blog. Now, your theme is the whole template, the layout which means that if you decide you want to have a blog with a black background and white text, go and find a theme that has that already assigned for you. If you want to have a design with a huge header graphic then find a theme that does that for you. If you want a design with one sidebar, one sidebar on the left, on the right, with 3 sidebars, find a theme that’s already done that for you. And there are literally thousands of free WordPress themes and even more paid ones where you can click a few buttons by going to Appearance, Themes, Install a new theme and you can search their huge directory of WordPress themes to install right away. You install the theme and it changes the entire look and feel of the design of your website.

So you’re thinking, “That’s great. I go in my dashboard, I can change posts. I can edit themes. Now, what are plugins,” Well, plugins are more of the functionality, what the blog actually does. For example, have you seen blog posts where there’s button for someone to retweet it, to retweet your blog post to send it to Twitter to tell your friends about it, Well, that is due to a plugin. Someone installed a Twitter plugin that added a button to every post on that site. And so now, even if you change your theme from a black background to a blue one, that Twitter button will still remain. You might have seen some WordPress blogs where they add a discussion area or a forum to it. Well, that’s a plugin. There are plugins that will actually allow you to add a message board, discussion forum to your WordPress blog. There are plugins that will allow you to add a pop up box to your WordPress site. That is also a plugin. So you can see that the theme controls the way the blog looks. The plugin controls what the blog actually does.

So I hope that when you log in to your WordPress dashboard, in addition to saying what kind of content, what kind of post you can add or change or edit or delete, you also get that youc an change the theme or the design or the look of your blog with a few clicks and install or move or change plugins which add additional functions to your blog. So go ahead right now, log in to your WordPress dashboard and have fun.

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