Okay, so I have a pristine new blog. To get to the dashboard, I clicked on the link given in the email sent to me by SimpleScripts – it’ll be the one ending in ‘wp-admin’. I logged in, using the username and password I specified originally and this is the page I come to:
We’ll ignore that Jetpack thing for now – that’s new and I don’t have it on my old blog so I need to investigate it a bit more! Will come back to it later…
I’ll go through the menu items on the left hand sidebar one by one.
Posts. This is where you write new posts and edit old ones. If I click on it, a list of all posts appears. That ‘Hello world’ one is an introductory post that shows up in all new WordPress blogs so I’ll delete it. If you hover over the post title you will see a list of options appear, including ‘edit’ and ‘trash’.
I’ll go into a new post page by clicking ‘Add New’ on the left hand sidebar. Here is where you write your posts. If you click on one of the icons to the right of ‘Upload/insert’ you get options to include images, videos etc. As I normally write my posts using Windows Live Writer, a blog writing programme that you download to your computer (mostly because I find it easier to add and manipulate photos that way), I only use the WordPress dashboard to write fairly straightforward, imageless posts. I will write a post about using Windows Live Writer.
If you look at the right hand sidebar, you can see that you have options to make a post public, keep it private, or password protect it (useful if you want to run online courses perhaps). On the next line down, it says ‘publish immediately’ – if you click on ‘edit’ it will bring up a calendar so you can choose a date and time to defer publishing it until later. Useful if you are going on holiday and want to plan ahead and leave a few blog posts to be published in your absence. Once you have edited these things, you can click on the blue Publish button and your post either goes live immediately or will go live at the time and date you have specified. If you have set a post date in the future, you can find your blog post in the list of posts to edit and you can go back and edit it if necessary. They are arranged in order of posting date.
If you look at the top right hand side of the screen, you will see that it says ‘Screen Options’. Click on that, and you get more options which will show up on the posts page if you tick the boxes. Format is whether it is a standard post, an ‘aside’, a sort of added comment which you can make to separate it from a normal post (I was trying this out the other day and the only difference it seems to make on my posts is to leave out the title; maybe that is because I have a plain white background). The other option in Formats is Gallery which is a post consisting just of photos. I’ll go through the other posting options when I introduce Live Writer, but feel free to ask if you want to know about any of them earlier. I think the Aside and Gallery formats are new to the default WordPress theme, which is called WordPress 2010.
Going down the left hand menu again, if you click on Media you go to a page which lists all the photos etc that you have attached to your blog, and you can edit or delete them, etc. You will notice also that if you hover over the right hand side of these menu options, a down arrow appears; click on it and further options appear: as you can see from the above screenshot, you can click on ‘add new’ to go straight to a new posting page, for example.
This is the page you get to if you click on the Links button. As you can see, it has lots of WordPress links which you can either retain or delete. I will delete all of them and start afresh.
But first, I have clicked on the one called Documentation, to show you what you fill in to add a link to your sidebar. (You can also download a plugin which moves all your links to their own dedicated page, which I have on this blog, but I’ll talk more about plugins in a post of their own. They are what really makes self-hosted WordPress so flexible and powerful.).
As you see, under Name you write whatever text you want to appear on the sidebar for that link. Then under web address you write the url. Anything else is optional. You can set up new categories so that your links are organised into different subjects on the sidebar. Click on ‘link categories’ on the left sidebar to set up a new one and it will appear as an option in each link page. As you see in this one, the only pre-existing category is Blogroll. I’ll set up a few more later.
Scroll down the page and you can add more information, to remind yourself of the identity of the link; a bit like an email address book. And at the bottom is the option to add an image. You have to upload the image into a folder in the file manager on your webhost Control Panel – I will explain the WordPress files in there in a later post: although I don’t find I have to go there very often, it is useful to know how they are organised. WordPress has got a lot more user friendly over the years and most things can be uploaded and organised via the dashboard now.
Back to the left hand menu:
The other two menu items on this first section are Pages and Comments. Pages are like posts, but they are static: they are outside the normal ‘timeframe’ of the blog, what WordPress calls the WordPress loop. So you can use these as web pages, sales pages, a homepage. On this blog I use them for my portfolio pages, to show pictures of my artwork, for my homepage, an ‘about me’ page and also for things like my Google map of textile museums. There is also a very useful plugin which will convert posts to pages, so if you’ve written a very popular post in the past you can convert it into a static page. I’ve done this for my other tutorials, such as How to make a Concertina Book.
The Comments page is where you can view comments, edit, delete, mark them as spam or reply to them.
I have now deleted all the preinstalled blog posts and links and this is what the homepage looks like now – bit bleak, eh?
But not to worry – in the next blog posts I will go through the second section of menu items. These are where you can change the look of your blog, make changes to the settings, find plugins, set up a menu on the header and this is where I’ll start making changes to the look and feel of this blog and will post screenshots both of the dashboard and then the actual blog to show you what effect my changes have made, one by one.