Once you’ve made the decision to use WordPress to build your small business website and installed the files on your server, the next step is to get familiar with the WordPress admin panel where you will spend most of your time.
As I mentioned in the previous post, WordPress has an excellent backend interface where we can edit just about anything on the website–all with little or no knowledge of code. If you plan to DIY your website, the WordPress admin panel will quickly become your most powerful tool.
The WordPress admin panel can be a little overwhelming at first because there are so many options to choose from, but like everything else, the more you use it the easier it gets. Today, I’ll cover some of the basic entry-level features of the admin panel that you’ll be using right out of the box. Later, we’ll explore the full feature set in more detail.
Basic Features of the WordPress Admin Panel
To access the backend of your new website, visit your Wordpress login screen at: yourwebsite.com/wp-admin.
Enter the login credentials you or your web administrator set up for the site and you will be taken to the WordPress Dashboard. This is where the magic happens. I don’t want to get too complicated in this first lesson, so let’s start with the most basic features of the admin panel.
1. Pages – Here you will see a list of pages on your website. WordPress always starts you out with a sample About page. Feel free to delete it or edit it by hovering over the page name. You will use this screen to add new pages to the site. Pages should contain information that will be relatively constant and unchanging. Things like your company story, team member list, contact info–these are all good candidates for pages.
2. Posts – All WordPress sites come equipped with the ability to maintain a blog. A post is an individual entry of the overall blog. The information on posts is less permanent than that which is on pages. Announcements, updates, and articles all work well as posts. Not all websites use posts. It’s certainly not a requirement, but posts usually factor heavily into a small business that employs content marketing as a strategy for bringing in new business.
3. Settings – There are several categories listed under the Appearance menu in the WordPress admin panel. The options available here may sound intimidating at first, but they are pretty easy to figure out based on context. Check out the General, Reading, Writing, and Discussion settings in particular. Here you can set your time zone and date format, you can choose whether to allow comments, and you can set the home page of your website. Play around with these settings and view the frontend of your website to see how things change. Don’t worry–you can always change these settings at any time.
That’s a good place to stop for this first lesson on the WordPress admin panel. Now it’s time to practice. Even if you feel a little intimidated, the best way to learn is by doing. Our clients often cringe at the thought of “breaking” their website by playing around. It’s true that eventually you won’t want to fool around too much with a live site, but at this point, play to your heart’s content. That’s how you get better. Nothing I’ve covered here can catastrophically damage anything, so don’t worry about that at all.
Try creating a few pages. Write a couple of posts for fun. Then, see if you can make a page called Blog and use the Settings menu to set your new Blog page as the page on which your post feed appears. Tip: It’s under “Reading Settings.”
In the next article, we’ll dig deeper into the WordPress admin panel and learn more about this powerful content management system (CMS). Give me a shout if you run into any issues or have questions. I do this stuff every day and I’m happy to help!