Complete customization of WordPress Backend
Lesson - 2
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Exploring the WordPress dashboard
In the previous lesson, we have learnt how to install WordPress on the webserver.
Now we will explore the WordPress dashboard and will do advanced customization.
Once WordPress has been installed on your web server, you can access your WordPress login page by typing the below URL format. Make sure you have replaced “yoursitename.com” with your actual website URL.
On your WordPress login screen, you’ll enter the username and password that you set up during the WordPress installation process.
If you’ve forgotten your WordPress login password, you can click the “Lost Your Password?” link to retrieve it via email.
After logging in you will be redirected to the WordPress dashboard, which looks like the below screen.
The dashboard might confuse you and you will feel a bit overwhelmed but don’t worry, I have explained everything in this post.
Basically, the dashboard is divided into three sections: top bar, side navigation menu, and content area.
The top bar will show notification and the most commonly used administrative functions. The toolbar remains across the top of your site while you browse, enabling you to quickly customize your site or create a new post/ page at any time.
On the right-hand side of the toolbar, you will get the option to edit your profile or logout.
The left side of the dashboard is the main navigation menu, which links to all administrative pages, software, plugin, and themes you have installed.
A brand new WordPress websites dashboard will have the following menu items:
💛 Post: From this section, you can create, edit, delete, and categorised the post of your WordPress website. Posts are generally used for blogging purpose.
If you are going to make a blogging website, then you will most often use the post for publishing your article.
💛 Media: The media section allows you to upload photos, videos, files, and other multimedia content for your website.
Here you can also add alt text, title, and description to your multimedia file for better SEO of your website.
💛 Comments: This section shows the recent comment posted on your website. You can quickly unapproved or approve comments, reply, edit, mark as spam or send to trash, too.
💛 Appearance: From here you can install a new theme for your WordPress website.
💛 Plugins: Here you’ll find information on the most popular, newest plugins and recently updated plugins in the WordPress directory.
As per your website requirements, you can install or remove the plugin from this section.
💛 Users: Here you will find all the details of your WordPress users.
💛 Tools: This section helps you to check the site health and export/ erase personal data.
💛 Settings: It includes some important setting of your website. In the next section, we will go into details.
Important settings of WordPress dashboard
If you hover over the settings menu, you’ll see a submenu appear with options for various WordPress settings including:
We will go one by one to each submenu and explain every terminology for better understanding and settings.
WORDPRESS GENERAL SETTINGS
💛 Site Title and Tagline – The first thing you’ll notice in General Settings is Site Title and Tagline.
Make sure these titles match your site because your site title will be visible in Google search results. Also, update the tagline as per your website.
💛 WordPress Address (URL) – The next section is the WordPress Address (URL). Leave these two lines as it is. If you have installed an SSL certificate, make sure you have updated the site URL to the HTTPS version.
💛 Administration Email Address – Next, you’ll see the Email Address that’s used for admin purposes, like new user notification or accessing your WordPress admin panel.
💛 Membership – If you’re running a membership site then you can choose this option so anyone can register on your site.
💛 New User Default Role – Probably you should leave this setting as a subscriber since you don’t want to grant administrative privileges to just anyone that registers for your site.
Next is Site Language, Timezone, Time Format, Date Formate, and Week Starts On update these settings as per your location and preference. Don’t forget to click Save before moving to the next tab.
WORDPRESS WRITING SETTINGS
All of the settings on this page apply to writing and publishing content for your site.
💛 Firstly you’ll see the options of Default categories and Format of posts. If you have created the category then you can choose the default post category from here.
However, from the post editor itself, you can assign the category and choose the format for your article.
💛 Post via email – It allows you to send an email to your site with the post content.
To use this, you’ll need to set up a secret e-mail account with POP3 access, and any mail received at this address will be posted. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep this address secret.
💛 Update Services – Update Services are tools you can use to let other people know you’ve updated your blog.
WordPress automatically notifies popular Update Services that you’ve updated your blog by sending an XML-RPC ping each time you create or update a post.
WORDPRESS READING SETTINGS
💛 Homepage Display – Here you can choose what to display on the front page of your site — either your latest posts or a fixed/static page.
In the next section, you can control the display of your content, including the maximum numbers of posts to display and whether to show full text or a summary.
💛 Search Engine Visibility – You should never tick this checkbox, doing so discourages the search engines from indexing your site.
This might be a helpful setting if you’re currently developing your site and you’re not ready for it to be indexed by search engines.
But when your site is ready make sure you have unchecked this checkbox.
Want To Grow Your Website Into A Profitable Brand?
WORDPRESS DISCUSSION SETTINGS
This section provides lots of options for the management of comments and controlling links to your posts/pages.
💛 Default Post Settings – It is divided into three options. The first option attempt to notify any blog linked to from the post, second will let you know about pingbacks and trackbacks, and the third setting allows people to post comments on the new articles.
💛 Other Comment Settings – From this section, you can control how visitors will comment on your blog post, what details they have to fill before posting any comment.
You can also set after how many days the comment option will close automatically.
💛 Email Me Whenever – Whenever a new comment is made or if the comment is held for moderation you will get notified. You just have to enable the options here.
💛 Before A Comment Appears – The internet is full of automated software and bots which will start bombarded your comment section with lots of junk comments and spammy links.
So, it’s a good idea to manually approved the comments.
💛 Comment Moderation – Here you can customize how a comment is held based on the number of links. You can also add words, names, URLs, emails or even IPs to filter comments into the moderation queue.
💛 Disallowed Comment – If you want to automatically disallow comment for certain words, email, IP’s or other user string.
Then simply enter the key phrase in the box, and WordPress will automatically put those comments in the trash.
💛 Avatar – An avatar is a profile image you can have assigned to your email address when you comment on avatar enabled sites.
Enable the display of avatars for people who comment on your site, filter by their rating or choose a default avatar for people that don’t already have a custom avatar of their own.
To know more about the avatar, check this detailed guide: What is Gravatar
WORDPRESS MEDIA SETTINGS
Media Settings allows you to set maximum sizes for images inserted into the body of a post.
The Uploading files option allows you to select whether or not your uploads are organized into the month and year-based folder.
WORDPRESS PERMALINK SETTINGS
A permalink or permanent link is the address (URL) of a web page. It is called a permanent link because it’s not expected to change.
Every page published on the web has a unique URL it is expected to remain the same as long as the page is published on the web.
So it’s really important to set the permalink structure in the first place after installing WordPress.
WordPress gives you a number of options for setting up the URL structure of your posts. The best setting to use is the ‘Post Name’.
Permalink plays an important role in SEO and it consists of two-part.
- The website domain
- The page slug
The page slug is what comes after the domain slash and you have to make it SEO friendly by considering few points:
💛 It should be short and descriptive – Try to make your permalink short and informative.
💛 It needs to include SEO keywords – By inserting SEO keywords in the permalink, you give a strong clue to search engine about the content of your page.
Learn more about keyword research in-depth for better search ranking.
💛 Permalinks are lowercase – Some web servers treat uppercase and lowercase characters differently. To avoid any confusion keep all the letters in lowercase.
How to install a WordPress theme
There are thousands of WordPress themes (both free and paid) available to install.
And here we will cover two different ways to install a WordPress theme, so you can choose the method that works best for you.
INSTALL A THEME USING WORDPRESS ADMIN THEME SEARCH
To install a free WordPress theme from the WordPress.org themes directory, the first thing you need to go to the Appearance » Themes page and click on the Add New button.
On the next screen, you will get an option to sort themes by subject, specific features, and layout. For example:
- custom colours
- post Formats
- Grid Layout
Select an option to filter out the desired theme for your website.
Or you can directly search the theme. In our case, we searched for the popular Astra theme.
When you enter the theme name in the search box your theme will come up, then bring your mouse to the image. Go ahead and click on the install button followed by activate button.
Upon installation, depending on the theme, it may add additional settings options that you may need to configure.
For instance, your theme may ask you to install the supporting plugin or page builder.
To customize the theme, click on the customize button/ Astra option to start setting up your theme.
If you find any difficulties, click on the knowledge bank to get an idea of how something works in the theme?
INSTALL A THEME BY USING UPLOAD METHOD FROM WORDPRESS DASHBOARD
Using the first method you can only install a free theme.
What if you want to install a custom theme/ premium theme? Well, in this case, you would need to install the theme using the upload method from your WordPress admin.
To do so follow the below steps:
💛 Download the .zip file of the theme that you have purchased from a marketplace. Here we will take Astra Pro Theme as an example.
💛 Go to Appearance » Theme and click on Add New button.
💛 This will take you to the add new theme page showing featured free themes.
On the same page check the Upload Theme option and click on it to upload the zip file of the theme you have downloaded from the website.
Once your theme is installed, you will see a success message along with the link to activate and preview the theme.
FAQs About Installing WordPress Themes
1. Simplicity: It will be great if you choose simple themes.
These themes would be easy to navigate.
2. Responsive design: A significant number of web traffic is generated from smarts phones and tablets.
Make sure the theme you are choosing is mobile friendly.
3. SEO Friendly: Always go for the theme which is SEO optimized because it plays a crucial role in the overall SEO ranking factor.
4. Light-weighted: Light theme helps the website to load fast. A site that loads under 2 seconds ranks better in the search result.
The theme I recommend is Astra – It’s has all the quality and is the fastest-growing theme of all time.
If you are on a tight budget then start with a free theme.
However, If you can spend a little more, then choose a premium theme. Premium themes come with more functionality priority support.
A child theme in WordPress is a sub-theme that inherits all the functionality, features, and style of its parent theme.
Of course, you can. But make sure you have taken the complete backup of your website.
Sometimes making a big change can ruin the entire website.
HOW TO INSTALL A WORDPRESS PLUGIN
Just like installing a theme, a plugin can also be installed in two ways:
- Install from the WordPress directory: For free plugins
- By uploading zip file: For paid/ customized theme
INSTALL A PLUGIN USING WORDPRESS PLUGIN SEARCH: FOR FREE PLUGIN
The easiest way of installing a FREE WordPress plugin is to use the inbuilt plugin search.
To do so:
Go to Plugins » Add New page inside your WordPress admin area.
Type the plugin name in the search area.
After that, you will see a bunch of listings like the example below:
In our case, we have searched for one of the best SEO plugin – “Yoast SEO“
Now, we’ll click on the Install Now button followed by Activate.
That’s all, you have successfully installed your first WordPress plugin.
NOTE: Yoast SEO plugin is a very important and must-have plugin for all WordPress website. It helps in creating SEO friendly URL, Title, Meta Descriptions, Sitemap, and much more.
INSTALL A PLUGIN USING UPLOAD OPTION: FOR PREMIUM & CUSTOMIZED PLUGIN
Paid WordPress plugins are not listed in the WordPress plugin directory. These plugins cannot be installed using the first method.
To install the premium plugin, WordPress has come up with the upload method.
To do so:
First, you need to download the plugin in a zip file from the source.
Next, go to the WordPress admin area then click on Plugins » Add New page. there you have to click on the “Upload Plugin” button.
Then you need to click on the ‘Choose File’ button and select the plugin file you downloaded earlier to your computer.
WordPress will upload and install the plugin for you. After installation, you just have to click on Activate Plugin button.
That’s it for how to install a premium plugin on your WordPress website. I hope this has been helpful!
You might be interested in reading: Things you should know about WordPress plugin.