How to take over a WordPress website that was built professionally

You’ve hired a professional to build your WordPress website, and the results are outstanding. Your new site looks nice. The theme is gorgeous. And, your website has all the extra bells and whistles you were hoping for when you hired your designer.

Since then, however, the web developer has passed over the admin login to you with little to no instructions and has gone on their merry way. So, now what?

What do you do if you need to make edits, large or small, to your site and don’t want to mess up the whole thing?

I’ve been in this position, and, let me tell you, it’s a bit nerve-wracking the first time you log in to your dashboard and try to go it alone. But, don’t fear; this article is for you.

In this post, you’ll learn the basics of how to take over a professionally built WordPress website, including:

  • How to update file permissions in your cPanel
  • How to add a new WordPress page
  • How to edit an existing page
  • How to change the navigation menu

By the end of this article, you’ll have the basics down!

How to update permissions in WordPress

The first task when taking over your WordPress site is to know how to update your file permissions. 

In short, file permissions are rules that determine who has access to what on your WordPress site. When taking over your WordPress site, you can determine who has access to the wp-admin folder and what permissions they have (e.g., read, write, and execute).

If you’re taking sole control of your website, you want to make sure you, the owner (user), have sole access as opposed to a group of users or the whole world.

Remember, WordPress is an open-source platform, so you have to make sure your permissions are set up correctly, so hackers don’t access confidential data or change your files. You also want to ensure that the world can read (view your files), but can’t write (edit files) or execute the files (run them).

If you’re interested in a more detailed explanation of what WordPress site permissions are and how they work, check out this article.

If you only want to check “update permissions” box off your to-do list, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Login to your HostGator cPanel (here are detailed instructions on how to login to your cPanel).
  2. Click “File Manager.”
  3. Find the “Permissions” link on the top navigation bar and click on it.
  4. Click on the file name that you want to update.
  5. Right-click on the file name and click “Change permissions” when the menu appears.
  6. Double click the numbers under the permissions tab and enter “0755.
  7. Hit “Save.”
  8. Select the permissions you would like to set for the file.
  9. Click “Change Permissions.”
change wordpress permissions in cpanel

Permissions updated? Check!

How to add a new WordPress page

Have you received a handful of new testimonials and you’re ready to add said testimonials to a new page on your site? Do you finally have your contact form sorted out and want to create a new contact page? What about adding your about page for the first time?

Here is how you add a new page to your WordPress site:

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard using your username and password.
  2. Turn your attention to the left menu bar on your dashboard and add find “Pages.”
  3. Hover your cursor over the word “Pages” and click “Add New.”
  4. Alternatively, you can hover your cursor over the “+ New” link on the top of the page and click “New.” This will take you to the same place.

WordPress will direct you to a new page where you can add a tile, create content, add pictures, insert plugin information, and design your website to your heart’s content.

add new page in wordpress

The “Add title” section of the page will be the title of your page. In other words, what you enter here is what will appear as your menu name when you add this page to your menu.

While you can change the title of your page later, it’s easier if you just name your page what you want it to be in your menu. For example, if you are creating a contact page, you should write “Contact” in the “Add title section.”

You’ll also notice a little plus sign (+) where you would add content on the page. This is a content block in the new Gutenberg WordPress editor. When you click on this plus sign, you can add different types of content. This includes videos, images, columns, text—anything.

When you’re done adding content to your page, here are the last steps:

  1. Find “Publish” on the top of the page and click it. This will make your new page live, but won’t add it to your menu yet (we will talk about how to do that in a minute).
  2. If you want to see your page before you publish it, click “Preview.”

That’s it!

How to edit a page in WordPress

Let’s say you want to edit a page. For example, maybe your business email address changed or you want to add new information to your about page. For this, you don’t have to create a new page. You only need to update a current page. 

Here’s how to edit a page in WordPress:

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard using your username and password.
  2. Turn your attention to the left menu bar on your dashboard and add find “Pages.”
  3. Hover your cursor over “Pages” and click “All Pages.
  4. WordPress will take you to a list of all your current WordPress pages.
  5. Find the page you want to edit (e.g., about, contact, etc.), hover your cursor over the title link, and you’ll see a small list of links appear right under the page title.
  6. Click on the link that says “edit.”
  7. Once you click “Edit,” WordPress will take you to the respective page and you can make any changes you need to make using the content block editor.
  8. Once you’ve finished making changes, turn your attention to the top navigation bar on the upper right side of the screen and hit “Update.”
  9. Voila! Once you refresh your screen, you’ll see your updated page.

If you want to see how the new changes look before you press “Update,” then you can click on “Preview.” This will show you what your page will look like before going live.

If you are making extensive changes, you can also click on “Switch to draft.” If you click on this link, WordPress will unpublish your page while you make changes. When you’re finished editing in draft mode, remember to republish your page.

How to change the navigation menu

If you’re adding new staple pages to your website (e.g. about, contact, store, products, etc.), you’ll most likely want to add them to your menu. You can also add secondary menu items, or menus that appear when a user hovers their cursor over a main menu item.

WordPress won’t add your new pages to your menu automatically. You have to tell WordPress which pages you want in your primary and secondary menus.

Here is how to change your menus in WordPress:

  • Login to your WordPress dashboard using your username and password.
  • Turn your attention to the top menu bar on your dashboard and find the name of your website. Click on the name of your website.
  • Once you click on the name of your website, a new top navigation bar will appear and you’ll see the word “Customize.”
  • Click on “Customize.”
  • Once you click on “Customize,” WordPress will redirect you to a new page with a new menu on the left side of the page. The left-side menu may have some variation, depending on what theme you have on your website, but this menu will share most of the same elements across the board.
customize menu in wordpress
  • Click on “Menus.”
  • From here, you can either click on “Main/Primary Menu,” or you can create a new menu. Chances are, you won’t need more than one menu on your website.
  • Once you have clicked on the respective menu, WordPress will flesh out your current menu. The menu items flushed left are your main menu items and the menu items indented are your secondary menu items under a main menu item. Here’s an example of what my menu looks like on my travel blog. 
example wordpress menu for travel blog
  • To add new menu items, click on the “+ Add Items” link that appears under your menu.
  • From here, WordPress will add another column where you can add pages and rearrange your menu.
add new pages to wordpress menu
  • Click on the “+” button next to the page name to add it to your menu. You can also click on the “+ Add” button. Remember, whatever you named your page when you created it will be the name that appears here.
  • Once you click on the respective plus button, you will see that WordPress automatically adds it to your menu on the left. For example, I added “Contact” to my menu, and now it appears under the page “Hire a Travel Writer.”
click to add pages to wordpress menu

From here, you can drag and drop menu items in any order based on your preferences. For example, if I dragged “Contact” beneath the “Home” menu item, then my menu would show the home page first, the contact page second, the about page third, and so on and so forth.

You can also drag a secondary menu item under a main menu item. If you do this, then main menu items (not indented) will appear as your primary menu, and the secondary menu will only appear when a user hovers their cursor over the main menu name. For example, my secondary menu of “How to start a travel blog,” “How to earn money on your travel blog,” and “Disclaimers” will only appear when a user hovers their cursor on the “About” main menu link.

Here’s how to finish up the process:

  • Once you have added your pages and arranged your menu items, click Publish.
  • If you want to schedule or save your menu as a draft, then click on the settings wheel, select the respective task, and press the button to the left of the settings wheel.

Now you’re a pro!

Get started with WordPress today with a HostGator account!

Remember, every good WordPress account is powered by a solid web hosting provider like HostGator.

HostGator is one of the top WordPress hosting providers and the perfect place to get affordable, secure hosting plans for your new WordPress site. Check out HostGator’s WordPress hosting plans today!

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.