How to Use the WordPress Dashboard

WordPress is the largest content management system on the market. In fact, it powers over one-third of all the websites on the internet.

There is a reason why WordPress is the most preferred website builder around the globe. WordPress has a wide range of features to help you customize your website, it’s supported by nearly every website hosting company, and the dashboard becomes increasingly more intuitive to use.

While WordPress is a dream of a website builder, it’s true that there is a slight learning curve. This is especially true for novice website owners. 

If this is your first time navigating the WordPress platform, don’t fear. This post will provide an in-depth overview of how to use your WordPress login URL and how to navigate your WordPress dashboard.

How to login to your WordPress website

The first step to logging into your WordPress website is to make sure you’ve purchased hosting, installed WordPress, and retrieved your WordPress Admin details including your username and password.

If you haven’t completed this step, here is a quick tutorial.

You can also navigate to HostGator, choose one of our managed WordPress hosting plans, and follow the steps when prompted.

Once you have installed WordPress, there are several different ways you can log in to your site including logging in via your web hosting dashboard (also known as cPanel) and by logging into your WordPress site through the back end.

Logging into your site through the back end is the simplest way. Here’s how you do it.

1. Navigate to your WordPress login page

Your backend WordPress login will be your domain name with /wp-admin added to the end of it. For example, if your website is www.yourwebsite.com, then your WordPress login page would be www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin.

Once you type www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin into the URL bar, WordPress will return a login screen that looks like this.

wordpress dashboard login screen

2. Enter your WordPress username and password

Once you see this login screen on your page, you’re ready to enter your username or email address and your password. 

Remember, you will have set up your username and password when you signed up for your web hosting account and installed WordPress. WordPress will also email you your login credentials, so you can always search your email inbox if you forget what these credentials are.

3. Save your login credentials

It can be difficult to remember your username and password, especially if you selected a complicated but super-secure password. Read our guide to setting a password that’s tough to crack, but easy to remember.

4. Hit login

Once you’ve entered your password, hit the login button. As soon as you’ve logged in to your WordPress account, you’ll see a dashboard that looks similar to this.

wordpress dashboard

Keep in mind your particular WordPress dashboard will look slightly different depending on how new your account is and which WordPress plugins you have installed.

If it’s the very first time you have logged in to your WordPress dashboard, you should see a welcome message that says, “Welcome to WordPress” with a button underneath that says “Get Started.”

How to navigate your WordPress dashboard

There are a million things you can do with your WordPress dashboard, especially as you start installing new plugins. Let’s talk about the most basic dashboard elements that will help you get a nice site up and running.

1. Customize your site

If you click on the “Customize Your Site” button when you first log in to your WordPress dashboard, WordPress will redirect you to another window that looks something like this.

customize your site menu in wordpress dashboard

From here, you’ll notice another dashboard on the left side of the screen. This dashboard allows you to customize various visual elements of your website, including:

  • Site identity – This is the name of your WordPress site, your tagline, and your favicon (the little icon that appears in your browser tab).
  • Colors – You can change any of the colors in your WordPress design theme to match your brand
  • Theme options – This is where you can select your theme preferences.
  • Cover template – Here you can choose a background image and customize the colors, opacity, etc.
  • Background image – You can upload a background image for your site here.
  • Menus – You probably won’t have any menu items yet. When you do, you can add them here.
  • Widgets – You can make changes to your WordPress widgets here.
  • Homepage settings – You can select which page will be your home page from this menu item.
  • Additional CSS – If you’re a coding whiz, you can add additional CSS here (although it might be easier to use a CSS plugin).

A good way to begin customizing your WordPress website is to start with the first item on the list and move down. Remember, you don’t have to customize every element of your website on the first day, and you can always find this page by clicking on “Customize” at the top of your page.

Once you are done customizing, you can click “publish” on this page.

2. Change your theme completely

One of the first steps in setting up your new WordPress website is choosing a theme. You’ll notice a link that says “Change your theme completely” underneath the “Customize your site button.” 

If you click on this button, WordPress will direct you to a gallery of themes. You can check out all the themes, preview them, and install the one you like the most.

3. Next steps

If you look to the right of the “Customize your site” button, you’ll see a heading that says “Next steps” with several links. These are quick links that help you start publishing content on your website. From here you can:

You can also complete these steps by clicking menu items from the top and left dashboards.

4. More actions

After the “next steps” heading, you’ll see the “more actions” heading. From here, you can do things like:

  • Manage widgets
  • Manage menus
  • Turn comments on or off
  • Learn more about getting started

These are also quick links that help you navigate your WordPress website.

5. Left and top dashboards

As you get started with your WordPress site, you’ll also notice items on your left and top dashboards. This is where you will do the majority of your customizing. From these dashboards, you can do things like:

  • Create new posts
  • Make new pages
  • Moderate comments
  • Navigate to the plugins page
  • Find the widgets page
  • Customize the appearance of your page
  • Add users
  • Check out your tools section
  • Customize your settings
  • And more!

As you become more versed in WordPress, you’ll also learn how to add plugins and you’ll often see a new plugin added to the side left dashboard, so you can access it quickly.

Wrap Up

Congratulations! You now officially know how to login to your new WordPress website, how to get started, and what menu items are on your top and left dashboard.

To get started with your WordPress website, you’ll need to purchase web hosting. Visit HostGator to purchase WordPress web hosting, and you can get started 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.

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