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Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read: The Dashboard

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Scott McNulty takes a look at the anatomy of the Dashboard in WordPress. Along the way, he points out what you can change.
This chapter is from the book

The Dashboard (Figure 4.1) is the first thing you see when you log into any installation of WordPress. It’s your captain’s chair, the tower from which you overlook the grandeur of your digital kingdom, the window into your blog, and a dozen more clichés.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 The WordPress Dashboard, in all its glory.

The Dashboard provides information at a glance about a variety of WordPress-related items through six panels:

  • Right Now
  • Recent Comments
  • Incoming Links
  • WordPress Development Blog
  • Plugins
  • Other WordPress News

Out of the box, the Dashboard customization options are limited, but they can be expanded with—you guessed it—plug-ins. This isn’t to say that you don’t have any options out of the gate, though. As long as you’re logged in as a user in the Administrator role, you can change a few things.

In this chapter, you take a look at the anatomy of the Dashboard. Along the way, I point out what you can change.

Right Here: Right Now

At the top of the Dashboard, you see the Right Now panel (Figure 4.2), which has an orange header—no doubt to catch your attention. Because WordPress is all about creating content, the panel has two big buttons: Write a New Page and Write a New Post. Clicking either of those buttons takes you directly to the posting form so you can get down to the good stuff (which I promise to talk about very shortly, in Chapter 6).

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 Right Now gives you easy access to the most important aspect of your blog: the content.

Below that orange banner, you see some statistics about your blog, complete with hyperlinks. A fresh installation of WordPress comes with one post and a comment to give you a good starting place. Clicking one of the statistics links takes you to the related section of WordPress, as follows:

  • The post link takes you to the Manage Posts panel, where you can edit or create posts (depending on your role).
  • The page link takes you to the Manage Pages panel.
  • The category link shows you how many categories you currently have in your blog. Click this link to add, edit, or delete categories.
  • The comments page is broken up into four subsections: total comments, number of approved comments, number of spam comments, and number of comments awaiting moderation. When the number in any of those categories is greater than zero, you can click the link to perform comment-specific actions.

Below all that information about the content of your blog, you get some info about the blog itself: the current theme, which determines what your blog looks like, and the number of widgets the theme is using. (See Chapter 11 for details on themes and widgets.) Clicking the widgets link takes you to the Widgets panel, which allows you to add or remove widgets. You can change your current theme by clicking the Change Theme button.

Finally, the Right Now panel displays the version of WordPress you’re running. If a new version is available, a note here alerts you to update your software (Figure 4.3).

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 When a WordPress update is available, this alert pops up on the Dashboard.

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