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Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read: The Dashboard

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In this chapter, Scott McNulty takes a look at the anatomy of the Dashboard. Along the way, he points out what you can change.

The Dashboard (Figure 4.1 on the next page) is the first thing you see when you log in to 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 eight modules:

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

Out of the box, the Dashboard's 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, I 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 module (Figure 4.2).

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 Right Now displays an easy-to-read overview of your blog's content and gives you a quick way to change your blog's theme.

As you can see, the Right Now module displays some statistics about your blog in two columns: Content and Discussion. Each entry, no matter which column it appears in, is a hyperlink. 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 Posts link takes you to the Posts module, where you can edit or create posts (depending on your role).
  • The Pages link takes you to the Pages module.
  • The Categories link shows you how many categories you currently have in your blog. Click this link to add, edit, or delete categories.
  • The Tags link shows you how many tags you currently have in your blog. Click this link to add, edit, or delete tags.
  • The Discussion column has four categories: Comments (total comments), Approved (number of approved comments), Pending (number of pending comments), and Spam (number of spam comments). 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 12 for details on themes and widgets.) Clicking the Widgets link takes you to the Widgets module, which allows you to add or remove widgets. You can change your current theme by clicking the Change Theme button.

Finally, the Right Now module displays the version of WordPress you're running. If a new version is available, two things happen: A note alerts you to update your software (Figure 4.3), and a new button appears in the Right Now module, labeled Update to 3.0.1 (or whatever the current version is).

Figure 4.3

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

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