Your Easy Quick Guide to Understanding WordPress

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Your quick start guide to understanding WordPress. Are you a new WordPress user and are confused by the WordPress dashboard? Are you transferring from Blogger, WIX, Squarespace or another website builder, and need a WordPress guide for your new site? Well, everything you need is right here! Keep reading!

A Quick Summary:

Read this to learn about WordPress posts and the Gutenberg editor, the page editor, comments and users in WordPress, settings, and how to change (or not change!) your permalinks in your brand new WordPress install.

What you need to know:

This is a guide for your first WordPress install. If you are a WordPress newbie and don’t know how to understand WordPress, start here.

Your next steps:

If you already understand your WordPress website, you can skip this!

If you are a new WordPress user ready to install WordPress and want to learn about your new WordPress backend, keep reading.

Understanding WordPress

I want to show you what a WordPress backend looks like when you get your first fresh install. If you’re coming from Squarespace or Google Blogger or WIX this can look very foreign and look very different, so I want to talk through what the initial install of a WordPress site looks like!

How do you find your WordPress Login?

Your WordPress login will first be determined by your hosting provider. Login to your host dashboard or CPanel (depending on your web hosting plan) to find the username and password given to you. If you can’t find it, chat with your host support and they will help you. To find your website login URL, use one of these patterns:


Settings is where you should go first when you install a new WordPress instance. So let’s start here! This is high-level information about your site and I would start here. This is where you verify and can change your Site Title, Tagline, New Subscribers Settings, Timezone and Date Format. Your custom domain will be determined by your host. Don’t change your domain name here.

The Writing, Reading, Discussion, and Media sections all give you options for changing your site settings.

1. Under Reading, you can change if your homepage will load just a list of your posts, or a designed homepage that you build. (This is an essential step when deciding your homepage!). You can also choose how many posts will load on your blog reel.

Pro Tip: Don’t show too many blog posts! Sites that have a never-ending number of posts that scroll are exhausting. Start with 6-10, and then let readers click through to older posts.

2. The Discussion section gives you settings that control your comments. If you want to monitor comments or change who can comment, start here.

3. The Permalink section comes with a big warning! This is where you can change your URL structure for your site.

If you want to change your URL structure, do it BEFORE you write any posts. Personally I prefer the “Post name” structure (see below).

VERY IMPORTANT: If you change Permalink structure AFTER you have posts, you will break all of your post URLs, and will need to hire a developer to create redirects for every URL. I’ve done this by accident. I do not recommend!


The Dashboard is not that exciting in WordPress. It gives you some options to show your site health status, or your recent activity, but honestly I don’t use the dashboard that much. To customize the widgets that show, use the top drop down arrow called “Screen Options”.


This is the area to add new posts and pages to your site. I will write a complete guide to the WordPress editor Gutenberg. Gutenberg is the drag-and-drop editor that WordPress now uses for post and page editing. It is completely user-friendly, and I love it for customizing my posts with images, tables, bullets, buttons, and more. Your theme might even give you different post templates and layouts to use with Gutenberg. You can also create and manage categories and tags in this section. Have fun exploring!

(See my video above to see how I use WordPress Gutenberg in action.)


Media is the area that houses all your images, files, and videos. This is a complete repository of every file that you upload to your site. Once you upload a file or image, it will automatically be accessible here.


This is your hub to manage comments. You can see approved comments, posted comments, and comments that are blocked as spam. You can also reply to comments here without navigating to each individual post.


Appearance is your hub for your theme. The “theme” is the downloaded file that you use to design your site. This is often sold by a third party theme developer (ie. premium themes). You can also test out free themes here downloaded from the WordPress repository. Here you can see all the themes installed on your site, and remove the ones that you don’t need anymore.

Here you can also manage your menus (navigation), widgets, and any custom font options you have.

Pro Tip: Remove the default WordPress themes when you settle on your permanent theme. Their files could slow down your site.


WordPress does not come native functions for analytics, forms, recipe cards, ecommerce platforms, etc. Those are accessible with WordPress plugins – free and paid. This is where you can search for and download plugins, as well as access the settings for existing plugins.

Pro Tip: Don’t add too many plugins! Sites that run more too many plugins are often sluggish because each plugin adds a bit of code to each page load. I recommend no more than 10-15.


Users is where you will manage all the people that have access to your WordPress backend. Keep this limited! Ideally this would just involve you, your business partners, your developer and your host. If you use a subscription service, this might be where those subscribers are managed.


Tools is the section that manages the features and plugins that help you work on your site. These might include any plugins you download that help build your site. But honestly, I rarely access this section of WordPress, and rarely use the default WordPress tool options.

Custom Plugin Options

As you download more and more custom plugins, they might also add top-level items to your WordPress menu. Options include: theme settings, contact form settings, Analytics or data settings, online store and ecommerce settings, and user management (forums, subscription) settings. These plugins will grow your site menu – and your site functionality.

Make sure you watch the video above for a guide to understanding WordPress to see how I use the WordPress backend with a new site install! (Can’t see the video? Check it out here.)

Your quick start guide to understanding WordPress. Are you a new WordPress user and are confused by the WordPress dashboard? Are you transferring from Blogger, WIX, Squarespace or another website builder, and need a WordPress guide for your new site? Well, everything you need is right here! Keep reading.

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