WordPress Dashboard

The WordPress Dashboard can be a little daunting to the first time user.  Below is a quick overview:

The Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard.

  1. Dashboard title – This is where you will see the name of the site (upper left in the top horizontal menu bar).  If you click on your site name, you’ll link to the front end of your website.
  2. On the right hand side of that same horizontal menu bar is the name of the user that is logged into the dashboard.  Hovering over your name brings up a popup window – this is where you can log out of the dashboard.
  3. The left sidebar menu is the WordPress main menu.  This is where you’ll create Pages or Posts, access the Media Library, see the Comments made on your Posts and Pages, access Widgets and Themes under Appearance, add Plugins to your website, see who is a User on your website and more.
  4. Screen Options – click on this button and a window will drop down.  In this window you have the opportunity to choose what you see on Dashboard.  Screen Options is also available on Pages, Posts, Media  Library, Plugins, etc.
    1. Clicking the Help link will drop down a smaller window where you can get help related to the page you are on.
  5. Welcome to WordPress – this is quick links to customize your site (blue button), write a blog post, manage widgets and more.
  6. At a Glance will quickly tell you how many Posts and Pages you have in your website.
  7. Activity will list your recently published Posts.
  8. Need to start drafting a Post quickly?  Try Quick Draft.
  9. WordPress Events and News will include upcoming WordPress Meetups, recent WordPress updates, WordCamps and other news.
  10. Footer
    1. On the left –  a link to WordPress.com
    2. On the right – a quick note to let you know what version of WordPress you are using.  This information is helpful when you’re considering adding a plugin.  Remember to make sure new plugins are compatible with your version of WordPress.  Note:  You should always be updated to the most current version of WordPress.

How To Embed Videos in Your Website

Yes, you can embed videos in your website.  You could upload the videos into your Media Library, but that is not the best choice.  A much better alternative is to first upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo.   Once you have uploaded your video to YouTube or Vimeo, copy the video URL.  You can find the URL here:

Embed video using the YouTube or Vimeo URL.

Go back to your WordPress website and paste the video URL in the post or page editor and watch the magic.  WordPress will automatically fetch the embed code and display your video for you.  Publish or Update your changes.

How to Update a Plugin

How to Update a Plugin

For the security of your website, it is important to keep your plugins and WordPress code up-to-date.  Some security plugins will let you know when a plugin needs to be updated.   More recent versions of WordPress will update the core code on its own and a few plugins can be set to automatically update but most have to be done manually.

How do you know if your plugin needs an update?

When you log into your WordPress dashboard, WordPress will notify you there are plugin updates by putting that number in a red circle next to the Plugin link.  Click into your Plugins page and you will quickly see what plugin(s) needs updating.    In this example, the Akismet Anti-Spam plugin needs updating.

Before updating any plugin, it is always a good idea to back up your website externally to something like Google Drive or Dropbox. 

After backing up your website, feel free to read the change details included in the update – this is a good way to learn more about how your website works. I recommend updating plugins after backing up your website because backing up your website should always be your first step.

Update the Plugin

To update the plugin, click on the Update Now link in the peach section under the plugin.  Hang tight and leave the site alone while the spinner shows the update is being completed.  Once the update is complete, you’ll get a green check mark showing the update was successful.

Once the plugin is updated, go back and check the front end of your website (what your website visitor sees).  Make sure everything looks good.  It should be fine but it is always good to check after an update to make sure the update is successful on the front end too.

Multiple Plugin Updates

If you have multiple plugins to update, avoid the temptation to have them update simultaneously.  That is an easy way to have a code failure and break your site. (NEVER update more than one plugin at a time.)  Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Backup your website
  2. Update the first plugin
  3. Once the plugin update is done, check the front-end of your site – click through a page or two
  4. Repeat, starting with step 2 until all plugins are updated.

Upload a Plugin

Some paid WordPress plugins are not available in the WordPress plugin repository.  These paid plugins require a different installation method.  This post will show you how to upload a plugin.

Fortunately, in addition to the Install button, WordPress also provides you with the handy dandy Upload button.  Here is how to upload a plugin to your website:

Before you can upload a plugin, you’ll need to download.

You’ll need to purchase and download the plugin from the plugin developer.  This download will be a zip file.  Remember:  download plugins from developers you can trust.  Do your research first.

Upload a Plugin button.OK, you have purchased your plugin and downloaded it to your computer.  Now what?  Click that trusty Plugin » Add New plugin link.  This will bring you to the Add Plugins page.  Click the Upload Plugin.  You’re telling WordPress that the plugin you want is on your computer, not in the WordPress repository.

A new option will open up for you: 


Click the Choose File button to navigate to the zip file on your computer.  Once you selected the file, click the Open button in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.  You’ll be returned to the Add Plugins page.

Click the Install Now button to install the plugin.  WordPress will upload the plugin zip folder from your computer and install it for you.  Once the installation is complete, you’ll see a success message:

Click the blue Activate Plugin to start using the plugin.  Depending on the plugin you installed, you may have to configure the settings to fit the goals of your website.  Those configurations vary for plugins and will not be covered here.

How To Install A Plugin

Plugin menu.

In order to install a plugin, first be sure you are using the self-hosted WordPress.org.  These steps will also apply to you if you have the Business plan at WordPress.com.  As of this writing, the Business Plan is the only option which allows you to install plugins.

You can find plugins online in the WordPress Plugin Repository or in your dashboard under Plugins (located between Appearance and Users).  When you hover over the Plugin link, a sub-menu pops up giving you the options to see your Installed Plugins and to a Add New plugin to your website.  Ignore the Editor link – that is for more advanced developers.

Plugin Page

Either click on the Installed Plugins page or click on the Add New from the drop down menu.  You’ll be brought to your list of plugins currently in use or available to use in your website.  All your plugins are listed with a horizontal submenu of how many plugins you have, how many are active and inactive.  You can also search your installed plugins using the Search installed plugins… box.

When looking at your list of plugins, you’ll see something like this:

Sample of Plugin page.


Install a plugin using the Add New Button or Add New Link.

Adding A Plugin to Your Website

To add a new plugin to your website, click on the Add New button next to the Plugins page title or under Appearance » Add New.

You will be brought to the Add Plugins Page.  This is where you can search for a plugin by Keyword, Author or Tag.

Search for a plugin using keyword, author or tag.




Plugin Install Now button.Once you found the plugin you are looking for, click on the Install Now button next to the plugin you want to install.  WordPress will install the plugin for you.  After the installation, you’ll see a success message with a link to Activate the Plugin or Return to the Plugin Installer.

To make the plugin work, click on the blue Activate button to activate and start using the plugin.

Plugin Activate link.

The next step may be to configure the plugin.  These configurations, if any , vary between plugins and is not covered here.