The Dashboard

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The first time you log in to WordPress, you are presented with what is called the Dashboard. The Dashboard is where you manage everything related to your web site including content, discussions, appearance, plugins, and overall web site functionality. The Dashboard has a focus on efficiency and simplicity, with most common administrator tasks just a single click away. You can find the Dashboard at http: //example.com/wp-admin.

Dashboard Widgets

The WordPress Dashboard, shown in Figure 2-1, contains multiple widgets, or blocks, of information for quick access. These widgets provide various information and functionality for administering your WordPress web site.

FIGURE 2-1: Default WordPress Dashboard

The Right Now widget shows top-level stats under the At a Glance title regarding your web site's content. Here, you can view how many posts, pages, drafts, comments, and even spam you currently have in your web site. Clicking any statistic takes you to the corresponding section for managing that content. Below your web site content statistics, the Right Now widget displays what theme you are currently running with total number of installed widgets. This widget count is for your sidebar widgets and not the admin dashboard widgets. Your current WordPress version is also listed. If a new version of WordPress is available, a button appears giving you the option to update.

For quick access to your drafts, check out the Recent Drafts widget. This widget shows posts that you are currently working on, but haven't been published on your web site yet. Click a recent draft to continue working on that post. Once a post has been published or deleted, it will no longer be displayed in the Recent Drafts widget. To view all recent drafts click the View All button.

Need to blog in a hurry? The QuickPress widget is the quickest way to create a new blog post. You can fill in your title and content, just as you would on a normal post. You can even upload and insert an image, or any type of media, right from QuickPress. From here you can save the post as a draft, reset all of the fields, or publish the post for the world to see!

To see who is linking to your web site, use the Incoming Links widget. This widget uses Google Blog Search (http://blogsearch.google.com/) to find incoming links to your web site. If any incoming links exist, they are displayed here in reverse chronological order, showing the most recent at the top. The Saying link takes you directly to the post that links to your web site so you can view the full context of the post. Some links may not show up in this list, so don't be alarmed if links pointed to your web site are not displayed here. For more details on incoming links and traffic, use a more advanced analytics package such as Google Analytics or the WordPress stats plugin.

The admin dashboard also contains two RSS widgets, one for the WordPress Development blog and the other for the Planet WordPress RSS feed. The WordPress Development blog contains news and information regarding the development of WordPress. This blog is where new versions of WordPress are announced, as well as beta and release candidate information. The Planet WordPress feed is a collection of WordPress-related blogs featuring news and information regarding all aspects of WordPress. These two RSS widgets can be changed to display any RSS feed you like. To change an RSS widget, hover over the title and click the Edit link that appears. Change the feed to any properly formatted RSS feed and click Save. Now you can display any RSS feed content directly on your WordPress Dashboard.

You can add additional widgets to your WordPress Dashboard from plugins. Plugins can use the Dashboard Widgets API to add any custom widget to the admin dashboard. Widgets can provide any type of custom functionality provided from a plugin. We'll discuss installing plugins and widgets in more detail later in this chapter.

Customizing the Dashboard

You can completely customize your dashboard by dragging and dropping your widgets to different positions. You can minimize any widget by hovering over the title and clicking the arrow that appears to the right of the widget title. This minimizes the widget and displays only the widget title, hiding the rest of the widget. You can also hide any widgets you don't want visible by unchecking that widget under the Screen Options tab in the header. To edit any Dashboard Widget settings, hover over the title of the widget and an Edit link appears. Click that link to view the widget's available settings.

Screen Options

The Screen Options tab shown in Figure 2-2 enables you to modify display settings on any screen of your dashboard. Each screen shows different options under the Screen Options tab. For example, clicking the Screen Options tab under Posts O Edit allows you to adjust which fields are displayed. You can also adjust how many posts per page are shown.

FIGURE 2-2: Screen options tab located in the header of the admin dashboard

Under the Screen Options tab on the admin dashboard you can also adjust how many columns you want displayed, choosing between two to four columns present on your dashboard. To change this option click the Screen Options tab. Then select two, three, or four columns for your widgets to be displayed in.

Admin Menu

The WordPress Admin Menu is located on the left-hand side of the admin dashboard and features links to different administrator SubPanels. SubPanels are the individual admin pages in WordPress. When you hover over any SubPanel link in the menu a small arrow appears to the right of the menu item. Clicking this arrow expands that menu item to show submenu items. WordPress remembers which menus are expanded so if you log out and then log back in you will notice the exact same menus expanded as when you left. This helps hide certain Admin Menus that you don't use as often.

The Admin Menu can also be collapsed to only show icons, giving you more space for your primary content. Just click the horizontal arrow located just below Dashboard or Comments to collapse the Admin Menu. When the Admin Menu is collapsed you can hover over any icon to show all menu options below that item. Collapsing the menu gives you a larger workable area in the admin dashboard.

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