The WordPress Admin Area or Backend

The Admin Sidebar

When you are logged into your website and looking at your dashboard, you will notice on the left side of your screen a menu. This is the admin sidebar and lists all the sections of your backend. We will discuss the 'Settings' sections in detail.

At the very top of the list is a link to the Dashboard which we discussed in the last section. At the very bottom of the list is a link that will collapse or expand the sidebar. If you only see small icons in this list, click the small triangle at the very bottom to expand the sidebar.

The Admin Bar

Across the top of your screen is a small bar with a menu. Your bar may have different links based on your WordPress install and eventually the WordPress plugins and/or themes you install. This bar only shows up when you are logged in.

At the far left of this bar is the WordPress logo icon. Clicking this icon will show you information about your WordPress version. This page may change each time you update your WordPress code.

Just to the right of the WordPress icon is a link to your site. Clicking this link will take you to the public side of your website. The admin bar will remain at the top of the page even on the front end of your website. Clicking the website link on the admin bar while you are on the front end will take you back to the dashboard of your admin area. Hovering your mouse over the link will give you other links to different areas of your site.

To the right of that link will be a link to other areas of your site. With plugins, themes and other customizations you can customize that bar to help you get where you want to go quickly.

Usually you can add new posts and pages or customize the look of your site from the admin bar. You can also see how many new comments you have on your blog posts and get to them quickly for moderating or replying.

To the far right on the admin bar, you will find a link to your profile. Hovering over this bar will give you options to edit your profile or logout of WordPress.


The Settings Option on the admin sidebar will allow you to change the overall WordPress settings.

Since these settings sometimes change with each new version of WordPress or with the installation of certain plugins, we won’t go over each field in detail, but will give a general idea for each section in the Settings Option.

General Settings

The General Settings are where you’ll find the basic setup for your website. This is where you’ll change:

The title and tagline for your site - these show up in your site heading and in the title tag for search engines (unless your theme hides them)
Your admin email address - this is where you will receive notifications from your site
Date and Time information - this is where you will set your timezone and the date and time formats for your site
Language and other locale information
Any other settings that don’t fit well in one of the other setting pages

Most of these settings are setup when you install WordPress.

Writing Settings

The ‘Writing Settings’ page is where you go to set up:

Defaults for posting such as the default category and format
Post via email settings - this allows you to send an email to your site to create a new blog post,
Update Services - this allows your site to notify other sites when a blog post is published.

Reading Settings

The ‘Reading Settings’ page is where you will find all the options for, obviously, reading on your site. You will be able to change:

Whether your home page displays your blog or a page you’ve built
How many blog posts to show per page
Whether to show all the text of an article or just a summary in your blog feeds
Whether you want your site to be scanned by search engines. This should be checked to disable the search engines from scanning your website until you are ready for the public to find your site. We usually set this to disable until we are finished building the site.

Discussion Settings

The ‘Discussion Settings’ page is where you can set defaults for the user comments on your site. On this page you can:

Turn comments on and off as a default for all articles/posts
Set default notifications for what you get notified about when someone comments,
Who can comment on your posts (do they have to be logged in?)
How many comments to show per page
Whether comments should be moderated before they show up on your site
Which words should not be used on your blog (blacklisting)
Whether Avatars should be shown for users, what minimum rating should be used, and the default avatar

Media Settings

The Media Settings page is where you can set the sizes for your uploaded images. You can also set how your uploads are to be organized.

Any media defaults should show up on this settings page.

Permalinks Settings

The Permalinks Settings page is probably the most important settings page and the one you will visit most often. This page lets you choose how your address links will be structured. It gives you several options, as well, as a free form option so that you can customize the link.

You can also set up your base url for your categories and tags.

These only need to be setup once unless you later want to change the structure (not recommended), but anytime your site starts giving 404 errors or acting a little wacky, this is the first thing to try. When things start going a little nuts, come to this page and click save. You don't have to change anything, just save the settings by clicking the save button.

Saving the settings again will reset your .htaccess file which is the file that basically directs traffic on your website. Sometimes plugins, themes, or other customizations will corrupt this file. Many times saving the permalinks again will fix the problem.


The Tools sidebar item is where you go to find the import, export and other miscellaneous tools for WordPress. Import and export will allow you to move posts, pages, and other items from one WordPress installation to another. It is a great way to move blog posts or pages, but you sometimes lose the images from the post or page. I don’t rely on it for moving sites. Too many things are left out of the installation, such as settings, categories, etc. It does come in handy occasionally for keeping content without keeping some of the other settings.

You also have a ‘Press this’ tool in the tools section that will allow you to add a bookmarklet to your browser so that you can click it to add content to your blog from anywhere on the web. This can be a cool little tool if you share a lot from the web on your blog or website.

Other plugins and themes may add other tools in this section, so your Tools page may have other things not mentioned here.

Switching Between the Front End and Back End

When you are on the Front End, you can get to the back end by clicking on the site name (next to the house icon) in the admin bar at the top of the screen. You can also get to the back end by going to (replace the with your domain or subdomain name).

If you are on the Back End and want to get to the Front End, you can also click on the site name (next to the house icon) in the admin bar at the top of the screen. If you are editing posts or pages, you can also click on the link to view the page, or the link to preview the page.

Other plugins, themes and customizations may provide other ways to switch back and forth as well.

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