the basics

For each new website built by the Designs by Sandbox team, a client is given delivery documentation specially tailored for their own website, and some basic webmaster training to introduce them the inner workings of their WordPress website. Though the articles below are not tailored to a specific website, these offer an introduction to the main sections of the WordPress dashboard. General information for each of the admin screens is also available from the WordPress codex at this link – http://codex.wordpress.org/Administration_Screens

the dashboard

When an administrator first logs into their Wordpress website, they land on the Dashboard screen. The far left column of the Dashboard screen provides access to all other admin screens in the backend of the Wordpress website.

More information explaining the Dashboard Screen may be found here - http://codex.wordpress.org/Dashboard_Screen


pages

When the Designs by Sandbox team delivers your new website, the page structure of your site is already established. Therefore, you will likely not be adding new pages, nor deleting pages, because that would change the structure of your website's design. However, it is important to know how to edit the content of a page so that you have the ability to keep all information on your website accurate.

In the lefthand column of the admin dashboard, select "Pages". When you first enter the pages section, the screen will show an overview of all pages.

To edit the content of a page, click on the title of the page. (Or, when you hover over the title, an “edit” option will also appear. Clicking on either the title or “edit” will do the same thing.)

When editing a page, there are tabs for 2 different views of the page content: the “Visual” tab, and the “Text” tab. The “Visual” tab allows you to format content with various word processing tools, if desired. (The formatting will be slightly different on this screen than what you see on your live site, but the styling code for your website's design will be enacted automatically when the content is published on your website.)

word processing

To add a hyperlink, first highlight the text that you want to link, and then select the icon that looks like a chain:

link

A popup box will appear... and all you need to do is fill in the appropriate information, and then click the “Add Link” button in the lower right corner. If there you are adding links that would take the user outside of your website, it is recommended that you check the box that says “Open link in a new window/tab” to force that link to open in another window or tab. Links to content within your own website do not need that, so that box should be unchecked.

open link

The “Text” tab of the editing screen will show you the html code version of the same content. If you are uploading content from a word processing document, it will be easiest to select the “Text” tab, and then copy and paste the content. Then switch back to the “Visual” tab and format the text accordingly (i.e. - bold, underlined, etc).

visual text tabs

For example, if your organization has a new board member, you will want to add that new member's name to the page on your website that lists the names of all board members. However, let's suppose that this new board member's name is listed in a Word document as:

Mr. John Smith, Sr.
President of Acme Appliances, Inc.

If you copy the above text and paste it into the editing area of the "Visual" tab, then Wordpress will try to include all of the formatting for that text, such as the blue color, bold font, italic font, script font and any line spacing. Those font features may clash with your website's design. If instead you were to copy the same text and paste it into the "Text" tab, then it will assume the default font characteristics of your website's design. You could then switch over to the "Visual" tab, if any formatting is needed.

IMPORTANT: After making any changes to the content of a page, you must click the “Update” button found on the right hand side of the page within the “Publish” box. This will make the new content visible to the public.

update button

General information about Wordpress pages may be found on this page of the Wordpress codex - http://codex.wordpress.org/Pages


posts

Posts provide the blog functionality of a Wordpress website. Posts are very similar to pages, except that they are displayed in chronological order, most recent first.

(Note: Although Wordpress began as a blogging platform, not all Wordpress websites use the blog functionality. If all of your website's content is within the pages section of your admin screens, and no content is within the posts section of your admin screens, then your website is not currently using blog functionality.)

For the basic instructions of writing or editing posts, follow the same instructions offered for editing pages. The editing screen will look almost identical.

There is an editing tool available from the "Visual" tab of the editor screen which is particularly useful if the page on your website that displays blog content is set to show excerpts of posts (instead of the full content of each post), or for the blog archives. That is the "Insert Read More tag" tool, which looks like this:

read more

Using this tool, you can force the breakpoint for the amount of text shown in an excerpt. More information about this tool may be found here - http://en.support.wordpress.com/splitting-content/more-tag/

The most important difference is between a page and a post is the manner in which posts are organized and displayed on your website. Each post is assigned to one or more categories. Categories aid in navigation within a blog, and allow posts to be grouped with other posts of similar content. Categories can also be hierarchical. See this page for more information about categories.

Categories can be created and edited from within the "Posts" section of the dashboard:

Tags are similar to categories, but tags have no hierarchy. See this page for more information about tags.

Additional information about Wordpress posts may be found here - http://codex.wordpress.org/Posts

Not all websites that the Designs by Sandbox team builds include a blog, but all Wordpress websites have the ability to host a blog. If your website does not currently use the blog features of Wordpress and you would like to add that to your site's design, please contact us to discuss how to do this.


screen options

Each of the administration screens in Wordpress have various ways to customize which admin tools are viewed. Look for this symbol in the upper right corner of your screen:

screen options

The screen options for each admin screen may vary depending on which plugin tools are installed on your website. Feel free to explore the Screen Options for each of your admin screens, and either check or uncheck each option to see how it looks. These options affect your admin screen only. If you have multiple administrators for your website, each administrator may set screen options differently, and those options will only be visible while that administrator is logged in. The Screen Options settings have no effect on what is visible on your live website.

One very common question from people who are new to Wordpress is, "How do I allow comments on some of my posts, but not all of my posts?"

 

First, from the editing screen of any post or page, open the Screen Options tab.

screen options tab

If the "Discussion" checkbox is selected, then this dialog box will appear near the bottom of your Edit Post admin screen:

discussion

If you select the checkbox to allow comments, and then update (or publish), readers will see a place to leave a comment at the bottom of your post.

comment


media

Media files include images, videos, audio recordings, documents, etc.

Adding images to any page or post on your website is fairly self-explanatory by following the prompts available from the “Add Media” button, which is in the "visual tab" of the editing screen for any page or post. No need to go into great detail here, so additional information is available on this page, if interested - http://codex.wordpress.org/Inserting_Images_into_Posts_and_Pages

add media button

There is also a “Media” link within the Dashboard sidebar of your website from which you can see all of the media files currently available within your site, or a link to “Add New” files.

media

However, not all media visible on your site needs to be hosted in your media library. For example, when there is media from another public source on the web that you would like to embed on your website, it's super easy to embed videos, images, tweets, audio, and other content into your WordPress site. In a nutshell, all you need to do to embed something into a post or page is to post the URL to it into your content area. Make sure that the URL is on its own line and not hyperlinked (clickable when viewing the post). For more information, see this page of the Wordpress codex - http://codex.wordpress.org/Embeds

Many of our clients have slideshows on their websites through a plugin tool called Meteor Slides. Therefore, we will include instructions for those images here as well...

To add images to a slideshow, there are three steps to follow:

  1. Crop an image to the exact dimension needed for your slideshow by using an image editing tool before you upload the image to your website.
  2. Either select “Add New” within the “Slides” section of your dashboard, click “Set featured image” and follow the prompts to add a new image; or select the slide image that you would like to replace, click the “Remove featured image” link, and then click “Set featured image” and follow the prompts to add a new image. **
  3. If you added an image to a slideshow, you will need to edit the Settings section (title in that section is “Meteor Slides Settings”) to reflect the highest number of slides that will be in any of the slideshows.

Remember to check the box for corresponding slideshow to be sure that this image will be displayed in the correct show. No “title” for the slide is needed, because any title for the slide will show in a browser when the image is hovered.

**IMPORTANT: When uploading an image, make sure that it has a different name than any image that was previously posted on your website.


themes

If you are a Designs by Sandbox website client, there is not much at all that needs your attention within the "Appearance" section of your website's dashboard. However, we offer the following as educational information....

A website's theme information is viewable from within the "Appearance" section the dashboard.

A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. - http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Themes

When building a new website, there are several considerations for selecting a particular theme. At Designs by Sandbox, our favorite (by far!) Wordpress theme is the Responsive theme, by Cyberchimps. We love this theme because it is so beautifully adaptable, yet it is built upon a dependable framework of clean code, allows for a wide variety of plugin tools, and is supported by an active community of professional developers.

Most importantly, the Responsive theme allows us to create a child theme, which is how we are able to make each website unique.

A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes allow you to modify, or add to the functionality of that parent theme. A child theme is the best, safest, and easiest way to modify an existing theme, whether you want to make a few tiny changes or extensive changes. Instead of modifying the theme files directly, you can create a child theme and override within. - http://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes

If you look within the Themes section of your Dashboard, you will likely see that there are several themes installed, and the active theme currently powering your website is a Responsive Child Theme.

There is a free version of Responsive theme, and a premium version. In our opinion, the only advantage to the premium version is that it is not updated by the developers quite as frequently, and is therefore more stable. For our Designs by Sandbox clients who need to work within the backend of their website for daily or weekly content changes, or whose website is using plugins that could potentially require additional support from the theme developers (such as an e-commerce plugin for an online shop), we may recommend the premium version of the Responsive theme. But for most of our clients, we currently use the free version of the Responsive theme.

Keep an eye on the updates & maintenance section of Sandbox Support Services for announcements that may affect your website's theme....


widgets

When a website is delivered to a Designs by Sandbox client, certain tools and editable areas are already defined for the sidebar regions, footer region, or header region of a website. Some of these regions may include content that could be edited as needed.

Widget is a fancy word for the tools or content that you can add, arrange, and remove from the sidebar (or other changeable regions) of your website. - http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Widgets

Some html knowledge is needed for editing in the widgets. For example, to edit the content in a sidebar area of your website, use the small arrow on the upper right corner of the widget box, and then the tool for each of the sidebar areas will appear. Editing instructions vary, depending on the tools installed on each website. If there is an area of your Designs by Sandbox website that needs to be edited on a regular basis, please refer to the instructions given during your webmaster training session. If additional assistance is needed, please don't hesitate contact us.

General information about Wordpress Widgets may be found here - http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Widgets


plugins

Visit the plugins section of your dashboard to see which plugin tools are installed on your website.

plugins

As part of our Sandbox Support Services, we have posted information about many of the plugin tools that we have installed on websites. Read more here...


users

When your new Designs by Sandbox website is first delivered to you, there are typically only two users registered: you and Meg. Both of these users are listed as Administrators. Eventually, it may be helpful to have an office assistant, or other(s), to have access to the dashboard of your website for the purpose of writing or editing content on your website. To do that, you may add that person (or how ever many people you need) to the “User” section.

There are several options for a user’s ability to manipulate only certain aspects of the content on your website. For example, the "Author" role is only capable of editing posts, but must then submit those posts for review by an administrator publishing, whereas an “Editor” may edit both posts and pages, and then may publish their work independently. Please review this link to gain a better understanding of the roles of each User, per the basic installation of Wordpress - https://codex.wordpress.org/Roles_and_Capabilities

NOTE: There are several plugin tools that expand upon the basic Roles and Capabilities of Wordpress Users.


settings

Although most Designs by Sandbox clients are likely need to edit this section on a regular basis, it is a good idea to be familiar with the settings options of a Worpdress site.  An overview of the settings administrative screen is available here - http://codex.wordpress.org/Administration_Screens#Settings