WordPress for Non-Techies IV

The Dreaded Dashboard

Ok, pull up your panties, and buckle your seat belts. We’re going in, and we’re going in deep. Let’s find out what’s with some of those buttons on the Dashboard.

We’ll take these one by one. One thing to note – this is for WordPress.com blogs only – the one we’ve signed up for in the first lesson. If you have your own WordPress.org blog under your own domain name, your dashboard won’t look like this!

o Right Now – Displays how many posts, pages, categories etc you have on your site right now. Appropriately named, yes?
o Recent Comments – If someone, say Kevin Costner for instance, has posted on your blog recently, it will be listed here.
o Incoming Links – You wrote an article so wildly popular, that other bloggers have linked to your eternal wisdom. Those links will be listed here.
o Your Stuff – When you last posted, what you posted, and links to each one. Think of it as the FBI of your blog stuff. It just knows….
o What’s Hot – Stuff you might find interesting in the world of blogs. Hot blog posts, top blogs from around the world, who’s up and coming. If Your Stuff is the FBI, this is Interpol.
o QuickPress – Got something short and sweet to say? Post it, publish it. No fuss, no muss.
o Recent Drafts – Your recent drafts. These titles are uncanny aren’t they?
o Stats – Views per day. Just a quick view of your stats. For further information click on View all in that same box, or on your dashboard to Blog Stats. It will go to the same page.
Blog Stats
o This takes a second to load – patience my little chickadee.
o The graph displays the dates along the bottom, and the rise and fall of visitors to your pages. Mouseover the date and it will tell you how many visitors you had that day. Even if no one commented!
o Referrers – Where have your visitors come from? Google? Blog-o-riffic? Outer Space? (Okay, technically it might not register outer space, but that would be really cool.)
o Search Engine Terms – What were those people searching for when they found you? Sometimes it’s quite fascinating.
o Blog Stats – Table Summary – This is for those of you who love stats and tables and summaries. (Hi Kelsey!!) The rest of the blog stats not in the table neatly summarizes the table for you.
o Top Posts and Pages – What pages and posts are getting the biggest hits?
o Clicks – People click on things when they visit a blog. This is going to tell you what people clicked on while visiting your blog.
Blog Surfer
o This allows you to find friends, family and other like-minded (or not!) bloggers on WordPress.com. Simply add in their URL, and WP will bring their blogposts to your blog to read (see Readomattic below) Sweet? You betcha.
My Comments
o If you’ve been out traveling other blogs and commenting on them (which is the best way to get traffic to your site!) this will show your comment and all following comments on that blog post.
o This is where you read the blog posts you’ve subscribed to.
Tag Surfer
o Add and remove tags of subjects you’re interested in. Remember, tags are used to identify what is in your post to the reader. So, if you’re fascinated by aardvarks, add that in as a tag you’d like to search on. Your screen will be filled with posts from around the world, all using aardvark as a tag. Did you really mean artichokes and not aardvarks? Easy mistake to make. Simply “X” out of aardvarks and it’s gone.
My Blogs
o Suppose you have two different blogs – one for aardvarks and one for artichokes. This page will list them both or let you register that third blog, Anemones.
o Sign up on other blogs and receive emails when they’ve posted new content.
Akismet Stats
o Akismet is pretty darn cool. When someone sends you a spam (and trust me, you’ll be AMAZED at who is spamming you!) Akismet catches it. And tells you about it. And lets you read it. Don’t spammers have a life? Yeesh.
o Do you need more space? Want to post all of your videos of your daughter’s wedding in Jamaica? Here’s where you can buy more of everything you might ever need.

Finally, the end of this little section of the dashboard. Tired yet? Prop open your eyes with toothpicks and then I’ll show you more fun blog maneuvers. Promise.

Fun Stuff

As your reward for following through with the dashboard parts– hey! Wake up! – Here’s some fun blogging stuff to play with.

Let’s talk about Widgets. Whatzits? Widgets. Fun little items you can add to the sidebar of your blog. What’s a sidebar? Go to the front page of your blog, and look to the side. Depending on the design you’ve chosen, it could be on the left or the right, and generally is topped with a search bar. Your main content containing the blog will be in the middle, your sidebar on one side or the other.

This is my current sidebar. Borrrr-ing.

Let’s pimp your sidebar shall we?

• On your dashboard go to Appearance>Widgets
• The middle column will show you your available widgets. You have all of these to choose from. Just like shopping in Macy’s.
• With your mouse pointer, grab and drag your widget of choice to Sidebar 1 on the right. A dotted outline will show up, and just drop it there. You can wiggle it around later.
• I chose Authors, as I’m going to have other Authors visiting on my site to talk about website design.

• Plop! Let it go.
• Click the light gray arrow on the right side of your Authors Box and Wallah! Look at all the fun stuff you get to fill in!
• The Title which will show on your side bar. I named mine My Peeps.
• Number of posts to show – 3. Otherwise it gets a bit crowded.
• Avatar Size – 48×48
• Click Save. Wait for the swirly thing to finish
• Click close.
• Zoom back to your front page and see how it looks.

Great start!
By adding in more widgets you can customize your blog to be more about YOU and your likes. Your widgets can be moved up and down on the sidebar by using the same drag and drop method or removed entirely by dragging the widget back to the middle column.

Here’s my NEW and IMPROVED sidebar.

Oh baby. I’m goooood. =)

Experiment with your widgets. There’s too much to go over in just this one post, so grab a widget, drag it, drop it, play with it. Then you can decide if it’s the best thing since spray butter or of you want to delete it.

We’ll finish our series next time with a further review of the dashboard and promoting your blog.

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