key components wordpress

Understanding the key components of WordPress websites

WordPress is an easy-to-use platform that runs millions of websites worldwide. Recent numbers from W3Techs estimates that WordPress powers 41-percent of all websites. Understanding its features is generally straightforward, and its flexibility allows users to have total control over their WordPress site. It can be as complex or basic as users want, which is part of why it’s so widely used. Even though it’s relatively straightforward, several different parts work together to operate WordPress. It’s good to be aware of the critical components that make WordPress work, especially when it runs your business site. 

Some of these components you’ll use daily, and others you may never need to interact with at all. However, it’s still important to be familiar with the functions of WordPress so you can have complete control over your site.

Admin dashboard

The admin dashboard is the area you’ll be spending your time the most on WordPress. As a Content Management System (CMS), the WordPress admin dashboard is where you will set up new users, upload content, publish blog posts, and install new features to your website. This is where you’ll find all the key components for making your site presentable. The dashboard allows you to interact with content without using code and to make changes in real-time.

Without getting into the technical details, here are the main sections you’ll see on the left-hand side of your dashboard.

Posts

The post section is where you’ll see all the posts from your website, both published pieces and drafts. You can review and edit existing content on this page, or you can create a new post to add to your site. It’s also easy to search your posts by title, category, or tags you’ve used. Posts are frequently utilized on WordPress to publish blog posts, news content, and other periodic or incremental content. 

Media

The media section of the dashboard holds the library of photos and videos on your site that you’ve uploaded through WordPress. You can look at and alter existing media or click “Add new” to upload a new image to your library. Any photo can be selected and added to a post at any time.

Pages

Your pages section, of course, contains a list of all the pages you have on your site. For example, your About, Home, or Contact pages should all be listed in this section. You can also create a new page here, and on the front end, it will show up as a new section on your site. The difference between Pages and Posts is that you will use Pages for more permanent content. 

Comments

If you have comments enabled on your site, this is where you can monitor what people have said on your posts. You can leave replies or delete comments from here. We recommend that you disable comments unless you are explicitly planning on using this feature on your website.

Appearance

As you might have guessed, the Appearance section focuses on how your site looks for users. This makes it one of the key components of the dashboard because it will be one of the first things users notice. Here, you can select your website’s theme, menus, widgets, and background headers. The Appearance settings panel allows you to make changes to your site without needing to code. It is important to note that the Appearance menu is usually related to your theme; however, some plugins can enhance the features you find in this section.

Many websites leverage plugins called page builders to help create, edit, and update designs visually. This is outside of the scope of this post, but common page builders are Elementor, Oxygen, and WPBakery, just to name a few.

Plugins

This section simply shows which plugins you currently have installed and running on your website. You can upload plugins in this section or download them from the WordPress plugin directory. Also, you can edit the code on your plugins. It’s not too common (and is usually not recommended) to edit WordPress plugin code, but this is where you would do it. Currently, there are over 54,000 plugins available in the official WordPress plugin directory!

Users

When you first create your WordPress website, you’ll be the only user listed. This means only you have access to the back end of the site, and only you can make any changes. Here, you can add new users, such as other employees who might handle specific parts of the website. You have access to default user permissions that restrict the access a user can have on your website. We recommend that you use unique (i.e. hard to guess) usernames and passwords to make sure your website is secure.

Tools

This section of your dashboard holds handy tools that might be useful for managing your site. Here, you can bring over content from other platforms or websites or move content from WordPress elsewhere.

Settings

If there’s anything you can’t find in any of the other dashboard sections, it’s probably in your settings. This is where you can set up permissions for comments and take care of other details like language and time. Basically, your settings have all the tiny aspects you might otherwise forget. If you’re not on a Managed WordPress Provider like AtomWP, you can also make updates to your reading settings, your website URL and link format, as well as other overall site settings. If you’re tired of managing your website, get in touch with us here!

Database

Your WordPress database is an out-of-sight storage space where all your materials are kept. The pages, posts, comments, settings, plugins, and everything else you use on WordPress are stored in your database. This means your database powers your website and is one of the most important parts of running WordPress. You may never need to interact with your database directly, but you should be familiar with its role in running your site.

We will talk a bit more about databases in a future blog post. Still, it is important to note that databases are an essential part of every website, phone app, and much of the technology we interact with daily.

Core

The WordPress core is another component of your site you’ll likely never need to get too involved with but should still know about. Just as it implies, the core makes up the bones of WordPress. This is what you download when you install WordPress (or when your hosting provider installs it) – no themes, no plugins, no posts or pages. WordPress is open source technology, which means that it is well-vetted, and the entire codebase is available online with developers located across the world helping to build the product. WordPress runs on a server and allows people to interact with your content as you design it.

What makes your site unique is how you build on top of the core, adding your own features to make it run. Technically, WordPress only needs this core software to run, but it’s those additions that turn it into a functioning website.

The benefit of software like WordPress is that it reduces the burden of developing code and provides a platform that is easy to modify and update. Themes let you change how your website looks with a few clicks, plugins allow you to add exciting new features, and simple editors let you create unique content to share with the world. One of the downsides of easy-to-use systems is that it is easy to make errors when picking themes, plugins, and the features you need. Not all plugins and themes are created equally. Therefore, some plugins and themes can add extra unused functionality (leading to bloat) that can slow down your website.

WordPress may take a bit of experimenting to find the right options for your own site. The great part of WordPress is how easy it is to make changes and correct mistakes that can occur while you’re learning. Make sure you take some time to familiarize yourself with these key components!

Are you tired of managing your WordPress website? We’re here to help!

AtomWP is a fully managed WordPress hosting solution that uses best-in-class infrastructure and best practices to keep your website fast, secure, and optimized for your customers. We handle plugin updates, malware removal, security, and help you make changes and pick the right plugins for your website.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you get back to business.