WordPress Basics for Beginners

Blog posts, pages, menus, widgets, plugins, and more

Matthew Schwartz avatar
Written by Matthew Schwartz
Updated over a week ago

Overview & Important Notes

This article briefly covers the main, basic things you need to know when working with a WordPress site. The goal is to get you started.

Please note that, beyond this article, we generally do not offer support / help with WordPress or 3rd Party Plugins. Special cases may apply.

For additional information and help with WordPress, see the "Links and Resources" section at the bottom of the page.

For support for 3rd Party Plugins, contact the author of the plugin.

Note that some screenshots in this article may differ from your version of WordPress, as the WordPress core admin and post editor has changed over time. The instructions and info should still be relevant.

Note also that WordPress admin, features, and so on may vary depending on which Theme and Plugins are activated on your site.

Logging into the admin

The log in link will be your blog's URL, plus /wp-admin 

If your blog is live (DNS has been set), the URL will be your domain name (or subdomain name, if you have one set up)

For example, a domain:

or a subdomain:

If your blog is not live yet, the URL will be the temporary WPEngine install URL.

For example:

The username and password

When the blog is ready to be delivered to you, you should receive an email notice that a user has been created. The email will have a link which will let you create a new password. We highly recommend using the auto-generated password which will be suggested by WordPress, because it will be very secure.


The WordPress Dashboard is the main screen after you log in.

The info shown on the dashboard depends on the settings and plugins on your site.


The primary WordPress navigation is along the left side of the admin.

We recommend that you familiarize yourself with all of the different sections.

There are additional links and tools in a bar along the top of the screen - mostly, they are just shortcuts to items that are also in the primary navigation.

Posts and Pages

Posts vs Pages

It's important to understand the differences between Posts and Pages, and when you should use each of them.


  • are basically "articles"

  • will show up in your main blog article list, archive pages, and so on

  • can be assigned to categories, and labeled with "tags"

  • can be designated as "sticky" and kept at the top/front of the articles list

  • are used for content that is tied to a specific date, event, news, commentary, etc


  • will only show as links in navigation (you need to manually add them to the menu)

  • are a standalone element, with no labels or categories associated

  • are used for timeless content, such as: About, Contact, Policies, and so on

Creating and Editing Posts and Pages

To create a post or page:

  • navigate to the associated section in the main menu

  • click "Add New"

  • you will be taken to the post (or page) editing screen

  • enter a concise, descriptive, relevant title

  • enter your content (see also: "Adding your Content to the Editor" section)

  • add a featured image, which may be shown in the blog article list and other areas

  • adjust other settings as necessary, which may depend on your website theme, installed plugins, and so on.

  • click the "Save Draft" to save your work, click "Preview" to see the actual page or post but keep it unpublished, or click "Publish" to make the page or post publicly visible on your site.

  • you may also edit Status, Visibility, and Publish date

  • see additional notes for posts, and additional notes for pages, below, for settings which are specific to each

To schedule the page or post to be automatically published in the future:

  • click "Edit" next to "Publish immediately,"

  • choose a date and time

  • click "OK,"

  • click "Schedule"

Additional notes for posts:

  • add Categories - keep categories relatively broad, limit each post to 1 or 2 at most

  • add Tags - keep tags more targeted, add as many as makes sense for each post

  • create an excerpt - a very short summary of the post, which may be shown in the blog article list, archives, and other areas. It should help the site visitor decide if the post is of interest to them, before they click the post link.

Additional notes for pages:

  • If desired, choose a "Parent" page (to organize pages hierarchically)

Adding your Content to the Editor

Gutenberg Block Editor (WP versions 5.0+)

Since WP version 5.0, there is a block-based editor called Gutenberg.

Instead of editing all of your page / post content within one large editing box, you'll be editing various parts of the page / post in "blocks," such as paragraphs, images, headings, etc.

When you click the "add a block" [the (+) icon] you will see various types of content you can add. Search for the item you want to add, then click it. The block will be added, and you'll see contextual options (the options will either appear directly attached to the top of the block field, or at the top of the admin frame, depending on what setting you have enabled for the Gutenberg editor toolbar location).

"Add a block" contextual menu

example of a paragraph block with contextual options just above (formatting, etc)

There is a "classic editor" block available which emulates the functionality and UI of the older WordPress page/post Classic Editor.

The "Classic Block"

Adding Media (pictures, photos, files, etc) to your post or page

  • Click "Add Block" and then select the "Image" (or whatever media you want) option

  • Use the provided settings and options to add your media (buttons, formatting options, etc) - See below

There are more options in the triple dot menu on each block, including the ability to delete the block if needed.

More options triple-dot menu

Classic Editor (WP versions before 5.0)

Visual vs Text Editor (Classic)

The content editor field has two options, arranged as tabs, which you can switch back and forth between.

NOTE: Crystal Catalog Helper can only be used from the Visual Tab


  • Best if you are not comfortable with code, HTML, etc.

  • Best if you prefer a visual interface that shows layout, images, and so on

  • Best if you want "WYSIWYG" buttons for quick formatting, layout, and editing


  • Best if you prefer to work with code, HTML

  • Best if you want more control over the content layout

Tools, Formatting, Etc

The Visual and Text editing tabs contain various tools for formatting, plugin features, etc. Hover over the icons with your mouse to see a label for each. 

Adding Media (pictures, photos, files, etc) to your post or page

  • Place your mouse cursor in the editing window at the location you want the media to be inserted

  • Click the "Add Media" button. 

  • To use existing media, select it from the Media Library tag

  • To add new media, click the tab "Upload Files," then select files, or drag and drop

  • There are additional options on the left side, such as creating galleries

  • When ready, click "Insert into page"

Other Editors besides Gutenberg and Classic

Some other Themes (such as Avada), as well as some plugins (such as Beaver Builder) may change the way your post and page editing experience looks and functions. In that case, consult the documentation and support options available for your Theme or Plugin.

Media (Pictures, Photos, Files, Etc.)

The "Media" navigation tab is where you'll go to view, edit, and upload pictures, photos, files, and other media.

The "Media Library" contains everything you've uploaded, and allows you to filter and search the items

Click an item to access additional info, and to edit the metadata such as title, description, etc

Adding New Media to Your Library

  • Click "Add New"

  • Select files, or drag and drop

  • The media will be uploaded

  • After uploading, you may edit the file metadata, title, description, categories, etc

Media added to your library can be accessed from other areas in WordPress, such as when creating pages, posts, and using some plugins


The Appearance tab gives you control over the visual styles and layout of some elements of the site.


If we've created a blog theme for you, you will not be using the Themes section.


The Customize section's functionality varies depending on the active theme.

In general, you can change the site logo, manage menus (navigation), widgets, and various other settings.

You can see a preview of the changes in real time. When happy with the changes, click "Publish."


Widgets are "modular" parts of the website, which can be dragged, dropped, and customized. There are specific areas in your theme which can accept widgets.

Adding Widgets

  • Decide which widgetized area you want to add to

  • Make sure the widgetized area is "expanded" (click the small arrow)

  • To add a widget, from the "Available Widgets, click one, choose which widgetized area to add it to, then click "Add Widget." Alternatively, you may drag and drop the widget into the widgetized area on the right.

  • If the selected widget has any options, they will be expanded so that you may edit them.

Editing and Deleting Widgets

  • Find the Widget by expanding the widgetized area

  • Expand the widget

  • Edit the settings, then click "Save," or click "Delete" to remove the widget from your site

  • The Menus tab allows you to manage your site's navigation links / menus.

  • The available menus and menu locations will vary depending on the active theme

To edit a menu

  • Select the menu you want to edit, from the dropdown, then click "Select"

  • The existing menu will be displayed in the Menu Structure panel

  • Click a menu item to expand the options, which will vary depending on the type of menu item. To remove the item from the menu, click "Remove"

  • Menu items can be reorganized by "dragging and dropping" them: Click and drag an item up or down. A dashed line preview helps you visualize where the item will be placed. When satisfied with the placement, release the mouse button. Some menus support indented pages, which will automatically create a dropdown menu for the indented "subpages."

  • To add new items to the menu, select from the left column: Pages, Posts, Custom Links, Categories, and various other options depending on installed plugins

  • When satisfied with the menu, click "Save Menu"





The plugins tab is where you add, remove, activate, deactivate, and update plugins.

Do not make any changes in this area unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing (except updates, which are necessary).

Plugin Warnings:

We highly recommend you heed the following best practices:

  • Although Plugins are a convenient way to add functionality and features to your site, you should try to use as few as possible. The more plugins you have: the slower your site will be, the more potential code conflicts you could have, the more things you have to keep updated, and the more potential security risks there will be if they are not properly maintained by the author.

  • Do NOT update plugins immediately when an update is available, unless it's a security patch. If an update is a security patch or other urgent issue, you should update it as soon as you are aware of it. Otherwise, wait a couple of weeks to allow any bugs to be found and fixed.

  • When updating your plugins, do them one at a time. Update one plugin, then thoroughly test the website and features, both in the admin and on the publicly-visible site. When you're sure no problems have arisen, update one more plugin, and continue the process. If you update multiple plugins at one time, you cannot easily track down the source of any problems, bugs, and so on.


  • The Users tab is where you add, delete, and edit users.

  • In general, the only users on your site will be your team of employees, although you may also add contracted authors, editors, and so on.

To edit an existing user:

  • Click the user's name in the list

  • Edit the Profile as desired

  • Click "Update Profile"

To add a new user:

  • Click "Add New"

  • Enter the required information

  • Be sure to select the correct "Role." There are a range of Roles, from Subscribers to Administrators, each with increasing levels of privileges and power within the admin.

  • Click "Add New User"


The Tools tab is not often used, and is for more advanced functionality.
For more info, check out the official WordPress documentation (see additional resources at the bottom of this article)


  • The Settings tab is one of the most powerful areas in the admin, but it also has the most potential to cause serious issues

  • Settings are beyond the scope of this beginner article. For info about Settings, please check out the additional resources section at the bottom of this article.

Crystal Catalog Helper


WordPress updates
We recommend keeping your WordPress version up-to-date, especially when it comes to security patches. Some updates may be automatically pushed to your site, while others may need to be manually activated.

Plugin updates
See "Plugins" section, earlier in this article

WP Engine

What is WP Engine?

WPEngine is the hosting platform which stores all of your site's files, the database, and other things.

The WP Engine tab  (Advanced)

Within your blog admin, there is a "WP Engine" tab in the main navigation. 

It includes various tools for managing your site, as well as a few admin preferences.

* Please do not make any changes in this area unless you know what you're doing. *

Links and Resources

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