The WordPress Dashboard

Learn about the WordPress dashboard and how to navigate your way around inside the WordPress administration area …

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to navigate around the WP admin section and get familiar with the WordPress control panel, the WordPress admin menu and the main administrative modules of your site.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WordPress dashboard that will become more useful to you as you become more skilled at using WordPress.

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Please note: In this tutorial, we are assuming that you already have installed a WordPress website or blog on your domain and that you know how to log into your website.

If you need help logging into WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you don’t know whether or not your website is built using WordPress, see this tutorial:

To learn more about WordPress and the benefits of using the WordPress CMS technology to power your website or blog, see this section:

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Your WordPress Control Panel

Once you’ve logged into your WordPress site via the login form, you will typically be presented with the WordPress Dashboard, which is the main admin section of your site.

An Overview Of Your WP Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard

The WordPress dashboard is where all of your site’s administration and management tasks are controlled from.

The Dashboard is divided into several important areas that provide you with access to tools and features such as:

  • Important data and information about what is taking place on your WordPress site. It also allows you to see “at-a-glance” metrics and information about recent activity that has taken place on your site, system updates and notifications, and to be kept updated on the latest news from the WordPress community and various WordPress-related resources, such as messages, notification and announcements from WordPress product vendors of plugins and themes that you have installed on your site.
  • Management and control of your site’s settings and options.
  • Features that let you change, update, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, plus add, change and delete content or content sections.

An Overview Of The WordPress Dashboard

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Info Screen

Let’s complete the step-by-step tutorial below, then, to learn more about your Dashboard and your site’s main admin sections.

Understanding Your WordPress Administration Section

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced new design changes to the backend section …

The WP Control Area Explained

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Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and aimed at giving WordPress users and web developers cleaner typography for a better optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and a more aesthetic experience, it also affected much of the existing WordPress documentation around the web, including thousands of tutorials and articles about WordPress online, in print and on video that are now outdated.

With the ability to create a customized look and feel of your administration area, you can also expect to see other improvements to backend features when WordPress releases new versions.

If new versions of WordPress include changes to any of the functional aspects or features of the software, then you can be sure that we will post an update about what’s new here.

Warning

Important: If your website runs on an older version of WordPress 3.8, then make sure you upgrade to the latest version immediately, as many bug and security fixes are made whenever a new version is released.

Your WordPress Dashboard

Dashboard Notifications

Depending on who manages your site, you may or may not see the messages below.

The first time you log into your site powered by WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed at the top of your Dashboard …

 Your WordPress Control Area - A Tutorial

If you are new to using your website and want to spend a little time learning more about WordPress, just click on the “Get Started” or “Next Step” links.

To hide the “Welcome” message and prevent it from showing again inside your WordPress admin area the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the message panel …

The WP Admin Area Explained

Note: You will also see “Welcome to WordPress” notices in your dashboard whenever your site gets updated to the latest version of WordPress …

How To Use The WordPress Control Area

Once again, feel free to go through the information displayed in the “welcome” message if you want to learn about new features and updates to the software.

To go back to your dashboard, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on the admin menu …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Or scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the link to dismiss the message and return to your Dashboard …

 The WP Control Area - An Overview

WordPress Dashboard Screen Areas

The Dashboard gives someone with the role of an administrator access to all of the main controls and features required to administrate the site …

 The WP Control Area - A Tutorial

Your Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main screen of your Dashboard is divided into the following areas:

  • Header And Toolbar Section (1)
  • Main Navigation Menu (2)
  • Work Area (3)
  • Footer Section (4)

WordPress Administration Area: Header Section

Header Section

The header area displays updates, messages, warnings and notifications …

Your WordPress Administration Screen Explained

Different messages, announcements, banners, notifications and warnings can display on your header section, depending on what admin section you are working on, what action has been completed, or which plugins you have installed on your site …

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

Screen Options Feature

The Screen Options tab is located in the top-right corner of your WP administration screen, in the header section …

Understanding The WP Dashboard

It displays different options and features on your screen, depending on which area of the administration backend you are currently on …

 Your WordPress Admin Section - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to configure options such as which panels of your Dashboard work area you want to hide or display …

Understanding The WordPress Dashboard

If you are in the Posts section of your administration area, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to select totally different settings, such as showing or hiding information in the listings section (e.g. tags, comments, etc…), specifying the number of posts to display per page, and other configurable options depending on the plugins you have installed on your website or blog …

An Overview Of The WordPress Control Area

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Tip: Some web developers or web designers may choose to prevent backend features from displaying on your admin area because they may assume that most users won’t be needing to access these features, or simply to give parts of your site a less “cluttered” look, or to prevent accidental errors from happening.

If you are looking for a specific function or element in your admin section and can’t find it, or don’t know where to look for it, just try clicking on the Screen Options tab … you may just find what you were looking for!

Go here to learn more:

Online Help Section

You can access the official WordPress documentation and user support forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located at the top of your screen …

 The WP Admin Screen - An Overview

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays information that is relevant to the specific area that you are currently working in.

As an example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post area of your site admin, clicking on the Help tab will bring up help information and tutorials relevant to editing posts …

How To Use Your WP Administration Page

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Tip: To learn more about a particular function of WordPress while logged into the admin area, just click on the Help tab.

WordPress Admin Area: Toolbar

The WordPress Toolbar displays at the very top of your Dashboard screen and provides you and your logged in site users with access to various useful administration functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

The WP Dashboard Explained

Many Toolbar items can flyout to display more information when you hover over the icons with your mouse …

The WordPress Admin Screen Explained

For example, you can quickly see what needs updating …

 Your WP Administration Screen - An Overview

You can also view how many comments are awaiting moderation, create new pages or posts, add new media or links into your content, add new users to your site and much more …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

The admin toolbar also allows you to view how any changes made to your posts, pages or settings will affect what visitors see on your site. Just hover your mouse over the website title displayed in the toolbar and click on Visit Site.

Tip: To continue working on your site and also view your home page, right-click on the Visit Site link and choose either “Open Link In New Tab”, or “Open Link In New Window” in your web browser to view your site in a separate window …

Understanding The WP Control Area

As long as you remain logged into your admin area, the WordPress toolbar will continue to display on your browser while you’re viewing the “front end” of your website.

This is great, because it lets you easily get back into your control panel and continue working on your content without having to log back in …

The WP Administration Section Explained

Depending on which section of the admin area you are working on and what plugins you have installed on your site, you may also see different kinds of information displayed on your WordPress toolbar …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

Warning

Important: If you log in and cannot see the Toolbar when viewing your site, then make sure that you have set to display it on your site.

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Administration Panel

The section below shows you how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Area

At the far right-hand side at the top of your screen is the “Howdy, User” section with an image of your Gravatar.

If you hover over this section with your mouse it will expand with your name and username, and links to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

Using Your WP Administration Section

How To Enable Your WordPress Admin Toolbar When Viewing Your Site

Click on the “Howdy, Your UserName” tab at the very top right hand corner of your admin screen and choose Edit My Profile

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

Make sure that Show Toolbar when viewing site is enabled in the Toolbar subsection of your Profile page …

Your WP Control Panel Explained

Remember to click the Update Profile button at the bottom of your screen to update your settings …

 The WP Admin Screen - A Tutorial

Now, you should be able to see the WordPress Toolbar displayed at the top of your screen when you visit your site …

The WP Control Area Explained

WordPress Admin Area: Navigation Menu

On the left side of the admin screen is the main navigation menu that contains links to all the management functions that you can control on your website or blog …

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

The WordPress Admin Menu

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Keep in mind that what users see inside the Dashboard area when logged in will depend on their role and capabilities and how the site administrator has configured settings and options for different features.

In order to access all of the WordPress dashboard functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

Your WordPress Administration Area Explained

User Roles give users different capabilities and can limit access to dashboard features

Users with roles other than that of an administrator (e.g. ”Contributor”, ”Editor”, etc.) have access to fewer menu options inside the dashboard …

The WP Administration Section Explained

Different Roles Get Assigned Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WordPress Dashboard

Irrespective of the role assigned to a user, some admin menu items like “Collapse menu” remain accessible to all.

Click the Collapse menu button at the bottom of the menu bar …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

And the menu shrinks into a narrow strip with only a set of icons showing …

 Your WordPress Admin Section - An Overview

Use this function to create more to work in your admin area.

If you are not sure what the icons mean, just click the bottom icon to expand all menu items, or hover over the icon to display its submenus …

An Overview Of Your WordPress Dashboard

If you hover your mouse over a menu item, a submenu will fly out …

How To Use The WordPress Control Screen

To add submenus to the admin menu bar while you’re working, click on a menu item …

The WordPress Administration Section Explained

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We plan to provide helpful tutorials about each of the navigation menu items in future blog posts.

WP Administration Section: Working Area

The large area in the middle of your administration screen is your work area. This is where you will get access to most of your site’s information, do most of your admin work, create, modify and delete pages, posts and content inside these, add images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, make changes to site settings, and so on.

When you log into WordPress, your Dashboard will display a number of  blocks with information about various activities taking place on your site, including updates and announcements from different WordPress-related sources …

Your WordPress Administration Screen Explained

Occasionally, you may even find that new panels have been added to your WordPress dashboard.

For example, in version 4.8, WordPress added a new dashboard panel that displays nearby WordCamps and local WordPress Meetups in your area …

WordPress Events and News

(WordPress Events and News)

You can learn more about it here: WordPress 4.8

As you get busier and start adding more content and functionality (e.g. adding e-commerce or a support helpdesk, etc.) and more users begin to interact with your site, this area will start looking very busy …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

Fortunately, you can declutter your WordPress dashboard by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your your information sections.

For a quick and easy tutorial on ways to customize your WordPress Dashboard, go here:

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

The footer area is found at the bottom of your WordPress Dashboard screen and displays links to WordPress and your site’s current WordPress version …

Your WordPress Administration Section Explained

Congratulations! Now you know how to navigate around your WordPress dashboard and administration sections.

The WordPress Dashboard

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