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 use the WordPress administration area and get familiar with the WP dashboard, the WP administration menu and the main admin areas of your site.

You will also discover some of the “hidden” features of the WP dashboard that will become more useful to you as you master using WordPress.


Important: This tutorial assumes that you or your business already has a WordPress website installed 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’re not sure whether or not your website is built using WordPress, see this tutorial:

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


Your WP Administration Panel

After you’ve logged into your WordPress site via the login page, you will normally be presented with the WordPress Dashboard, which is the admin section of your website.

Using The WordPress Dashboard

Your WordPress Site Dashboard

The WordPress Dashboard is where all of your website’s management and administrative tasks are carried out.

The WordPress Dashboard is divided into a number of important areas that provide you with access to things such as:

  • Useful data and information about the activities taking place on your website or blog. It also provides you with “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 website’s settings and options.
  • Features that let you change, update and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, and add, change and delete content and content sections.

 Your WordPress Control Area - An Overview

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Content Panel

Go through the step-by-step tutorial below, then, to learn more about using your WP Dashboard and your site’s main administration features.

Understanding The WordPress Control Panel

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a complete redesign of its Dashboard …

 Your WP Control Area - A Step-By-Step Tutorial


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

With the ability to create an individual look and feel of the dashboard, expect to see new improvements to back-end features as WordPress releases new versions.

If any 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 keep you informed about what’s new here.


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

Your WP Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Messages

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

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

If you are new to WordPress and want to spend a few minutes learning more about WordPress, you can click on the “Get Started” or “Next Step” links.

To dismiss the “Welcome” message and prevent it from displaying again the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the message block …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

 Your WordPress Control Panel - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Feel free to explore the information displayed in the “welcome” message if you want to know more about new features and updates to the software.

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

Your WP Control Screen Explained

Or scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link to dismiss the message and go back to your main Dashboard …

How To Use The WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Screen Sections

The Dashboard gives someone with the role of an administrator access to all of the main controls and features that you will need to administrate your site …

How To Use The WP Dashboard

Your Dashboard is divided into different areas

The Dashboard screen is divided into a number of different sections:

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

WordPress Administration Area: Header Section

Header Area

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

 Your WP Administration Screen - A Tutorial

A whole range of system updates, warnings and notifications can appear on your header section, depending on what area you are working on, what action has been completed, or which plugins you have installed on your site …

How To Use Your WordPress Administration Panel

Screen Options Feature

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

 Your WordPress Admin Area - A Tutorial

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you specify options such as which panels of your Dashboard screen you want to view or keep hidden …

Your WordPress Administration Area Explained

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

 Your WordPress Control Screen - A Step-By-Step Tutorial


Tip: Some web developers or designers may choose to prevent backend features from displaying in your admin area because they may decide that most users probably won’t be using 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 particular function or element in your administration area 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:

WordPress Online Help Section

You can access the official WordPress documentation and user support forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located on the top right-hand corner of your header area, next to “Screen Options” …

How To Navigate Inside Your WP Admin Page

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays context-specific information.

So, for 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 specifically related to editing posts …

An Overview Of The WordPress Dashboard


Tip: To learn more about any feature of WordPress whilst logged into the admin area, click on the Help tab.

WP Admin Area: Toolbar

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

Your WP Admin Section Explained

Most Toolbar items can expand to display additional information when you hover your mouse over the icons …

An Overview Of Your WP Dashboard

For example, the “updates” icon on the toolbar lets you see if the WordPress software or any plugins or themes need updating …

The WP Admin Area Explained

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

You can also view how your site looks as you are making changes.

Tip: Open your ”front end” in a new browser to keep working in the admin section of your site …

 Your WP Admin Area - A Tutorial

As long as you remain logged into your admin area, the toolbar will continue displaying on your screen 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 site without having to log back in …

How To Use The WordPress Admin Page

As you add new functionality to your website, you may notice that additional items begin to show up on your toolbar …

 The WP Admin Section - An Overview


Important: If you are logged in and the Toolbar is not showing when viewing your site, then make sure that you have set to display it on your ”Profile” settings.

How To Use Your WordPress Dashboard

Here’s how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Section

On the far right-hand side of the Toolbar is the “Howdy, User” section with an image of your Gravatar.

Hover over this section with your mouse and it expands to display your name and username, with links pointing to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

How To Use The WP Administration Screen

How To Enable Your Toolbar When Viewing Your Site

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

 Your WP Administration Area - An Overview

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

Understanding Your WP Dashboard

Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button before leaving to save your changes …

Your WordPress Control Panel Explained

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

WordPress Admin Area: Navigation Menu

On the left side of the Dashboard is the main navigation menu that contains links to all your administrative features …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

The WordPress Admin Menu


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 WP dashboard functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 The WordPress Admin Area - A Tutorial

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

Users with roles other than ”Administrator” (e.g. “Subscriber”, ”Editor”, etc.) get access to fewer menu options inside the dashboard …

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Administration Panel

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

Regardless of the role assigned to a user, some menu features like “Collapse menu” remain accessible to all.

Click the Collapse menu button at the bottom of the navigation menu section …

The WordPress Admin Area Explained

And the menu shrinks into a narrow band with only a list of icons displaying for all functions …

How To Navigate Around The WordPress Admin Section

This is a useful feature if you need more to work in your admin area.

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

Using The WordPress Control Panel

If you hover over a menu item, a sub-menu will fly out …

 The WP Control Panel - A Tutorial

To stick” sub-menus into the main menu column while you’re working, click on a menu item …

An Overview Of Your WordPress Admin Screen


We plan to provide helpful tutorials about using menu features and functions in future blog posts.

WordPress Administration Section: Main Working Area

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

When you log into your admin area, your Dashboard will display a number of  panels with information about various activities happening on your site, plus news and announcements from different WordPress-related sources …

The WordPress Dashboard 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 visitors begin to interact online with your site, this area will start looking very busy …

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

Fortunately, you can “tidy up” your WordPress dashboard by hiding, minimizing and reorganizing the layout and display of your your information panels.

For a quick and easy tutorial on how 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 as well as your current WordPress version …

Understanding Your WP Dashboard

As you can see, knowing how to navigate around your WordPress administration section is the key to successfully managing your website or blog.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard


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Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.