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 tutorial, you will learn how to use the WordPress admin section and become familiar with the WordPress dashboard, the WordPress administration menu and the main administrative modules of your site.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WordPress administration area that will become more useful to you as your proficiency with WordPress increases.


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

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

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

To learn more about WordPress and the advantages of using the WordPress Content Management System to power your website or blog, see this section:


Your WP Administration Section

Once you are logged into your blog via the login page, you should be taken to your Dashboard, which is the administration section of your site.

Your WP Dashboard Explained

The Dashboard

The WP dashboard is the place where all of your website’s management and admin tasks are carried out.

The WordPress Dashboard is divided into several areas that provide you with immediate access to things such as:

  • Useful data and information about the activities taking place on your WordPress site. It also provides you with “at-a-glance” metrics and reports about recent activity that has taken place on your site, system updates and notifications, and to be kept up-to-date on the latest news from the WordPress community and various WordPress-related resources, such as notifications and announcements from WordPress product vendors of plugins and themes that you have installed on your site.
  • Management and control of site settings and options.
  • Features that allow you to change, update and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, including adding, modifying and deleting content or content sections.

Understanding The WP Dashboard

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Section

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

The WP Dashboard Explained

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a complete redesign of the administration area …

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial


Although the new design was mostly cosmetic and aimed at giving WordPress site administrators and developers cleaner typography for clarity, ease of reading and more options on customizing the look and feel of the backend section, it 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 a customized look and feel of your administration area, expect to see new design changes to back-end features when WordPress releases new versions.

If any new versions of WordPress include new features, then you can be sure that we will keep you informed about it on this blog.


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 of WordPress is released.

The 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 your site that has been built with WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside the Dashboard …

Using The WordPress Admin Page

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

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

 Your WP Administration Area - An Overview

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

The WordPress Administration Screen Explained

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 the dashboard, you can select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) in the menu section …

 The WP Admin Screen - A Tutorial

Or scroll all the way to the bottom of the screen and click on the link to dismiss the message and go back to your Dashboard …

The WP Dashboard Explained

Dashboard Screen Areas

Your Dashboard gives you access to all of the main features required to manage your WordPress site …

Your WP Control Panel Explained

The WordPress Dashboard is divided into different areas

Your Dashboard screen is divided into the following areas:

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

WP Dashboard Area: Header Section

Header Area

The header section displays system updates, warnings and notifications …

 The WP Dashboard - An Overview

Different messages, announcements, banners, notifications and warnings 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 …

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

Screen Options Tab

The Screen Options feature is located in the top-right corner of your WordPress dashboard screen, in the header area …

Using Your WordPress Dashboard

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

 Your WordPress Admin Screen - An Overview

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 screen you want to view or keep hidden …

How To Navigate Around Your WP Dashboard

If you are in the Posts section of your administration area, clicking on the Screen Options tab gives you completely different options, like showing or hiding information in the listings section (e.g. tags, comments, etc…), specifying the number of posts to display on your Posts page, and other configurable options depending on which plugins you have installed on your website …

An Overview Of Your WordPress Dashboard


Tip: Some developers or web designers may choose to prevent elements from displaying in your dashboard because they may decide that most users probably 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 feature or element in your dashboard and can’t seem to 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 searching for!

Go here to learn more:

WordPress Online Help Section

You can access the official WordPress documentation and community help forums by clicking on the Help tab located at the top of your screen …

Using Your WP Admin Panel

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

For example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post section, clicking on the Help tab will bring up helpful information and tutorials specifically related to editing posts …

The WordPress Control Section Explained


Tip: To learn more about any particular feature, function or area of WordPress whilst logged into the WP administration area, click on the Help tab.

WordPress Administration Area: Toolbar

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

Understanding Your WP Dashboard

Most Toolbar items can expand to display additional information by hovering your mouse over the icons …

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

For example, you can quickly see what needs updating …

Your WordPress Admin Section Explained

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

The WordPress Control Area Explained

You can also view what effect any updates you make to your pages or content will have on your site as seen by your site visitors.

Tip: To continue working on your site and also see 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 see your site in a different window …

 The WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

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

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

An Overview Of The WordPress Control Panel

Depending where in the admin area you are currently working on and which plugins you have installed on your blog, you may see additional information showing on the WordPress toolbar …

An Overview Of The WordPress Dashboard


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.

The WordPress Control Screen Explained

The section below shows you how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Section

On the far right in your admin area is the “Howdy, User” section with your Gravatar image.

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

How To Navigate Around The WP Admin Panel

How To Enable Your WordPress Toolbar When Viewing Your Site

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

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

Make sure the “Show Toolbar when viewing site box is ticked in the Toolbar section of your Profile area …

 The WP Admin Screen - A Tutorial

Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button at the bottom of your page to update your settings …

The WP Control Area Explained

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

Your WordPress Control Screen Explained

WordPress Admin Area: Navigation Menu

On the far left-hand side of the Dashboard screen is the main navigation menu linking to all your administrative functions …

The WordPress Admin Screen Explained

The WordPress Admin Menu


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

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

Users assigned roles other than that of an administrator (e.g. “Subscriber”, “Author”, etc.) have access to fewer menu options inside the dashboard …

 The WP Admin Area - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Different Roles Get Assigned Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WordPress 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 WP Admin Screen - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

And the menu will shrink into a narrow band with only a set of icons displaying for all functions …

An Overview Of Your WP Control Screen

Use this function if you need more space in your admin working area.

If you 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 Page

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

Your WP Control Area Explained

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

Your WordPress Admin Panel Explained


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

WordPress Admin Section: Main Working Area

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

When you log into your site, the Dashboard will display a number of  blocks with information about various activities happening on your site, plus updates and content feeds from a range of different WordPress-related sources …

An Overview Of The WordPress Administration Screen

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 your site grows with content and functionality (e.g. adding e-commerce or a support helpdesk, etc.) and more users begin to interact online with your website or blog, you will see that your working area begins to look very busy …

How To Navigate Inside The WordPress Dashboard

Fortunately, you can customize the WordPress dashboard by hiding, minimizing and reorganizing the layout and display of your Dashboard panels.

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 WP Administration area and displays links to WordPress and your site’s current WordPress software version …

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

Congratulations! Now you know how to use your WordPress dashboard and admin features.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard


"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill,

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.