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 are going to learn how to use the WordPress administration area and become familiar with the WP dashboard, the WP functions and settings menu and the main admin areas of your website or blog.

You will also discover some of the “hidden” features of the WordPress dashboard that will become more useful to you as your proficiency with WordPress increases.


Important: In this tutorial, we assume that you or your business already has a self-hosted WordPress site 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’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 advantages of using the WordPress Content Management System to power your website or blog, see this section:


Your WordPress Administration Section

After logging into your blog via the login page, you should be taken to your Dashboard, which is the main admin area of your website.

 The WP Control Panel - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

WordPress Dashboard

The WordPress dashboard is where all of your site’s management and administration is carried out.

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

  • Important data and information about what is taking place on your site. It also lets you see “at-a-glance” metrics and reports about the most recent activity that has taken place on your site, system updates and notifications, and keeps you 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 enable you to modify, expand, update and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, as well as add, edit and delete your content or content sections.

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Feature

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

The WordPress Control Area Explained

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

The WP Admin Screen Explained


Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of giving WordPress users and developers cleaner typography for clarity, ease of reading and more options on customizing the look of the backend area, this has 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 in need of being updated.

With the ability to create a customized look and feel of your admin area, you can expect to see other improvements to back-end features whenever WordPress releases new versions.

If any newer 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 site 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 of WordPress is released.

The Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Notifications

Depending on who manages your site, 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 …

How To Navigate Inside The WordPress Admin Section

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

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

 Your WP Control Screen - A Tutorial

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

Understanding Your WP Control Panel

Feel free to read through 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 …

How To Use Your WordPress Control Page

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 main Dashboard …

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

WordPress Dashboard Screen Areas

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

Using The WordPress Administration Screen

The WP 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)

WP Administration Area: Header Section

Header Section

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

 Your WordPress Administration Area - A Tutorial

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

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

Screen Options Tab

The Screen Options tab is found in the top-right corner of your WordPress dashboard screen, in the header section …

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

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

 Your WP Administration Area - A Tutorial

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

An Overview Of Your WP Administration Section

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab gives you totally different settings, like displaying 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 the plugins you have installed on your website or blog …

How To Use The WordPress Control Screen


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

If you are looking for a specific functionality or element in your backend 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 are looking for!

Go here to learn more:

Online Help Section

You can access the official WordPress documentation and community support forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located on the top right-hand corner of the screen …

How To Use Your WP Dashboard

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

For example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post area of your blog admin, clicking on the Help tab will bring up help information specifically related to editing posts …

How To Navigate Inside The WordPress Control Page


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

WP Administration Area: Toolbar

The WordPress Toolbar is located at the very top of your Dashboard screen and provides you and your logged in site users with access to a range of important administrative functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

The WordPress Control Area Explained

Many Toolbar items can expand to display more information by hovering over the icons with your mouse …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

For example, you can quickly see if the WordPress software or any plugins or themes need updating …

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

How To Use Your WordPress Dashboard

You can also view your site the way your visitors will see it as you are making changes.

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

Your WP Control Screen Explained

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 allows you to easily get back into your control panel and continue working on your site without having to log back in …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

As you begin adding new functionality to your site, you may see that new items have been added to your toolbar …

 Your WordPress Administration Area - An Overview


Important: If you are logged in and cannot view the Toolbar when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar has been set to display on your site.

The WP Dashboard Explained

Here’s how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

On the far right of the Admin Toolbar is the “Howdy, User” section with your Gravatar image.

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

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

Enabling Your Admin Toolbar

Click on the “Howdy, Your UserName” tab and select Edit My Profile

The WP Administration Panel Explained

Check the “Show Toolbar when viewing site box is ticked inside the Toolbar section of your Profile area …

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

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

 Your WordPress Control 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 WordPress Dashboard Explained

WordPress Administration Section: Navigation Menu

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

Your WordPress Control Area Explained

Your 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 WP control area functions and capabilities, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 Your WordPress Control 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. ”Contributor”, “Author”, etc.) have access to fewer menu options inside the dashboard …

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Dashboard

Different Roles Get Access To Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WordPress Dashboard

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

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

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

And the admin menu collapse into a narrow column with only a set of icons showing …

 Your WP Control Panel - An Overview

Use this function to create 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 items, or hover over an icon to display its submenus …

The WP Dashboard Explained

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

 Your WordPress Control Area - An Overview

To add sub-menus to the navigation menu bar while you’re working, click on a menu item …

Using The WordPress Control Area


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

WordPress Admin Section: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your admin page is your working area. This is where you will get access to most of your site’s information, configure most of your settings, create, edit and delete pages, posts and content associated with these, add images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, change site settings, and so on.

When you log into your admin area, your Dashboard will display a number of  panels containing information about various activities taking place on your site, plus updates and notices from a range of different sources …

Using The WP Dashboard

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 find that your working area begins to get really busy …

 The WP Dashboard - An Overview

Fortunately, you can customize your work area by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your your information blocks.

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 Admin Screen - An Overview

As you can see, having an understanding of your WP control section is the key to successfully managing your web presence.

The WordPress Dashboard


"Learning WordPress has been a huge stumbling block for me. I've been looking for something that covers absolutely everything but doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Thank you so much ... you have just provided me with what I have been looking for! Truly appreciated!" - Tanya

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.