The WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Dashboard

The WP control area of your website or blog is one of the most important areas of WordPress to master. In this step-by-step tutorial you are going to learn how to use control area of your WordPress site.

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


Please note: For the purposes of this tutorial, we assume that you or your business already has a WordPress site installed on your domain and that you know how to log into your website or blog.

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

If you’re not sure whether or not your website uses WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you want 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 Page

After logging into your WordPress site via the login form, you should be taken to your Dashboard, which is the main admin section of your website.

 The WordPress Control Panel - An Overview

WordPress Dashboard

The WP control section is where all of your website’s administration is controlled from.

Your Dashboard is divided into several sections that provide you with immediate access to things such as:

  • Useful data and information about the activities taking place on your website. It also lets you see “at-a-glance” metrics and reports about recent activity taking place on your site, system updates and notifications, and keeps you up-to-date 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 site settings and options.
  • Features that allow you to change, expand, update and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, as well as add, change and delete your content or content sections.

Your WP Control Area Explained

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Content Screen

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

Your WP Control Screen Explained

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a modern design to the administration area …

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial


Although the new design was mostly cosmetic and and intended to give WordPress users and developers cleaner typography for a more optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and more options on customizing the look and feel of the administration section, it 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 outdated.

With the ability to customize the look and feel of your administration area, expect to see other improvements to backend features when WordPress releases new versions.

If newer versions of WordPress include new software features or functionality, 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 newer versions of WordPress contain many bug and security fixes.

Your Dashboard

Dashboard Notifications

Depending on whether you or someone else 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 the Dashboard …

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

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

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

An Overview Of Your WordPress Administration Page

Note: You will also see “Welcome to WordPress” messages displayed whenever your site gets updated to a new version of WordPress …

The WP Administration Area Explained

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

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

An Overview Of Your WordPress Dashboard

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

 Your WordPress Control Area - An Overview

WP Dashboard Screen Areas

Your Dashboard gives someone with the role of an administrator access to all of the main features required to manage the site …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Your Dashboard is divided into different areas

your site’s 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 Admin Area: Header Section

Header Area

The header section displays system updates, warnings and notifications …

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Control Area

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

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

Screen Options Feature

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

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

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

 The WP Control Panel - 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 screen you want to hide/display …

 The WordPress Control Screen - A Tutorial

If you are in the Posts section of your site management area, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to select totally different options, like 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 settings depending on the plugins you have installed on your site …

Your WP Control Screen Explained


Tip: Some developers or designers may choose to hide elements from displaying on your admin area because they may decide that most users probably won’t be using 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 information block 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 were looking for!

Go here to learn more:

Online Help Area

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

 The WP Control Screen - A Tutorial

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 section of your site, clicking on the Help tab will bring up helpful information specifically related to editing posts …

The WordPress Control Section Explained


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

WP Admin Area: Toolbar

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

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

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

The WP Admin Screen Explained

For example, the “updates” icon on the toolbar lets you see what needs to be updated on your site …

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

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

Your WordPress Admin Section Explained

The Toolbar also allows you to view how any modifications you make to your posts, pages or settings will affect your site. Just hover your mouse over the website title displayed in the toolbar and click on Visit Site.

Tip: Open your site in a new browser window to keep working on your site …

An Overview Of The WordPress Admin Page

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 site.

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

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

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial


Important: If you log in and the Toolbar is not showing when viewing your site, then make sure that you have enabled it on your site.

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

The section below shows you how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Area

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

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

An Overview Of The WordPress Control Page

Enabling Your WordPress Admin Toolbar

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

Using The WordPress Control Area

Check that Show Toolbar when viewing site is enabled in the Toolbar section of your Profile area …

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

Your WP Administration Panel Explained

WordPress Admin Area: Navigation Menu

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

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

The WordPress Admin Menu


Keep in mind that what users see inside the Dashboard area when logged in depends 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. …

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Control Panel

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

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

An Overview Of Your WordPress Dashboard

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

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

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

Understanding Your WordPress Control Panel

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

Understanding Your WP Admin Section

This is a useful function if you need to create 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 Your WP Control Screen

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

Your WP Control Area Explained

To insert sub-menus into the navigation menu column while you’re working, click on a menu item …

Using Your WP Control Page


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

WordPress Admin Section: Working Area

The large section 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, edit and delete pages, posts and content associated with these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, change your site settings, etc…

When you log into your admin area, the Dashboard displays a number of  blocks containing information about various activities happening on your site, and updates and announcements from different sources …

 Your WordPress Administration Area - An Overview

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 Explained

Fortunately, you can customize your admin area by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your Admin panels.

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

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

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

As you can see, being familiar with your WordPress dashboard area is vitally important.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

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Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.