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 administration area of your site 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 WP website or blog.

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


Note: We are assuming that you or your business already has installed a self-hosted WordPress website 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 driven by WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you want 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 WP Dashboard

Once you’ve logged into your blog via the login form, you will normally be taken to your Dashboard, which is the admin section of your site.

An Overview Of Your WordPress Admin Page

The WordPress Dashboard

Your WordPress dashboard is the place where all of your site’s management and administrative tasks are performed.

The Dashboard is divided into a number of sections that provide you with immediate access to the following:

  • Useful data and information about what is taking place on your WordPress site. 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 notifications and announcements from WordPress product vendors of plugins and themes that you have installed on your site.
  • Management and control of website settings and options.
  • Features that enable you to change, update, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, and add, edit and delete content and content sections.

How To Use The WordPress Administration Page

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Feature

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

Your WP Dashboard – A Step-By-Step Tutorial

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a complete redesign of the backend section …

Your WP Control Panel Explained


Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of giving WordPress site administrators and developers cleaner typography for clarity, ease of reading and more ways to customize the look and feel of the administration area, it 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 outdated.

With the ability to create an individual look and feel of the WP administration area, you can now expect to see other improvements to back-end features when WordPress releases new versions.

If any new versions of WordPress include new software features or functionality, then rest assured that we will post an update about it 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 of WordPress is released.

Your Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Announcements

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 inside the Dashboard …

The WordPress Control Area Explained

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

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

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

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, you can select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on your admin menu …

 Your WP Administration Screen - A Tutorial

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

Using Your WordPress Dashboard

Dashboard Screen Areas

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

Using Your WP Control Page

Your Dashboard is divided into different areas

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

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

WP Admin Area: Header Section

Header Section

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

How To Use Your WP Admin Area

A whole range of updates, messages, banner, announcements, warnings and notifications can appear in the header section, depending on what admin section you are working on, what action has been performed, 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 WP administration screen, in the header section …

Your WP Control Area Explained

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

The WP Control Section Explained

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to configure options like which panels of your Dashboard work area you want to view or keep hidden …

Using The WordPress Admin Panel

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

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Administration Screen


Tip: Some web developers or web designers may choose to prevent elements from displaying inside your admin area because they may decide that their clients probably won’t be needing 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 particular feature or element in your backend 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 searching for!

Go here to learn more:

Online Help Documentation

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

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

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 specifically related to editing posts …

 Your WP Control Area - A Tutorial


Tip: To learn more about a particular area of WordPress while logged into the administration area, just 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 various useful administration functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

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

 Your WordPress Control Screen - A Tutorial

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

The WordPress Administration Screen Explained

The Toolbar also lets you see 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: Open your site in a new window to keep working in the backend of your site …

 Your WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

As long as you remain logged into your admin area, the WordPress 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 return to your backend section and continue working on your site without having to log back in …

The WP Dashboard Explained

Depending on which section of the admin area you are currently working on and which plugins you have installed, you may also see additional information displayed on the WordPress toolbar …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial


Important: If you log in and cannot view the Toolbar when viewing your site, then make sure that you have enabled it on your ”Profile” settings.

An Overview Of Your WP Administration Panel

The section below shows you how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

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

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

 Your WordPress Admin Screen - A Tutorial

How To Enable Your WordPress Admin Toolbar When Viewing Your Site

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

Using Your WordPress Administration Panel

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button before leaving this section 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 …

 Your WP Control Screen - An Overview

WordPress Admin Area: Navigation Menu

On the far left side of the administration screen is the main navigation menu containing links to all your administrative features …

 Your WordPress Control Area - A Tutorial

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 assigned to them and how the site administrator has configured settings and options for different features.

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

Understanding The WP Dashboard

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

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

An Overview Of The WP Admin Panel

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 menu section …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

The WP Control Panel Explained

This is a useful feature 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 menu items, or hover over the icon to display its submenus …

The WordPress Administration Section Explained

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

How To Use The WordPress Dashboard

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

 The WordPress Administration Area - An Overview


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

WordPress Admin Area: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your administration screen 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, change site settings, etc…

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

Your 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 your site grows with content and functionality (e.g. adding e-commerce or a support helpdesk, etc.) and more users begin to interact with your site, this section can start looking very busy …

How To Use The WordPress Admin Screen

Fortunately, you can customize your work area 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 screen and displays links to WordPress as well as your site’s current WordPress software version …

An Overview Of The WordPress Dashboard

As you can see, having an understanding of your WordPress administration area is essential to the success of your digital business.

The WordPress Dashboard


"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.