The WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

The WordPress admin screen of your web 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 navigate around the WordPress dashboard screen.

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

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Important: In 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 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 CMS platform to power your website or blog, see this section:

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Your WP Control Section

After you’ve logged into your WordPress site via the login page, you will normally be presented with the Dashboard, which is your site’s administration area.

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

The Dashboard

Your WP dashboard is the place where all of your website’s administration is run from.

Your WordPress Site Dashboard is divided into a number of important areas that provide you with immediate access to the following:

  • Useful data and information about the activities taking place on your website. It also lets you see “at-a-glance” metrics and information 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 website settings and options.
  • Features that enable you to change, update, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, as well as adding, modifying and deleting content and content sections.

Using The WP Administration Section

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Feature

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

Understanding Your WP Dashboard

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced new design changes to its administration area …

Your WP Control Area Explained

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Although the new design was mostly cosmetic and and intended to give WordPress users and web developers cleaner typography for a better optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and a more aesthetic experience, it 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 the WP admin area, expect to see other improvements to back-end features as WordPress releases new versions.

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

Important

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.

The Dashboard

Dashboard Announcements

Depending on how your site is managed and maintained, you may or may not see the messages below.

The first time you log into a new WordPress site, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside your Dashboard …

 The WP Administration Screen - A Tutorial

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

To hide 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 panel …

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

Your WP Control Section Explained

Or scroll down 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 - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Dashboard Screen Areas

The Dashboard gives you access to all of the main controls and features required to manage your website or blog …

The WP Dashboard Explained

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main screen of your Dashboard 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 area displays system updates, warnings and notifications …

 The WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

A whole range of updates, messages, banner, announcements, notifications and warnings can display in the header, depending on what area you are working on, what action has been performed, or which plugins you have installed on your site …

Understanding The WordPress Control Page

Screen Options Feature

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

Understanding The WordPress Admin Area

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

Your WP Administration Area Explained

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

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

If you are in the Posts section of your administration area, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to specify totally different options, such as showing 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 …

The WordPress Administration Panel Explained

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Tip: Some web developers or designers may choose to hide elements from displaying in your admin area because they may decide 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 particular function 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:

Online Help Documentation

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 your header area, next to “Screen Options” …

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays information that is relevant to the specific area that you are currently working in.

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

Understanding Your WordPress Admin Panel

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

WordPress 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 various administration functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

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

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

The WP Admin Area Explained

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

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 view your site in a different window …

 Your WP Control Area - An Overview

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 lets you easily get back into your dashboard and continue working on your content without having to log back in …

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

As you begin to add new functionality to your site, you may notice that additional items begin to appear on the toolbar …

 Your WP Admin Screen - An Overview

Important

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

The WordPress Control Screen Explained

Here’s how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Area

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

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

Your WP Control Area Explained

Enabling Your WordPress Admin Toolbar

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

How To Navigate Around The WordPress Control Screen

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

 The WP Control Screen - An Overview

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

Understanding Your WP Dashboard

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

Understanding Your WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Admin Area: Navigation Menu

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

Your WordPress Admin Screen Explained

Your WordPress Admin Menu

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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 control area features, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

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

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

 The WP Dashboard - An Overview

Different Roles Get Assigned Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WordPress 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 section …

The WP Control Area Explained

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

The WordPress Admin Panel Explained

This is a useful function to create more to work in your admin area.

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

How To Use Your WordPress Admin Panel

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

How To Navigate Inside The WP Dashboard

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

Using Your WordPress Control Page

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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 screen is your main work area. This is where you will have access to most of your site’s information, do most of your admin work, create, modify and delete posts, pages and content inside these, add images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, modify site settings, and so on.

When you log into WordPress, the Dashboard will display a number of  blocks containing information about various activities taking place on your site, including updates and notices from different 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 with your site, you might see your working area starting to get very busy …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Fortunately, you can “tidy up” your work area by hiding, minimizing and reorganizing the layout and display of your Admin panels.

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

The footer section is found at the bottom of your WordPress Administration screen and displays links to WordPress and your current WordPress software version …

 Your WP Admin Section - A Tutorial

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

The WordPress Dashboard

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"Your training is the best in the world! It is simple, yet detailed, direct, understandable, memorable, and complete." Andrea Adams, FinancialJourney.org

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the owner of WPCompendium.org and the author of The WordPress User Manual. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.