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 section 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 your way around the WP admin screen.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WP admin section that will become more useful to you as you become more skilled at using WordPress.

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Please note: In this tutorial, we assume that you already have a WordPress website installed on your domain and that you know how to log into your website.

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

If you don’t know whether or not your website runs on WordPress, see this tutorial:

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

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Your WP Control Screen

Once you are logged into your WordPress site via the login page, you will normally be taken to your Dashboard, which is your website’s administration section.

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

The Dashboard

Your WP dashboard is where all of your site’s administration is performed.

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

  • Important data and information about the activities taking place on your site. It also allows you to see “at-a-glance” metrics and information about the most recent activity taking 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 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 let you modify, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, as well as add, modify and delete your content and content sections.

 Your WordPress Administration Area - An Overview

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Information Panel

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

Using Your WordPress Admin Panel

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of giving WordPress site administrators and developers cleaner typography for a more optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and more choices on styling the look 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 in need of being updated.

With the ability to customize the look and feel of your dashboard, expect to see other design changes to backend features as WordPress releases new versions.

If any newer versions of WordPress include new features, then rest assured that we will keep you informed about it here.

Warning

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.

The WordPress Dashboard

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 using WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside your Dashboard …

 The WP Administration Area - An Overview

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

To hide the “Welcome” message or 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 …

Understanding Your WP Dashboard

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

Feel free to go 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) on your admin menu …

Your WP Administration Panel Explained

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

Your WP Control Area Explained

WP Dashboard Screen Areas

The Dashboard gives you access to all of the main features required to administrate the site …

An Overview Of Your WP Administration Area

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

Your main Dashboard screen is divided into a number of different areas:

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

WordPress Dashboard Area: Header Section

Header Area

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

How To Use The WP Control Page

A whole range of system updates, messages, banners, announcements, warnings and notifications can display 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 …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Screen Options Feature

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

 Your WordPress Administration Area - A Tutorial

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

 The WP Admin Area - A Tutorial

If you are in the Posts section of your admin area, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you select 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 per page, and other configurable options depending on which plugins you have installed on your website or blog …

Understanding The WP Dashboard

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Tip: Some web developers or web designers may choose to hide backend features from displaying inside your dashboard because they may know from experience that their clients 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 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:

Online Help Documentation

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

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

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

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

Your WP Control Area Explained

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

WordPress Admin Area: Toolbar

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

 The WordPress Control Panel - A Tutorial

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

The WordPress Admin Panel Explained

For example, the “updates” icon on the toolbar lets you see what needs updating …

The WordPress Administration Screen Explained

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

 The WordPress Admin Area - An Overview

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

Tip: To keep working on your site and also view 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 …

 The WordPress Administration Screen - An Overview

As long as you remain logged into your admin area, the toolbar will continue displaying 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 area and continue working on your pages without having to log back in …

Your WordPress Control Area Explained

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Warning

Important: If you log in and cannot see the Toolbar when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar has been set to display on your ”Profile” section.

Understanding Your WordPress Dashboard

The section below shows you how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

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

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

The WP Dashboard Explained

Enabling Your Admin Toolbar

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

 The WP Administration Section - A Tutorial

Make sure that Show Toolbar when viewing site is enabled inside the Toolbar information area of your Profile page …

Your WP Control Panel Explained

Remember to click the Update Profile button before leaving to update your settings …

An Overview Of Your WordPress Control Panel

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

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

WordPress Administration Section: Navigation Menu

On the left-hand side of the administration screen is the main navigation menu containing links to all the admin functions that you can perform on your website …

Using The WordPress Control Page

The WordPress Admin Menu

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Keep in mind that what users see inside the Dashboard area when logged in depends on their role and capabilities and how the site administrator has configured settings and options for different features.

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

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

 The WordPress Control Screen - A Tutorial

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

Regardless 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 …

An Overview Of The WP Control Screen

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

 Your WordPress Admin Area - An Overview

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

Your WP Admin Screen Explained

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

WP Administration Section: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your administration screen is the main working area. This is where you will get access to most of your site’s information, configure most of your settings, create, modify and delete posts, pages and content related to these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, make changes to your site settings, and so on.

When you log into your site, your Dashboard displays a number of  blocks containing information about various activities taking place on your site, including updates and announcements from a range of different WordPress-related sources …

Your WordPress Control Area 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 visitors begin to interact with your site, this section will start looking very busy …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

Fortunately, you can customize your admin 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 section is found at the bottom of your WordPress Dashboard screen and displays links to WordPress and your current WordPress software version …

 Your WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

As you can see, having an understanding of your WP dashboard section is essential to the success of your online business.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

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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.