The WordPress Dashboard

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

Learn To Use WordPress

The WordPress admin section of your web site is one of the most important areas of WordPress to master. In this step-by-step tutorial you will learn your way around dashboard area of your WP web site.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WordPress control section that will become more useful to you as you gain a better knowledge of using WordPress.


Please note: For the purposes of this tutorial, are assuming that you already have installed a self-hosted WordPress website or blog on your domain and that you know how to log into your website.

If you need help logging into WordPress, see this tutorial: Accessing Your WordPress Login Page

If you don’t know whether or not your website is built using WordPress, see this tutorial: Is My Blog WordPress?

To learn more about why you should choose WordPress and the advantages of using the WordPress CMS technology to power your website or blog, see this section: WordPress - Overview And Benefits


Your WP Dashboard

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

The WordPress Control Screen Explained

WordPress Dashboard

Your WP Dashboard is where all of your site’s management is performed.

The WordPress Dashboard is divided into several important areas that provide you with access to the following:

  • Useful data and information about the activities taking place on your website. It also allows you to see “at-a-glance” metrics and reports about the most recent activity taking 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 let you change, update, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, plus add, change and delete your content or content sections.

Using Your WP Dashboard

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Feature

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

Your WordPress Admin Section Explained

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

Using The WP Administration Panel


Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of giving WordPress users and developers cleaner typography for a better and more optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and more options on customizing the look and feel of the administration section, 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 customize the look and feel of the administration area, expect to see other improvements to backend features whenever WordPress releases new versions.

If new versions of WordPress include new features or functionality, then you can be sure that we will post an update about what’s new here.


Important: If your site runs on an older version of WordPress 3.8, then make sure you upgrade to the latest version immediately, as many bug and security fixes are made whenever a new version is released.


Your WP Dashboard

Dashboard Notifications

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

The first time you log into your WordPress site, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed at the top of your Dashboard …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

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

 Your WP Control Screen - An Overview

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

Your WordPress Dashboard 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 go back to the dashboard, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) in the admin menu …

An Overview Of The WP Admin Screen

Or scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link to dismiss the message and go back to your main Dashboard …

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Screen Sections

The Dashboard gives you access to all of the main features and controls that you will need to manage the site …

How To Use Your WP Administration Section

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main Dashboard screen 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 Area

The header area displays system updates, warnings and notifications …

Using Your WordPress Control Area

Different system updates, warnings and notifications can display on your header, 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 Explained

Screen Options Tab

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

Understanding Your WordPress Dashboard

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

The WP Control Screen Explained

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

An Overview Of The WP Administration Area

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you select completely different settings, like 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 which plugins you have installed on your website …

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


Tip: Some developers or web designers may choose to prevent admin features from displaying on your admin area because they may decide that most users 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 particular function or information block in your control panel 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 looking for!

WordPress Online Help Section

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

Using Your WordPress Control Screen

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

As an example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post section of your site, clicking on the Help tab will bring up help information and tutorials relevant to editing posts …

 The WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial


Tip: To learn more about a particular feature of WordPress while logged into the admin area, click on the Help tab.

WP Administration Area: Toolbar

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

How To Use Your WordPress Administration Area

Many Toolbar items can flyout to display additional information by hovering your mouse over the icons …

Your WP Administration Area Explained

For example, you can quickly see what needs to be updated on your site …

Your WordPress Admin Panel Explained

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

 The WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

You can also view what effect any changes you make to your pages or content will have on your site as seen by your site visitors.

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 WP Admin Area Explained

As long as you remain logged into your admin area, the WordPress toolbar will continue displaying on your browser while you’re viewing the “front end” of your site.

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

Your WordPress Administration Area Explained

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained


Important: If you are logged in and the Toolbar is not showing when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar has been enabled on your site.

 Your WordPress Control Area - A Tutorial

The section below shows you how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Section

On the far right of the 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 …

An Overview Of Your WP Administration Section

How To Enable Your Toolbar When Viewing Your Site

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

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Admin Section

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

The WP Dashboard Explained

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

 The WordPress Control Area - A 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 Dashboard Explained

WordPress Administration Section: Navigation Menu

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

Using The WordPress Dashboard

The WordPress Admin Menu


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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

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

The WP Admin Screen Explained

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

The WP Dashboard Explained

And your menu shrinks into a narrow band with only a list of icons displaying for all functions …

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

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

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

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

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

Using Your WordPress Admin Page


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

WordPress Admin Area: 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, modify and delete pages, posts and content within these, add 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, your Dashboard will display a number of  blocks containing information about various activities happening on your site, including updates and notices from different WordPress-related sources …

Your WordPress Control Section Explained

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 that this area can start to look very busy …

Your WP Control Screen Explained

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

For a quick and easy tutorial on how to customize your WordPress Dashboard, go here: How To Customize The WP Dashboard Screen

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 version …

Using The WP Admin Section

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


"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill,

Disclaimer: WordPress and its related trademarks are registered trademarks of Automattic, Inc. This site and the products and services offered on this site are not affiliated, associated, sponsored, or endorsed by WordPress, nor have they been certified, reviewed, or tested by WordPress. The owner, contributors and/or advertisers may derive financial benefit from sales of items reviewed, linked to, or advertised on this site.

Landing Pages for WordPress


Have you found this article useful? If so, please consider using the share buttons below and share this article with other new blog owners.

Author: Martin Aranovitch provides hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for beginners. Our detailed step-by-step tutorials will save you money and teach you how to start, manage, and grow a website or blog using WordPress that puts you in complete control and delivers results with no coding skills required!

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.