The WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to navigate around the WP administration section and familiarize yourself with the WordPress dashboard, the WordPress administration menu and the main administrative areas of your website or blog.

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

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Please note: In this tutorial, we assume that you or your business already has a self-hosted WordPress website 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 don’t know whether or not your website is powered by 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:

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Your WordPress Dashboard

Once you’ve logged into your WordPress site via the login form, you should be presented with the WordPress Dashboard, which is your website or blog’s administration area.

The WP Control Panel Explained

The Dashboard

The WP dashboard is the place where all of your site’s administration is carried out.

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

  • Useful data and information about what is taking place on your website or blog. It also provides you with “at-a-glance” metrics and information about recent activity taking 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 messages, notification and announcements from WordPress product vendors of plugins and themes that you have installed on your site.
  • Management and control of all your website’s settings and options.
  • Features that allow you to modify, expand, update and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, as well as adding, changing and deleting your content and content sections.

 Your WordPress Admin Screen - A Tutorial

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 sections.

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

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

Your WordPress Administration Area Explained

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Although this new design was mostly cosmetic and and intended to give WordPress site administrators 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 in need of being updated.

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

If any new versions of WordPress include new features or functionality, then rest assured that we will keep you informed about what’s new on this site.

Important

Important: If your site 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 Dashboard

WordPress 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 your site that uses WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed at the top of the Dashboard …

An Overview Of The WordPress Admin Screen

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

 The WordPress Control Panel - A Tutorial

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

The WP Control Area Explained

Once again, feel free to go 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) on your admin menu …

Your WP Admin Panel Explained

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

How To Use Your WordPress Dashboard

Dashboard Screen Sections

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

 Your WP Control Area - An Overview

The WP Dashboard is divided into different areas

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

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

WP Dashboard Area: Header Section

Header Area

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

Your WP Control Section Explained

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Screen Options Feature

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

An Overview Of The WordPress Control Panel

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

Using The WordPress Administration Screen

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 or display …

Your WordPress Control Screen Explained

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab gives you 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 Posts area, and other configurable settings depending on which plugins you have installed on your site …

An Overview Of Your WordPress Control Page

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Tip: Some web developers or designers may choose to prevent elements from displaying on your admin area because they may know from experience that their clients won’t be using 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 specific feature or element in your administration area 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 view the official WordPress documentation and user help forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located at the top of your screen …

Your WP Control Panel Explained

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

As an example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post section, clicking on the Help tab will bring up helpful information and tutorials specifically related to editing posts …

Your WordPress Control Panel Explained

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Tip: To learn more about a specific feature of WordPress whilst logged into the WP administration area, just click on the Help tab.

WordPress Administration Area: Toolbar

The Admin Toolbar displays at the very top of your Admin 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 WP Control Screen - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

 Your WordPress Control Screen - A Tutorial

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

The WordPress Administration Section Explained

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

The WordPress Admin Section Explained

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

Tip: Open your ”front end” in a new web browser window to keep working in the admin section of your site …

Your WordPress Control Area Explained

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

This is great, because it allows you to easily get back into your admin area and continue working on your site without having to log back in …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

Using Your WordPress Control Panel

Important

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

The section below shows you how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

On the far right-hand side of the Admin 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, and links pointing to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

Enabling Your Admin Toolbar

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

The WP Control Screen Explained

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

How To Use The WordPress Dashboard

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

Using The WordPress Admin Panel

WordPress Administration Section: Navigation Menu

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

How To Navigate Around The WP Dashboard

Your 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 administration area functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

How To Use The WordPress Control Panel

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

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

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

Different Roles Get Assigned Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WP Dashboard

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

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

The WordPress Administration Area Explained

And the sidebar menu shrinks into a narrow band with only a list of icons showing …

 The WP Administration Section - A Tutorial

Use this function if you want 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 on the bottom icon to expand all menu items, or hover over an icon to display its submenus …

Understanding The WordPress Admin Panel

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

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

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

WordPress Admin Section: Working Area

The large section in the middle of your administration page is your work area. This is where you will have access to most of your site’s information, configure most of your settings, create, edit and delete posts, pages and content within these, add images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, make changes to your site options, and so on.

When you log into your admin area, your Dashboard will display a number of  panels containing information about various activities taking place on your site, plus 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 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, this area can start looking very busy …

 The WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

Fortunately, you can “tidy up” the WordPress dashboard by hiding, minimizing and reorganizing the layout and display of your Dashboard 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 WP Dashboard area and displays links to WordPress and your site’s current WordPress software version …

How To Use The WP Admin Panel

Congratulations! Now you know how to navigate around your WordPress dashboard and administration sections.

The WordPress 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.