The WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Dashboard

In this tutorial, you are going to learn how to navigate around the WordPress admin area and get familiar with the WP control panel, the WordPress functions and settings menu and the main administrative areas of your site.

You will also discover some of the “hidden” features of the WP dashboard that will become more useful to you as you become more skilled at using WordPress.


Please note: We assume that you or your business already has installed a self-hosted WordPress website or blog 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:

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 WordPress Dashboard

Once you’ve logged into your blog via the login page, you should be presented with the Dashboard, which is the admin section of your website or blog.

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

The WordPress Dashboard

The WP dashboard is where all of your website’s management and administration is run from.

Your WordPress Site Dashboard is divided into a number of sections 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.
  • Control and management of website settings and options.
  • Features that allow you to change, update and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, including adding, changing and deleting your content and content sections.

 The WP Admin Screen - An Overview

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Feature

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

An Overview Of Your WordPress Dashboard

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

How To Use The WP Dashboard


Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and aimed at giving WordPress site administrators and developers cleaner typography for clarity, readability 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 create a customized look and feel of the WP dashboard, expect to see new design changes to backend features when WordPress releases new versions.

If newer versions of WordPress include changes to any of the functional aspects or features of the software, then rest assured that we will post an update about it here.


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.

Your 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 a new site built with WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed at the top of the Dashboard …

Understanding Your WordPress Control Panel

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 and prevent it from showing again the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the message block …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

How To Navigate Inside Your WP Control Area

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 go back to your dashboard, you can select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on the menu section …

 The WordPress Control Area - A Tutorial

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

 Your WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

WordPress Dashboard Screen Areas

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

Your WP Admin Area Explained

Your WordPress 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)

WordPress Administration Area: Header Section

Header Section

The header area displays system updates, warnings and notifications …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

Different system updates, notifications and warnings can display on your header section, depending on what admin section you are working on, what action has been completed, or which plugins you have installed on your site …

The WP Control Section Explained

Screen Options Tab

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

An Overview Of Your WP Control Screen

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

How To Use The WP Admin Section

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 work area you want to hide/display …

Your WP Control Area Explained

If you are in the Posts section of your site management area, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you specify entirely 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 or blog …

 Your WordPress Admin Section - A Tutorial


Tip: Some developers or web designers may choose to hide elements from displaying on your dashboard because they may know from experience that most users won’t be using to access 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 feature or information block in your control panel 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 user support forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located on the top right-hand corner of the screen …

How To Navigate Inside Your WP Control Area

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays context-specific information.

For example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post area, clicking on the Help tab will bring up help information and tutorials relevant to editing posts …

 Your WordPress Admin Section - A Tutorial


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

WP Administration Area: Toolbar

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Dashboard

For example, the “updates” icon on the toolbar lets you see what needs to be updated on your site …

The WP Control Section Explained

You can also see at a glance how many comments are currently 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 …

Using Your WordPress Administration Area

The admin toolbar also allows you to see how any updates you make 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: To continue 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 separate window …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

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

Your WordPress Administration Panel Explained

As you begin adding new functionality to your website, you may see that new items begin to show up on your admin toolbar …

 Your WP Control Panel - A Tutorial


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

How To Navigate Around The WordPress Dashboard

Here’s how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Area

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

An Overview Of Your WP Dashboard

How To Enable Your WordPress Admin Toolbar When Viewing Your Site

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

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

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

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

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

The WP Administration Panel Explained

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

The WP Dashboard Explained

WordPress Administration Area: Navigation Menu

On the left-hand side of the Dashboard is the main navigation menu linking to all the management functions that you can perform on your website …

 Your WP Control Panel - A Step-By-Step 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 admin area features, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 Your WP Admin Area - A Tutorial

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

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

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

Click the Collapse menu button at the bottom of the menu bar …

 The WordPress Administration Screen - An Overview

And the menu will shrink into a narrow column with only a list of icons showing …

Understanding Your WordPress Control Screen

Use this feature 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 the bottom icon to expand all items, or hover over an icon to display its submenus …

 Your WordPress Admin Section - A Tutorial

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

 Your WP Control Screen - A Tutorial

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

An Overview Of Your WordPress Dashboard


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

WordPress Administration Area: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your admin 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 within these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, modify site options, and so on.

When you log into your admin area, the Dashboard will display a number of  panels containing information about various activities taking place on your site, and news and content feeds from several WordPress-related sources …

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

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 users begin to interact online with your site, you might see your working area starting to look very busy …

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

Fortunately, you can declutter the 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:

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 …

 The WP Administration Section - An Overview

As you can see, knowing how to navigate around your WP administration area is vitally important.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)


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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. 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.