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 will learn how to navigate around the WordPress administration section and familiarize yourself with the WordPress dashboard, the WordPress admin menu and the main admin modules of your website.

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

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Please note: This tutorial assumes that you already have a self-hosted WordPress website or blog 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 runs on WordPress, see this tutorial:

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

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Your WP Control Area

After you’ve logged into your website via the login page, you will normally be taken to your WordPress Dashboard, which is your site’s admin area.

Your WP Admin Screen Explained

The WordPress Dashboard

Your WordPress Dashboard is where all of your site’s management and administration tasks are carried out.

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 what is taking place on your site. It also provides you with “at-a-glance” metrics and information about the most recent activity that has taken 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.
  • Control and management of site settings and options.
  • Features that let you change, update, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, plus add, edit and delete content and content sections.

The WordPress Control Section Explained

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Content Screen

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

Your WP Control Panel Explained

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

Your WP Control Area Explained

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Although this new design was mostly cosmetic and aimed at giving WordPress site administrators and developers cleaner typography for a better and more optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and a more aesthetic experience, 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 outdated.

With the ability to customize the look and feel of the WP dashboard, you can now expect to see new improvements to backend features whenever WordPress releases new versions.

If any newer versions of WordPress include new features, then you can be sure that we will post an update about it on this blog.

Warning

Important: If your website runs on an older version of WordPress 3.8, then make sure you upgrade to the latest version immediately, as newer versions of WordPress contain many bug and security fixes.

The WP Dashboard

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 built with WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside the Dashboard …

How To Navigate Inside The WP Control Screen

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

To dismiss 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 screen …

Using The WP Administration Page

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

Using Your WordPress Control Page

Feel free to explore the information displayed in the “welcome” message if you want to know more about new features and updates to the software.

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

How To Use Your WP Administration Page

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

Using Your WP Administration Page

WP Dashboard Screen Areas

The Dashboard gives someone with the role of an administrator access to all of the main controls and features that you will need to administrate your site …

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Admin Page

The WordPress Dashboard is divided into different areas

The Dashboard screen is divided into the following 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, warnings and notifications …

 Your WP Control Panel - A Tutorial

Different system updates, notifications and warnings can appear in the 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 - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Screen Options Tab

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

How To Use The WordPress Admin Section

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

How To Use Your WP Dashboard

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 or display …

 Your WP Control Screen - A Tutorial

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

An Overview Of Your WordPress Control Page

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Tip: Some web developers or web designers may choose to hide elements from displaying on your dashboard because they may assume that most users probably won’t be needing 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 functionality or element 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:

WordPress Online Help Documentation

You can view the official WordPress documentation and user support forums by clicking on the Help tab located on the top right-hand corner of your header area …

 Your WP Control Screen - A Tutorial

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

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

WP Admin Area: Toolbar

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

How To Use The WordPress Dashboard

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

 Your WordPress Control Screen - A Tutorial

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

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

The admin toolbar also allows you to view how any changes made to your posts, pages or settings will affect your site. Just hover your mouse over the website title displayed in the toolbar and click on Visit Site.

Tip: Open your site in a new window to continue working in the backend of your site …

How To Use The WordPress Admin Page

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 lets you easily get back into your backend section and continue working on your pages without having to log back in …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

Depending where in the admin area you are currently working on and what plugins you have installed on your site, you may also see different kinds of information showing on your toolbar …

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

Important

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

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Dashboard

Here’s how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

At the far right in your administration area is the “Howdy, User” section with your Gravatar image.

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

Understanding The WP Administration Page

Enabling Your Admin Toolbar

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

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

Your WP Administration Section Explained

Remember to click the Update Profile button before leaving to save your changes …

 The WordPress Control Panel - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

An Overview Of Your WP Control Page

WordPress Administration Area: Navigation Menu

On the left-hand side of the Dashboard is the main navigation menu linking to all the admin features of your website or blog …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

The WordPress Admin Menu

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

In order to access all of the WordPress admin section functions and capabilities, you must be an administrator of the site. …

Your WordPress Admin Panel Explained

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

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

The WP Control Panel 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 …

An Overview Of The WordPress Control Area

And your sidebar menu will shrink into a narrow column with only a set of icons showing …

The WordPress Control Area Explained

Use this feature if you want more space in your admin working 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 items, or hover over an icon to display its submenus …

Using Your WP Dashboard

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

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Control Panel

To stick” submenus into the main menu bar while you’re working, click on a menu item …

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

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

WordPress Administration Area: Main Working Area

The large area in the middle of your administration screen is the work area. This is where you will get access to most of your site’s information, configure most of your settings, create, edit and delete pages, posts and content associated with these, upload 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, the Dashboard will display a number of  panels containing information about various activities happening on your site, plus news and content feeds from different sources …

Your WP Admin Screen 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 online with your site, this section will start looking very busy …

Your WordPress Control Screen Explained

Fortunately, you can “tidy up” the work area by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your your information blocks.

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

The footer area is found at the bottom of your WP Dashboard screen and displays links to WordPress and your current WordPress version …

Your WP Control Area Explained

Congratulations! Now you know how to navigate around your WordPress dashboard and admin areas.

The WordPress Dashboard

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Disclaimer: We are not associated with WordPress or any of the WordPress-related products promoted on this site. We may receive an affiliate commission from sales of third-party services and/or products advertised on our site. All images and descriptions sourced from product websites are the copyright of their respective owners and comply with all license terms and agreements of use.

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

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