The WordPress Dashboard

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

Landing Pages for WordPress

Learn How To Use WP

The WordPress dashboard screen of your site is one of the most important areas of WordPress to master. In this tutorial you will learn how to navigate around administration screen of your WP web site.

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


Important: In this tutorial, we are assuming that you already have installed a WordPress site on your domain and that you know how to log into your website.

If you need help logging into WordPress, see this tutorial: How To Log Into WordPress

If you don’t know whether or not your website runs on WordPress, see this tutorial: Is My Website Built Using WordPress? How To Tell

If you want 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 WordPress Admin Panel

After logging into your blog via the login page, you will typically be presented with the WordPress Dashboard, which is your website’s administration area.

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

The Dashboard

The WP Dashboard is where all of your site’s administration is carried out.

The WordPress Dashboard is divided into several useful sections that provide you with access to tools and features such as:

  • Important data and information about the activities taking place on your website or blog. It also lets you see “at-a-glance” metrics and reports about 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, including adding, editing and deleting content and content sections.

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Section

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

The WordPress Dashboard – A Tutorial

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a redesigned look to the Dashboard section …

The WordPress Control Panel Explained


Although the 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 more options on customizing the look and feel of the administration section, it has 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 outdated.

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

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


Important: If your website 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 WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Notifications

Depending on who manages your site, 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 the Dashboard …

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

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 hide 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 screen …

Understanding Your WordPress Control Area

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

How To Use Your WordPress Administration Area

Once again, 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, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) in your menu section …

How To Navigate Around The WP Admin Page

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

 The WP Admin Section - An Overview

Dashboard Screen Sections

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

Your WordPress Control Section Explained

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

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

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

WP Admin Area: Header Section

Header Area

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

The WP Administration Screen Explained

A whole range of system updates, notifications and warnings can appear on your 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 …

An Overview Of Your WP Administration Area

Screen Options Tab

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

Using Your WordPress Admin Page

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

Understanding The WP Administration Page

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained


Tip: Some developers or web designers may choose to hide admin features from displaying in your dashboard because they may know from experience 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 specific function or information block in your admin section 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 are looking for!

Online Help Section

You can access 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, next to “Screen Options” …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

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

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


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

WP Admin Area: Toolbar

The Admin Toolbar displays at the very top of your Administration 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 …

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

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

Your WP Control Area Explained

For example, you can quickly see if the WordPress software or any plugins or themes need updating …

The WP Admin Area Explained

You can also see at a glance how many comments are 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 Administration Screen - An Overview

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: Open your ”front end” in a new browser window to keep working in the backend of your site …

Using Your WP Control Screen

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 website.

This is great, because it lets you easily return to your backend section and continue working on your site without having to log back in …

Using The WordPress Dashboard

As you add new plugins to your website, you may see that new items will be added to your toolbar …

Understanding Your WP Control Area


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

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Dashboard

Here’s how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

At the far right at the top of your screen 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 Control Section Explained

Enabling Your Admin Toolbar

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

The WP Control Area Explained

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Remember to click the Update Profile button at the bottom of your screen to save your changes …

An Overview Of Your WordPress Dashboard

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 - A Tutorial

WordPress Administration Area: Navigation Menu

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

The WordPress Admin Menu


Keep in mind that what users see inside the Dashboard area when logged in will depend 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 WP dashboard functions and capabilities, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

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

Your WP Control Area Explained

Different Roles Get Assigned Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WP 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 navigation menu bar …

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

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

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

Use this feature if you need to create 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 the bottom icon to expand all items, or hover over the icon to display its submenus …

An Overview Of The WordPress Control Page

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

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

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

Your WordPress Control Section Explained


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

WordPress Admin Area: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your administration page is your main 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 pages, posts and content inside these, add images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, change your site options, and so on.

When you log into WordPress, your Dashboard will display a number of  panels with information about various activities happening on your site, and news and announcements from different WordPress-related sources …

 Your WP Administration Area - A Tutorial

As your site grows with content and functionality (e.g. adding e-commerce or a support helpdesk, etc.) and more visitors begin to interact online with your website or blog, this area will start looking very busy …

How To Use The WP Control Page

Fortunately, you can “tidy up” the WordPress dashboard by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your Dashboard panels.

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

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

Understanding Your WP Dashboard

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


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