The WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Dashboard

The WP admin screen of your web site is one of the most important areas of WordPress to master. In this step-by-step tutorial you are going to learn how to use dashboard screen of your WP website or blog.

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.


Please note: We are assuming that you or your business already has a self-hosted WordPress site installed on your domain and that you know how to log into your website.

If you need help logging into WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you’re not sure whether or not your website runs on WordPress, see this tutorial:

To learn more about why you should choose WordPress and the benefits of using the WordPress Content Management System to power your website or blog, see this section:


Your WP Dashboard

After you’ve logged into your website via the login form, you will normally be presented with the WordPress Dashboard, which is the main admin area of your website or blog.

The WordPress Administration Section Explained

The Dashboard

Your WP administration area is where all of your website’s management and administration tasks are run from.

Your WordPress Site Dashboard is divided into several useful sections that provide you with immediate access to things such as:

  • Important data and information about what is taking place on your site. It also allows you to see “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 your website’s settings and options.
  • Features that allow you to change, update, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, including adding, changing and deleting content and content sections.

 Your WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Information Screen

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

How To Navigate Inside The WP Admin Area

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

Your WP Administration Panel Explained


Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and aimed at giving WordPress site administrators and web developers cleaner typography for clarity, ease of reading 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 dashboard, you can expect to see other design changes to back-end features when WordPress releases new versions.

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


Important: If your site 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 Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Announcements

Depending on who maintains your site updated, 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 inside your Dashboard …

Your WP Control Panel Explained

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

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

Understanding The WP Control Screen

Note: You will also see “Welcome to WordPress” messages displayed whenever WordPress gets updated to a new version …

Your WordPress Admin Section Explained

Feel free to go through 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) on the admin menu …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

Understanding Your WP Control Screen

Dashboard Screen Areas

The Dashboard gives you access to all of the main features required to manage your website …

How To Use The WP Dashboard

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)

WordPress Dashboard Area: Header Section

Header Area

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

Your WordPress Control Screen Explained

A whole range of updates, messages, banner, announcements, notifications and warnings can appear in the 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 …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

Screen Options Tab

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

The WordPress Administration Section Explained

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to specify options such as which panels of your Dashboard screen you want to hide or display …

 The WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

If you are in the Posts section of your administration area, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to specify totally different settings, like displaying 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 the plugins you have installed on your site …

Understanding Your WordPress Dashboard


Tip: Some web developers or web designers may choose to prevent certain elements from displaying in your admin area because they may assume that most users probably won’t be needing 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 functionality or element in your backend 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!

Go here to learn more:

WordPress Online Help Section

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

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

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays information that is relevant to the particular 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 Area - A Step-By-Step Tutorial


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

WP Admin Area: Toolbar

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

Your WP Admin Panel Explained

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

 The WP Administration Section - A Tutorial

For example, the “updates” icon on the toolbar lets you see if the WordPress software or any plugins or themes need to be updated …

Your WP Dashboard 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 …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

The Toolbar also allows you to see how any changes made 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: Open your ”front end” in a new browser to keep working on your site …

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

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

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

Your WP Administration Screen Explained

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

 The WP Control Screen - A Tutorial


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

How To Navigate Inside Your WP Control Page

Here’s how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Section

At 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 displays your name and username, with links pointing to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

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

Enabling Your Toolbar

Click on the “Howdy, Your UserName” tab and choose Edit My Profile

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

Check the “Show Toolbar when viewing site box is ticked in the Toolbar information area of your Profile screen …

Understanding Your WP Administration Section

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

How To Use Your WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Administration Section: Navigation Menu

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

How To Use Your WordPress Control Panel

Your WordPress Admin Menu


Keep in mind that what users see inside the Dashboard area when logged in depends 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 WordPress administration section functions and capabilities, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 Your WordPress Control Panel - 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 …

 The WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

Different Roles Get Access To Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WordPress 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 Admin Area Explained

And the admin menu shrinks into a narrow strip with only a list of icons displaying for all functions …

 Your WordPress Administration Section - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Use this feature if you need more to work in your admin area.

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

Understanding Your WP Administration Area

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

Understanding The WP Control Area

To stick” sub-menus into the main menu column while you’re working, click on a menu item …

Understanding Your WordPress Control Panel


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

WordPress Admin Section: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your administration page is the main 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 related to these, add images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, make changes to site settings, and so on.

When you log into your site, your Dashboard will display a number of  blocks containing information about various activities happening on your site, plus news and announcements from a range of different sources …

The WP Administration 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 users begin to interact with your site, you might see that this area begins to get really busy …

How To Use The WP Dashboard

Fortunately, you can customize the work area by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your your information sections.

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

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

The WP Control Screen Explained

As you can see, being familiar with your WP dashboard section is essential to the success of your web presence.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard


"I love the way your email series "Infinite Web Content Creation Training Series" is documented and presented. It is very absorbing and captivating. The links and tutorials are interesting and educational. This has motivated me to rewrite my content following the concepts I am learning from the email series." - Mani Raju,

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.