The WordPress Dashboard

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

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The WordPress Dashboard

The WordPress admin section 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 website.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WordPress admin section that will become more useful to you as you master using WordPress.

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Please note: In this tutorial, we assume that you already have a WordPress site installed on your domain and that you know how to log into your site.

If you need help logging into WordPress, see this tutorial: How Do I Log Into My WordPress Admin?

If you don’t know whether or not your website is built using WordPress, see this tutorial: Tell-Tale Signs It’s A WordPress Blog And Free WP-Checking Tools

To learn more about WordPress and the advantages of using the WordPress Content Management System to power your website or blog, see this section: WordPress: Overview And Benefits

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Your WP Control Page

Once you’ve logged into your WordPress site via the login page, you should be taken to your WordPress Dashboard, which is the main administration section of your website or blog.

Your WordPress Admin Section Explained

The Dashboard

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

The Dashboard is divided into a number of useful sections that provide you with immediate access to things such as:

  • Useful data and information about the activities 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 up-to-date on the latest news from the WordPress community and various WordPress-related resources, such as notifications and announcements from WordPress product vendors of plugins and themes that you have installed on your site.
  • Management and control of all site settings and options.
  • Features that enable you to modify, expand, update and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, plus add, modify and delete your content and content sections.

 The WP Dashboard - An Overview

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Feature

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

Understanding The WP Control Area

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

 The WordPress Administration Section - A Tutorial

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Although the new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of giving WordPress site administrators and developers cleaner typography for a more optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and a more aesthetic experience, this 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 create an individual look and feel of the dashboard, you can now expect to see other design changes to backend features as WordPress releases new versions.

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

Important

Important: If your site 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 WordPress releases a new version.

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The Dashboard

Dashboard Notifications

Depending on who maintains your site updated, you may or may not see the messages below.

The first time you log into a new site powered by WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside your Dashboard …

 Your WP Administration Section - An Overview

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

To hide the “Welcome” message or prevent it from displaying again inside your admin area the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the screen …

Understanding The WP Dashboard

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

Feel free to explore 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 the admin menu …

Using The WordPress Administration Panel

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

 Your WordPress Control Area - A Tutorial

WP Dashboard Screen Sections

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

 The WordPress Admin Section - An Overview

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main screen of your Dashboard is divided into a number of different sections:

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

WP Admin Area: Header Section

Header Section

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

Your WP Administration Section Explained

A whole range of 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 …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Screen Options Feature

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

The WP Admin Section Explained

It displays different options and features on your screen, depending on which section of the admin backend you are currently on …

How To Use Your WordPress Dashboard

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

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

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you configure entirely different options, 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 options depending on which plugins you have installed on your website or blog …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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Tip: Some developers or web designers may choose to prevent elements from displaying on your dashboard because they may decide that their clients won’t be needing 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 functionality or information block in your control panel 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 are looking for!

Online Help Area

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 …

 Your WordPress Administration Section - An Overview

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 Control Panel Explained

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Tip: To learn more about any feature of WordPress when logged into the admin area, just click on the Help tab.

WP Admin Area: Toolbar

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

 Your WP Administration Section - An Overview

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

How To Use Your WP Dashboard

For example, you can quickly see what features of your site need updating …

Understanding The WordPress Dashboard

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

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

The Toolbar also allows you to view how any updates 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 web browser window to continue working on your site …

How To Use The WordPress Dashboard

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 admin area and continue working on your content without having to log back in …

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

As you begin adding new plugins to your site, you may see that new items have been added to your admin toolbar …

 The WordPress Admin Screen - An Overview

Important

Important: If you are logged in and the Toolbar is not showing when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar has been set to display on your ”Profile” settings.

Your WP Administration Area Explained

Here’s how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Section

On the far right-hand side in your admin area is the “Howdy, User” section with your Gravatar image.

Hover over this area with your mouse and it expands to display your name and username, with links pointing to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

Your WP Control Area Explained

Enabling Your WP Toolbar

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

Your WordPress Administration Screen Explained

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

Your WP Administration Area Explained

Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button before leaving to save your changes …

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 …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

WordPress Admin Section: Navigation Menu

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

Your WP Administration Panel 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 assigned to them and how the site administrator has configured settings and options for different features.

In order to access all of the WP dashboard functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

Using The WordPress Administration Section

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

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

 The WP Control Screen - A Tutorial

Different Roles Get Assigned 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 bar …

Using The WP Control Area

And your menu collapse into a narrow strip with only a list of icons showing …

The WordPress Administration Section Explained

Use this function to create 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 items, or hover over an icon to display its submenus …

 The WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

An Overview Of The WordPress Dashboard

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

 The WordPress Control Area - An Overview

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We plan to provide helpful tutorials about each of the navigation menu items in future blog posts.

WordPress Admin Section: Working Area

The large section in the middle of your admin page is the main working area. This is where you will get access to most of your site’s information, configure most of your settings, create, modify and delete posts, pages and content inside these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, change site options, and so on.

When you log into WordPress, your Dashboard will display a number of  panels containing information about various activities happening on your site, including updates and notices from several WordPress-related sources …

Your WordPress Admin Area 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 online with your website or blog, this section will start looking very busy …

How To Use Your WP Control Page

Fortunately, you can customize your admin area by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your Admin panels.

For a quick and easy tutorial on how to customize your WordPress Dashboard, go here: How To Customize Your WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

The footer area is found at the bottom of your WordPress Administration screen and displays links to WordPress as well as your current WordPress version …

How To Navigate Around Your WP Admin Section

As you can see, having an understanding of your WordPress admin area is essential to the success of your web presence.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for non-techies and beginners. WPCompendium.org provides detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress with no coding skills required and grow your business online at minimal cost!

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.