The WordPress Dashboard

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

WP Tutorial

The WP admin area of your site is one of the most important areas of WordPress to master. In this step-by-step tutorial you will learn how to use the WP admin area.

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

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Important: In this tutorial, we assume that you or your business already has a WordPress site installed on your domain and that you know how to log into your website or blog.

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 uses WordPress, see this tutorial: How To Check If A Website Was Built Using WordPress

If you want to learn more about WordPress and the benefits of using the WordPress Content Management System to power your website or blog, see this section: What You Need To Know First About WordPress

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Your WP Administration Section

After logging into your WordPress site via the login page, you should be presented with the WordPress Dashboard, which is the main admin section of your site.

The WP Dashboard Explained

Your WordPress Site Dashboard

Your WordPress Dashboard is where all of your site’s admin is carried out.

Your Dashboard is divided into a number of important areas that provide you with access to tools and features such as:

  • Useful data and information about the activities taking place on your WordPress site. It also lets you 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 updated 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 let you modify, expand, update and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, including adding, modifying and deleting your content or content sections.

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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 sections.

Your WP Dashboard – A Step-By-Step Tutorial

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a modern design to its Dashboard …

 The WP Dashboard - An Overview

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Although this new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of giving WordPress site administrators and web developers cleaner typography for clarity, readability and more options on customizing the look of the administration screens, it 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 admin area, expect to see other improvements to back-end features whenever WordPress releases new versions.

If 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.

Warning

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 a new version of WordPress is released.

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Your WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Announcements

Depending on how your site is managed and maintained, you may or may not see the messages below.

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

 The WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

To dismiss the “Welcome” message and prevent it from showing again inside your dashboard area the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the message panel …

 The WordPress Administration Screen - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Note: You will also see “Welcome to WordPress” announcements displayed whenever WordPress gets updated to the latest version …

The WordPress Control Area Explained

Once again, feel free to read 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 admin menu …

 Your WordPress Administration Screen - An Overview

Or scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the link to dismiss the message and go back to your Dashboard …

The WordPress Administration Panel Explained

WP Dashboard Screen Areas

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

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

Your Dashboard is divided into different areas

The Dashboard screen is divided into a number of different 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 area displays updates, messages, warnings and notifications …

How To Use Your WP Control Page

A whole range of system updates, warnings and notifications can display on your 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 Control Screen - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Screen Options Feature

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

Understanding The WordPress Dashboard

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

Understanding The WP Dashboard

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 view or keep hidden …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab gives you completely different options, like displaying or hiding information in the listings section (e.g. tags, comments, etc…), specifying the number of posts to display on your Posts area, and other configurable options depending on which plugins you have installed on your website …

Understanding Your WP Control Area

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Tip: Some web developers or web designers may choose to prevent elements from displaying in your dashboard because they may decide 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 specific feature or element in your dashboard 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 Documentation

You can view the official WordPress documentation and user help forums by clicking on the Help tab located at the top of your screen …

An Overview Of Your WordPress Control Page

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 specifically related to editing posts …

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

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

WordPress Admin Area: Toolbar

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

Understanding The WP Admin Page

For example, the “updates” icon on the toolbar lets you see what needs updating …

 The WP Control Area - A Tutorial

You can also see at a glance how many comments are awaiting moderation, create new pages and posts, insert new media or links into your content, add new users to your site and a whole lot more …

Your WordPress Control Section Explained

You can also view your site the way your visitors will see it as you are making changes.

Tip: Open your site in a new browser window to keep working on your site …

 The WP Admin Screen - An Overview

As long as you remain logged into your admin area, the toolbar will continue to display 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 site without having to log back in …

Your WordPress Admin Section Explained

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

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

Important

Important: If you log in and the Toolbar is not showing when viewing your site, then make sure that you have enabled it on your site.

Your WordPress Administration Area Explained

Here’s how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Area

On the far right-hand side of the Toolbar is the “Howdy, User” section with an image of your Gravatar.

If you hover over this panel with your mouse it expands to display your name and username, and links to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

How To Navigate Around The WordPress Administration Section

Enabling Your Admin Toolbar

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

The WordPress Control Area Explained

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

 The WP Administration Section - A 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 The WP Control Page

WordPress Admin Area: Navigation Menu

On the left-hand side of the admin screen is the main navigation menu that contains links to all your administrative functions …

How To Use The WordPress Dashboard

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 WordPress admin section functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

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

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

An Overview Of Your WordPress Dashboard

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 navigation menu bar …

 Your WP Control Screen - An Overview

And your admin menu collapse into a narrow column with only a set of icons showing …

 Your WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

This is a useful feature if you need 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 menu items, or hover over the icon to display its submenus …

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

The WP Control Section Explained

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

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

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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 screen is the working area. This is where you will have access to most of your site’s information, configure most of your settings, create, modify and delete pages, posts and content associated with 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  blocks with information about various activities taking place on your site, and updates and content feeds from different sources …

How To Navigate Inside The WP Dashboard

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, you will find that your work area begins to get very busy …

 Your WordPress Admin Area - A Tutorial

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

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

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

Using The WP Dashboard

As you can see, knowing how to use your WordPress dashboard section is absolutely essential to the success of your web presence.

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"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

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

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.