The WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

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

You will also discover some of the “hidden” features of the WordPress administration section that will become more useful to you as you become more skilled at using WordPress.


Note: In this tutorial, we are assuming that you already have installed a self-hosted WordPress website or blog 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:

If you want to learn more about why you should choose WordPress and the benefits of using the WordPress CMS technology to power your website or blog, see this section:


Your WP Dashboard

After you’ve logged into your WordPress site via the login form, you will typically be presented with the Dashboard, which is your website or blog’s administration section.

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Tutorial

The WordPress Dashboard

Your WordPress Dashboard is the place where all of your website’s management is run from.

Your Dashboard is divided into a number of useful areas that provide you with 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 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 your website’s settings and options.
  • Features that allow you to modify, expand, update and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, including adding, changing and deleting your content or content sections.

Using Your WordPress Control Panel

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Feature

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

How To Navigate Inside The WP Dashboard

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced new design changes to its Dashboard …

Your WordPress Admin Section Explained


Although this new design was mostly cosmetic and and intended to give WordPress users and developers cleaner typography for a more optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and more ways to customize the look of the backend pages, 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 create a customized look and feel of the admin area, you can now expect to see new improvements to back-end features as WordPress releases new versions.

If newer versions of WordPress include changes to any of the functional aspects or features of the software, then rest assured that we will post an update about what’s new here.


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 Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Announcements

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 that uses WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed at the top of the Dashboard …

 Your WordPress Control Panel - A Tutorial

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

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

 Your WP Admin Screen - A Tutorial

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

Your WordPress Administration Section Explained

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 the dashboard, you can select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on your admin menu …

 Your WP Control Area - An Overview

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

How To Use Your WP Administration Screen

Dashboard Screen Areas

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

 The WordPress Admin Area - An Overview

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

your site’s Dashboard screen is divided into the following areas:

  • 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, warnings and notifications …

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Admin Page

A whole range of messages, announcements, banners, warnings and notifications 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 …

An Overview Of Your WordPress Admin Section

Screen Options Tab

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

Understanding Your WordPress Control Page

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

 The WP Admin Section - An Overview

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

The WordPress Admin Area Explained

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you specify totally 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 list, and other configurable settings depending on which plugins you have installed on your site …

 The WordPress Control Screen - A Tutorial


Tip: Some web developers or designers may choose to hide backend features from displaying on your dashboard because they may know from experience that their clients 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 information block in your backend 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 looking for!

Go here to learn more:

WordPress Online Help Section

You can access the official WordPress documentation and user support forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located at the top of your screen …

Understanding Your WordPress Administration Area

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

As an 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 WordPress Control Screen - A Step-By-Step Tutorial


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

WP Admin Area: Toolbar

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

Your WP Administration Section Explained

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

How To Use Your WP Administration Screen

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

You can also see 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 to keep working on your site …

An Overview Of The WP Control Screen

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

This is great, because it lets you easily get back into your dashboard and continue working on your site without having to log back in …

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

As you add new plugins to your website, you may notice that additional items have been added to your toolbar …

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard


Important: If you are logged in and the Toolbar is not displaying when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar is set to display on your site.

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

The section below shows you how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

On the far right-hand side of the 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, and links to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Enabling Your Toolbar

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

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

Check the “Show Toolbar when viewing site box is ticked inside the Toolbar subsection of your Profile page …

How To Navigate Around Your WP Control Panel

Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button before leaving this section to update your settings …

 Your WP Admin Screen - 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 …

 Your WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

WordPress Administration Section: Navigation Menu

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

 The WordPress Control Panel - A Tutorial

Your WordPress Admin Menu


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

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

Your WP Administration Screen Explained

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

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

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Administration Page

Different Roles Get Access To Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WordPress Dashboard

Irrespective 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 menu bar …

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Control Panel

And the sidebar menu collapse into a narrow column with only a set of icons showing …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

This is a useful feature if you want more space in your admin working area.

If you 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 …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

Understanding The WP Control Page

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained


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

WordPress Admin Section: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your admin screen is your working 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 posts, pages and content associated with these, add images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, make changes to your site options, etc…

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

Your WordPress Control Section 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 with your site, this section can start looking very busy …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Fortunately, you can “tidy up” 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:

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

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

How To Navigate Inside The WordPress Dashboard

As you can see, having an understanding of your WordPress administration area is the key to successfully managing your website.

The WordPress Dashboard


"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill,

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.