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 Admin Dashboard

In this tutorial, you are going to learn how to use the WP admin section and master using the WordPress dashboard, the WP functions and settings menu and the main administrative modules of your website or blog.

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

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Important: We assume that you already have a self-hosted WordPress website or blog installed on your domain and that you know how to log into your site.

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

If you don’t know whether or not your website is powered by WordPress, see this tutorial:

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

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Your WordPress Administration Page

Once you are logged into your WordPress site via the login page, you should be presented with the Dashboard, which is the administration area of your website or blog.

Your WP Dashboard Explained

The WordPress Dashboard

The WP administration panel is the place where all of your site’s management tasks are run from.

Your WordPress Site Dashboard is divided into a number of areas that provide you with immediate access to things such as:

  • Important data and information about what is taking place on your website. It also allows you to see “at-a-glance” metrics and information about recent activity that has taken 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.
  • Control and management of all website settings and options.
  • Features that allow you to modify, update, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, as well as adding, changing and deleting your content or content sections.

How To Use The WordPress Dashboard

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Info Screen

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

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

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

 The WordPress Control Screen - A Tutorial

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Even though the new design was mostly cosmetic and aimed at giving WordPress users and developers cleaner typography for clarity, readability and more choices on styling the look of the backend section, 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 an individual look and feel of your dashboard, expect to see new improvements to backend features when WordPress releases new versions.

If new 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 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.

Your WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard Messages

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 a new site powered by WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed at the top of your Dashboard …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

To hide the “Welcome” message or prevent it from displaying 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 message block …

 The WordPress Control Panel - An Overview

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

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 go back to the dashboard, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on your menu section …

Understanding Your WordPress Administration Panel

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

Understanding Your WP Dashboard

WP Dashboard Screen Sections

Your Dashboard gives you access to all of the main controls and features required to manage your WordPress site …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

The WP Dashboard is divided into different areas

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

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

Different messages, announcements, banners, warnings and notifications can display on your header, depending on what area you are working on, what action has been performed, or which plugins you have installed on your site …

Your WP Control Panel Explained

Screen Options Feature

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

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

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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/display …

Your WordPress Control Panel Explained

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab gives you entirely different settings, such as 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 …

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Dashboard

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Tip: Some developers or designers may choose to prevent admin features from displaying on your dashboard because they may know from experience that their clients probably won’t be needing 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 functionality or information block in your admin section 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 searching for!

Go here to learn more:

Online Help Area

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

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

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 of your site, clicking on the Help tab will bring up help information and tutorials relevant to editing posts …

How To Navigate Inside The WordPress Administration Page

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

WP Administration Area: Toolbar

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

Understanding The WP Dashboard

For example, you can quickly see if the WordPress software or any plugins or themes are out of date …

The WordPress Administration Section Explained

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

The WP Control Section Explained

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

Tip: To continue working on your site and also view your home page, right-click on the Visit Site link and choose either “Open Link In New Tab”, or “Open Link In New Window” in your web browser to see your site in a separate window …

Using The WordPress Control Panel

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 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 Dashboard Explained

Depending on which section of the admin area you are working on and what plugins you have installed, you may see different kinds of information showing on your admin toolbar …

The WP Control Section Explained

Important

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

An Overview Of Your WordPress Administration Panel

The section below shows you how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Area

At the far right in your admin area 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 to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

The WP Control Panel Explained

How To Enable Your WP Toolbar When Viewing Your Site

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

Understanding The WP Control Area

Make sure that Show Toolbar when viewing site is enabled in the Toolbar section of your Profile screen …

How To Use The WordPress Administration Screen

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

How To Use Your WP Administration Section

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 Area - A Tutorial

WordPress Admin Area: Navigation Menu

On the left-hand side of the Dashboard is the main navigation menu containing links to all the management features of your website or blog …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Your WordPress Admin Menu

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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. …

Using Your WP Dashboard

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”, ”Editor”, etc.) get access to fewer menu options inside the dashboard …

 The WordPress Dashboard - An Overview

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

Irrespective 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 WordPress Dashboard

And your menu will shrink into a narrow bar with only a list of icons showing …

 Your WP Dashboard - A 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 The WP Admin Page

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

How To Use The WordPress Administration Area

To add sub-menus to the admin menu bar while you’re working, click on a menu item …

The WP Dashboard Explained

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

WP Admin Area: Working Area

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

When you log into WordPress, the Dashboard will display a number of  panels containing information about various activities happening on your site, including news and content feeds from a range of different sources …

Understanding Your WordPress Dashboard

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

The WP Dashboard Explained

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

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

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

The WP Admin Panel Explained

Congratulations! Now you know how to navigate around your WordPress dashboard and administration areas.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

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"I am beyond impressed with what you have put together. I can tell that you put a ton of hard work into building what you have. You have the absolute best content on WordPress I have ever seen!" - Robert T. Jillie

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.