The WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

In this step-by-step tutorial, you are going to learn how to navigate around the WP administration area and master using the WordPress dashboard, the WordPress functions and settings menu and the main administrative modules of your website.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WP dashboard that will become more useful to you as you become more skilled at using WordPress.

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Please note: For the purposes of this tutorial, we assume that you already have installed a WordPress website or blog 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 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 Content Management System to power your website or blog, see this section:

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Your WordPress Control Screen

Once you are logged into your blog via the login page, you will normally be presented with the Dashboard, which is the main admin section of your site.

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

Your WordPress Site Dashboard

Your WP admin dashboard is where all of your site’s management is controlled from.

The WordPress Dashboard is divided into a number of areas that provide you with immediate access to the following:

  • Important data and information about the activities taking place on your website. It also provides you with “at-a-glance” metrics and information about the most recent activity that has taken place on your site, system updates and notifications, and to be kept updated 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.
  • Control and management of your site’s settings and options.
  • Features that let you change, update, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, plus add, edit and delete content or content sections.

Understanding The WordPress Dashboard

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Section

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

In version 3.8, WordPress introduced a complete redesign of the Dashboard …

 The WP Administration Section - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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Although this new design was mostly cosmetic and aimed at giving WordPress users and web developers cleaner typography for a better optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and a more aesthetic experience, 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 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 other design changes to back-end features as WordPress releases new versions.

If any newer versions of WordPress include new features, then rest assured that we will keep you informed about what’s new 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 newer versions of WordPress contain many bug and security fixes.

The WordPress Dashboard

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 a new WordPress site, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside the Dashboard …

How To Navigate Inside The WP Administration Page

If you are new to WordPress and want to spend a little time 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 the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the message block …

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

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

Your WP Control Section Explained

Once again, 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 your dashboard, just select “Dashboard” (or click on Dashboard > Home) on your admin menu section …

Your WP Control Screen Explained

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

WordPress Dashboard Screen Sections

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

The WP Dashboard is divided into different areas

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

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

WP Administration Area: Header Section

Header Section

The header section displays system updates, warnings and notifications …

 The WP Control Area - An Overview

A whole range of updates, warnings and notifications can appear in the header section, depending on what area you are working on, what action has been completed, or which plugins you have installed on your site …

How To Use Your WordPress Control Page

Screen Options Feature

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

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

The WordPress Control Area Explained

If you are in the Posts section of your administration area, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you configure totally different settings, such as showing 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 site …

 Your WordPress Control Area - An Overview

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Tip: Some web developers or designers may choose to hide elements from displaying inside your admin area because they may know from experience that most users probably won’t be needing to access 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 particular feature or element 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!

WordPress Online Help Area

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

Understanding Your WordPress Control Screen

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

As an example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post section of your site, clicking on the Help tab will bring up helpful information specifically related to editing posts …

How To Navigate Inside The WP Administration Area

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

WP Admin Area: Toolbar

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

 Your WP Admin Screen - A Tutorial

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

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

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

Understanding The WordPress Dashboard

You can also see how your site looks as you are making updates.

Tip: To keep working on your site and also get a “frontend” view of 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 different window …

Your WordPress Administration Panel Explained

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 website.

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

 The WP Dashboard - An Overview

As you begin to add new plugins to your site, you may notice that additional items display on the toolbar …

How To Navigate Around The WP Control Screen

Warning

Important: If you log in and the Toolbar is not displaying when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar has been enabled on your ”Profile” section.

An Overview Of Your WordPress Administration Screen

Here’s how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Section

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

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

 The WordPress Control Panel - A Tutorial

Enabling Your Toolbar

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

 Your WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

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

How To Navigate Around The WordPress Dashboard

Remember to click the Update Profile button at the bottom of your page to save your changes …

The WP Dashboard Explained

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 Explained

WordPress Administration Area: Navigation Menu

On the far left-hand side of the Dashboard is the main navigation menu that contains links to all the administrative functions that you can perform on your website …

Your WordPress Control Area Explained

The 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 administration section functions and capabilities, you must be an administrator of the site. …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

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

Your WP Control Panel Explained

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 …

The WordPress Control Screen Explained

And your sidebar menu shrinks into a narrow bar with only a list of icons displaying for all functions …

How To Navigate Around Your WordPress Control Screen

This is a useful feature if you need more to work in your admin area.

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

 Your WP Control Area - A Tutorial

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

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

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

 The WordPress Admin Section - An Overview

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

WordPress Administration Area: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your administration 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 pages, posts and content inside these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, modify your site options, and so on.

When you log into your admin area, your Dashboard will display a number of  panels containing information about various activities happening on your site, and updates and content feeds from different sources …

Using Your WordPress Administration Section

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 the WordPress dashboard by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your your information sections.

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 WordPress Administration area and displays links to WordPress as well as your site’s current WordPress software version …

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

Congratulations! Now you know how to navigate around your WordPress dashboard and admin features.

The WordPress Dashboard

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"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now

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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!