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 control screen of your website or blog is one of the most important areas of WordPress to master. In this tutorial you will learn how to use the WP admin area.

You will also learn about some of the “hidden” features of the WordPress administration panel that will become more useful to you as your proficiency with WordPress increases.

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Note: For the purposes of this tutorial, 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 is driven by WordPress, see this tutorial:

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

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Your WP Dashboard

Once you are logged into your website via the login page, you will typically be taken to your Dashboard, which is the admin section of your website or blog.

 Your WP Administration Area - An Overview

WordPress Dashboard

Your WordPress Dashboard is where all of your website’s administrative tasks are run from.

Your WordPress Site Dashboard is divided into several useful sections that provide you with access to tools and features such as:

  • Important data and information about what is taking place on your website. 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 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 website settings and options.
  • Features that enable you to modify, expand and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, and add, change and delete your content or content sections.

The WordPress Control Screen Explained

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Information Panel

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

Your WP Control Area Explained

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

The WP Dashboard Explained

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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 clarity, readability 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 a customized look and feel of the WP dashboard, you can also expect to see new design changes 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 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.

Your 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 your site built with WordPress, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside your Dashboard …

Using Your WordPress Dashboard

If you are new to using your website 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 …

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

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

An Overview Of The WP Admin Panel

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

 The WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

 Your WordPress Control Area - A Tutorial

Dashboard Screen Areas

The Dashboard gives you access to all of the main features required to manage your website or blog …

 The WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

The Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main screen of your Dashboard is divided into the following sections:

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

WordPress Administration Area: Header Section

Header Section

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

Using The WP Dashboard

Screen Options Feature

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

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

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

 Your WordPress Control Area - An Overview

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 work area you want to hide or display …

The WP Dashboard Explained

If you are in the Posts section of your site management area, clicking on the Screen Options tab lets you specify entirely different settings, such as showing 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 options depending on which plugins you have installed on your website or blog …

Your WordPress Admin Screen Explained

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Tip: Some developers or web designers may choose to hide backend features from displaying on your admin area because they may assume that most users probably won’t be using 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 function 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 searching for!

Go here to learn more:

WordPress Online Help Section

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

 Your WordPress Dashboard - 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 specifically related to editing posts …

How To Navigate Around The WordPress Admin Screen

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

WordPress Administration 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 administration functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

Most Toolbar items can expand to display more information by hovering your mouse over the icons …

 The WP Control Panel - An Overview

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

The WP Control Area Explained

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

How To Use Your WordPress Dashboard

The admin toolbar also lets you view how any changes made to your posts, pages or settings will affect 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 in the admin section of your site …

 The WordPress Administration 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 return to your control panel and continue working on your site without having to log back in …

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Administration Screen

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

The WP Administration Panel Explained

Important

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

 Your WordPress Control Screen - An Overview

The section below shows you how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Section

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

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

An Overview Of The WordPress Admin Page

How To Enable Your 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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

How To Use The WordPress Administration Section

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

Understanding Your WordPress Control Panel

Now, you should be able to see the WordPress Toolbar displayed at the top of your screen when you visit your site …

Using Your WP Administration Section

WordPress Administration Area: Navigation Menu

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

Using Your WordPress Dashboard

Your WordPress Admin Menu

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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 administration section features, you must be an administrator of the site. …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

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

An Overview Of The WP Control Screen

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 section …

 Your WP Admin Section - A Tutorial

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

Using The WP Dashboard

Use this 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 on the bottom icon to expand all menu items, or hover over an icon to display its submenus …

How To Use The WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Admin Screen Explained

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

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Control Page

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

WP Admin Area: Main Working Area

The large area in the middle of your administration page is your work 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 associated with these, add images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, make changes to site options, and so on.

When you log into your admin area, the Dashboard displays a number of  panels with information about various activities happening on your site, plus updates and notices from different sources …

Your WordPress Control Screen 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 your site grows with 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 area will start looking very busy …

Understanding The WP Dashboard

Fortunately, you can declutter the work area by hiding, minimizing and reorganizing 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 WordPress Dashboard screen and displays links to WordPress and your current WordPress software version …

The WordPress Administration Screen Explained

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

The WordPress Dashboard

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"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, DailyGreenPost.com

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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.