The WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Dashboard

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

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

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Note: This tutorial assumes that you already have installed a WordPress website 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 was built using WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you want to learn more about 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 WP Dashboard

After logging into your blog via the login form, you should be taken to your Dashboard, which is your website or blog’s admin area.

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

The WordPress Dashboard

The WP control section is the place where all of your site’s management and administration is performed.

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

  • Important data and information about what is taking place on your website. It also provides you with “at-a-glance” metrics and information about recent activity taking place on your site, system updates and notifications, and keeps you 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 all website settings and options.
  • Features that enable you to change, update and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, including adding, changing and deleting content or content sections.

Your WordPress Control Section Explained

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Info Screen

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

Your WP Admin Screen – A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

Your WP Control Panel Explained

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Even though this new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of giving WordPress users and developers cleaner typography for a more optimized mobile and desktop viewing experience and more ways to customize the look of the administration section, 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 your admin area, you can expect to see other design changes to backend features whenever WordPress releases new versions.

If any new versions of WordPress include new software features, then you can be sure that we will post an update about what’s new 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 many bug and security fixes are made whenever WordPress releases a new version.

The WP Dashboard

Dashboard Notifications

Depending on who maintains your site updated, 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 …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Tutorial

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

Using Your WP Admin Screen

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

How To Use The WordPress Administration Page

Once again, feel free to go through the information displayed in the “welcome” message if you want to know more about new features and updates to the software.

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

The WP Dashboard Explained

Dashboard Screen Sections

Your Dashboard gives someone with the role of an administrator access to all of the main features that you will need to manage the site …

Using The WP Control Page

The WordPress 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, warnings and notifications …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Screen Options Feature

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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 …

How To Navigate Inside Your WP Admin Screen

If you are in the Posts section of your administration area, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to configure totally different settings, like displaying or hiding information in the listings section (e.g. tags, comments, etc…), specifying the number of posts to display on your Posts table, and other configurable settings depending on the plugins you have installed on your site …

The WP Administration Panel Explained

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Tip: Some web developers or designers may choose to prevent backend features from displaying on your admin area because they may know from experience that their clients 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 specific functionality or element in your backend 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 are looking for!

Go here to learn more:

Online Help Area

You can access the official WordPress documentation and community help forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located on the top right-hand corner of your header area, next to “Screen Options” …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Like the Screen Options tab, the Help tab also displays context-specific information.

As an example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post area, clicking on the Help tab will bring up help information relevant to editing posts …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

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

WordPress Admin Area: Toolbar

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

How To Navigate Around The WordPress Dashboard

Most Toolbar items can expand to display more information when you hover your mouse over the icons …

Understanding The WP Control Page

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

 The WordPress Administration Screen - An Overview

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

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

You can also view what effect any updates 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 window to keep working in the admin section of your site …

Using Your WordPress Administration Screen

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 dashboard and continue working on your site without having to log back in …

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

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

Understanding The WP Control Area

Important

Important: If you are logged in and cannot view the Toolbar when viewing your site, then make sure that you have set to display it on your site.

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

The section below shows you how to enable the toolbar …

The “Howdy, User” Area

On the far right-hand side of the Admin 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 …

Your WP Control Screen Explained

Enabling Your WordPress Toolbar

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

Your WordPress Administration Area Explained

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

Your WordPress Administration Section Explained

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

How To Use The WP Administration Screen

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

 Your WP Administration Screen - A Tutorial

WordPress Admin Section: Navigation Menu

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

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

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 WordPress administration area functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 The WordPress Admin Section - An Overview

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

Users assigned roles other than that of an administrator (e.g. ”Contributor”, “Author”, etc.) get access to fewer menu options inside the dashboard …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

Different Roles Get Assigned Different Capabilities And Options Inside The WordPress Dashboard

Regardless of the role assigned to a user, some admin menu items like “Collapse menu” remain accessible to all.

Click the Collapse menu button at the bottom of the navigation menu section …

The WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

Your WordPress Admin Panel Explained

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 WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

Understanding The WP Admin Page

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

How To Navigate Inside Your WP Dashboard

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

WP Administration Area: Main Working Area

The large area in the middle of your admin 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 posts, pages and content inside these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, modify site settings, etc…

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

The WordPress Control Area 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 …

Using Your WP Admin Area

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

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 area and displays links to WordPress and your current WordPress software version …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

Congratulations! Now you know how to use your WordPress dashboard and administration sections.

The WordPress Admin Dashboard

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"Your training is the best in the world! It is simple, yet detailed, direct, understandable, memorable, and complete." Andrea Adams, FinancialJourney.org

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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.