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 tutorial, you are going to learn how to use the WP administration area and master using the WordPress control panel, the WP administration menu and the main admin areas of your website or blog.

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


Please note: For the purposes of this tutorial, are assuming that you already have installed a self-hosted 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’re not sure whether or not your website is powered by WordPress, see this tutorial:

If you want 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:


Your WordPress Admin Area

After logging into your blog via the login page, you should be presented with the Dashboard, which is your site’s admin section.

The WP Administration Screen Explained

WordPress Dashboard

Your WordPress Dashboard is where all of your site’s management and administration is performed.

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

  • Useful data and information about the activities taking place on your website. It also lets you see “at-a-glance” metrics and reports 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 notifications 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 let you modify, expand, update and enhance the design and functionality of your website, upgrade plugins and themes, including adding, modifying and deleting content and content sections.

How To Navigate Around The WordPress Administration Panel

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Information Box

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

Using Your WP Dashboard

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

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


Although this new design was mostly cosmetic and introduced for the purpose of giving WordPress site administrators and developers cleaner typography for clarity, readability and more options on customizing the look and feel of the administration screens, it has 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 the WP admin area, you can expect to see new improvements to backend features as WordPress releases new versions.

If new versions of WordPress include new software features, then you can be sure 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 WP 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 your WordPress site, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed at the top of the Dashboard …

Your WP Administration Section Explained

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 hide the “Welcome” message or prevent it from showing again the next time you log in, click on the Dismiss link near the top right-hand corner of the screen …

The WP Control Panel Explained

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

An Overview Of The WordPress Control Area

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

How To Use Your WP Admin Page

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

The WordPress Admin Screen Explained

WP Dashboard Screen Sections

The Dashboard gives someone with the role of an administrator access to all of the main features and controls required to administrate your site …

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

Your WordPress Dashboard is divided into different areas

The main screen of your Dashboard 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 area displays system updates, warnings and notifications …

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

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Screen Options Feature

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

 The WP Admin Screen - An Overview

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

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

How To Use Your WP Control Panel

If you are in the Posts section, clicking on the Screen Options tab gives you 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 Posts area, and other configurable settings depending on which plugins you have installed on your website or blog …

How To Use Your WP Administration Screen


Tip: Some web developers or web designers may choose to prevent certain elements from displaying on your dashboard because they may know from experience that most users probably 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 functionality or element in your administration area 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:

WordPress Online Help Section

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

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

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

So, for example, if you are editing content in the Edit Post area of your site admin, clicking on the Help tab will bring up helpful information and tutorials relevant to editing posts …

The WordPress Control Area Explained


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

WordPress Administration Area: Toolbar

The Toolbar is located at the very top of your Admin 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 WordPress Administration Area - An Overview

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

An Overview Of The WordPress Dashboard

For example, you can quickly see if the WordPress software or any plugins or themes need updating …

The WP Control Area Explained

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

Understanding The WordPress Dashboard

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 site in a new window to continue working in the admin section of your site …

 The WP Control 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 lets you easily get back into your dashboard and continue working on your pages without having to log back in …

How To Navigate Inside Your WP Control Panel

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

Using Your WordPress Administration Section


Important: If you log in and cannot view the Toolbar when viewing your site, then make sure that you have enabled it on your ”Profile” area.

 Your WP Admin Area - An Overview

The section below shows you how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Feature

At the far right-hand side at the top of your screen is the “Howdy, User” section with an image of your Gravatar.

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

An Overview Of Your WP Administration Screen

Enabling Your Admin Toolbar

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

Your WordPress Administration Screen Explained

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

 The WP Admin Screen - A Tutorial

Remember to click the Update Profile button before leaving this section to update your settings …

The WP Administration Screen Explained

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

The WP Control Area Explained

WordPress Administration Area: Navigation Menu

On the far left-hand side of the Dashboard is the main navigation menu linking to all the administrative features of your website or blog …

Your WP Control Screen Explained

Your WordPress Admin Menu


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

In order to access all of the WP administration area features, you must be an administrator of the site. …

 The WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

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

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Dashboard

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

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

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

Your WordPress Admin Section Explained

And your sidebar menu collapse into a narrow band with only a set of icons displaying for all functions …

 Your WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Use this function if you need to create more to work in your admin 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 items, or hover over the icon to display its submenus …

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

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

 Your WP Control Area - A Tutorial

To add submenus to the main menu column while you’re working, click on a menu item …

The WP Dashboard Explained


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

WP Administration Section: Main Working Area

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

When you log into your site, the Dashboard will display a number of  blocks with information about various activities happening on your site, plus updates and announcements from a range of different sources …

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

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 The WP Admin Area

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

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

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

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

Using Your WordPress Dashboard

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

The WordPress Dashboard


"Learning WordPress has been a huge stumbling block for me. I've been looking for something that covers absolutely everything but doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Thank you so much ... you have just provided me with what I have been looking for! Truly appreciated!" - Tanya

Originally published as The WordPress Dashboard.