What is the WordPress dashboard?
The dashboard is the default screen you see when you log into your WordPress website. The dashboard is the hub for all of your website management.
How do I customize my WordPress dashboard?
When you log into your WordPress website the first page you should see is your dashboard. Your dashboard will contain some of the most pertinent information about your site. The informational boxes (called screen elements) can be rearranged using drag and drop. In addition, you can hide screen elements by clicking the “Screen Options” tab near the top right of your screen and toggling the checkboxes.
In the most basic terms, the WordPress dashboard is a single customizable page in the admin interface. However, I’m going to refer to the dashboard as the entire admin interface with its many components.
What are the primary components of the WordPress dashboard?
When describing the WordPress dashboard I typically break it down into three sections: the left panel, the admin bar, and the main area. Each of these areas provides specific functionality for managing your website.
When I refer to the left panel of the dashboard I’m talking about the menu on the left side. By default this section has a charcoal background, but the colors can be customized in the user settings.
Most of the menu items you see in the left panel have sub items. To view the sub items you can click the primary menu item and/or hover over the primary menu item.
Following are the primary items in the left panel by default:
- Dashboard: Click this to return to the WordPress dashboard screen, or view updates by clicking the sub item.
- Posts: Add and manage posts, categories, and tags in this menu section.
- Pages: Add and manage pages in this menu section.
- Comments: This section will display your comments and allow you to moderate them.
- Appearance: Use this section to add themes, access the customizer, manage widgets, manage menus, and edit the theme with the Theme Editor.
- Users: Manage users including your own profile.
- Tools: This section provides some useful tools for migrating and managing your WordPress website.
- Settings: Specify your preferences for your website using all of the options in this section.
You may see more or less items in your left panel depending on your user permissions setting. The items described above are visible to all users with administrative permissions.
The admin bar is the bar that goes across the top of the screen. By default this bar is a dark charcoal color, but it may be different depending on your admin theme preferences (set in your user profile).
Typically the admin bar is displayed both on the frontend and backend. (This is a setting that may be disabled but is enabled by default.) Being able to access the admin bar from the frontend makes adding new content more efficient.
Following are the items you’ll find in the admin bar from left to right:
- WordPress links: Hovering over the WordPress on the far left of the admin bar will display links to useful WordPress pages.
- Website name: Beside the WordPress icon you’ll see an icon and the name of your website. Clicking this will toggle you from the frontend to the dashboard (and vice versa).
- Customize: If you are viewing your site from the frontend you’ll see the Customize link. Clicking this will open the customizer.
- Updates: The two arrows in the shape of a circle with a number beside it displays the number of updates you have waiting to be applied. Click this icon to go to the updates section of the dashboard.
- Comments: The speech bubble icon with a number beside it displays the number of comments that need to be moderated. Click to go to the comments page.
- + New: Hover over “+ New” and you’ll see a list of all of the items you can add to your site. Clicking “+New” will create a new post.
- User: To the far right of the admin bar you’ll see your username (with a friendly “Howdy”) and your avatar. Click to modify your user profile or hover to log out.
- Search: Need help finding something in your site? Use the search feature located at the very right of your admin bar.
The “main area” of the dashboard encompasses all of the space that I haven’t yet mentioned. By default the background of the main area is a light gray or white color, but this may be different if you selected a different admin color scheme in your user profile.
The content in the main area varies depending on what task you are performing. If you are on the pages or posts screen you’ll see a list of all of your items. Whereas, if you are editing a page or post you’ll see the WordPress editor. When modifying settings you’ll see fields and options to choose from.
One component that is fairly consistent across all pages in the main area is the tabs at the top right of the screen (just below the admin bar).
- Screen Options: Gives you options regarding how to display the content on a specific admin page. If something is not appearing on your screen that should be based on help docs, this is a good first stop for troubleshooting.
- Help: The help tab provides page specific documentation for the admin dashboard.
As mentioned above, depending on your theme, your active plugins, and your user permission level, you may see more or fewer items in the left panel and admin bar. In addition, your main area may look different than screenshots of other WordPress users.
The WordPress dashboard is your hub for all things website management. The admin bar and left panel provide menu items for adding and editing content as well as managing settings. The main area of the dashboard displays information and settings based on your selection. All areas of the dashboard can be customized in some way or another and therefore may appear different than screenshots you see in WordPress documentation.