WordPress Admin Dashboard – Everything You Need To Know

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You’ve started a WordPress blog, but what next?

Where do you even begin to start learning the ropes of this flexible and highly customizable platform?

Well, the WordPress admin dashboard is one of the central aspects of your WordPress blog you’ll need to be intimately familiar with. As this is where you can take control of the major aspects of your blog. Like setting up your theme, creating posts and pages. Finding and installing WordPress plugins. And many, many more.

Because of its major role in your blog, it is one of the first things you should learn about to help you master WordPress.

Which is exactly what we’ll do below!

You’ll learn about what the WordPress admin dashboard is, how to access it, what you can use it for and how to customize it for your own personal preferences.

Once we’ve covered all of these areas, you’ll know exactly what powerful tools and options you can find and where to find them too! You’ll also be able to customize your WordPress dashboard. So you can optimize your blogging workflow to be more productive.

Let’s get started then, shall we?

What Is The WordPress Admin Dashboard?

So, you might be wondering. What is the WordPress dashboard?

Well, firstly you should know it also has several other names people use when referring to it. Like:

  • WP Admin
  • WP admin panel
  • Admin dashboard
  • WordPress admin
  • WordPress admin panel

Despite its many name variations. The WordPress admin dashboard is at the centre of every WordPress website. And it simply acts like a control panel.

As the owner of your WordPress website, you’ll have admin access. Which provides you with access to all the options the WordPress dashboard has to modify your blog.

And you should know that it is possible to have different levels of access assigned to different logins. By using other user roles, you can limit access to certain features.

So, if for example, you had a multiple author blog. You could limit other users to only be able to add and edit their own posts.

WordPress admin dashboard - everything you need to know

How Do I Log Into My WordPress Dashboard?

We’ve covered what the WordPress admin dashboard is. But how do you even access it?

Most web hosts will give you detailed instructions on how to access your WordPress admin dashboard. Usually by email, after you’ve installed WordPress.

But just in case you missed it, or the email you received was missing some details. Here’s where you need to start.

Firstly, you’ll need to find the default WP admin login URL for your blog. This is always your domain name with /wp-admin added to the end of it. It should look like this:

https://your-blog-url.com/wp-admin

This page will automatically direct you to your WordPress.org admin login screen. (Unless you’re already logged in.) Which is usually:

https://your-blog-url.com/wp-login.php

On this WordPress login screen, enter your username and password. The details you need to enter, will be those you set up when you installed WordPress on your web hosting server. These will normally be emailed to you.

(They are not necessarily the same as your web hosting username and password though!)

If you find you cannot login to your WordPress dashboard. Even though you are sure that your username and password are correct. Then you may want to troubleshoot using these easy to follow steps.

How Do I Change My WordPress Login URL?

One of the major negatives of how easy it is to find the WordPress admin login URL. Is that is can leave your blog vulnerable to brute-force attacks from malicious bots.

Because of this, you should consider changing your WordPress admin login URL. Doing so will help boost your blog’s security as it will make your blog more difficult to hack.

Whilst changing this URL might seem complex. It can actually be very simple with the use of a WordPress plugin. In fact, the easiest way is to use the WordPress plugin WPS Hide Login.

Follow the on-screen settings and set your own custom URL. It is vital that you make a note of the new URL otherwise you will find yourself unable to login!

You should make a note to add the new page URL to any caching plugins you install later.

WordPress for beginners - The WordPress Admin Dashboard

How Do I Reset My WordPress Admin Password?

The WordPress admin password should have been sent to you by email from your web host. So, if you did not make a note of it when installing WordPress. This would be the first place to check for it.

But, if you forgot your password you can recover and reset it. By clicking on the Lost your password? That is underneath the login box. You will be requested to provide either your username or your email address.

WordPress admin dashboard login URL screen, with lost your password option at the bottom

If you still have problems logging in, then you can find more troubleshooting tips using this handy guide by Kinsta.

What Can I Do From The WordPress Dashboard?

Okay, so you’ve got into the WordPress admin dashboard and you’re ready to start putting it to work. You know it is the central control panel for your blog. But what exactly does it control?

Well, the WordPress admin dashboard controls so many aspects of your blog. That it’s tricky to explain everything without going into more detail. (We’ll cover all the details later, so keep reading to find out more!)

But as a summary, keep in mind that the WordPress dashboard is where you can control these important parts of your blog:

  • Create & Edit Posts
  • Manage your Media files in the Media Library (images, videos, PDFs, etc.)
  • Read & Moderate Comments
  • Adjust the visual settings of your blog (change colors, fonts and more!)
  • Add WordPress Plugins to add extra features
  • Update your blog with bug fixes, security updates and more
  • Create and add new users

What Does The WordPress Admin Dashboard Look Like?

When you login for the first time it will look a bit like this:

WordPress admin dashboard home screen when logging into wordpress for the first time

Your screen will differ depending on plugins and web hosting. In fact, your WordPress dashboard appearance will change overtime. As updates to WordPress, changes in your WordPress Theme and even your WordPress plugins. Can all change the WordPress admin dashboard by adding extra widgets, menus and toolbar icons.

Let’s look a bit more closely at some of the features of the WordPress admin dashboard. So you can get more familiar where everything is.

WordPress Admin Toolbar

Also known as the Admin bar.

You may have noticed at the top of the screen is a black bar. You can often see it when logged into WordPress and browsing the live version of your blog’s web pages. Visitors do not normally see this though.

The admin toolbar consists of the WordPress icon, in the leftmost corner. Which gives you shortcuts to aspects like the documentation, feedback and the support forums.

WordPress admin dashboard screenshot of the admin toolbar with default options

Next, to this icon, your site name gives a quick shortcut to your live blog. So you can quickly see what your visitors will see when visiting your blog.

The toolbar also shows icons when you receive new comments. As well as any updates for the WordPress core, themes or plugins that you use.

And the + New icon gives you some more shortcuts to useful features like creating new users, posts, pages or to upload new files to your media library.

On the far right of the toolbar is another shortcut for comments. Followed by your username and avatar image. Which you can click on to set up your preferences.

In fact, if for some reason you decide that you don’t want to see this bar. You can turn it off in the profile settings and unticking the toolbar option.

WordPress admin dashboard option to disable the admin toolbar from displaying

Just under the WordPress admin toolbar, below your username. You can find 2 tabs that show on most pages.

WordPress admin dashboard screen options and help tabs on each main screen

The Screen Options provides additional page-specific settings. Like adding or removing widgets on the page. Or for example, adding or removing columns displayed on the Posts page.

Next to it, the Help tab, gives you contextual help for the particular page you are using. Which can be a great help if you find yourself stuck.

WordPress Dashboard Navigation Menu

On the left is the main navigation menu. Again, how this looks can depend on your plugins.

Let’s see what options the navigation menu has by default.

Dashboard

This page lets you navigate to the overview screen. Normally, you’ll spend most of your time on other screens. But this screen can be useful simply because it gives you a quick summary of your blog.

You can also customize it to show widgets that are most important to you. As well as hide those you don’t want to see.

WordPress admin dashboard screen options customization for home page widgets

The default widgets are:

  • Welcome – Provides important quick shortcuts to aspects of your brand new WordPress blog. Worth reviewing if you just started a blog!
  • At a Glance – Gives an overview of your blogs posts, pages, comments, your blog’s current version, parent theme and child theme.
  • Quick Draft – Creates a quick post-draft.
  • Activity – Gives an overview of recent posts and comments. You can even moderate comments directly from this widget by hovering over the comment and clicking one of the options.
  • WordPress News – Information on WordPress related events and news from popular WordPress websites.

Within the Dashboard menu item. You can also find the Updates submenu. But you’ll only really notice it when it has a little orange number next to it to let you know you have updates to install.

Posts

The posts WordPress admin dashboard navigation let’s you:

  • View All Posts in a summary table
  • Add New posts
  • Create Categories
  • Add Tags

Depending on your WordPress version. From WordPress 5.0 your posts will open up into the new WordPress Gutenberg editor. You’ll need to add a WordPress Classic editor plugin if you decide to disable WordPress Gutenberg.

Media

The Media menu is where you can control all the images, videos, PDFs and other files in your Media Library. Though most of the time you will do this within your posts and pages.

The submenu lets you view the Library as a whole, to delete and edit files already uploaded. Or the Add New submenu lets you jump straight into uploading new files.

WordPress admin dashboard view of inside of the media library

Pages

The Pages menu works almost identical to the Posts one. Minus the ability to set Categories and Tags. Pages are often static content on a WordPress blog. Like your Contact, Policies, and About Me pages.

Again, unless you decide to disable WordPress Gutenberg in favour of the Classic editor, then it will be the default editor for WordPress versions 5.0+.

Comments

Who doesn’t like getting comments on their blog posts? This is an important menu item to check regularly. As this is the central place to moderate your comments.

By default, you need to approve comments unless you change the settings under Settings > Discussion. Which is further down the navigation menu.

You can also mark as spam, delete, edit and reply to comments here.

And, if you haven’t already. Consider installing a WordPress Spam plugin like Akismet. As it will make moderating your blog so much easier. Just make sure to adjust the default settings for Akismet using this guide.

Appearance

This section of the WordPress admin dashboard hosts tons of options to change how your WordPress blog looks visually.

  • Themes lets you install, preview, activate, customize and remove themes.
WordPress admin dashboard appearance menu inside the themes submenu
  • Customize will open a preview of your blog. With plenty of settings along the left menu to change depending on your theme. You can even access the below submenus Widgets, Menus, Header, and Edit CSS. Through the Customizer to preview your changes visually.
WordPress admin dashboard appearance customizer tool
  • Widgets lets you add widgets to different defined sections of your blog depending on your theme. You can set things like the Social Warfare Popular Posts widget as a list of popular posts to your sidebar.
WordPress admin dashboard example of widgets screen using the social warfare widget to add popular posts to the blog sidebar
  • Menus sets up the navigation of your blog. Like the Home, Blog, and About buttons you see near the top of most websites.
  • Header, sets your blog’s header image.
  • Edit CSS to amend additional CSS for adjusting the appearance and style of your WordPress blog.
  • Install Plugins, shows a list of recommended plugins specific to your theme, which you can quickly install based on your preferences.
WordPress admin dashboard list of recommended plugins based on your theme
  • Editor opens the core theme files, do not edit these unless you know what you are doing as you could damage your blog!

Plugins

Next up, in the WordPress dashboard menu. The Plugins section can open up into the Installed Plugins page. Where you can review the already installed plugins on your blog. You can deactivate, uninstall or simply change the settings for each plugin here.

The Add New lets you search the WordPress repository for plugins to add to your blog

Finally, the Editor lets you edit the actual code of plugins. But you shouldn’t really touch this option unless you are a developer.

WordPress admin dashboard warning message when clicking on the plugins editor menu

Users

The Users option in the WordPress admin dashboard navigation menu. Gives you the option to see the overview of All Users. You can also Add New users or review Your Profile.

Tools

These options you’ll rarely use. Unless you decide to migrate your blog to another host. You can also find the new GDPR tools here for exporting or erasing personal data.

Settings

The last default navigation menu item in the WordPress admin dashboard. Is the Settings options.

  • General – You’ll find settings for Site Title, Tagline, blog URL, time, date format and more here.
  • Writing – Allows you to set aspects like default post category, post by email, and other hardly used options.
  • Reading – Adjust your Homepage settings, post previews, search engine visibility, followers and more.
  • Discussion – includes settings for commenting, user avatars and more.
  • Media – Sets the default thumbnail sizes and media library settings.
  • Permalinks – These are vital settings, that you need to get right before you make your blog live. Make sure to start the list of 53 mistakes bloggers make when they start a WordPress blog to ensure you set this correctly.

Can I Customize The WordPress Dashboard Appearance?

Did you know that you can customize the appearance of the WordPress dashboard? Doing so can have a few beneficial effects depending on who sees these changes.

Like customizing the dashboard could have productivity improvements by helping you find what you need quicker and easier. If you customize the WordPress dashboard for specific users it could have security benefits by limiting what settings they can change.

Or you could use it to improve client experience and branding, if you were a WordPress developer managing many sites for different clients.

How Do I Customize My WordPress Dashboard?

So, how do you customize the WordPress admin dashboard exactly?

Well, there are a few different ways. So, let’s look at them one by one.

Using Screen Options To Change The WordPress Dashboard

Firstly, the main Dashboard > Home menu can be edited to show widgets from plugins you’ve installed like this:

WordPress admin dashboard screen options to change the widgets showing on the dashboard home page

To select what is shown here, click the Screen Options tab from the top admin toolbar and tick the options you want to show. You can then click and drag these boxes into the columns on the page to organize how it looks.

The Screen Options are available on most pages, and can let you change how each page within the WordPress admin dashboard displays.

Changing The WordPress Admin Color Scheme

Did you know you can change the default blue and black WordPress colours, to colour schemes like Sunrise and Ectoplasm?

Well, you can! By clicking your username in the top right-hand corner of the WordPress admin toolbar. And selecting an alternative Admin Colour Scheme.

WordPress admin dashboard profile options to change the default admin color scheme

Using A WordPress Dashboard Theme

But that’s not all! If you want to take the customization of your WordPress admin dashboard to a higher level. Then you can use a WordPress dashboard plugin like:

Just be aware that these WordPress Admin Dashboard themes might make it a little tricky to find the options you need. Especially, when following someone else’s tutorial. Since your dashboard won’t look the same anymore.

You could even try some slightly different types of plugins to create a custom WordPress dashboard. Like WP Dashboard Notes, which allows you to add notes to the Dashboard > Home screen. These little notes can be used to write down ideas, make checklists or anything else you can think of.

And although not strictly dashboard related, you can also add notes to individual posts and pages with plugins like WP NoteUp or Peter’s Post Notes. Which could be useful for keeping SEO notes handy with the post itself. Or for amendment notes when going back to update content.

The Basics Of The WordPress Dashboard Tutorial

And that’s it! We’ve covered all the default menus and settings in the WordPress admin dashboard. That you’ll see when you first log into WordPress.

As you can see there are many different settings and options to change in this WordPress dashboard tutorial. But we’ve only really touched the surface of the WordPress dashboard with this basic WordPress introduction tutorial.

What you should do next is go through all these settings and options yourself on your WordPress blog. Get yourself exploring WordPress and customizing it to what you want it to be. As the best way to learn is to do! You can always come back to this WordPress dashboard tutorial as a reference if you lose track of where certain options should be!

Finally, I recommend also going through the 53 mistakes bloggers make when they start a WordPress blog. To ensure your blog is set up correctly before going live. And then you can delve deeper into the ultimate guide on WordPress plugins to help you add powerful new features to your blog.

If you found this blog post useful then please consider taking a few seconds to share it to your favourite social media platform!

WordPress admin dashboard - Essential Guide for bloggers

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