Understanding Your WP Admin Panel

WP Tutorial

In this step-by-step tutorial you will learn how to use the WP administration section and familiarize yourself with the WordPress dashboard, the WordPress admin menu and the main administrative areas of your site.

You will also learn about 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.


Note: We are assuming that you already have a self-hosted WordPress site installed on your domain and that you know how to log into your site.

If you need help logging into WordPress, see this tutorial: How To Access Your WordPress Site Admin

If you’re not sure whether or not your website is powered by WordPress, see this tutorial: How To Check If A Site Was Built With WordPress

If you want to learn more about WordPress and the advantages of using the WordPress Content Management System to power your website or blog, view How to Change the Number of Blog Post Displayed on Your Blog Page


Your WP Dashboard

After you’ve logged into your WordPress site via the login form, you should be presented with the Dashboard, which is your website or blog’s administration area.

 Your WP Control Area - An Overview

The WordPress Dashboard

Your WordPress dashboard is the place where all of your website’s management and administration tasks are controlled from.

The Dashboard is divided into several areas that provide you with access to tools and features such as:

  • Useful data and information about what is taking place on your website or blog. It also lets you see “at-a-glance” metrics and reports 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 site settings and options.
  • Features that enable you to change, expand, update and enhance the design and functionality of your site, upgrade plugins and themes, and add, edit and delete content and content sections.

Your WordPress Dashboard Explained

The Dashboard “At A Glance” Section

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

Your WP Dashboard – An Overview

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

How To Use Your WP Dashboard


Although the new design was mostly cosmetic and aimed at giving WordPress users and web 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 customize the look and feel of your administration area, expect to see new improvements to backend features as WordPress releases new versions.

If any newer versions of WordPress include new features or functionality, then you can be sure that we will keep you informed about it 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 who manages your site, you may or may not see the messages below.

The first time you log into a new WordPress site, you may see a “Welcome to WordPress” message displayed inside the Dashboard …

Using Your WP Control Panel

If you are new to WordPress and want to spend a few minutes learning more about WordPress, just click on the links in the “Get Started” or “Next Step” sections.

To dismiss the “Welcome” message and prevent it from showing 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 Area Explained

Note: You will also see “Welcome to WordPress” messages displayed whenever your site gets updated to the latest version of WordPress …

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

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 …

Your WordPress Administration Area Explained

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

 The WP Control Area - An Overview

WP Dashboard Screen Areas

The Dashboard gives you access to all of the main controls and features that you will need to administrate the site …

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Your 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)

WordPress Dashboard Area: Header Section

Header Section

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

How To Navigate Inside Your WordPress Control Page

A whole range of system updates, notifications and warnings 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 …

 The WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Screen Options Tab

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

How To Use Your WP Dashboard

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

Understanding Your WP Admin Section

For example, if you are in the main Dashboard, clicking on the Screen Options tab allows you to configure options like which panels of your Dashboard screen you want to hide or display …

An Overview Of Your WP Admin Page

If you are in the Posts section of your site management area, clicking on the Screen Options tab gives you entirely different options, such as displaying or hiding information in the listings section (e.g. tags, comments, etc…), specifying the number of posts to display per page, and other configurable options depending on which plugins you have installed on your website …

Your WP Administration Area Explained


Tip: Some developers or designers may choose to hide certain elements from displaying in your dashboard because they may decide that most users 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 feature 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!

Online Help Area

You can view the official WordPress documentation and community support forum sections by clicking on the Help tab located on the top right-hand corner of your screen …

 The WP Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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 section, clicking on the Help tab will bring up helpful information specifically related to editing posts …

Your WordPress Control Screen Explained


Tip: To learn more about any particular area of WordPress when logged into the administration area, just click on the Help tab.

WordPress Administration Area: Toolbar

The Admin Toolbar displays at the very top of your Dashboard screen and provides you and your logged in site users with access to a number of administrative functions, features, information and “quick links” to other areas of your site …

Your WordPress Administration Area Explained

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

The WP Dashboard Explained

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

How To Use The WP Administration Area

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

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

The Toolbar also allows you to view how any changes you make to your posts, pages or settings will affect what visitors see on 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 browser to continue working in the backend of your site …

How To Navigate Inside The WP Admin Panel

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 website.

This is great, because it allows you to easily get back into your Dashboard area and continue working on your pages without having to log back in …

Understanding Your WP Dashboard

As you begin to add new functionality to your website, you may notice that additional items begin to show up on the toolbar …

 Your WordPress Dashboard - A Step-By-Step Tutorial


Important: If you log in and the Toolbar is not showing when viewing your site, then make sure that the Toolbar is set to display on your “Profile” settings.

Using Your WordPress Admin Panel

Here’s how to do this …

The “Howdy, User” Section

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

Hover over this section with your mouse and it expands to display your name and username, with links to your “Profile Screen” and a “Log Out” link …

 The WordPress Control Panel - A Tutorial

Enabling Your WP Admin Toolbar

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

Your WP Dashboard Explained

Make sure the “Show Toolbar when viewing site box is ticked in the Toolbar information area of your Profile area …

 The WordPress Control Screen - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

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

The WordPress Control Panel Explained

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

An Overview Of Your WP Dashboard

WordPress Admin Section: Navigation Menu

On the left side of the Dashboard is the main navigation menu containing links to all the admin features of your website …

How To Use Your WP Control Panel

The 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 control area functions, you must be an administrator of the site. …

Your WP Control Panel Explained

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

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

 Your WP Dashboard - An Overview

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

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

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

The WP Administration Area Explained

And the menu collapse into a narrow strip with only a set of icons showing …

 The WP Control Area - A Step-By-Step Tutorial

This is a useful feature to create 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 the bottom icon to expand all items, or hover over an icon to display its submenus …

The WP Control Section Explained

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

An Overview Of The WP Dashboard

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

How To Use The WP Control Panel


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

WordPress Admin Section: Main Working Area

The large section in the middle of your admin page is your main working 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 related to these, upload images and media to your site, add, update and configure plugins and themes, make changes to site settings, etc…

When you log into your site, the Dashboard displays a number of panels containing information about various activities taking place on your site, and news and announcements from several WordPress-related sources …

The WordPress Control Section Explained

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, you will find that your work area begins to get really busy …

The WordPress Control Section Explained

Fortunately, you can “tidy up” your admin area by hiding, minimizing and rearranging the layout and display of your Dashboard panels.

For a quick and easy tutorial on how to customize your WordPress Dashboard, go here: How To Customize The WP Dashboard Area

WordPress Administration Area: Footer

The footer section is found at the bottom of your WordPress Administration area and displays links to WordPress as well as your current WordPress version …

Understanding Your WordPress Control Page

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




Want more help with WordPress? Feel free to comment below or share this tutorial with your friends.

Disclaimer: This site is not associated with WordPress or any of the WP-related products written about on this site. We may derive a financial benefit from sales of products advertised, reviewed or linked to from this site. The product images and information on this page have been supplied from the plugin’s own website and sites that provide Premium WP Services

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