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What Is The WordPress Admin Dashboard? Key Functionality Explained

The WordPress admin dashboard is where you control almost all of the functionality at your WordPress site. Think of it kind of like your WordPress site’s mission control center.

Often called WP admin or WordPress dashboard, it lets you create new posts or pages, choose which theme your site uses, install and work with plugins, change general settings, plus plenty more.

Because all of this functionality is located inside the WordPress admin area, it’s important to understand what all the admin dashboard lets you do.

In this article, you’ll first learn how to access the WordPress admin dashboard at your site.

Then, we’ll show you how to perform some of the most important actions and tweak the admin dashboard to fit your needs.

How To Access The WordPress Admin Dashboard

Your WordPress admin dashboard is usually located at:

https://yoursite.com/wp-admin

If you installed WordPress in a sub-directory, you’d just append “wp-admin” to the sub-directory instead.

If you’re already logged into WordPress, you’ll be able to access your dashboard right away by visiting that URL.

Otherwise, WordPress will redirect you to the WordPress dashboard login page, which is usually located at:

https://yoursite.com/wp-login.php

To log in to your WordPress dashboard, you’ll need to enter the username/email address and password for your WordPress account. You should have chosen these credentials when you first created your WordPress site:

WordPress login page

If you’re having trouble logging in to your site, our post on the most common WordPress login errors can help you diagnose and fix the issue.

If you haven’t created your WordPress site yet, you can still experiment with the WordPress admin dashboard by using the free OpenSourceCMS demo. You can access this demo here. Then, log in using:

  • Username: opensourcecms
  • Password: opensourcecms

How To Use The WordPress Admin Area: Basic Functionality

Once you log in to the WordPress admin area, WordPress will take you to the Dashboard screen, which gives you a basic overview of your site:

WordPress admin dashboard

To access other important areas of the WordPress admin, you can use the sidebar menu on the left.

Here are some of the most important actions contained in that sidebar…

Create New Posts Or Pages

To create a new post or page, you go to Posts → Add New or Pages → Add New:

WordPress editor

You’ll then be able to use the WordPress editor to create your content.

Change Your Site’s Theme And Looks

Your WordPress site’s theme affects how your site looks to visitors. The Appearance area of your WordPress dashboard lets you:

  • Change themes
  • Install new themes
  • Control widgets and menus

Themes

Furthermore, if you go to Appearance → Customize, you’ll be able to change specific aspects of your theme using a real-time, visual interface called the WordPress Customizer.

While the exact customization options depend on your specific theme, typically the WordPress Customizer lets you control:

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Basic layout options
  • Etc.

WordPress Customizer

Control Your Site’s Functionality With Plugins

While themes control your site’s looks, plugins are mainly focused on adding new functionality or modifying existing functionality.

The Plugins area of your dashboard lets you manage existing plugins and install new plugins:

WordPress Plugins

Manage Updates For WordPress, Themes, And Plugins

Regularly updating your WordPress site is essential to keeping it functioning and secure. To help you see exactly what needs to be updated, you can go to the Dashboard → Updates area to view updates for:

  • The core WordPress software
  • Plugins
  • Themes

WordPress Updates

If you choose Pagely as your Managed WordPress Host, we will automatically update your WordPress site and plugins for you to save you time and keep your site secure.

There’s More Functionality, Too

Beyond the specifically highlighted areas above, the WordPress admin dashboard also lets you control:

  • Files that you’ve uploaded to your site in the Media area.
  • Comments from your site’s visitors in the Comments area.
  • Registered users at your site (if you allow public registration) in the Users area.
  • Basic site settings in the Settings area.

Additionally, as you install new plugins, many of those plugins will also add their own menu or sub-menu items. From those areas, you’ll be able to control settings specific to each plugin.

Access Important Functionality From The Front-End Of Your Site

Beyond the functionality directly in the admin area, WordPress also includes a feature called the WordPress toolbar that lets you access important WordPress admin functionality from the front-end of your site.

From the toolbar, you can:

  • Access the WordPress Customizer
  • See new pending comments
  • Create a new post or page

Other plugins might add their own options to the WordPress toolbar, as well:

WordPress toolbar

How To Customize The WordPress Admin Dashboard

If you don’t like how the WordPress dashboard functions out of the box, you have several options for customizing its looks as well as the information that it displays.

Screen Options

The Screen Options feature lets you control how individual WordPress admin areas behave.

Each area in your WordPress admin has its own set of Screen Options which let you control things like:

  • What information displays
  • Pagination
  • How the information is displayed (e.g. list view vs grid view)

To access these settings, look for the Screen Options button in the top-right corner:

Admin screen options

Once you click that button, a list of settings will appear. Again, these settings vary between different admin areas and only apply to that specific admin area:

Editing screen options

Profile-Specific Admin Settings

Beyond the Screen Options, WordPress includes a number of other admin control settings that each registered user can modify in their profile.

To access these settings for your own account, go to Users → Your Profile.

From this area, you can:

  1. Disable syntax highlighting when you’re directly editing code.
  2. Change the color scheme of your WordPress admin (beyond the default color scheme, WordPress includes 7 other options).
  3. Disable the WordPress toolbar

User profile

Change WordPress Login Page URL

If you’d like to customize the login page URL for your WordPress admin dashboard, you can follow the steps in our guide to hiding the WordPress login page.

Beyond letting you create a more personalized, human-friendly login URL, another benefit of changing your login URL is that it will cut down on bot traffic to your WordPress site.

We’ve covered the most important WordPress admin dashboard functionality in this post. But remember – there are plenty of other smaller settings, and your site’s plugins and themes will add their own settings, as well. For those reasons, we encourage you to further explore your WordPress admin area to understand every little thing that it can help you do.

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