A Complete Walkthrough of The WordPress Admin Dashboard

Welcome to WordPress! This wonderful open-source platform currently powers more than 43% of all websites in the world. More and more people are looking to learn how to use WordPress every day. You don’t need to own a website to have the need to learn WordPress. People such as marketers, content writers, designers, and web developers may need to be quite familiar with WordPress. It’s often part of their job to work with this platform! 

As with any other software or tools, you need to know the controls and settings to properly utilize them. It’s the same case for WordPress, you can’t get the best out of it if you don’t know what to do.  

However, it can be quite daunting to look at the WordPress Dashboard – also referred to as the WordPress control panel or the WordPress backend. It’s not the most visually pleasing content management system. And there’s quite a lot of buttons and tabs here, what can you do with them? So, we’ve written this article to help you navigate the WordPress admin area. Keep reading because you’ll find useful information!

Accessing your Dashboard

You may already know how to access your WordPress Dashboard, but let’s quickly go over it again. 
There are multiple ways to log into your WordPress account. But the most common two ways are through your web hosting dashboard or by logging into your WordPress site directly.

Your login URL

The default URL to login to WordPress is the same URL you would use to visit your site but with “/wp-admin” added to the end of it.

For example, to access the WordPress backend of website www.example.com, you would go to “www.example.com/wp-admin” to access the login screen.

Logging into your WordPress backend

To access the backend of your WordPress website, you need to: 

1. Go to your login URL: “www.YourSiteURL.com/wp-admin.”  

2. Enter your WordPress username and password.  

3. Click “Log In.”  

You now have access to your WordPress admin dashboard where you can manage your WordPress site.

Your Dashboard landing page at a glance

Your WordPress Dashboard will look something like this with a clean installation:  

If you’re a new user, the “Welcome to WordPress” toolset will appear in the dashboard’s top position with helpful links to get you started. If you’ve already seen this panel and you’ve installed different plugins, you may see notifications from the plugins you’re using instead.

For your navigation menus, keep in mind that your menus might look different compared to the screenshots in this article. Depending on the user role, plugins, and the hosting service that you use, there might be more or fewer items on your menus. Next to that, the Bluehost section in the left navigation menu is only available to customers who bought Bluehost’s subscription.

Let’s first explore the navigation menus in your WordPress control panel.

The WordPress upper navigation bar

Besides the left-hand navigation bar, you’ll see a black bar with white text running across the top of the screen. This bar contains plenty of helpful shortcuts to help you save time navigating. For example:

  • The plus icon lets you quickly add a post, page, media and users to your backend.
  • The message icon takes you to the comment area where you can approve, edit, delete and answer comments.

Unfortunately, there are no options available in the admin panel to add custom links to the bar. However, plugins and themes can create custom navigation on the top admin bar that will be useful when working in the panel. 

For instance, in the above image, you can see a tab called “Caching” which might not exist in your upper navigation bar. It is a shortcut to access some functions of the Endurance Page cache plugin which is activated automatically by Bluehost if you use our service. Next to that, the tab with the letter Y is available when you install the Yoast SEO plugin. 

You’ll want to pay particular attention to “Visit Site” which you’ll access by hovering over your site’s name within this bar. Clicking the text will open your site in the same tab (right-click it to open in a new tab if you’d like to keep your dashboard open). As you access your live site, you’ll see that the black bar remains, giving you access to the same shortcuts and an easy path back to your WordPress Dashboard. 

The left navigation menu

This is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time within WordPress. All of the controls and settings you use in WordPress can be found in this main menu.

The menu shown in this screenshot is for someone who has an administrator user role within WordPress. If you don’t see all of the menu items, then you probably have a different user role.

Next to that, in the above screenshot, you can see options such as OptinMonster or Creative Mail which are not a part of the standard menu. They are listed because these 2 plugins were installed. You can think of plugins as “apps” for your WordPress site. The more plugins you install on your site, the more icons you’ll see in the menu.

Diving into the menu

Let’s dive further into the left navigation menu. We will be covering options in the standard menu:

1: Dashboard. The Dashboard is basically the control center for your WordPress site. You can manage every part of your WordPress site from here. Next to that, you’ll find an overview of updates for your WordPress core, as well as for themes and plugins.

2: Posts. This is where you can create a new Blog post. Next to that, you can manage your Categories and Post Tags.

3: Media. All your images, documents or media files are stored here. You can browse through your Media library, add new media as well as edit and update the files.

4: Pages. All the pages of your website such as the homepage and about us can be found here. Go to this section if you want to create a new page or make changes to existing ones.

5: Comments. You’ll manage your blog comments in this section. You can approve, delete, modify or reply to comments that come into your blog. Of course, you can always disable comments on your site if you want. This can be done in the “Settings” area.

6: Appearance. Settings in the appearance area directly affect how your site looks and navigates. You can change or customize your website themes, add background images and edit/control your website navigation menu here. And you’ll definitely spend a good amount of time in this area when you want to change your site’s design or its layout.

7: Plugins. Plugins are like “apps” for your WordPress site. They are pieces of software that add or extend the functionality of your site. They are quite easy to use, and you don’t need any coding knowledge to download and use plugins. Go to this section to manage your installed plugins, or to browse the WordPress plugin directory and install new ones.

8: Users. This section contains a list of all the users who have a login on your website. WordPress has various permission levels for the corresponding user’s role. Depending on the role you’re assigned, you may see different items in your WordPress navigation menu.

9: Tools. This section can be referred to as the “utilities” area of WordPress. It allows you to import and export various data such as posts, pages, form responses, or your personal data. You can also check your site health status or access your plugins/themes file editor here.

10: Settings. This section contains the “global settings” for your site. There are loads and loads of options and settings for you to explore. You can edit things such as your site title, URL structure and other important settings.

11: Collapse Menu. Click on the icon to “collapse” the left bar menu. Instead of seeing descriptive text, you’ll only see the icons.

12: Bluehost dashboard. This area is only available if you use the Bluehost hosting service. It contains various shortcuts to other settings. We’ll dive deeper into this area later in this post.

The actual Dashboard

We’ve introduced the navigation menus in WordPress backend. Now let’s dive into the actual WordPress Dashboard.

1. Welcome to WordPress box. This box has quick links to take you to various areas in the backend of your site. Feel free to dismiss this box as it takes up quite a bit of space.

2. Activity. This box shows recent activities such as comments you received, as well as scheduled and recent blog posts.

3. At a Glance. Here you can find some statistics for your site such as how many posts and pages you have.

4. WordPress News. You can read news about WordPress and see if there are upcoming events near you.

5. Quick Draft. This box allows you to quickly type up a draft post which is very handy for noting down ideas.

As we mentioned earlier, this dashboard is basically the control center for your WordPress site. By enabling your plugin’s widgets in the dashboard, you’ll easily get an overview of how your site is performing. For example, you can quickly check how many contact form entries you get if you use a contact form plugin such as WPForms. To display or remove widgets in the dashboard, find the “Screen options” in the top right corner of your dashboard.

Keep in mind that dashboard widgets can be moved around by clicking and dragging them to a different position. You can also collapse them by clicking the arrow on the top right of the box. This is very convenient as you can arrange widgets according to your need and usage.

The Bluehost area

The Bluehost area is only available if you’re using Bluehost’s service. Clicking on the Bluehost icon will open a Bluehost dashboard within WordPress (not to be confused with the Bluehost hosting dashboard).

The Bluehost dashboard provides another way for you to navigate, build and make changes to your WordPress site. This is especially helpful for new website owners. We try to make it simpler for you to get started with building your website.

You can see right away in the home tab a list of things you should do for your new site. For instance, if you go to the “Add contact page” section and click on the button, you’ll be taken to a new screen where you can create your page. Here, Bluehost will also come in and provide you with a bit of assistance by setting up a simple contact form for you. There are also quick tips in the help box, which can be very handy if you’re learning WordPress.

If you scroll down below from the home section, you’ll find the Bluehost account box. Clicking on any of these icons will take you to the corresponding controls in the Bluehost hosting dashboard.

There are other tabs in the dashboard such as:

1: Themes. You can browse and purchase premium themes from the Bluehost theme directory. Prices range from around $20 to $70 per theme.

2: Plugins. You can browse and purchase premium plugins from the Bluehost plugin directory. Most of the plugins here will cost you money, but there are a few free ones as well.

3: Services. Navigate here if you need professional services to help you build your site.

4: Staging. You can quickly create a staging site in this tab. A staging site is a copy of your site where you can safely test changes before publishing them to your main site. It gives you a way to try new things, test updates, and then deploy them when you’re ready.

5: Settings. Some general website settings can be found here. You can set automatic updates as well as manage comments and caching settings.

6: Help. As the name suggests, visit this section if you need help from us. You can chat in real-time with us. Next to that, you can request services such as website consulting or marketing and design assistance from Bluehost. And if you scroll down below, you can browse through our resource center for helpful how-to articles and guides.

Final thoughts 

We hope you’ll find it a bit easier to navigate your WordPress Dashboard after reading this post. It will take some time to get used to all the controls and settings, but that’s totally okay! Keep on practicing, keep on exploring and you’ll get the best out of WordPress in no time.

If you have any questions about any aspects of website building, website management, you can access our knowledge base. And our support team is available 24/7 to help with any concerns you have.

Devin Sears
Devin Sears | Field Marketing Manager

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