Getting Comfortable With the WordPress Admin Area

WordPress Admin Area

In this guide we’ll go over how to navigate and get comfortable with the WordPress Admin Area, where you’ll create and edit posts and pages, manage users, customize the appearance of your website, and so forth.

When you log in to WordPress, by default you will land on the Dashboard Admin Screen. See image above. To get the best use out of this handy guide, log in to your WordPress website and have your WordPress website Admin Area open while reading this guide.  Now, let’s begin.



Take Aways

  • Get familiar with the WordPress Admin area
  • Learn the purpose of the Screen Options drop down tab
  • Learn about the Help drop down tab
  • Learn the purpose of the Main Navigation
  • Learn the purpose of the Toolbar


Admin Area Toolbar

WordPress Admin Toolbar

At the very top of the Admin Area is the Toolbar. Here, you have quick access to:

  • WordPress links. By hovering over the light grey WordPress icon at the far left, a dropdown of links appears. The “About WordPress” link goes to a page about your current WordPress installation such as version and updated features. The other links in the dropdown each go to official WordPress pages for documentation, support, feedback as well as the main page.
  • Your Website Name. You can quickly visit your website’s public facing font-end by either clicking on the name of your site, i.e., “WordPress for Beginners”, or by clicking on the “Visit Site” text in the dropdown that appears on hovering over your website’s name.
  • Comments List. Clicking on the comment icon next to your website name, you’re taken to the comments admin screen. You can view and edit all your website’s comments here.
  • New. Hover over the New link and a dropdown menu appears. Clicking on any of the four links will take you to the Post, Media, Page or User admin screens where you can add a new Post, Media file, Page or User.
  • Profile Quick Links. On the far right side of your Toolbar is the Profile link. Hover over it to reveal a dropdown menu listing your username, “My Profile” and “Log Out” text. The first two link to your profile page where you can update your email address, social media links, bio and more. And the Log Out link of course is where you can log out of the Admin Area.

Front-End Toolbar

WordPress Admin Toolbar

The Toolbar also appears on the Front-End of your website too by default. All but two areas are the same.

  • Your Website Name. You can quickly visit your website’s Admin Area by clicking on the name of your site, i.e., “WordPress for Beginners”. You’ll land on the Dashboard admin screen. Or you can hover over your website name for a link to the Admin Area’s Dashboard, Themes, Widgets and Menus admin screens.
  • Customize. You’ll notice a new item called “Customize” on the Front-End Toolbar. Clicking on this link will take you to your themes customization screen. Here you’ll be able to change site identity settings like logo, and title. You can set color scheme, add and edit menus and widgets. You can update homepage settings, making the home page a specific page or the latest list of blog posts. Also, if you know how to code with CSS, you can override your themes current stylesheet.

Screen Options Tab

Screen Options Pull Down Tab
Screen Options Pull Down Tab
Screen Options Pull Down Tab Open
Activate Screen Options pull down tab

The Screen Options pull down tab, just below the Toolbar on the right side, is available on multiple Admin Screens. When activated, you’re given the option to hide or show certain sections of the given Admin Screen depending on the screen you’re currently on.

For example, when viewing the Dashboard Admin Screen, if Screen Options is activated, you’ll see 5 checked boxes correlating to different sections of the Dashboard Admin Screen. Unchecking any one of the checkboxes will hide that section in the Main Content Area

Help Tab

Help Pull Down Tab Admin Area WordPress
Help Pull Down Tab

The Help pull down tab, just right of the Screen Options tab, is available on all Admin Screens. Like the Screen Options pull down tab it is also contextual. Depending on the Admin Screen you are currently on, when active, the content will be different.

Opened Help Pull Down Tab Admin Area WordPress
Active Help Pull Down Tab

The Help pull down tab is one of your best tools to get oriented with the WordPress Admin Area. When you click on it, a three column window  appears. The first column is a vertical navigation. The first link in the navigation is always the “Overview”, which gives you a summary of what you can do on the current Admin Screen, viewable in the second column. Clicking on the other navigation replaces the second column with other useful information about the Admin Screen you are currently on.

For example, the second navigation link in the active Help pull down tab on the Dashboard Admin Screen is “Navigation”. When clicked on, it reveals helpful information about the purpose of the left-hand navigation of the Admin Area.

The third column of an activated Help pull down tab has two links. One that goes directly to WordPress’s official documentation, at, about your current Admin Screen. For example, if you’re on the Post Admin Screen, the link will go to the documentation for managing posts. The second link in the third column, goes to the Support Forums and is available on all active Help pull down tabs.

Screens Menu

Main Navigation WordPress Admin Area
Main Navigation WordPress Admin Area

The Screens Menu is where you can access all Admin Screens. Clicking on any menu link changes the content visible on the right side (Screen Content area). For example, by default, when you log in to the Admin Area, you’re taken to the Dashboard Admin Screen.

By default there are 11 menus available (see below). However, once you add plugins or create custom post types, and in some cases add premium themes, additional menu links appear.

Default Menu

  • Dashboard – Check for WordPress version, plugin and theme updates. Read notifications, site activity overviews and view or edit dashboard widgets.
  • Posts – Create, edit and manage posts, post tags and categories.
  • Media – Add media (images, files, audio and video) and manage media library.
  • Pages – Create, edit and manage site pages like About and Contact.
  • Comments – Manage post comments.
  • Appearance – Add, choose and customize your theme; add and manage widgets; add and manage navigation menus
  • Plugins – Add and manage plugins.
  • Users – Add and manage users; manage your user profile.
  • Tools – Perform non-routine administrative tasks like importing and exporting posts and user personal data.
  • Settings – Configure site wide settings such as media thumbnail sizes, how many posts to show on a post archive page and much more.
  • Collapse Menu – Hide and show the entire Screens Menu sidebar.

Screen Content

With the exceptions of external links in the Help pulldown menu and the About WordPress dropdown in the Toolbar, all the links in the Toolbar, Main Navigation and Help navigations update the Main Content Area. The Main Content Area displays the interactive fields where all your site content and general appearance is created and updated.

The Dashboard

When you first log in to the admin area, you’ll see the Dashboard in the Main Content Area (see first screenshot above). The Dashboard consists of the following elements:

  • Notifications. Notices from about your current WordPress version and other notices from plugins you have installed on your site.
  • Welcome Panel. Quick links to help you get started in customizing your theme and adding content.
  • Dashboard Widgets. These are collapsible blocks of content that give quick overviews and usually display quick links and summaries of data, as well as the ability to perform simple functions like form submission. These widgets can be hidden or shown as you like via the Screen Options pulldown mentioned above. There can be any number of widgets on your dashboard depending on the plugins installed. Plugins like Yoast SEO and Google Analytics for example add their own dashboard widgets when these plugins are installed and active.  The default Dashboard widgets that come with every installation of WordPress are:
    • At a Glance. Shows the number of posts, pages and comments on your site. This widget also displays the current version of WordPress running, the current theme used and data about your spam queue and the number of spam comments blocked by Akismet, WordPress’s default anti-spam plugin.
    • Activity. Recent site activity.
    • WordPress Events and News. Latest from the official blog and other blogs, as well as links to the latest WordPress Meetup events (based on your location).
    • Quick Draft. Quick and easy way to start a post.

Please let me know of any errors, grammatical or other, in the this guide via the contact form. Also feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.

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