Learning how to customise your WordPress dashboard can be useful both for a web designer/web developer perspective and also for your website clients. Many of the widgets that show up by default on the dashboard are unnecessary and can easily become distracting, especially to those clients unfamiliar with the WordPress admin area. It’s also advantageous to create a clean, uncluttered work area so you and your clients can concentrate on the important things that need to be done on your blog and/or website.
WordPress has been around for 8 years now and in that time has seen some tremendous changes in the look and feel of the backend as you can see from the screenshots on this recent post at Mashable – A Look Back at Eight Years of WordPress.
There are many WordPress tutorials available on the web that delve deeper into the actual coding to customise the dashboard in the functions.php file but for the purposes of this blog post I’m only going to point out a few simple changes that involve no knowledge of coding in PHP or CSS.
As you can see from the screenshot below, the initial layout for the dashboard in a new blog looks quite cluttered:
By doing a few simple changes you can create a much cleaner look. First select ‘screen options’ at the top right which will open up the panel of the widgets that are showing. Currently these are all checked so all you need to do is uncheck the widgets you don’t want to show.
You can then drag the widgets around to create the layout you wish, as shown below:
You also have the option of changing the number of columns should you wish to change the layout further. Below is an example with the 1-column layout option selected:
And an example with the 4-column layout option selected:
If you want to go a step further, you can also use WordPress plugins to customise the dashboard. There are many to choose from such as WP Dashboard Commander which will hide widgets depending upon user capabilities.
A plugin I find particularly useful when setting up WordPress blogs for clients is the User Role Editor plugin. This plugin allows for customisation of not only the dashboard but the whole admin area. You can set what the various user levels see and have access to.
Using the settings above for the Editor level, the screenshot below shows you what the WordPress dashboard and admin area looks like for any users you create at this Editor level. Each level can be customised separately then you can choose which level to set your new users up as:
You can see the difference between the first screenshot which looked very cluttered and the last screenshot which only shows the widgets and menus that are necessary for the majority of new WordPress users. It presents a much cleaner and less complicated view of the backend of your WordPress blog.