As a WordPress site owner, the WordPress admin dashboard is the most important section of your website. Here, you can create new pages, change themes, and set up your entire site with just a few clicks. It’s also easy to use, simple to access, and intuitive to navigate for both new and experienced website owners.
If you’re using WordPress for your business or blogging website, I'm sure you spend a lot of time in the admin area. If you’re a developer, you might be using the platform to build your clients' sites. While the front-end is customizable, the back-end is customizable, too. You don’t have to settle for the dull look, standard color options, and default functionality of WP’s admin area.
That’s where a WordPress admin dashboard plugin comes in. With this type of plugin, you can make the dashboard look more appealing and intuitive, so it’s easier for you or your clients to navigate.
In this post, we’ll go over the best admin dashboard plugins you can use to customize the look and functionality of your website’s admin area. But first, let’s go over what the admin dashboard is and a few common questions about accessing it on your website.
What is the WordPress admin dashboard?
The WordPress admin dashboard, otherwise known as the WP admin panel or WP admin area, is a private section on your WordPress website where you can conduct administrative tasks. In your admin dashboard, you can change your site’s theme, edit or create pages, install plugins, upload content and media, add custom CSS to your website code, and more.
Aside from changing the design of your website and managing the content, you can also edit post categories, create footer and header links, customize navigation menus, create permalink structures, and even hide dashboard elements if you are creating a site for a client.
How Do I Get to my WordPress Admin Dashboard?
The easiest way to get to the admin panel on your WordPress website is by adding the /wp-admin slug to your domain.
Simply head to your domain name and add /wp-admin right after your TLD.
Here’s what that would look like:
If you installed your website on a subdomain, follow the same steps.
If you installed your website on a subdirectory, add the /wp-admin slug after the subdirectory.
Once you’re there, input your unique username and password. (Note: this would be different from your WordPress.com login or your website host’s login.)
If you don’t remember your login details, reset your password. Alternatively, you can reach out to your website host for assistance logging in.
How do I Customize my WordPress Admin Dashboard?
For some users, WordPress’s built-in admin dashboard may present some limitations.
Aesthetically, it might not be what you’re looking for or what you’re aiming to deliver to a client. While being highly customizable on the front-end, WordPress websites offer few native visual customization options for its back-end. You can change the colors, but not much more.
Functionally, you might feel limited by the lack of personalization options. For example, if you wanted to create a dashboard item named “Products,” you wouldn’t be able to do that on WP’s native dashboard.
The solution? Install an admin dashboard plugin that will allow you to customize everything from the width of the sidebar to the admin panel’s features and functionalities.
The following WordPress admin dashboard plugins will allow you to fully style your admin area for a completely personalized back-end experience.
WordPress Admin Dashboard Plugins
- White Label CMS
- WordPress Hide Admin Menu Plugin
- Ultra WordPress Admin Theme
- Slate Pro Admin Theme
- Material WordPress Admin Theme
- Client Dash
- Ultimate Dashboard
- Admin Columns
- Admin Menu Editor
- Aquila Admin Theme
- WP Dashboard Notes
- User Role Editor
If you’re using WordPress to create a client’s website, you can use this plugin to customize the admin area according to your client’s needs and requests. Aside from giving you the ability to create a branded login page, it offers you three preset CMS profiles — Website, Blog, or Custom — to modify the menu system.
You can also write a custom message to your clients with instructions on how to use and navigate the admin section. If you’re interested in adding your developer branding into the admin area, White Label CMS also gives you the option to add your logo in the admin header and footer section.
If you want to hide certain items on your WordPress admin menu and the admin bar, the Hide Admin Menu plugin is perfect for this task. Choose which users can access the menu while keeping all functionalities in place. Because it’s so simple, this plugin doesn’t significantly slow your site down.
This plugin is ideal for those who are collaborating on a WordPress website with others. You can restrict administrative permissions and prevent unwanted and unsanctioned changes by teammates.
If you’re a freelance WordPress developer, you can use the Hide Admin Menu to simplify the backend experience for your clients. It can guarantee that your clients don’t inadvertently make irreparable changes.
A modern and feature-rich WordPress dashboard plugin, Ultra WordPress Admin Theme allows you to change the design of your site’s admin area. This plugin comes with unlimited color options so that you can change the color scheme and make it blend perfectly with your branding.
The Ultra WordPress Admin Theme plugin comes with 34 ready-to-use admin themes and the option to create a fully custom one. You can choose a different font, add a logo, and even use a background image on the sidebar. This plugin also gives you the ability to create a custom login page.
Under the “Ultra Admin Addon” option on your sidebar, you can rename and reorder the menu items, as well as change the icons.
Slate Pro is a minimalist WordPress dashboard theme that allows you to remove WordPress’s branding and create a custom color scheme that aligns with your brand.
An understated option for the modern designer, Slate Pro features muted colors and a lightweight typeface. With this plugin, you can hide menu items, create a custom dashboard widget, and create a customized login page.
Plus, this plugin updates through WordPress, making it easy to stay on the latest version.
Like the other options on this list, Material allows you to customize the colors, menu items, and design of your WP admin dashboard.
It comes with 100 pre-designed themes to choose from and gives you the ability to create a custom design. Material also offers an expansive collection of dashboard widgets that collect information on your website’s performance, including visitor and user stats.
To edit the menu items, you’ll need the Material Admin Addon, which will allow you to change the names and icons. You can also create a customized login page.
This plugin is ideal for freelance WordPress developers, as it allows you to create an interactive dashboard that shows your clients their website’s performance at a glance.
6. Client Dash
Client Dash is a powerful WordPress admin dashboard plugin that will help you create custom dashboards for your clients and restrict access to certain menu items. You can also create personalized menu items by changing the link, label, and icons. Everything is configurable and easy to change through this plugin’s drag-and-drop interface.
As a result, you’ll be able to offer a great experience to your clients by creating a user-friendly dashboard that’s customized to their requirements.
Ultimate Dashboard allows you to create a clean, simple WordPress control panel for either yourself or your clients. You can customize the dashboard by removing widgets and creating custom admin pages.
You can also create a branded login screen and remove WordPress’s logo from the top bar. For even more advanced features, you can upgrade to Ultimate Dashboard Pro, which would remove third-party widgets and allow you to use the plugin for multi-site projects.
With this plugin, you can organize the WordPress content management panels with beautiful columns to make it look organized and user-friendly. You can easily filter content and navigate pages with advanced, customized columns that list specific information about that page or post.
This plugin is ideal for those with large websites or a complicated inventory of products. But you can use it for anything, including assigning priority badges to your pages and color-coding your posts.
If you want to customize the design of your menu, rename items, or add custom menu items, Admin Menu Editor is the best plugin for the task. Lightweight and simple, this plugin features a drag-and-drop interface to rearrange your menu items in the admin area. You can create a custom menu item that will point to any external URL. You can also customize the login page and remove WordPress’s branding from the top bar.
With this plugin, you can create a hyper-customized dashboard for either yourself or your clients. You can choose colors with a color-picker, pick custom icons for menu items, and change the WordPress logo in the top left.
This plugin is compatible with Gutenberg and supports multi-site configurations.
This plugin allows you to leave notes for your clients within their WordPress dashboard, making it easy to leave short step-by-step tutorials, reminders, and instructions during onboarding.
This plugin is also super easy to use. Simply drag the widget into place, write your message, and save it.
Managing user permissions is important when creating a WordPress website for a client or when giving access to multiple users. Though WordPress has a built-in process for editing user roles, you can make even more granular changes with a dedicated user role plugin.
Adminimize is a useful WordPress admin plugin for multi-author WordPress blogs or for client websites. This plugin helps you hide items from the WordPress dashboard, restricting access as necessary and preventing unwanted changes.
This plugin comes with a powerful admin panel where you can customize the items you want to show and hide.
13. User Role Editor
User Role Editor is an excellent plugin for websites with multiple authors and administrators. With this plugin, you can easily change and restrict users’ access to administrative tools.
User Role Editor is an extremely easy plugin to use. Simply turn on "checkboxes" to grant admin permissions. For example, if you want to allow a contributor to add media files, you can easily do that by checking the box for that permission.
This tool is an excellent choice for large companies with different departments, as you can create custom types of users and assign permissions based on their role at the company.
A customized dashboard will make the back-end of your website feel more sophisticated and tailored to your or your client’s needs. With these plugins, you’ll have the ability to include your logo, change menu items, restrict user permissions, leave notes for clients, and more.
Use an Admin Dashboard Plugin on Your WordPress website
WordPress is a popular CMS because it offers all the features you need to build a strong website. Still, it has limitations. While it offers plenty of customization options on the front-end, the back-end area can be lacking out-of-the-box. Luckily, you can expand WordPress’s functionality with an admin dashboard plugin, making your or your client’s site management tasks easier and more efficient.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Feb 23, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated February 23 2021