13 Best Admin Dashboard Plugins for WordPress

Ivelisse Rodriguez
Ivelisse Rodriguez

Published:

The WordPress admin dashboard is the most important section of your business or blogging website. It lets you 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.

Website owner using WordPress dashboard plugins to customize the look and functionality of their site
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The caveat? WordPress admin dashboards aren’t exactly compelling. The good news? Thanks to WordPress admin dashboard plugins, you don’t have to settle for the dull look, standard color options, and default functionality of WP’s admin area.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of 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.

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.

WordPress native admin area with standard colors

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:

example.com/wp-admin

If you installed your website on a subdomain, follow the same steps.

subdomain.example.com/wp-admin

If you installed your website on a subdirectory, add the /wp-admin slug after the subdirectory.

example.com/my-subdirectory/wp-admin

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.

1. White Label CMS

White Label CMS in dashboard view with information on its Elementor integration

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.

What we like:

This plugin is all about WordPress admin customization, making it a great choice for developers. Not only can you give clients detailed instructions on how to use what you’ve built, you can also include your own logo to drive repeat business.

2. WordPress Hide Admin Menu Plugin

WordPress Hide Admin Menu plugin in user permission management view

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.

What we like:

Sometimes less is more. The Hide Admin Menu plug lets you hide what isn’t necessary to streamline the user experience and keep critical functions safe from inadvertent adjustments.

3. Ultra WordPress Admin Theme

Ultra WordPress Admin dashboard plugin on theme selector viewImage Source

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.

What we like:

Design can make all the difference. The Ultra WordPress Admin Theme plugin lets you replace staid and standard admin pages with color-coded frameworks to help users easily find what they’re looking for.

4. SmartEnd WordPress Dashboard

wordpress admin dashboard plugin: smartend

Built using the Laravel 8.0 framework, the SmartEnd CMS plugin gives you total control over your admin dashboard and also makes it possible to easily access and modify key functions using Restful APIs. Backend features include secure dashboard logins, the ability to add custom fields to any section, user permissions controls, and SEO modules for every page.

A regular license for SmartEnd costs $35. While the total number of installations is lower than some of the other plugins on our list, this admin assistant has been receiving consistent updates for the past five years.

What we like:

No matter what you need, SmartEnd has you covered. From frontend to backend features along with power API functions, this plugin has it all.

5. Material WordPress Admin Theme

Material WordPress admin theme in dashboard view with analytics widgetsImage Source

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.

What we like:

The more clients know about their site’s performance, the better. The Material Admin Addon lets developers easily create data displays that showcase how sites are doing at-a-glance.

6. Client Dash

Client Dash WordPress admin plugin with drag-and-drop interface

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.

What we like:

Client Dash is all about the big picture. This plugin makes it easy for users to navigate their admin dashboards with customizable icons and menus, allowing you to point users in the right direction.

7. Ultimate Dashboard

Ultimate Dashboard WP admin panel plugin in login page editor, where the user has added their own logo

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.

What we like:

Clean dashboards remove complexity. While this plugin isn’t for everyone, it’s a great choice if you’re looking to build a streamlined site that provides exactly what you need with no extraneous information.

8. Admin Columns

Admin Columns WordPress back-end customization plugin with columns in viewWith 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.

What we like:

Don’t like complexity? Use more columns. This plugin lets you quickly organize content into easily-managed columns and makes it possible to quickly filter results to find exactly what you’re looking for.

9. Admin Menu Editor

Admin Menu Editor WordPress dashboard plugin in menu editor viewIf 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.

What we like:

Sometimes all you need is a little bit of customization to make your admin page more functional. That’s the Admin Menu Editor advantage — make quick changes to your menus for maximum impact with minimum effort.

10. Aquila Admin Theme

Aquila Admin Theme for WordPress dashboards with a fully customized logo and appearanceWith 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.

What we like:

Want a dashboard that goes beyond the ordinary? Opt for Aquila. Custom icons and colors let you create a unique dashboard that stands out from the crowd.

11. ExactMetrics Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress

wordpress admin dashboard plugin: exactmetrics

More than 1 million users have installed this plugin for easy access to Google Analytics metrics directly from their dashboard. Just a few clicks are all it takes to set up accurate analytics tracking that delivers real-time data directly to your WordPress admin page.

With support for both versions of Google Analytics and built-in CCPA and GDPR compliance, this plugin makes it possible to see the data you need, when you need it — without risking a regulatory issue.

What we like:

If you’re looking for real-time analytics data, Google is your go-to choice. But installing Google Analytics on your own can be time- and effort-intensive. The ExactMetrics plugin makes this process simple, streamlined, and speedy.

12. Adminimize

Adminimize plugin for WordPress dashboards in back-end permission options viewManaging 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.

What we like:

If you’re designing or managing a multi-user site, Adminimize lets you customize who can see and access key functions and edit specific pages to keep your content safe.

13. User Role Editor

User Role Editor dashboard plugin for WordPress in user permission view

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.

What we like:

Taking the idea of permissions control a step farther, the User Role Editor lets you create custom access profiles for specific users and is a great choice for larger organizations.

Make the Most of WordPress with an Admin Dashboard Plugin

WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS because it offers all the features you need to build a strong website.

But it’s not perfect. While it offers plenty of customization options on the front-end, the back-end is lacking out-of-the-box. WordPress Admin dashboard plugins make it possible to enhance both form and function, in turn making site management tasks easier, more appealing, and more efficient.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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