WordPress Admin Panel – An Overview!

Tech Tip

When using a password manager enable two-factor authentication! This can be a text message or an OTP generator (One Time Password), such as Google Authenticator or Yubikey. They can be attached to your account and required each time you log in. This sounds like more work, but once you've gotten used to using it, it makes it almost impossible for someone to break into any of your accounts.

So far, we’ve gone over a lot in The Definitive Beginners Guide to WordPress. Including What is WordPress, A Brief History, as well as How to Start a WordPress Website. The remaining posts for this series will focus on the WordPress administrative control panel and how to use all of its default features.

Why WordPress?

There is one question that I would like to answer before we begin discussing the WordPress Dashboard, which is why? Why use WordPress?

We’ve discussed my answer to this question in past entries in this series, but I’ll refine the answer here. The number one reason I suggest using WordPress over other systems is— expandability.

WordPress allows for an almost unlimited expansion for your website, service, product, or content. No matter what type of website you’re starting, WordPress can handle it. I have never found any type of website that wouldn’t work by using WordPress.

WordPress Basics

WordPress, at its core, is a relatively straightforward application to use, and even when you start adding and expanding its abilities, there are still only a few structures you need to learn. In this post, we aren’t going through how to install and setup WordPress, which will come in later guides since it’s more technically advanced.

This post will cover how to use WordPress at a basic level, as well as how its core functions operate. Once we have learned those essential skills, adding or expanding on WordPress’s abilities will come effortlessly.

Accessing WordPress

Default WordPress LoginThe first thing we need to know how to do is to access the WordPress administrative control panel, called WP Admin. The best method to login to WordPress is to use the default short URL, which will be the same on any WordPress install.

If you add /wp-admin/ in the URL bar to any domain name running WordPress, this will redirect you to the login page for WordPress. Standard user accounts, editors, or administrators can all use the same login page. If your WordPress install isn’t in the home directory for your domain, you would add the proper folder suffix to the end or beginning of the domain name.

WP Admin Example URLs

For example, let’s say your blog resides at the following sub-domain URL.


In this case, the WordPress login screen would reside at the following URL:


Another example could be a sub-folder of your primary domain name.


In this case, you would again add /wp-admin/ to the end of this URL.


Entering this into the URL bar of your browser should always redirect you to the login page for WordPress. If your blog is using a plugin to hide or change the location of the login page, then you should already have this bookmarked. There’s no way to find an altered login page location unless your redirect is actively working. If you’re unable to find your login page, you may not have WordPress correctly installed or may need to speak with your website hosting provider for more assistance.

Note: Changing the login location usually is done as a security measure, if you aren’t sure how or why you should do this, don’t.

WordPress Meta Default

Another common way to login to WordPress is to use the login widget or link generally found on default installs of WordPress. These links will redirect you to the proper login form. This login page can be linked anywhere on the site as well, and most webmasters will add it within the footer to make it easier for website owners to locate it.

When all else fails, ask your webmaster or website hosting company, they generally can point you in the right direction, or disable any plugins that might be hiding or redirecting the WP login page.

WordPress Structure

Now that we’ve discussed how to get into WordPress, let’s look at its basic structure. It’s fundamental to learn where things are because as your website grows and you add more plugins, it will make it harder to find what you’re looking for unless you know where to look.

Once you login to the WP Admin, you’ll notice a fairly basic layout. There should be a menu on the far left side of the window, with a small header bar across the very top of the window, and then a content portion in the remaining area of the screen. If you are on a mobile device, your screen may not have as much as the one below.

Default WordPress Dashboard

Navigating WordPress

The header bar, at the very top, should be present on every page of your website, once logged in to an active account. This navigation bar is handy for quickly navigating around common areas of your website, as well as common areas of the public-facing portions of your website.

Default WordPress Top Navigation

Note: It’s important to learn the difference between and recognize how the administration panel and public-facing pages appear.

Default WordPress Site Name Hover Menu

In the upper left corner, if you hover over the website name or the WordPress logo, you can go to the public version of your website, or the administrative control panel, quickly.

Default WordPress User Name Hover Menu

In this same navigation, further to the right, you’ll notice links to posts, pages, and other common areas of your website. Specific plugins, such as WP Rocket, may also add useful shortcut links here, such as clearing your cache. On the far right, you’ll see the name of your account and some useful links associated with your account.

The Main Administrative Navigation

Default WordPress Sidebar Menu

If we direct our eyes to the farleft of the page, just under the header navigational menu, we’ll see the main administrative navigation menu.

When there are no other themes or plugins installed on WordPress, this menu looks relatively straight forward. We have a place for Posts, Media, Pages, Comments, etc. It’s good practice to learn what each of these sections is and how to use them, all other plugins will build onto this menu using the same type of input screens.

In later posts, we’ll break down what each of these primary sections is and how to use them.

WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard WidgetsThe WordPress Dashboard is the last thing we’ll discuss in this post. The dashboard will be your default landing page each time you log in to WordPress. The dashboard can become cluttered, as you start expanding WordPress, but used correctly, it can also be a vital tool in monitoring and tracking your website.

If you’re visiting your dashboard from a desktop computer, you’ll notice three columns, and each column will contain what are called Widgets. Some dashboard widgets allow the information presented to be adjusted, while most are simply a quick look into whatever the widget pertains to, giving you links directly to more information.

A vanilla install of WordPress, there are several widgets to start with and used to manage our new WordPress website.

At a Glance – Gives us a quick look at the number of posts, pages, and comments about our website. With each linked to their respective sections. Other plugins may add extra items to this widget.

Activity – Shows the most recent activity on our website, regardless of what that might be.

Quick Draft – Allows us to quickly add a title and content for a post that we may be considering. This widget is a great way to get ideas out quickly, adding posts in draft mode, of course, for those ideas.

WordPress Events and News – This widget is great if you’d like to keep up with what’s going on in the world of WordPress. It also will show upcoming events that are near you, if you’re looking for a WordCamp or something similar.

How to Edit the Dashboard?

Editing the dashboard to suit your needs is probably the best part of setting up a new website. Look in the upper right-hand corner of the dashboard, and you’ll notice a button called Screen Option.

WordPress Dashboard Screen Options

Once clicked, this option screen will allow us to turn on and off widgets on our dashboard. These options are saved directly to your profile; that way, the changes are present the next time you log in.

Note: WordPress saves most alterations you make within the WordPress administrative panel, without any other input required.

Moving Widgets

WordPress Moving WidgetsThe final trick I’d like to show you with the WordPress Dashboard is to move widgets around. It’s super simple and intuitive. Click on the top bar of a widget, hold, and move it to another spot on the screen. It’s that simple.

If you’re on a larger screen, there will be three columns so that you can move it anywhere you’d like within those three columns. Widgets stack from top to bottom.


WordPress can be super simple once you learn the basic layout and functions. The best advice I can give anyone new to WordPress is to explore. Click through all the different pages, settings, options, and so on… There is a ton to explore, even on a fresh install of WordPress. Before your new website goes live, now is the best time to test, tweak, change, remove, and add. Also, be sure that your website hosting company is backing up your website, or you use a plugin to do that for you. If you ever do need to restore your website, you can quickly if it’s backed up.

Author: Mike Bowden

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Mike Bowden is the Owner, Project Manager, and all-around knower-of-techy-things at OBS. He's been in the technology industry since he could read and loves anything silicon-based. He's been a WordPress fanboy for well over fifteen years and has seen the good the bad in the industry. He spends most of his time now, helping others build their dream website, hosting, and protecting his clients' websites.
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