How to Customize the WordPress Dashboard (And Why You’d Want To)

Most of WordPress can be customized, and the dashboard is one of the most important. This makes sense, as you’ll spend most of your time there. Though, to get the job done, there are multiple approaches you could take.

Coding a solution is the most permanent way to customize the dashboard. Though, the good news is you don’t need programming knowledge to make the dashboard your own. There are built-in options, and also plugins to help you.

As such, this post will show you how to customize the WordPress dashboard. We’ll look at three different approaches, and by the end, you’ll know which one will suit you the best.

What Customizing the WordPress Dashboard Entails

Before we get into customizing the dashboard, let’s talk about what the process entails. For the unaware, WordPress is stellar when it comes to flexibility. Because it’s an open-source platform, you’re able to dig into the elements you want to customize and make them your own.

As such, you can change almost every aspect of the platform, especially the dashboard. Some of the things you can achieve are:

  • Adding widgets to the various dashboard pages.
  • Implementing extra admin panels to the sidebar.
  • Making basic implementations, such as colors, fonts, and images.
  • Customizing the WordPress login form.

Though, in its default layout, WordPress’ dashboard isn’t bad to look at. Also, the design is somewhat logical. This could cause you to wonder why you’d want to customize the dashboard in the first place. Let’s discuss this next.

Why You’d Want to Customize the WordPress Dashboard

In a nutshell, there are two reason you’ll want to make the WordPress dashboard your own:

  • You want to adapt the back end to your own workflow.
  • You want to white-label the dashboard for your clients.

For the unaware, white labelling refers to removing the default branding from WordPress and replacing it with something custom. For example, we offer white labelled support services for agencies. It’s also the concept behind reseller hosting.

For a client, custom dashboards are a great idea because you can help support the brand across every aspect of the online business.

Regardless of your reasoning, customizing the WordPress dashboard can be achieved in a few ways. We’ll discuss this next.

How to Customize the WordPress Dashboard (In 2 Ways)

Next up, we’ll give you two ways to customize the WordPress dashboard and ‘white-label’ your experience. Note that we’re not covering coding here. This is because customizing the WordPress dashboard with code is a topic that could cover several articles. Though, there are plenty of guides available to get the job done.

When it comes to realistic options for customizing the WordPress dashboard, here are the two methods.

1. Use the Built-In Functionality to Customize the WordPress Dashboard

If you have simple needs, WordPress includes a few ways to make adjustments to the look and layout of the WordPress dashboard. Though, it’s only applied on a user-specific basis. As such, each user would need to make changes to customize their own dashboard.

To access most of these settings, you’ll want to head to the Users > Profile page within WordPress:

user profile menu wordpress

Here, you’ll want to look at the first section – Personal Options. This gives you a few ways to make changes:

user options wordpress dashboard

Here, you can adjust the color scheme, enable moderation keyboard shortcuts, and more. There are also the Screen Options settings. You’ll find these on select back end pages as a menu near the toolbar:

screen options wordpress

You can check boxes and choose items to customize the experience on a per page, per user basis.

Though, everything here is a limited set of functionality, and is likely not what you were after when it comes to customizing the WordPress dashboard. For more advanced changes, you’ll want to implement code.

2. Install a Plugin In Order to Customize the WordPress Dashboard

WordPress’ go-to solution for anything is using a plugin. White labelling is no exception. While there are a few options to choose, we think White Label CMS is one of the best plugins available:

white label cms plugin

As with any other plugin, you install and activate it in the usual way within WordPress. Once you’re ready, you’ll find a new Settings > White Label CMS panel on your dashboard:

white label cms plugin settings

The first time you head here, you’ll be given the option to run a quick setup wizard to add developer and client branding to your pages:

white label cms set up wizard

Once you’ve completed it, you’ll see five different tabs to help you white label the WordPress dashboard:

  • Branding. This page offers four sections to help you change the general branding visuals, the Admin Bar, the left-hand menu branding, and footer branding.
  • Login. This gives you advanced ways to amend the logo and background used on the login page. Also, you’re able to hide specific aspects such as the ‘lost password’ link. If you have coding knowledge, there are also fields to add custom CSS and JavaScript.
  • Dashboard. On this page, you can define a custom ‘Welcome’ panel, hide and remove dashboard panels, and even set specific options on a per-user basis.
  • Menus. This screen has one simple option – the ability to hide menus for your clients.
  • Settings. There are more settings here to hide options on the back end, but you’re also able to hide ‘nag messages’ for all users.

On the whole, the plugin is comprehensive and powerful. You’re able to make WordPress look almost unrecognizable compared to the default setup. It’s great for quick changes, but also lets you dig deeper to create a client-specific dashboard solution.

Wrapping Up

Making the WordPress dashboard your own is a common task for many site owners. Given the flexibility of WordPress, there are many different ways to the end goal. ‘White labelling’ the dashboard is no exception.

In this post, we’ve looked at two different ways to customize the WordPress dashboard. Let’s take a look at the methods:

  1. Use the limited, yet built-in functionality to customize the dashboard.
  2. Install a plugin to give you a no-code way to customize the WordPress dashboard.

Do you want to customize your WordPress dashboard, and if so, which approach would you take? Let us know in the comments section below!

Author Bio:

“Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses.

When he’s not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.”

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