Customize Wordpress Dashboard

How to Customize the WordPress Admin Dashboard

Your client just had a first look at your WordPress website and he just loves it. But after seeing the admin webpage, he seems a wee bit unhappy. With all the effort you put into designing the front end, you did not want the meeting to end on this unhappy note. Worry not! There are a number of ways you can customize your WordPress admin dashboard. We bring to you few handpicked techniques which can help you customize WordPress admin dashboard and it will help you in sealing the deal with your client.

Customizing a WordPress admin dashboard can be bucketed into two headers – the first one involves customizing its security features to suit your needs. The second set of features make the dashboard more aesthetically appealing.  The article first presents tweaks you can do to further enhance the security of the admin dashboard followed by ways to make it more aesthetically appealing.

Ways to customize your WordPress admin dashboard security:

1. Getting the basics right!

Why leave the login of the admin dashboard as “admin”. Why not customize it your client’s name- makes him happier while also adding another layer of security.  To do this, go to PHPMyAdmin database manager and enter the following SQL query:

Change the “mynewuser” to whatever username you want to use. We strongly recommend changing the login page URL as well.

2. User and User Roles

WordPress gives you the flexibility to assign roles (e.g.: editors, authors, administrators etc.) basis the freedom you would want each one to have. These roles allow you to grant different freedoms to users with different roles. This can be easily done through the settings under the General options in the User menu item from the WordPress dashboard.

3. Modifying file edit permissions

You don’t want to end up in a situation where the dashboard’s functionality is jeopardized accidentally. To prevent any accidental mess-ups with the themes and plugin files you have used we recommend adding the following line into your “wp-config.php” file

Ways to make your dashboard aesthetically more appealing

WordPress provides two modes through which you can customize your admin dashboard – themes and plugins. We will walk you first through ways to customize the dashboard through themes and then through plugins. But, first let’s have a look at a few handy tips to make the customization smoother:

4. Eliminating superfluous WordPress widgets

As soon as you log in to the WordPress dashboards, you will find an array of widgets which you might use for a variety of purposes. However, would you want your client to see all of these?  Also, depending on the themes you use the number of widgets on your dashboard can vary. To remove default WordPress widgets, incorporate the following code in “functions.php” file:

To remove a specific widget, you could use the following code instead:

The above code removes the Quick Draft widget. In order to remove any other widget, just replace dashboard_quick_press’, ‘dashboard’, ‘side’ with corresponding slug for the widget you wish to remove. You can find the slug for each widget by using a browser inspector and then copying the div ID.

5. Adding Tips

You can improve the experience of the client by providing him with help and tips, as and when he gets stuck especially for those clients who are new to WordPress. You can use custom widgets to display a short helpful message in such cases.

6. Rightsizing the menu items

Ever been in a situation where you wanted to eliminate an unwanted menu item, but didn’t know how. Removing unwanted menu items helps you in providing a leaner dashboard to the client while also optimizing the dashboard’s performance and avoiding any accidental mess-ups. To do this, just add the following code to your “functions.php” file:

7. Custom WordPress Footer

Well, you do deserve the credit for designing the awesome dashboard and what better place than the footer to mention the same. Add the following code to the “functions.php” to achieve the desired effect:

Now that we have gone through tips which could make your WordPress dashboard look better. Let’s look at ways to customize the look and feel of the WordPress Panel which still is very basic.  To enhance the client experience, we will start with ways to customize dashboard using themes and then progress to look at ways to customize it using widgets.

Using WordPress Themes to customize your dashboard

There a lot of built-in themes in WordPress which you can use to customize your admin dashboard. We discuss a few below, which we liked the most:

Blue Admin

The Blue Admin theme lets you completely change the look and feel of the admin dashboard using this theme. It provides you an array of sub-menus and drop-downs to choose from. The theme also allows you to add custom navigation menus on the toolbar.

Fancy Admin UI

With a default grey and blue color scheme, this theme provides you a very nice and clean look.  To customize the look and feel, you can use the settings panel. To activate this, navigate to installed plugins, under the plugin tab in the WordPress menu and check the Fancy Admin UI option.

Slash Admin

A pretty intuitive interface which also lets you add google analytics code for tracking, Slash Admin makes it far easier to customize your dashboard. You can also enable the maintenance mode using this theme. The google analytics allows you to keep your database clean, by restricting the number of times the content is saved automatically. Activate this by navigating to the Slash Admin options under the Tools option in the Dashboard menu.

Ultra WordPress Admin Theme

With 30 built-in design elements, this theme is one of the best themes on the offer. It lets you personalize your login screen, add a custom logo or integrate a custom brand theme. Not to mention the fonts, colors, and layouts that can be changed. It also provides the functionality of importing all your settings to another site.  If you want to completely personalize and customize your dashboard, this is the theme for you.

Using Plugins to customize your dashboard

Plenty of plugins are available which you can use to customize your admin dashboard. We list down a few below which we liked the most:

White Label CMS

This plugin provides you 3 preset layouts: website, blog, and custom, allowing you to fully customize the look of your dashboard.  Customs logos and brand integration can also be achieved through this theme.

AG Custom Admin

This plugin allows you to customize WordPress login page, the admin menu, and the admin panel. You can customize these elements to your liking. It also allows you to change the background and admin colors.


This plugin helps you clean the clutter, allowing you to activate or deactivate every part of the menu or submenu, to administer meta fields and to minimize the back- end header. Compatible with Plugins for meta boxes it also supports custom post types.

Admin Columns

Not only allows you to organize and manage columns in posts, comments, and users but also customize the WordPress admin panel. It is also compatible with other major third-party plugins and custom columns.

Admin Management Xtended

This plugin adds AJAX driven options to your management pages, allowing you to change publication date and title, post/page visibility without reloading the page.

If you are wary of using themes and plugins to personalize your dashboard, you can use Screen Options. Once you login to the WordPress dashboard, at the top right of the screen, you will see a Screen Options drop-down menu. This can be used to activate and deactivate widgets. However, this does not work if you have a multi-author dashboard. Also, users can activate/reactivate the widgets at their will.


Creating a customized admin page not only helps in strengthening the brand image but also provides a personalized look and feel to the client. Why shy away from customizing your WordPress admin pages when there are so many options to choose from. Wow! Your client with these customizations, be it through the use of themes or plugins.

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Brandon Graves is a WordPress expert. He works at HireWPGeeks and he is involved in projects that require him to migrate websites to WordPress. He also provides WordPress tips for web design and development community. Follow him on Facebook to get more updates.

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