Hosting Tutorial & Guide

9 Tips to Customize and Improve WordPress Admin Area

updated on Dec 15, 2015
9 Tips to Customize and Improve WordPress Admin Area The default WordPress admin area now looks modern and feature rich. However, it cannot meet every user's specific needs, so many people choose to further customize and improve the interface in the way they like.

As WordPress comes with great flexibility, the customization possibilities are endless. For example, you can change the color scheme, edit the items in the admin menu, add links in the toolbar, change the footer, use your custom branding, and so on.

If you are starting a self-hosted blog and looking for a way to customize the admin area to make it friendlier, this post is for you. In below, we are going to discuss the easy approaches to make some common while helpful customizations.

Tip 1: Customize the Appearance of WordPress Admin Area

You may have already been tired of the default look and feel of your admin dashboard. Fortunately, there are numerous choices available for changing the color scheme or even the entire appearance of the admin area. Depending on what you want, you can pick a solution from the following options.

Use the pre-made color schemes

WordPress is built with 8 pre-made color schemes, and you can select any one of them by going to "Users" > "Your Profile". A live preview is displayed as soon as you click on a color scheme.

Use Pre-Made Color Schemes

Create custom color schemes

If you don't like the built-in color schemes, you can also make your own color scheme easily without touching any code. At this time, you will need a plugin named Admin Color Schemer which enables you to select the color of almost everything in the admin area, such as the button, text, body background, link, menu background, and bubble text. After activating the plugin, just go to "Tools > "Admin Colors" to select the colors you like.

Create Custom Color Schemes

Use free admin plugins and themes

For the former two methods, only the color is changed. But if you need to fully customize the appearance and change things like height, width and padding, you can try an admin theme or plugin. This kind of themes and plugins can be easily found once you have a search on Google or in WordPress forums.

Use Admin Themes

Tip 2: Hide Items from the Admin Menu

The default admin menu comes with a large number of options some of which are unnecessary. If you run a multi-author blog, you may hide some items from certain users to limit the access.

A good solution for this is the Adminimize plugin. This plugin allows you to deactivate admin options based on user role so you can completely decide who can see what in the admin area. The available options cover the admin bar, dashboard, menu, post writing, page writing, widgets, navigation menu, export and import, etc.

Hide Items from the Admin Menu

Tip 3: Limit Access to the Admin Area

By default, WordPress allows all users to access your site's admin area. If you do not like this and want to remove the capability from some users who actually do not need it, you can install a plugin named Remove Dashboard Access. By configuring this plugin in "Settings" > "Dashboard Access", you can:
  • Decide which user roles can access the dashboard.
  • Limit user access based on capability.
  • Redirect the disallowed users to any page on your site.
Limit Access to Admin Area

Tip 4: Add Login Redirects for Non-Admin Users

Login redirects can also be regarded as a way to restrict the dashboard access, but still, we want to discuss them in detail because they are helpful and commonly used. With a simple plugin, you can redirect the logged-in users to specific pages based on user role, username, and more.

A good plugin in this kind is Peter's Login Redirect which allows you to set up login and logout redirects by:
  • Username. You can select one or several usernames from the dropdown.
  • User role. You can redirect editors and admins to WordPress dashboard and the subscribers to another custom page.
  • Capability. This is more than useful when you have assigned user roles with custom capabilities.
The redirect rules can be edited in "Settings" > "Login/logout redirects".

Add Login Redirects

Tip 5: Add Links in WordPress Toolbar

WordPress toolbar, which is also called the admin bar, is located on the top of the admin area with some shortcut links to several admin functionalities. You can customize it as you like and add custom links to make your management experience easier.

To do this, you'll need to add the following code snippet in the functions.php file, which is not hard indeed. Remember to replace the custom values like id, title, link and meta items with your own ones.

Add Link in WordPress Toolbar

Tip 6: Change the Footer of WordPress Admin Area

The default footer is boring, showing a line of valueless words, the current WordPress version number and a link to If you want to make full use of the space to show your custom branding, it's OK, and this can be achieved easily with a small trick.

Just insert the code below into the functions.php file to show your own links and words in the footer area. You can add anything you like.

Change the Footer

Tip 7: Add a Featured Image Column to Posts

A good feature of WordPress is that you are able to add well-made featured images in an easy way. However, when looking at the list of posts, you cannot see which ones are lacking a featured image unless you view the post on the frontend or enter the editing screen of each individual post.

If you are uncertain whether some posts are missing the featured image, you can install a plugin named Featured Image Column. After the plugin is activated, a new column of featured image is added on the posts screen so you can find out which posts are without a featured image quickly. Such a feature is especially helpful when you want to add thumbnails to those old posts which do not include one.

Add Featured Image Column

Tip 8: Add a Resource Section

If you run a blog with multiple users, it is possible that there are same questions frequently asked by different users, which is frustrating. Considering this problem, it is good to create a resource section in the admin area so users can learn the answers to their questions easily without contacting you.

Also, for a multi-author blog, you can state your requirements on post formatting, image optimization and any other thing in the resource section so that new authors will find it easy to get started.

To add such a section in the admin area, an easy approach is to use the WP Help plugin. This plugin adds a "Publishing Help" menu item in the admin menu, in which you can add new documentation, manage the articles and customize some settings. Adding new help documents uses a custom post type, so it is as simple as creating a regular blog post.

The resource section created in this way is only visible in WordPress admin area and it can only be viewed by users with the capability to create posts. Subscribers will not be able to read the documents.

Add a Resource Section

If you want to add a resource section on the frontend of your site to allow readers know more about you, creating a FAQs page is a good idea. For the detailed steps for doing this, read this tutorial.

Tip 9: Add a Notification Center

Too many notifications from plugins and themes are annoying especially for those users who cannot take actions to dismiss them. Thankfully, you can add a notification center in the admin area with WP Notification Center to guarantee a friendly experience.

With this plugin, notifications do not appear one by one on the admin screen and instead, they are put in a menu in the toolbar and implied by a number. When your mouse hovers over the menu, the notifications will show in a list. There are no plugin settings that need to deal with. All you need to do is to activate the plugin.

Note that you cannot dismiss the notifications in the notification center. They will disappear only when the required action included in the notice is taken.

Add a Notification Center