WordPress is fantastic. But it has a few shortfalls — especially with it’s back end UI. For one, you can’t personalize it without the use of an external plugin. Secondly, the UI centers itself around the WordPress.org website, which can become a bit of a drag if you develop WordPress websites for clients.

Consequently, you might be getting a little frustrated with the unremarkable WordPress admin UI. So follow our tutorial below on how to create a WordPress custom dashboard.

Create a WordPress Custom Dashboard

NOTE: We’re going to be customizing with the use of this plugin, so don’t worry if you’re not a coder (I’m not one either). If you can click a mouse and type on a keyboard, you can customize your WP admin.

Installing & Activating WP Admin UI Customize

WP Admin UI Customize is the most popular back end customization plugin, thanks to its intuitive UI and straightforward directions.

Download and install the plugin.

After installing the plugin, click on the new tab WP Admin UI Customize on your side menu and select whichever user role you want to customize first — you can tailor separate UIs for separates user roles.

Changing the Admin Bar

The grey strip that runs across the top of your site whenever you’re logged in is the admin bar. To change the settings, go to WP Admin UI Customize > Admin Bar Menu.

Here, you can see a display of all the items that currently figure on the left and right sides of the bar. You can remove any of these, shift them from one side to the other, or change the name of each item.

For example, in the screenshot below, I changed the default “Howdy, Jonathan John [user_avatar]” to “Hello there, Jonathan John”, without the avatar.

Additionally, you can add numerous other items to the bar, such as a link to WordPress.org documentation, support forums, and more. You can even create submenus and group menu items together in a dropdown.

And if you detest seeing the admin bar while viewing your front end and you just want to get rid of it, you can do that too by navigating to WP Admin UI Customize > Site Settings, scrolling down to the bottom of the page, and selecting Hide the Admin bar on the front end. 

Customizing General Settings

Navigate to WP Admin UI Customize > General Screen Settings. Here, you can select the update notifications the user role receives. If you wish, all core, plugin, and theme update notifications can be turned off.

You can also remove the Screen Options and Help tabs that you normally see on each screen.

WordPress sets the default footer text at the bottom of each back end page to “Thank you for creating with WordPress.”

However, if you’d rather be constantly reminded of what an awesome penguin you are, that’s possible too.

This is what my new footer looks like.

You also get options to load a custom CSS file, remove “WordPress” from the title tag of the admin screen, or resize the admin bar.

Customizing Your Dashboard

The main WP dashboard at yoursite.com/wp-admin/index.php is pretty much useless. Few people ever need to see WordPress News or Activity, nor do many use the create a Quick Draft feature.

Each meta box currently displayed can be hidden from the dashboard. Head over to WP Admin UI Customize > Dashboard and check the Hide box to remove a box from the dashboard. Additionally, you can change the title of each box.

You can even turn off meta box movement, locking each box into its place.

Side Menu

I believe the WordPress side menu is one of the most useful parts of the back end — it makes life easy for a blogger. I love having a “launch pad” that will get me to where I want to go in the back end with no more than one click.

To add/remove items to your side menu, go to WP Admin UI Customize > Side Menu. You’ll have a view of the items on your current menu, and the new items you can add.

You can change the order of submenus too. Your widgets page (normally WP Admin > Appearance > Widgets) could be sent to the front of the menu to become WP Admin > Widgets.

Determine what the most useful side menu links would be for your website, and customize.

Meta Boxes

On the WP Admin UI Customize > Manage meta box page, you can hide specific meta boxes on the new post/page screen, like categories, tags, excerpts, custom fields, comments, and more. You can also change the heading for each meta box.

Add New Post/Page

At WP Admin UI Customize > Add New Post and Edit Post Screen Options you can choose to hide/display the Change Permalinks button on the post/page editing screen (only if you use default permalinks). Additionally, you can choose to allow or disallow comments on your website.

Navigational Menus

WP Admin UI Customize > Appearance Menu Screen Settings allows you to customize your Appearance > Menus screen. You can add new buttons that shorten the steps involved in creating a new menu, or you can even hide the Delete Menu button. Mostly, you’ll only want to use the latter option when controlling menu editing permissions for a less-than-administrator user role.

Login Screen

Tired of seeing the default WordPress logo on your login screen? Change it!

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Head to WP Admin UI Customize > Login Screen and customize away. You can change the default WordPress logo to your own custom one, change the logo’s external link, add special footer text, or load a specific CSS file.

Here’s what my default login screen looked like, versus my current one (needless to say, I’ll be removing all penguins after completing the tutorial 😉 ).

Change Plugin Capabilities

Lastly, you can change the usage capabilities of this plugin for each specific user role by navigating to WP Admin UI Customize > Change of Plugin Capabilities and selecting the user role. By default, the plugin is set to be viewed only by administrators.

Wrapping Up

Finally, if you ever want to revert the customizations you made, just go to WP Admin UI Customize > Reset User Roles and hitting Reset Settings.

I won’t be going anywhere near that reset button though — I love my new tailored UI.

Was this tutorial on creating a WordPress custom dashboard helpful? If so, let us know below in the comments!