How to customize WP admin in 5 easy steps

How to customize WP admin in 5 easy steps

One thing that WordPress users most appreciate about the platform is its flexibility. Pretty much anything on a website built with it can be customized: Page templates, custom post types, widget areas, you name it.Learn now How to customize WP admin.

Yet, one area that is often still treated like it’s set in stone is the backend. Most of the time we concentrate on changing things in the front of the site but take the WordPress admin area for granted as it is (or as themes and plugins make it).

However, the ability to change doesn’t stop there. WordPress wouldn’t be WordPress if you couldn’t also customize the WordPress admin panel to your liking and that’s exactly what we will look into in this article.

We will have a look at the reasons to customize the WordPress admin area, how to introduce changes to it manually, and a number of plugins that also get the job done.

Sound good? Then let’s get cracking.

How to Customize WP Admin Manually

Now that we know the reasons to modify the WordPress admin panel in the first place, let’s see what we can do in this regard manually.

Customize the Login Page

Usually, the client journey begins before they come to the dashboard, at the login page. For that reason, it’s only good and proper to start our customization here

For example, if you would like to change the WordPress logo on the standard login page to something else, you can do so with the following piece of code:

function my_login_logo() { ?>
    

 

Simple, right? The best thing: Screen options are saved on a user basis so you can customize screens for each person on your site.

Add Custom Widgets to the WordPress Dashboard

Talking about screen options and hiding widgets, how about doing the opposite? With this handy piece of code, you can add custom widgets to the dashboard that contain any content you want (thanks to WPExplorer!):

function add_custom_dashboard_widgets() {

	    wp_add_dashboard_widget(
	                 'wpexplorer_dashboard_widget', // Widget slug.
	                 'My Custom Dashboard Widget', // Title.
	                 'custom_dashboard_widget_content' // Display function.
	        );
	}

	add_action( 'wp_dashboard_setup', 'add_custom_dashboard_widgets' );

	/**
	 * Create the function to output the contents of your Dashboard Widget.
	 */

	function custom_dashboard_widget_content() {
	    // Display whatever it is you want to show.
	    echo "Hello there, I'm a Dashboard Widget. Edit me!";
	}

Simply change the end where is says “Hello there, I’m a Dashboard Widget. Edit me!” to whatever you need to make your widget appear.

For example, you can add a custom welcome message for your client with links to documentation and more. Beginners tend to forget or get confused about what to do where in the backend.

For those cases, it’s a good idea to provide some additional information like so:

function custom_dashboard_widget_content() {
     echo "Hello Client XYZ, please remember to stay away from the plugins menu.If you have any need of assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us under:
    •    
    • http://yourwebsite.com

   

    • 1-800-YOURDEVELOPER

 

“; }

Here is the result:

create custom dashboard widgetYou can even go a step further and add your own help tabs to pages for more exhaustive information:

function setup_help_tab() {
 
$screen = get_current_screen();
 
if ( 'post' == $screen->post_type ) {
 
get_current_screen()->add_help_tab( array(
'id' => 'post',
'title' => ( 'How to Publish a Blog Post' ),
'content' => 'To publish a blog post, please follow the steps below.
    • Locate big, blue Publish button.

 

    • Click it.

 

    • Well done.

 

‘, ) ); } } add_action( ‘admin_head’, ‘setup_help_tab’ );

The example above will add the information to the Help button they can find on almost any screen.

create WordPress help section

Disable Theme and Plugin Editor

The built-in editor inside the WordPress backend can be quite useful. Editing theme files without dialing up to your server — what’s not to like?

However, the same feature also poses a security risk. Anyone who has access to it (both legitimately and illegitimately) can bring your website down without any problem.

Plus, chances are high that you make edits to theme and plugin files via FTP or on a staging area anyway and thus don’t need the editor to begin with. For that reason disabling it is an overall good idea.

Luckily, that’s quite easy to do. All it takes is adding one line to your wp-config.php file:

define( 'DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true );

After that, the theme and plugin editor is a thing of history.

Edit the Dashboard Footer

Of course, after creating a custom admin dashboard, it’s only good and proper that you take credit for it. You can do so by changing the message in the WordPress footer, where it usually says “thank you for creating with WordPress”.

wordpress change dashboard footer

This is a prime location to link back to your own website or remind clients of who built their site for them. The following code allows you to insert whatever you want:

function change_admin_footer(){
	 echo 'From your friends at Acme Webdesign.';
	}
add_filter('admin_footer_text', 'change_admin_footer');

Just add it to functions.php, customize to your needs, save and you are good to go.

Plugins for Customizing the WordPress Admin Area

The code examples above enable you to make changes to the WordPress backend by hand and there are more possibilities out there. However, for more extensive customizations taking the plugin route can be the easier solution and we will look at a few of them now.

Custom Login Page Customizer

Custom Login Page Customizer

Above, we already talked about how to customize the WordPress login page. This can be done via code but also with this plugin.

What makes this solution special is that it works within the WordPress customizer. That way, you are able to change the login page’s logo, colors, background, buttons, and much more while seeing a real-time preview.

Make changes until you are satisfied and then simply click one button to make it go live. Easy peasy.

Admin Menu Editor

Admin Menu Editor

As the name suggests, this next plugin allows you to modify the WordPress menu. You can customize and reorganize admin area menus via drag and drop, rename them and other things.

Admin Menu Customizer even lets you create new menu items that link to any page you want (including external links) and even disable menu items that have been forced upon you by other plugins.

WP Admin UI Customize

WP Admin UI Customize

Our next contender can control a lot of different aspects of the WordPress admin and it does so in style. With its visual interface, users can move around items in the WordPress admin menu and build a custom menu in a widget-like manner.

You may also eliminate blocks from the dashboard entirely (not just switch them off via the screen options) and even customize the login screen if needed.

The best part: Changes be made according to the user role. So, if you want to switch off update notifications just for your editors, you can do so without a problem.

White Label CMS

White Label CMS

White Label CMS is another free and popular plugin to customize the WordPress backend. It offers customizations in the areas branding, dashboard panels, admin settings, and menus.

The plugin allows you to change logos, add custom CSS and control the visibility of dashboard panels. It can also create custom widgets, hide screen options, meta boxes and more. Plus, you can change menu items for editor user roles.

WP Help

WP Help

Above, we showed how to add extra information to the WordPress backend. This plugin lets you do a similar thing, which creates detailed documentation for your site and make it available in the menu bar.

That way, you can create a knowledge base to answer the questions of your clients and allow them to help themselves rather than getting in touch with you. The plugin itself is a little dated but still worth looking into.

Tabify Edit Screen

Tabify Edit Screen

We already learned how to disable metaboxes and other screen elements by using the screen options. However, what about the ones that are left over? They can still make the screen look pretty cluttered.

To further clean up your backend, this plugin orders items on the admin dashboard on top of one another in the form of tabs rather than next to each other. Talk about a space saver!

Plus, Tabify works with drag and drop and can create different custom layouts for different pages, posts and other types of content.

WordPress Dashboard Themes

WordPress dashboard themes are a bit of a hybrid between themes and plugins that have been getting somewhat more popular lately.

They basically do the same thing in the backend that normal themes do to the front of your site — change the design and functionality. That way you can overhaul the WordPress dashboard with little effort. WPMU DEV have put together an extensive list of dashboard themes on their blog.

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