customize WordPress admin

The WordPress admin interface…it’s where you write your fantastic blog posts, beautify your site, and so much more. It’s your home for anything and everything “WordPress”. But just like your real home, it’s not really yours until you move in, rearrange the furniture, and put up some pictures. Hence the need to customize WordPress admin interface.

That’s what this post is all about. Making wp-admin your own. Turning it from a generic fresh WordPress install into the exact setup to help you, your clients, or your members get the most out of WordPress.

I’ll show you how to:

  • Customize the wp-admin login page
  • Simplify your wp-admin using Screen Options
  • Customize wp-admin menus and other details
  • Completely change your wp-admin design

Why Customize WordPress Admin?

There are three main reasons to customize WordPress admin interface, though they won’t all apply to your site:

  • You’re the only person with access to your admin panel and you just want to change its appearance or functionality.
  • You run a membership site, BuddyPress, or other type of site where users are regularly logging into WordPress.
  • You’re a WordPress designer who wants to provide a client-friendly admin section.

Create a Unique WordPress Login Page

The login page is the gate to your wp-admin section. And it’s also generic and boring by default:

Customize WordPress admin - login page first

Every default login page has the same logo, the same design, the same links. That’s pretty boring. And it’s the complete opposite of brandable.

You can fix this by installing the ThemeIsle Custom Login Customizer. It’s the most user-friendly way to customize your login page because it uses the native WordPress Customizer. That means you can preview all the changes you make in real time. No guessing what your login page will look like!

All you need to do is install the plugin and then navigate to Appearance → Login Customizer. Then click Start Customizing!

custom-login1

In the real-time editing screen, you can customize WordPress admin by adjusting:

  • Logo
  • Background of the login page
  • Form styling, e.g. dimensions and borders
  • Field styling, e.g. width and color
  • Button styling, e.g. color
  • General text colors

custom-login2

Once you’re happy with how everything looks, just click Save & Publish to finish.

Declutter Your Admin Interface with “Screen Options”

When’s the last time you read the WordPress News section on your dashboard? Probably sometime between “never” and “There’s a WordPress News section!?” It takes up space without really offering anything of value.

Thankfully, it’s easy to pick and choose which boxes display inside your wp-admin. All these options are available after clicking the not-very-well-known Screen Options button:

custom-dashboard

Just give the button a click. Then, you can pick and choose which widgets you want. Just uncheck the boxes you don’t want:

custom-dashboard1

You can do this for most pages in your wp-admin. For example, if you wanted to edit what information appears when you create a new post, you can repeat the same process on that page:

custom-dashboard2

Browse through all your admin pages and be amazed at how much you can declutter your wp-admin!

Change Menus and Customize in Detail

If you want to customize WordPress admin beyond what’s available in the Screen Options tab, you’ll need to turn to another plugin. This time, you’ll use one called WP Admin UI Customize:

After you install the plugin, the first thing you’ll need to do is select which user roles you want to customize for. If you’re editing for your own use, you’ll want to make sure to select the Administrator role. If you’re editing for others, make sure to select the appropriate user roles:

admin-ui-customize

Then, you can customize nearly everything about your admin panel. Covering every option would require a whole post of its own, so I’ll just hit the highlights:

1. Change the wp-admin Sidebar

If you’ve installed a lot of plugins, your wp-admin sidebar menu might be getting a little cluttered. You can organize everything by going to the Sidebar option. You can then edit your internal menu using the same interface you use to create custom front-end menus:

admin-ui-customize3

Just drag and drop everything where you want it. You can also edit sub-menus by clicking the expand arrow, which gives you powerful control over how everything works:

admin-ui-customize4

2. Change the Floating Admin Bar

You can also use the plugin to similarly customize the floating admin bar that appears when users are logged in. Just navigate to the Admin bar section and you can drag and drop using the same interface. The only difference is that the admin bar is divided into two sections: left and right.

admin-ui-customize5

Totally Change the Design with Admin Themes

Ok, I’ve covered all these tweaks you can make to functionality inside wp-admin. But what if you really want to totally change how things look? Say you hate looking at the drab WordPress design and want something with a little more oomph. Or maybe you prefer a lighter interface. Whatever your motivation, you can make major aesthetic changes to your wp-admin section using admin themes.

You’re probably familiar with how themes affect your frontend site. The same concept applies to your admin section. While these admin themes are technically plugins, they’ll redesign your admin section and add functionality just like a theme.

Here are some of the best options:

1. Slate Admin Theme

This free admin theme plugin provides a darker admin interface that’s much easier on the eyes. Beyond some minor reorganization, don’t expect any added functionality. This one is all about aesthetics:

slate-admin-theme

All you need to do is install the plugin and activate it to see the changes.

2. Fancy Admin UI

If the dark interface of Slate isn’t quite your speed, you can go lighter with the free Fancy Admin UI. Whereas Slate went black, Fancy Admin UI goes blue. It has a light, airy feel to it that I’m a big fan of:

fancy-admin-ui

Again, no settings or details to customize. Just install the theme, activate, and ogle your new wp-admin design.

3. First WordPress Admin Theme

If you’re willing to go premium, First WordPress Admin Theme provides the most beautiful design of the bunch. In addition to re-skinning the wp-admin, it will also give you loads of customization options.

Most of these options overlap with the WP Admin UI Customize plugin I discussed earlier, though. So don’t feel like you need to purchase this plugin just for those functionality add-ons.

After installing the plugin, here’s what you’ll be looking at every time you log in:

first-wp-admin-theme

First WordPress Admin Theme costs $15.

Wrapping things up on how to customize WordPress admin

We’ve covered a lot today! You learned how to customize every aspect of your wp-admin experience. From logging in, to decluttering, to changing functionality, and even fully changing the design.

Now it’s time to put these concepts into action, go customize WordPress admin, and give yourself the perfect wp-admin section!

Is there anything you need help with? Feel free to speak up in the comments!

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About the author: Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing, WordPress, and B2B topics. You can find him at www.cnewcomer.com.