The WordPress Dashboard is the homepage you see after you log into the WordPress admin for your website. To be honest, I almost never look at the WordPress Dashboard - either on our own Barn2 Media website, or our clients’ websites. It just isn’t very useful, either to WordPress designers or the average WordPress website owner!
I’m writing this article as a plea to the designers behind WordPress. I would like them to take a long, hard look at the Dashboard and redesign it to be much more relevant to the WordPress community.
How I would redesign the WordPress Dashboard
For a start, the WordPress Dashboard isn’t really a Dashboard at all!
A Dashboard is defined as “A panel under the windshield of a vehicle, containing indicator dials, compartments, and sometimes control instruments”. I would therefore expect the WordPress Dashboard to be similar to, say, the Google Analytics Dashboard which instantly tells me how my website is performing. The WordPress Dashboard is much less useful and contains lots of irrelevant information and clutter (which, thankfully, you can hide):
- Welcome to your new WordPress site - A splash page on first login would be more relevant than a permanent section on the Dashboard which you hide after you first login.
- Right Now - Statistics on the number of posts, pages, categories etc. on the website along with the total number of comments, number pending, etc. Most of this is information I would never want to know - who cares how many pages are on the site?! Anything I do want to know (i.e. the number of comments pending) can be emailed to the administrator automatically, so there’s no need to check the Dashboard.
- Recent comments - This is a bit more like it. There’s a growing argument for removing comments from the WordPress core now it’s so much more than a blogging platform and many websites don’t use comments. But while comments are still built-in, this is the sort of thing the Dashboard should contain.
- QuickPress - Allows you to add a post without having to go to the Add Post screen. This can be quite useful to some bloggers, but WordPress is more than just a blogging tool and this isn’t appropriate for most WordPress websites. I have nothing against having a WordPress plugin that allows people to add this feature, but it’s no longer appropriate for the WordPress core.
- Recent Drafts - Irrelevant to most people, and slightly patronising. How many people forget what posts they’re currently working on? In theory, this is a quick way for people to access work in progress but in practice I don’t believe it’s used much.
- Incoming Links - This would be quite useful if it actually showed all the incoming links from EXTERNAL sites. But it could be improved, for example by automatically displaying incoming links rather than having to be configured by entering an RSS feed URL - after all, WordPress isn’t just for bloggers and I want to know the links to my whole website and not just the blog. It also shows internal links, which is completely pointless and distracts me from the links I really want to know about.
- WordPress Blog/Other WordPress News - If I wanted to subscribe to the WordPress blog (which I do, as a WordPress designer) then I would do so, rather than accessing it through the Dashboard. A pointless example of self-promotion.
- Plugins - This shows the most popular and newest released WordPress plugins. Not particularly useful as there are currently over 15,000 plugins available and only a small proportion will be relevant to each WordPress website.
- Other - The Dashboard may also contain specific sections added by individual plugins. For example, the Broken Link Checker plugin https://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/broken-link-checker/ lists any broken links on the Dashboard. In most cases, these areas of the Dashboard are more to do with self-promotion on the part of the WordPress plugin developer than to benefit the website owner. For example, Broken Link Checker already emails the administrator about any broken links, so they don’t need to see it on the Dashboard.
So all in all, not very useful at the moment.
How I would redesign the WordPress Dashboard
I would redesign the WordPress Dashboard by adding a setting giving website owners two options. This would allow them to choose what they want to see when the log into their website’s WordPress admin:
Option 1 - A new, improved WordPress Dasboard
This would be a vastly simplified and revamped Dashboard containing relevant statistical information about the website at a glance. This would include any actions that are needed such as comments to approve, broken links to fix etc. in case this is useful for some people who don’t want everything emailed to them. It would also include a genuine incoming links feature and any updates that are available to WordPress, the theme and plugins, as it’s easy to miss these at the moment.
Option 2 - A brand new WordPress homepage
A homepage is different from a Dashboard in that it introduces people to a website rather than providing statistical information about it.
Although the WordPress admin is just for website administrators, a homepage would be useful - it could signpost you to key areas of the admin area as well as sources of support. For example, it could contain:
- Clear signposts to areas such as Pages, Posts, Widgets, etc. Ideally, you would be able to select which signposts appear based on which areas of the website you edit the most, with a unique homepage for each user.
- Clear signposts to sources of support such as the WordPress Codex. You could even add widgets linking directly to specific areas of the WordPress Codex, giving instant access to the sections you refer to most often.
As a WordPress designer, I would rather have this than a Dashboard and I think lots of website owners would agree.
So come on, let’s have a new improved Dashboard in the next WordPress update!