8 Quick Ways to Improve the UX of the WordPress Dashboard

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WordPress has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2003. Its functionality and design has evolved from a very simple user interface to a more complex one, especially with regard to the dashboard. But is more complex necessarily better?

If you’ve been using WordPress for a while, it’s likely you know the dashboard like the back of your hand, and you probably know that most of the boxes on the screen can be turned off via the Screen Options tab.

But for a novice user, navigating the WordPress dashboard can seem a little overwhelming. Let’s be honest here, there is an awful lot going on – from a plethora of menu options to a variety of meta boxes. And it gets more complicated if you introduce custom post types and install plugins that either have their own menu in the sidebar or list it as a sub-item under Settings or Tools.

While WordPress is a great way to create beautiful websites even if you have no design/coding knowledge, it can also alienate beginner users rather quickly with its dashboard.

If you develop websites for a living you know how important customer satisfaction is. Using WordPress as a solution can be a double-edged sword in this case. On one hand, it’s easy for your clients to update their own website – whether they publish new posts or add more images to their gallery. On the other hand, the dashboard can lead to a lot of unnecessary problems with its complexity.

The problem with most clients is that they are not always WordPress savvy, especially if it’s the first time they’ve become a website owner. It’s not unusual for them to struggle with even the simple tasks like publishing a new post, adding new images, or differentiating between posts and pages.

While the obvious solution would be for them to learn the ins and outs of the WordPress dashboard, most of them don’t have the time nor the desire to do so. So what’s the solution? How do you improve the user experience for your clients?

In this article, we’ll discuss what good UX is and change you can make to improve the UX of the WordPress admin.

What is Good UX Anyway?

UX by definition involves a person’s behaviors, attitudes, and emotions when using a particular product. It’s about their emotional experience as a user.

When it comes to websites, a good UX means the website is easy to use, valuable, and effective for both visitors and owners.

If we apply this to the WordPress dashboard, it means that your client should not log into the backend of their website for the very first time and wonder what the heck is going on.

In fact, once your client logs in, the dashboard should delight them, rather than leave them confused. They should be able to quickly find what they need and be able to perform desired actions without having to look up tutorials or email you in a panic asking you to come to their rescue.

There are many things you can do to help your clients when it comes to WordPress. Some of those things include individual consultation, training sessions, written or video tutorials, and other forms of education. Ultimately, it is up to you to do what you can do provide top notch service and leave your clients feeling happy and taken care of.

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Simplifying the WordPress Dashboard

1. Limit Access

In most cases, very few clients will know how to take advantage of a WordPress administrator account. Since you just built a website for them, chances are they won’t go hunting for new themes or look for new plugins on their own.

Limiting their access can make a huge difference. Not only will they see fewer menus, there are also fewer chances of them inadvertently editing the theme files and making a mistake that can cause the infamous WordPress white screen of death.

You can easily rectify this by giving your clients an Editor account, which enables them to do most things new WordPress users want to do anyway – easily add new posts, custom post types, and upload new images – without getting bogged down by extra options.

Here are some more tutorials on our blog to help you limit access to the dashboard:

2. Adjust the Screen Options

By default, there is a lot going on in the Dashboard screen, even with an Editor account. There are blocks such as At a Glance, Welcome, Activity, Quick Draft, and a number of others, depending on the number of activated plugins.

While blocks such as At a Glance or Activity can be useful, most other blocks are just a waste of space. Even though the Welcome block has a few useful links to help new users get started with WordPress, most of them don’t have the desire to learn how to use the website anyway. Most of them just want the website to work.

The easiest way to prevent user overwhelm is to adjust the most important screen options for them.

Consider:

  • Removing all the elements from the main Dashboard screen that aren’t important to the client such as WordPress News, Quick Draft, as well as most plugin-related blocks.
  • In the Posts and Pages sections, remove columns like Author and Comments.
  • On the individual Post and Page editing screens, remove Revisions, Send Trackbacks, Custom Fields, Slug, and Author.

3. Separate Contents Using Custom Post Types

If your client has a specific type of content in mind, such as real-estate listings or audio tracks, you should be taking advantage of Custom Post Types instead of relying on default post types. Not only will this make more sense for your client, it will also make it easier for them to add new content to their website. If you pair custom post types with taxonomy, they can then further categorize the content easily.

Don’t forget to add custom icons to each custom post type to help your clients distinguish them quickly.

4. Organize Data Details Using Custom Fields

If you are dealing with custom post types, chances are each new entry has a specific set of information that goes with it. While you can enter that information into the default editor and let your clients play with formatting to display the information in a structured way, why not make their life easier by taking advantage of custom fields?

By doing this, you remove the headache of your clients having to pay attention to proper formatting as well as memorizing the proper order of the posted information. All they need to do is fill out the desired information and publish the post.

5. Add Meaningful Descriptions

Instead of simply naming the fields or menu items, add descriptions that clearly explain what they do. Your clients will be happy that they don’t have to guess the purpose of each field.

6. Customize the Admin Bar

The admin bar is an easy way to get back to your dashboard if your clients are viewing their website on the front end. However, in the backend, it is somewhat redundant as it duplicates items like adding a new post, accessing their user profile, or plugin menus.

Consider removing unnecessary items such as new posts, media or pages, comments and updates, and anything else that won’t be important to your clients.

Check out these posts for more on how to customize the admin toolbar:

7. Remove WordPress Branding

Adding your clients’ branding instead of WordPress branding is one extra step you can take to make sure your clients are completely satisfied with their website. This can include changing the login screen and replacing the WordPress logo with their own, removing Howdy from the admin bar and replacing it with a custom message, as well as replacing the dashboard footer links with either your clients’ brand name or your own.

8. Add a Custom Welcome message

Another great idea is to add a custom welcome message or a widget to the admin dashboard that your clients will see after logging in. This custom message can include your contact details so your clients can easily get in touch with you if they need your help with future projects or small updates that are beyond their technical skills.

Ultimate Branding

Above are a number of different tweaks you can do to improve the UX of WordPress dashboard. Some of the tweaks are easy and some require modifying and writing custom code. As busy as developers can be, this may not always be the ideal situation. This is why we’ve created a unique way for you to be able to simplify your client’s dashboard experience. Our Ultimate Branding plugin has plenty of options which will make it easy for you to customize the WordPress dashboard for your clients – from a custom login screen down to custom color schemes.

Display your colors, logo, company name and brand messaging across your entire site with Ultimate Branding.
Display your colors, logo, company name and brand messaging across your entire site with Ultimate Branding.

With Ultimate Branding, you can completely white label WordPress by using your own CSS to customize the Login and Admin experience as well as remove the permalinks menu if you choose.

Ultimate Branding  is the perfect solution for customizing and improving the UX of the WordPress dashboard because it has everything you need for white labeling in one package. This means you don’t have to rely on a variety of different plugins.

Conclusion

There are many reasons to consider improving the UX of the WordPress admin area and dashboard. The main reason is, of course, making WordPress easy to use for the less tech savvy users. There are also plenty of ways to customize the dashboard and remove the user overwhelm. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use our Ultimate Branding plugin which has more than enough options to completely improve your clients’ user experience, but you can accomplish these changes manually if you want, too. It’s up to you!

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