Customize WordPress Admin to prevent dashboard overload

Happy Clients = Happy Designers

If you were to make a top-five list of the reasons you use WordPress® to build websites, I’ll bet it would look something like this:

  1. Easy to set up and customize.
  2. Oodles of themes and plugins.
  3. Clients can edit their Web pages.
  4. Clients can edit their Web pages.
  5. Clients can edit their Web pages.

Clients don’t need to know HTML

Am I right? Not long ago, the Web was made of flat-file HTML websites and homegrown CMS applications. If a dentist wanted to update the call-to-action on her home page herself, she would have to find a crash course in HTML, warm up to a plain text editor, and ask her cousin to explain FTP. O’Reilly books have some pretty cute critters on the cover but most dentists are interested in making beautiful smiles, not beautiful websites.

WordPress can still be overwhelming

Enter WordPress. Now we can build a beautiful website and hand over the content to our clients. Sort of. I know some of you cringe when I say that. Not that you don’t trust your clients; they know a lot more about teeth than you do. It’s just that WordPress can be a little overwhelming to the uninitiated. Our clients need something a tad more straightforward. When they log in to wp-admin, they don’t need to know what plugins are installed, if your installation is up-to-date, and what the latest WordPress news is. They need to know how to update the content on their website.

Customize WordPress to work for your client

You’re in luck. Making a custom WordPress installation for your client is just as easy as installing a theme and editing your WordPress preferences. As a bonus, you can create a branded CMS site that feels like their business. Happy clients, we all know, are the best kind of clients.

Michelle over at Mommy Misadventures has a great tutorial that walks you through it and helps you lessen “dashboard overload” when your clients log in for the first time. From Michelle:

“Branding your WordPress installation helps give your clients an immediate sense of ownership by putting up their logos in key areas. Furthermore, you can help lessen Dashboard overload by only showing them the essential menu items, and hiding potentially damaging options. This not only eases your clients into using WordPress more confidently, but helps to protect your hard work at the same time.”

Follow her instructions and you’ll have a custom login, logos, footer, dashboard, and menus in no time.


So, the next time you hand a WordPress site over to a client, you won’t have to say:

“Yeah, this is the dashboard. Ignore all this stuff.”

Instead, you might try this phrase on for size:

“As soon as you log in, you’ll see everything you need.”

I know, I know, that’s almost as beautiful a sound as waves on a private Caribbean beach. You’re welcome.

For more great tips, check out the GoDaddy Tool Kit on BlogHer.

Shawn Pfunder
Shawn's been working with freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners for more than 20 years. He's consulted companies large and small on communication, social media, and marketing strategies. At heart he's a small-business superfan. He believes that working for yourself is one of the most courageous and creative moves anyone can make. Currently, he's the Editor in Chief for The Garage. When he's not hanging out with solopreneurs, Shawn loves to write, run, and travel. He's passionate about teaching and he's convinced that a good story is the best way to do it — especially if it involves El Caminos, potato fields, and really loud music.