How to Declutter Your WordPress Administrator Interface

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Customizing your WordPress admin panel will not only make make things easier, it's also quite important to your site's security.

The WordPress admin interface is complex and jam-packed with exciting options, which is great for experienced users. However, most users usually find the admin interface intimidating and often confusing. In such a case, innocent exploration, or a stray click, could quite easily (and quickly) result in a defunct site.

Whether you’re a developer handing over a beautiful site to a client or an admin of a multi-user site, you need to customize and streamline the admin panel to protect the site and enhance the user experience.

This article is a guide to help you simplify and declutter the WordPress admin interface for your clients or site users, while retaining the powerful functionality it is known for.

Let’s get started!

Security Considerations

Pump the breaks. Let’s first address an important issue: security. We know, “boo hoo!” But it’s vital to start with customizations that reinforce the security of your site. Here are a few customizations to make and things to check:

  • Change the default “admin” username to something less identifiable
  • Change the login page URL from the default wp-login-php
  • Create complex passwords
  • Limit the number of login attempts in a given time period

A good security plugin such as iThemes Security can help you with each of the above.  These are just a few vital security considerations to keep in mind.

Back on topic, now let’s get started!

Assign Editor Roles

Editors should be able to edit anything concerning the content but shouldn't have acces to the settings of the site.

Editors should be able to edit anything concerning the content but shouldn’t have acces to the settings of the site.

The admin menu panel (on the left hand side of the screen) is usually quite cluttered – filled with plugin menus, tools and settings that are rarely used. So why not remove unnecessary menu items and reduce the chaos by assigning editor roles to anyone that doesn’t need full administrator access?

There are however some important tools and settings that would be hidden by assigning editor roles. For example, users may need to access certain settings, perhaps to a slider plugin, that affects content on the site. In those cases, you need to implement some code or use a role editor plugin to exclusively grant them access to that plugin.

Customize the Dashboard

The Dashboard is another messy area of the WordPress admin interface that could overwhelm even the most advanced users. Even the editor account can still have a cluttered dashboard view. So how can you reduce the noise?

Head to the Screen Options tab at the top of the admin page. There, you can enable and disable various content tools on every screen.

Add Guides or Manuals

Right next to the Screen Options tab is the Help section. The good news is that you can easily modify the Help section to provide custom guidelines that may help users perform necessary tasks and functions.

For example, you can add help text for custom post types and pages. You can do this by adding code or using a plugin (there are several that can help with this, but more on that later).

You should organize the guide in a way that would be most beneficial to all users. Perhaps review the frequently asked questions from users or clients and address those questions in the guide.

WP Admin UI Customize

By far the easiest and best method to simplify your admin interface is to use the “WP Admin UI Customize” plugin. It provides a wide array of essential actions and settings that are accessible through a highly visual interface. You do not need to use any code whatsoever.

Let’s go through some key steps to declutter and simply the interface with this plugin.

General Screen Settings

This is the place to disable notifications for non-admin users. WordPress automatically sends notifications to all users whenever there’s an update available (for WordPress, plugins and themes). Notifications for comments are also sent to users.

These notifications are quite unnecessary and can be confusing. The best thing to do is disable them for any user which is not an administrator.

Customize Dashboard

You can customize the Dashboard even further through the WP Admin UI Customize Dashboard. This custom dashboard is really an extension of the Screen Options. You should use it to disable redundant blocks from the Dashboard.

De-Clutter the Side Menu

We all know that plugin developers love the Side Menu panel. A number of plugins, such as our very own All in One SEO Pack, have custom menus featured in the Side Menu.

WP Admin UI Customize allows you to fully adjust the Sidebar to your own needs.

The WP Admin UI Customize plugin allows you to fully adjust the Sidebar to your own needs or those of your clients.

To be honest, it is convenient at times to have those custom menus. However, most of the time, it just muddles and confuses backend users. That is because most plugins do not have user access rights properly enabled; but yet they are often displayed to users who do not have access to them. It pointlessly contributes to the clutter in the admin interface.

The good news is that you can easily get rid of those plugins (from the side menu) by simply scrolling through a list and deleting the nonessentials.

Customize the Login Screen

It’s always nice to have a custom feel and experience, particularly within your admin interface. The WP Admin UI Customize plugin further facilitates that by enabling customization of your login screen.

You can customize and add various elements like your logo, colors, font, and more. Play around with it and make it your own.

Wrapping Up

The WordPress admin interface can be quite overwhelming for the average user. In addition, a single accidental click by an unaware user could shut down the site and result in a sometimes expensive restoration. Thus it is vital that you simplify the admin interface to limit its fragility.

You’ll be guaranteed a powerful site without the visible complexity that could ruin it all.

The items listed in this article are key steps to achieving that. But there are many additional things (code, various plugins, customized dashboard themes, etc.) that could be done to further simplify the backend.

What things have you done to simplify your interface and make it more user-friendly for your clients or users? Let us know in the comments!

Arnaud, a foodie from Bruges, Belgium, is the editor for the Semper Plugins blog. He also manages the translation teams for All in One SEO Pack (over 58 languages!).

One comment on “How to Declutter Your WordPress Administrator Interface
  1. Mario von Gollaz says:

    Wish everyone was so comprehensive as you guys!

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