/ WordPress

Spend less time searching the WordPress Dashboard Menu

"Where is that button?"

That is what I most often think when looking at the WordPress dashboard menu and an experience I want to minimize for clients I'm handing a site off to. Because of that, I usually make a few changes so it will be more natural for them to scan and find what they need.

The default menu has a lot of items and the order isn't obvious to someone new to WordPress, especially if you start adding custom post types.

I think of the menu items as separated into 5 different groups, so I order them into these groups, and then put a separator between each group.

  • Admin home - Dashboard
  • Edit content - Post types & pages. 'Posts' I rename to the more specific 'Blog Posts'
  • Community - Areas where you will interact with site visitors. Contact form, email contacts, etc.
  • Settings - This includes appearance and tools
  • Plugins - Plugins are big offenders of making the admin menu more confusing. There isn't any consistency to where they get added. They might show up before, after, or in Settings; so putting them together is helpful.

Making the changes: There are two different ways you can move items around in the menu, code them directly or use the excellent Admin Menu Editor plugin.

Separator Styling

Now that we have the menu items grouped into a logical order we need to make it more visually obvious they are in a group. The default separator styling just makes a slightly larger vertical space with no color difference. It's so minimal new users can be forgiven for not noticing it.

I like to simply make it a grey background just like the main dashboard background color. This one change makes it much more obvious there is a separator.

#adminmenu li.wp-menu-separator {
  background-color: #f1f1f1;

Limit access by role

Authors and Editors see a lot of menu items they don't really need. An easy way to make the menu easier to sift through is just to remove items that an Author or Editor won't need. Ones I remove are:

  • Appearance
  • Tools (I actually remove this for everyone)
  • Plugins
  • Any installed plugin that an Author or Editor doesn't need

With these minimal changes you can make it easier for users to find what they need and shorten the on-boarding time for new users.