Have you ever been frustrated by how ugly your WordPress admin looks? If you have, you're not alone. For years design conscious members of the WordPress community have complained about the bland design of the WordPress admin.
That's not to say of course that we don't like what it's capable of doing...but would it be a crime if it looked good while doing it too? As a design and art fanatic myself, the obvious answer is "No, not at all." In fact, a better looking admin encourages user activity and makes blogging (or anything else you might want to use WordPress for) more fun and appealing.
Which is why I was thrilled to test and review DP Dashboard by DevPress. It's a simple little plugin for the backend of your WordPress site. It comes with two "skins" and allows for custom CSS if you want to completely overhaul the look of your admin screen yourself. In the post below I'll show you how easy it is to install and configure, and of course what it looks like.
Download DP Dashboard »
Installing DP Dashboard
As usual, to install DP Dashboard (or any plugin) navigate to your WordPress Admin > Plugins > Add New > Upload and install the zipped folder you downloaded after making your purchase.
Configuring DP Dashboard
Once activated you will immediately notice the design of your WordPress Admin has changed. When I installed DP Dashboard it defaulted to Hunter, one of the two "skins" or "themes" that come with it. I wasn't a big fan of Hunter so I went to Settings > DP Dashboard and under Select Theme changed it from Hunter to Base.
As you can see, right above the Select Theme option there are two options: one for uploading a background image and one for uploading a banner image - which fits into the top lefthand corner of the Base theme.
If that's not enough customization for you then at the very bottom you are able to link to a custom CSS style sheet of your own. And at that point there's very few limits on what you can do to improve the design of your Admin.
And those are the settings. Pretty simple. Now lets take a closer look at the designs themselves.
DP Dashboard in Action
As I mentioned above, the default theme (for me) was set to Hunter. Honestly, I'm not even sure why DevPress has included this theme. In my opinion it's just plain ugly. It's not as useful as the regular WordPress admin and it's a far cry from their other theme Base, which is amazing and a huge design improvement. But for whatever reason, Hunter is included and this is what it looks like.
The Base theme on the other hand really took my breath away. It's a huge improvement over the standard WordPress Admin design and when I look at my dashboard widgets or compose a new post in Base I get excited and ready to create.
I love the banner image feature. Adding a small touch of branding to the backend makes the whole experience more personal and meaningful. And it's a great touch for others to see too when they're guest posting or contributing.
I also really enjoyed the thicker menu at the top. In fact you've probably noticed that everything is a bit bigger, menus and navigation included. A nice touch for both the backend and the frontend.
Additionally, the sidebars now drop down before you select them. This is nice because if you're fairly new to WordPress and you forget where something is you can open multiple sections without actually changing screens to get there. Notice how in the image below I'm still on my dashboard but I have my Post options in drop down mode.
Speaking of posts, lets check out the new and improved compose screen by clicking Add New. As you can see, all of my fields and functionality are the same. They just look a lot better.
For me DP Dashboard is a prime example of a simple plugin that makes a big impact. With a few clicks and a new image I've completely changed the look and feel of my boring old admin into something I'm excited to explore and create with. I highly recommend this plugin.
Download DP Dashboard »