Raise your hand if you can tell me the next upcoming event in the WordPress Events and News dashboard widget…
That’s what I thought.
While I’m sure there are some people who appreciate it, and other dashboard widgets, I’m not one of them, nor are a bunch of other people if I had to make a guess.
In fact, I pretty much never go to the Dashboard tab of my WordPress admin area - and, again, I’m guessing I’m not alone in that either.
Ultimate Dashboard tries to change that by giving you the power to customize the WordPress dashboard and make it a little more helpful.
Whether you’re building sites for clients and want to provide a more user friendly experience for them or you just want to redecorate things at your own dashboard area, check out my Ultimate Dashboard review for a look at what the plugin can do, as well as my own personal thoughts on how well it functions.
Oh, and if you’re running WordPress Multisite, you’ll probably like that the Pro version comes with Multisite support.
Ultimate Dashboard Review: The Feature List
Ultimate Dashboard comes in two versions:
- The free version listed at WordPress.org
- A paid Pro version with additional features
In the free version, you can:
- Remove some or all of the default WordPress dashboard widgets - while you can do this for your own account with Screen Options, the difference here is that it will apply to all accounts.
- Create your own dashboard icon widgets using a simple interface.
- Add Font Awesome icons or Dashicons to the dashboard widgets that you create.
And if you go Pro, you’ll also be able to:
- Create dashboard text widgets in addition to icon widgets.
- Remove 3rd party widgets.
- Share dashboard widgets for network sites on WordPress Multisite.
- Add basic custom branding to the WordPress admin or login page.
Hands-on With Ultimate Dashboard: A Look At How It Works
Before I install the Pro version on my site, I’m going to give you a quick look at how the free version works.
It’s pretty simple so it won’t take more than a second - but it should give you a clearer picture of the delineation between free and Pro.
Building A New Dashboard With Ultimate Dashboard Free
After installing and activating the free version of Ultimate Dashboard, you get a new Widgets area which is where you’ll manage things.
To remove some or all of the widgets, you head to Widgets → Settings.
You can either check the box to Remove all Widgets or select individual widgets below that:
And, just like that, your dashboard will be completely empty (or just missing a few widgets that you chose to remove):
Now, it’s time to take advantage of the other feature in the free version of Ultimate Dashboard.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, you can rebuild your dashboard by going to Widgets → Add New.
- Give the widget a name
- Choose an icon
- Specify a link. You can use either absolute URLs or relative URLs
- Choose whether to open the link in a new tab or the same window
- Set the widget’s position
- Choose the widget’s priority
While the interface is pretty straightforward, one thing I did appreciate here is that you can search the various icons and see a preview of the relevant icons just by entering a keyword:
And, just like that, you have a new dashboard widget, complete with a nice little hover effect:
All in all, the plugin isn’t doing anything too crazy in the free version. But:
- It’s easy to use
- Everything worked as specified
And even with just this functionality, you can still build a user friendly dashboard that directs clients or users to the most important areas with big, eye-catching icons.
Creating More Advanced Widgets With Ultimate Dashboard Pro
The Pro version includes all the functionality I just showed you above, plus all of the extra features I laid out at the beginning.
To start with, you get a new Tooltip field that you can apply to the icon widgets I showed you above:
Here’s how that looks:
The tooltips should come in super handy if you're building websites for clients.
And you can also create a new type of Text widget that gives you a chance to add more information:
And, while it’s not available yet, the developer is working on a Video widget that displays YouTube or Vimeo videos as a lightbox popup in the dashboard, which should be great if you want to give your clients or users support videos.
Ultimate Dashboard Pro Advanced Settings
Beyond the new widgets, you also get more options in the Settings area.
First, you get the option of applying the order of your widgets to all other users (this doesn’t remove the ability for users to rearrange the widgets at a later date, though. At least when I tested it):
This is similar to the Multisite Settings (available in the Network Admin dashboard) that let you:
- Select a blueprint site to apply to other network sites
- Choose how to order the widgets
- Select which capability is necessary to create new widgets:
And you also get a new Branding tab that lets you:
- Change the accent color (I’ve chosen a bright red so you can see where this color shows up)
- Remove the WordPress logo from the admin bar
- Add custom Footer or Version text
- Add a custom logo to the login screen
And here’s an example of my rebranded login screen. I got this just from changing the accent color and uploading my own logo:
All in all, pretty dang straightforward and easy to use.
My Thoughts On Ultimate Dashboard
After playing around with the plugin, here are some general thoughts on what I liked about the plugin, as well as a couple of areas where I think it could get even better.
What I Liked About Ultimate Dashboard
- The plugin focuses on doing everything really well. It might not have as long a feature list as some other dashboard plugins yet, but the features that are there are implemented well.
- It’s easy to use - there’s no “option overwhelm” and the interface is logical and simple to follow along with.
- I really like the icon widget. It's big, minimalist, and quite user-friendly, especially with the tooltip feature.
Where Ultimate Dashboard Could Improve
- Because Ultimate Dashboard uses custom post types for widgets, you can import/export your widgets using the regular WordPress Importer tool. But given that I’m guessing a lot of people will want to use this on client sites, I think a more streamlined method to import/export configurations would make the plugin even better and easier to use on client sites.
As you can see, my main suggestion for improvement is more about enhancing an existing feature rather than redoing anything that already exists.
I think everything that is there is done well and I didn’t encounter any issues while using the plugin.
So if you need what Ultimate Dashboard has, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
How Much Does Ultimate Dashboard Cost?
Ultimate Dashboard Pro starts at $48 for a single site license. With that, you get 1 year of support and updates as well as a 30% renewal discount.
If you’re building client sites, you’ll probably want one of the other two packages though:
- Unlimited - $98 for unlimited sites and 1 year of support and updates with a 30% renewal discount.
- Lifetime - $248 one time for unlimited websites and lifetime support and updates.
If you’re interested in checking it out, click one of the buttons below to find out more: