Ok, folks- I’m pretty jazzed about a new plugin that I came across just this afternoon that I really think could change the game for #DoOO SPLOT/Site Template Builders and WordPress Multisite Administrators. My research for something like this began from an email I received from Coventry University asking about the extent that we could generate “getting started” language within new sub-sites of a WordPress Multisite. Coventry Admins were looking for ways in which they could guide beginner users, encourage them to build an “About Me” page as part of a larger Portfolio, and simply offer additional resources as users begin to settle into their new site.
The plugin I found is called Ultimate Dashboard and, as the title suggests, it allows you to customize and simplify your WordPress dashboard. There’s a free and a pro version, and quite a bit can be done with the free version. Check it out:
What I first see when installing WordPress-
What I see after playing with Ultimate Dashboard for a few minutes-
^ To Summarize the above, I was able to:
- Remove the “Screen Options” and “Help” tabs from top right
- Add a StateU Support admin page to the left dashboard menu bar and order it in the list
- Completely remove existing WP Dashboard widgets
- Create my own WP Dashboard widgets and order them
- Alter the footer language
I’ll explain the steps I took below, but I was shocked with how simple and intuitive it was. Also, its pretty cool that you’re able to do so much with the free version alone.
How to Remove “Screen Options” and “Help” Tabs
Go to Ultimate Dashboard > Settings and check Remove Help Tab and Remove Screen Options Tab. Done. (On this page I also have the option to rename the Dashboard to something else, but I decided to keep it the same since any and all WordPress documentation will refer to it as a Dashboard.
Add a StateU Support admin page
Go to Ultimate Dashboard > Admin Pages and click Add New. Next you can begin adding in your content like any other WordPress post or page. I’m able to embed videos, add in images, headers, etc. I also set this as a Top Level Menu item, but it can be added as a submenu item to any parent menu item as well. Finally, I assigned it the #2 order so it would show up right underneath the Dashboard in the sidebar. I was able to customize the menu icon as well:
Removing Existing WordPress Dashboard Widgets
Go to Ultimate Dashboard > Settings and check All next to Remove All Widgets. The Pro version of this plugin allows you to easily remove third party plugin widgets (things like Elementor, Google Analytics, WooCommerce, etc) as well. However to work around this I quickly reenabled the ‘Screen Options’ tab, unchecked third party widgets there, and disabled the Screen Options tab again. Ha!
Creating my own Dashboard Widgets
Here’s where it really started getting fun. Ultimate Dashboard allows you to create three different types of Dashboard widgets with the free version: Text, Icon, and HTML. I tested all 3 and they’re beautiful!
Go to Ultimate Dashboard > Add New. Give your Widget a title, choose the Text Widget Type, add in your content and click Update. At the bottom you also have the option to set a fixed height, which may be recommended if you’ve got quite a bit of text.
Go to Ultimate Dashboard > Add New. Give your Widget a title, choose the Icon Widget Type, and select the icon that you want to use. From there you can add in extra text that will fade in when you hover your mouse over the top right-hand question mark. The bottom field allows you to add a clickthrough URL for the widget. In this case I used a relative WordPress URL that points the user back to their individual ‘Add New Page’ section of the dashboard. (So cool!) Finally, click Update.
On my dashboard I also created another Icon Widget with an external link. So for example if you’ve got a class site or suite of resources that live outside of the WordPress instance that you want to point folks to, this works great.
The final widget type works well if you quickly want to embed something without messing with formatting. Go to Ultimate Dashboard > Add New. Give your Widget a title, choose the HTML Widget Type, and paste in your HTML code:
The Pro version of this plugin has actual Video and Contact form widget types, but doing this through HTML is another great workaround.
Altering the footer language
Lastly, the Ultimate Dashboard plugin allows you to alter footer language in the dashboard from something like this:
To do this, all you’ll need to do is go to Ultimate Dashboard > White Label and add in your own content to the Footer and Version Text fields.
The Pro version of the plugin way more customization options to allow you to brand the dashboard even further, which may be worth it for a large WordPress Multisite. But for admins that are looking to simplify the WordPress dashboard or offer guidance to new users in a Site Template, the free version may be all you need.
If anyone ends up using this plugin, please let me know! I’d be curious to see how you adopt it for your community.