by Kevin on December 12, 2007
WordPress isn’t known for having a great administration theme. It is often very hard to find the plugin options that you want – some are stored within Options, others within Manage. The default theme isn’t extremely visually appealing, either. With the tools and plugins reviewed below, you can quickly choose themes and extensions that help increase your blogging productivity. Screenshots for images are in the following order: Dashboard, Plugin Management, Theme Management, and finally Write Post.
Default WordPress Theme
- WP Barunio Administration
- WordPress Nice Admin
- Planet X7 WordPress Admin Theme
- WordPress Tiger Administration
- ADF Admin Theme
- SpotMilk Admin Theme
- WordPress Admin Themer
- Js Style Admin Theme | With Drop Down Menus
Designed to be easy to add the option for different colors, this plugin changes the color scheme, and modifies the layout so that submenus are placed on the left side of the page. In addition, it is well suited for the creation of nested submenus created with the Custom Admin Menu Plugin.
Installation Notes: Download and unzip the plugin (wp_admin_barunio_1.0zip), then copy the unzipped file to your plugins directory. Activate the “Barunio Style Administration” item in your WordPress Plugins page.
Browser Compatibility: Firefox and Safari compatible, but not compatible with Internet Explorer due to inadequate support for CSS2 specifications. IE will remain using the default WordPress administration theme upon activation.
Built from the Milk theme by Max Rudberg and the SpotMilk theme, this plugin’s overall main layout remains based on the default admin theme that comes with WordPress. The graphics and colors are utilized from the WordPress website. The plugin works with WordPress 1.5 through 2.3.
Installation Notes: Copy the plugin to your WordPress Plugins folder, then activate the plugin, and finally refresh the page if necessary.
A dark blue, white and yellow (link) theme compatible with any plugin.
Installation Notes: Simply unzip the file then upload the planet-x7 folder to wp-content/plugins. Then activate the plugin through the Plugins page.
Browser Compatibility: Works iwth Opera, Firefox, Internet Explorer 7, and Internet Explorer 6 (with a few problems). However, it works best for browsers that support web standards including Opera and Firefox.
By far one of the most popular admin themes, the WP Tiger Administration plugins has been downloaded more than 40,000 times. It relies on the power of CSS2 to manipulate the presentation.
Installation Notes: Download the plugin, unzip the file, and place the entire wp-admin-tiger folder into the plugins directory. Go to your Plugins page and activate the plugin. Deactivate to revert back to the original plugin.
Browser Compatibility: Currently compatible with Firefox and Safari. Doesn’t display in Internet Explorer with CSS2 specifications.
This plugin recreates the dashboard using a different color scheme – shades of grays and whites. It also changes the color of the login screen to a gray gradient instead of the typical blue.
Installation Notes: Download and unzip the file, place it into your plugins directory and activate the plugin. Upload additional files for more effects (replacing old files).
SpotMilk theme was originally inspired by Spotlight on Mac OS X and the Milk theme by Max Rudberg. However, the overall main layout remains based on the default admin theme.
Installation Notes; Download the theme (WP 2.1-2.3) and unzip the file, and move it to the plugins directory. After this, activate the plugin and enjoy.
Browser Compatibility: There are no major issues found on browsers operating under OS X, Windows, or Linux.
The WordPress Admin Themer plugin helps change the look of the WordPress admin, as you only have to install the plugin, write a stylesheet for the interace, and save the style sheet in the directory of your active theme.
Based on the SpotMilk Admin with a few cosmetic changes. Included in the page with drop down menus is an alternate green version.
Installation Notes: Follow the instructions for changing the login/register page (optional). Otherwise, unzip the plugin, upload the folder to the plugins directory and activate.
Creating Your Own Login Screen
You can brand the login screen (the small, simple screen shown before accessing the Dashboard) any way you want to using plugins or by styling it yourself. Many great tutorials exist, including the ones listed below.
Josh Byers created a plugin to customize it with very little user know-how required.
Drop Down Menus, Etc.
WordPress Admin Bar based off the WordPress.com bar, and displays once you sign in.
Remove the WordPress Dashboard
Broken Kode’s Shuttle Theme, despite never actually launching, may be the future look of the WordPress admin, or has at least inspired other people to create similar themes based off of it.
At the WordPress Codex, there is a post on creating, using, styling, and modifying admin themes for WordPress. It is the starting point if you need to create your own theme.
Mashable wrote a post in July 2007 titled ‘50+ Tools For The WordPress Admin’. From note-taking plugins to digital fingerprints for your posts, these plugins help you utilize the time spent in the main WordPress screen.