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Changing the appearance of your WordPress admin dashboard can not only spruce things up, but it's a major selling point for clients (if you're an agency) and increases the usability of the world's most popular content management system.
For some, the concept of WordPress admin themes/panels is foreign. Typically when discussing plugins or themes, we're speaking about software packages created specifically for WordPress that extend the functionality or design of the front end of your website.
WordPress admin themes are similar, except they impact the back end of your dashboard by adding styling and additional features specifically for administrative users.
WordPress has had the same look for some time now, and an admin theme can be used to change the branding and appearance of the dashboard.
If you are a design agency or WordPress developer, customizing the back-end interface for your client could result in a better user interface, and more customized experience.
There are several offerings of WordPress admin themes, but most of them do the same thing. In this article, we wanted to highlight the best admin themes with an emphasis on differentiation. Each of the entries in this article do something different than the previous one. Instead of just hunting down Admin themes and writing about them in this post, we actually got them, installed them on a demo website, and tested them ourselves.
Some of these WordPress admin themes have been used in our agencies projects. incorporating this not only makes the usability of the CMS more streamlined, but it gives a more personalized and customized final product.
Without any further ado, let's take a look at the top WordPress admin themes in 2020.
First, there are several things to consider. WordPress admin themes and panels have been around for some time now, and it's easy to purchase an outdated version of a theme that doesn't work well with WordPress 5.4+. Additionally, there are many offerings that are pretty much the same product under different brand names. We're going to stay away from these type of admin panels as they don't offer any value to the end user.
The first entry into this list of WordPress admin themes is specifically created for WooCommerce shops. WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce solutions out there. However, if you compare it to Squarespace or Shopify, the back-end interface isn't super modern.
If you're looking for a way to rebrand the back end of your WordPress installation, Making it more oriented towards E Commerce, then this is your admin theme.
It's extremely well designed, modern looking, and offers you all of the information that you would need as a shop owner.
Energy+ integrates perfectly with WordPress version 5.4, and doesn't just add CSS styling. Instead it changes the whole appearance and structure of the dashboard, making it more oriented towards WordPress shop owners.
It effectively blends the new WordPress WooCommerce admin panel (which brings high quality reports to users) and well thought out, custom CSS design and layouts. It's very easy to integrate into an existing WooCommerce shop, all you need to do is upload it as a plug-in, and the Energy+ admin theme will be applied to your back end.
This is a very popular back-end interface, even as it's relatively new to the scene. It's actively developed, and we've used it on several client websites due to its great design and emphasis on the shop aspect of the WordPress administrative backend.
In our opinion, this theme rivals the simplicity of Shopify , while combining the extendability and features of WooCommerce.
TLDR; If you're looking for a WordPress admin theme that completely changes the back end, re branding it as more of a E Commerce store, this is your best bet.
We've had personal experience with the Ultra Admin Theme, using it in many client websites for the past couple of years.
Ultra Admin Theme is a complete white labeling package.
It not only allows you to change the back end administrative appearance, but it also allows you to manage the menu for specific user roles, edit the back end login styling, and change around the general themes, colors and branding of a WordPress website.
This admin theme also works on multisite networks which allows you to give a more customized user experience to those on your network.
The theme also comes with 30 pre built templates which allow you to quickly style the back end of a WordPress website. Typically, we will choose one of the pre built templates, and customize that which saves a lot of time.
What's also great about this WordPress admin theme is the fact that it integrates with some of the leading plugins, like WooCommerce, BuddyPress, and bbPress.
ClientSide is one of our personal favorite WordPress admin themes, but it comes with its share of downsides.
This plugin really emphasizes minimalism, so it makes the WordPress admin backend as clean and simple as possible.
It also has several developer specific tools, such an input for CSS that only applies to the admin dashboard. PHP errors are outputted as admin notifications, you can edit the login page, and really increase your workflow by removing the clutter from the admin dashboard.
Sounds perfect, right? It was.
Unfortunately, this plugin is no longer developed or supported. It reached its end of life in October 2019, and hasn't been touched since. This was pre WordPress version 5, meaning it has no support for the Gutenberg editor. If you try to use it with the Gutenberg editor enabled in your WordPress installation, the styling of the theme breaks and your website backend becomes extremely difficult to use.
A work around to this would be using the classic editor plugin to disable Gutenberg. If you do this, the theme still works, though we're big fans of Gutenberg so this is a deal breaker for us.
If you're looking for an extremely simple, well designed WordPress admin team, this one could be for you if you're willing to give up the Gutenberg editor.
Perhaps we could all team up and begin supporting this plugin once again, as it's one of our favorites ☹.
We used the PLUS Admin Theme in our last WordPress development project, and had a great experience with it.
It allowed us to completely change the appearance of the back end dashboard, manage the administrative menu without having to use another plugin, change the login page, and more. This was especially important because it was a multi user WordPress website, with many authors, editors, subscribers, and administrators.
The back end interface that we used to change all of these settings was well designed, and well thought out.
This theme reminded us a lot of the Facebook interface, and was probably inspired from that UI. It had several features that other WordPress admin themes didn't include, such as a page loader back end interface, and a well designed admin theme panel. This plugin was definitely created for developers looking for a way to completely rebrand the back end of their WordPress website for clients.
We made multiple requests that were resolved quickly, though the support could have responded alot faster.
There are many more admin themes out there, but most of them do the same thing as the ones mentioned in this article.
We recommend taking a look at the WordPress admin themes outlined here before looking anywhere else, simply because most of them are the same code with different styling. What that means is that the support team isn't great, the features can be found elsewhere, and you are typically paying a premium.
Of the four mentioned here, we have personal experience with three, and have heard good reviews from colleagues about the final one. The teams behind all of these WordPress admin themes are extremely responsive to feedback, and offer great support.
If you're thinking about dipping your toe into the administrative customization Realm of WordPress, these plugins offer you a perfect way to get started. Whether you're a power user looking to increase your productivity on the CMS, or you're a developer/agency looking to offer your clients a customized, streamlined experience , a WordPress admin theme (aka panel) could be a great option.
If you have any questions about WordPress admin themes, what they do, how to install them, and what the best options out there are, feel free to reach out in the comments section of this article.
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