WordPress Admin Themes provide a better user experience to the site administrator. They customize the look and feel of the admin panel to reflect the website type and/or front-end theme.
In nutshell a WordPress admin theme is a group of actions, filters, styles, scripts and hacks to add, remove, style and alter various components(HTML elements, layout sections, icons, meta boxes, widgets etc) and functionality of the admin panel. In this tutorial we will look at various actions, filters, styles, scripts and hacks to create a admin theme.
Popular WordPress Admin Themes
Before we start with coding its worth looking at some popular WordPress admin themes to get inspired.
Slate Admin Theme
Slate provides a clean, simplified design for your WordPress Admin area. There aim is to simplify the visual design with a primary focus on the content writing experience.
Bootstrap Admin provides a clean, minimalistic administration theme implementing Twitter’s Bootstrap. This plugin will completely re-style your WordPress admin area, offering a cleaner experience.
How to install an Admin Theme
If you are building an admin theme to reflect your front-end theme than its recommended to add your admin theme code to your theme’s function.php file.
But if you are creating an admin theme for reflecting website type or for better user experience then its better to install the admin theme using a WordPress plugin. A plugin will be easier way to distribute your admin theme in this case.
Styling Admin Panel Components
WordPress stores all the stylesheets of the admin panel components in the /wp-admin/css directory.
You can refer these stylesheets CSS code to find our the various components that are styled by WordPress and their default style. You shouldn’t modify these files directly because the modifications will disappear when WordPress is upgraded.
You can overwrite these styles by enqueuing your own stylesheet in admin panel. Here is the code to enqueue a custom stylesheet in admin panel
wp_enqueue_style("my-admin-theme", plugins_url("wp-admin.css", __FILE__));
Here are the CSS selectors for some popular admin panel components
/* The main level navigation bar, for links: Dashboard, Write, Manage, etc. */
/* The sub level navigation bar, for links (example: under Manage: Posts, Pages, Categories). */
/* The basic wrapper for all content in the admin panel, set in a <div>. */
/* The sidebar on the Dashboard displaying Latest Activity and Blog Stats. */
/* The footer at the bottom, with Wordpress logo, version number, and help links. */
/* Individual Page headers for the various subpanels, like General Options. */
Here is the code to enqueue a custom JS file in admin panel
wp_enqueue_style("my-admin-theme-script", plugin_dir_url( __FILE__ ) . "wp-admin.js");
Adding, Removing and Altering Admin Panel Components and Functionality
Here is a series of tutorials which will help you to learn the various actions, filters and hacks that are available for adding, removing and altering various components and functionality of WordPress admin panel.
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