November 3, 2015
The Zeus Admin Theme WordPress plugin extends the WordPress Dashboard and cleans up the UI for a more modern approach.
As I recently have been diving into other CMS platforms it was hard to not notice how the WordPress Dashboard was slowly falling behind. While the stand-alone dashboard itself isn’t awful, it definitely is lacking some features compared to other modern CMS platforms. As my debut plugin launch for WordPress, I decided to create a plugin that would help bridge the gap between where WordPress is and where some of the new guys are.
To start, this is not your typical “admin theme” that makes WordPress un-recognizable. Instead, I simply cleaned up the look with a minimal approach. I noticed a lot of other “admin themes” completely changed how WordPress looked and functioned. I’ve used a few, and while they bring something fresh at first, you really start to notice their fallback the more you use WordPress and the deeper you get. For example, it is very hard (if not impossible) to create an admin theme that is consistent throughout all other 3rd party plugins. Most of these themes contain lines and lines of additional code for specific plugin fixes and you’ll never get it perfect.
Instead, I only added basic markup to improve negative space and read-ability. I tried to envision what WordPress 5.0 might look like and have that be the jumping off point. In the end, all I really changed was creating a wider left navigation menu, adjusted font size and colors to the links, adjusted background colors, added some rounded edges and improved the spacing of sidebars. Without diving too deep, I was able to improve the admin area while keeping 3rd party plugins unified.
The WordPress Dashboard is also lacking some basic features that I like to use. Shopify, for example, also has a front-end toolbar for admins when viewing the site. If it gets in the way, you can click an anchor link to minimize it. I loved this feature and wanted to bring it to WordPress. Included in the plugins files is my own version of this. In WordPress, it allows you to move the admin bar off to left and out of the way. If you need to get back to the Dashboard, just click the arrow and it slides back in.
WordPress also has about 10 different search features within their Dashboard, but all of them are compartmentalized… there is no global search that runs across them all. For my plugin, I have also included a global admin search that remedies this. With AJAX, it becomes really easy to instantly navigate to a specific area in the dashboard.
Finally, WordPress is prone to clutter. This is because every plugin is fighting for real-estate in your dashboard. There’s really nothing you can do about this when you install a plugin. Included in the Zeus Admin Theme is a menu editor to clean up all the clutter. With the menu editor, you can hide, create, delete, and move all your menu items around so you can have a menu exactly how you want it. This greatly improves productivity when managing your website.