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How to Customize Your WordPress Sites for Customers (6 Key Tips)

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As a WordPress developer, your job is to build functional sites for your clients. However, it goes beyond the basic front end design. You are also responsible for creating easy-to-use websites for customers in the background.

When you customize WordPress sites for customers who aren't as technically savvy, you give them a more enjoyable website management experience. You also reduce the likelihood that they accidentally break their sites by changing code or changing settings.

Taking the few extra steps to add and remove certain features in the admin dashboard can go a long way. To that end, this article will share six tips for customizing WordPress sites for your clients. Let's get started!

An introduction to customizing the WordPress dashboard

As a WordPress developer, you are probably quite comfortable navigating the WordPress back end. However, imagine it from the perspective of someone signing into their site for the first time. It may seem a bit overwhelming.

Fortunately, you can customize WordPress sites for your clients to improve both the design and functionality of the back end. In most cases, this process involves adding and removing certain features.

For example, you can hide specific settings or tools to prevent your customers from making well-intentioned changes that do more harm than good. This can save you from having to troubleshoot the resulting issues, while also removing clutter from the dashboard for easier navigation.

By customizing WordPress sites for your clients, you can offer a better solution than a generic content management system (CMS). In turn, this can increase the likelihood that they will be happy with your services and will hire you again or recommend you to someone else.

How to Customize Your WordPress Sites for Customers (6 Key Tips)

Now that you understand how much WordPress dashboard customization can benefit you and your customers, let's take a look at six ways to do it.

1. Replace the WordPress logo on the login page

The login page is the first thing your customers see when they visit their sites. While there is nothing wrong with keeping the default logo, changing it to the client's logo is an effective way to make the site less generic and reassure clients that they are in the right place.

To do this manually in WordPress, you can change the fonctions.php file for the site theme. Access it via FTP or the WordPress file editor and add the following code snippet:

function my_login_logo() { ?>
<style type="text/css">
#login h1 a, .login h1 a {
background-image: url(<?php echo get_stylesheet_directory_uri(); ?>/images/site-login-logo.png);
padding-bottom: 30px;
}
</style>
<?php }
add_action( 'login_enqueue_scripts', 'my_login_logo' );

Be sure to replace site-login-logo.png with your client's logo file name. WordPress also offers a handful of ways to further customize WordPress login forms with CSS styling.

To speed up this process, you can use a plugin such as LoginPress:

This free tool allows you to easily change the layout of the WordPress login page, including error and password hint messages. You can also change the logo image and size, as well as the background.

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2. Add useful tips and resources to the dashboard

Once the client logs into their WordPress site, they are presented with the dashboard. Again, this can seem a bit crowded and confusing for new WordPress users.

As a developer, you can make it easier for your customers to add useful documentation to the dashboard. For example, you can create a welcome message with tips and resources that you might find helpful.

Having this support available and visible from the moment customers go online can save you time answering questions before they're asked. It's also convenient for your customers, as they can easily access valuable resources at any time.

There are a number of methods you can use to achieve this. One way is to manually add the code to create a custom widget in the theme functions.php drop off.

However, you can also use a plugin like Ultimate Dashboard:
The Ultimate Dashboard plugin.
This tool allows you to create custom icons and widgets for the admin dashboard. For example, you can add a list of external links to WordPress tutorials or create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) widget:
Added a new widget with the Ultimate Dashboard plugin in WordPress.
Once you've added the widget, you can drag it to a prime location in the dashboard where customers can easily find it.

3. Hide unnecessary menu items

An easy way to customize WordPress sites to improve your customer experience is to simply remove the stuff they won't be using. The more options available in the dashboard, the more cluttered and confusing it becomes.

By eliminating unnecessary menu items, you can make it easier for customers to focus and find the ones they'll actually use. In addition, it minimizes the risk of them changing a setting that could damage the site.

In addition to Parameters pages, another common menu item to delete in the WordPress dashboard is Tools. To do it manually, you can insert the following code into the theme of the functions.php deposit:

function remove_menus(){

remove_menu_page( ‘tools.php’ ); //Tools

}
add_action( ‘admin_menu’, ‘remove_menus’ );

You can also use a plugin such as User Role Editor:
The WordPress user role editor plugin.
This tool allows you to completely customize the permissions and visibility of various administration areas for certain users. You can also add new user roles to your clients' WordPress sites, as we'll describe shortly.

4. Customize user roles

WordPress comes with several user roles out of the box. Each has different levels of access and permissions in the back end. However, the default roles may not be suitable for some customers.

If so, you might want to create custom user roles in order to set unique permissions or hide certain functions from your clients as described above. To do this, you will need a plugin such as User Role Editor.

After installing and activating this free plugin, you can create and assign different levels of access to specific user roles. To do this, go to Users> User Role Editor in the WordPress dashboard.

This will bring you to a screen where you can customize the functionality of each role:
The User Role Editor plugin capabilities screen in WordPress.
To customize an existing role for a customer to use, choose one from the drop-down menu. Then you can check the boxes to enable the features for all users assigned to this title, including your customer.

Alternatively, you can click on the Add a role button to create a brand new title with unique capabilities for your client. You could call this position Owner or something similar, to help them feel a cut above default roles such as Editor or Author.

5. Add a custom admin theme

Custom admin themes in WordPress can be used to change the style of your client's dashboard. You can also use this method to incorporate additional functionality.

An easy way to do this without inserting any code yourself is to use the Ultimate Dashboard plugin that we mentioned earlier. Upgrading to the Pro version allows you to customize the colors and branding of the WordPress dashboard.

It also includes other “white label” features that you can use to modify the back end. For example, you can add custom footers and version text, as well as a special admin bar logo URL.

If you have installed the Ultimate Dashboard plugin, you can update by clicking on PRO in the plugin menu on your WordPress dashboard. You can also download it through the plugin's website.

6. Disable theme and plugin editing for some users

As a WordPress developer, it can be helpful to be able to edit theme and plugin files directly from the built-in WordPress file editor. However, your customers probably don't need to access it.

To prevent your customers from accidentally making damaging changes to their site code, you can add the following to their wp-config.php files:

define( 'DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true );

If you have the User Role Editor plugin that we mentioned earlier, you can also turn off theme and plugin edit permissions for some roles:
The User Role Editor plug-in screen for modifying the functionality of the theme.
This can save you time, reducing the risk that you will have to step in to fix errors or even rebuild lost parts of the site.

Conclusion

As a developer, WordPress probably feels like a second home to you. However, it's important to remember that the customers you create sites for often don't have the same level of experience.

As we have seen in this article, you can improve usability for your customers by customizing their WordPress sites in the following ways:

  1. Replaced the WordPress logo on the login page.
  2. Added useful tips and resources to the dashboard.
  3. Hide unnecessary menu items.
  4. Customize user roles to restrict advanced functionality.
  5. Addition of a custom administration theme.
  6. Disabling theme and plugin editing.

Have questions about customizing WordPress sites for clients? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

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