White labeling the back-end of your site isn’t as essential as, say, improving your SEO or ensuring your site is well protected. But, if there was a way to do it without spending a cent, then you would, right?? Of course you would! You’d better read on…
Think of customizing your WordPress back-end like paying someone to organize your closet. It would be amazing, it would look fabulous, but it’s not essential… so who has the money??
Luckily for you, we’ve got a history of offering premium-level plugins free of charge (think Forminator!) and this is no different.
Branda is our ultimate WordPress white-labeling and rebranding goddess, and we’ve found her a nice, comfy spot on WordPress.org.
No longer will her talents be reserved just for WPMU DEV members – she can now help anyone transform their WordPress back-end from drab to fab.
So before we start getting to know Branda a little better, we know you’re probably wondering one thing – what’s the catch?
And the answer? Absolutely nothing!
Branda has taken her entire repertoire of skills and tools with her to WordPress.org. No strings, no catches, just a premium white-label plugin without the premium price tag.
In this post, I’ll show you how to completely customize your WordPress admin dashboard using Branda, the smoothest WordPress white labeling plugin. And oh…you don’t need any coding knowledge whatsoever!
Let’s get started.
First, let’s install and activate Branda.
If you’re a WPMU DEV member, you can do this through your WPMU Dashboard.
If you’re not a member, you can add it for free from the plugin repo.
First Impressions are EVERYTHING
How often do you get a chance to ‘WOW’ a client right from the second you hand over the project?
When you’re using Branda, the answer is every single time!
WordPress doesn’t have to be so WordPress-y – not when you can customize every little detail.
Both developers and clients spend a lot more time staring at the back-end than the front, so it just makes sense for the brand to continue through.
What better way to impress a client than to direct them to a WordPress login screen with their own personal messages, branded completely in their style.
Even if you don’t use this feature for your clients, it can still make your life a lot easier if you’re juggling multiple WordPress installs and sites.
With Branda, you can have a completely different look for each login page so you know at a glance which install you’re about to head into.
All you need to do is click on “customize login screen” under the front-end section of Branda and you’ll see just how easy it is to change any aspect of it with the various options.
If this isn’t the first thing you do once you activate Branda, I’ll be sorely disappointed.
Customizing the WordPress Admin Bar
The Admin Bar module in Branda lets you change the admin bar logo, control which menu items are visible on the top, add new menu items, set admin bar visibility on the site’s front-end as per user roles, and rearrange the menu items just how you want.
Let’s change the default WordPress logo first.
Click the Upload Image button in the Logo section and select the image you want from your Media Library.
In the Menu Items section, you can set the visibility of each menu item as per user roles.
To do that, enable the Hide Specific Items setting first, select the menu items you want to hide, and below that, choose the user roles you want to hide the chosen menu items from.
You’ll be presented with a popup where you can set the menu’s title, icon, and what it links to.
You should now see your custom logo and new menu item in the admin bar.
Next on the list – let’s change the order of the newly created menu item and place it at the end. It’s as easy as pie with Branda!
Press the gray Reorder Menus button, then drag and drop the menu items to where you want them to be. Once done, click the blue Save Changes button.
Now the admin bar’s structure is nicely reorganized.
Customizing the Admin Footer Area
Branda lets you display a custom text in the footer of every admin page.
To do that, go to the Admin Footer module under Admin Area section in Branda.
Type the message you want to display in the footer.
Hit save and you will see the custom footer text displays throughout the admin section.
Setting Up the Admin Menu
Branda also allows you to customize the WordPress admin menu on the left.
In the Admin Menu module, you can enable the WordPress Link Manager, enable the Admin Tips custom post type, and disable the Permalinks menu item from showing in the admin menu.
The Tips custom post type allows you to add important messages to the top of admin pages.
You can set the tips to appear on all or specific admin pages. The user can Hide or Dismiss these tips.
Disabling the Permalink menu item is a good practice, as you don’t want to risk someone changing it and breaking all the links on the site.
Putting Up an Admin Message
If you want to show notifications or important announcements on top of every admin page, the Admin Message module will come in handy.
Just set the message you want to appear and hit save.
Note: The users cannot hide or dismiss the admin message. Hence, use it sparingly for showing only the most important updates.
Personalizing the Dashboard with a Custom Color Scheme
Branda isn’t really brand-a if she doesn’t have the superpowers to change the color scheme of your WordPress dashboard.
In the Color Schemes module, you can set which color schemes are available to users in their user profile settings, set the default color scheme for new users, and even force a color scheme for all users.
You can also customize the default Branda color scheme by clicking the edit icon beside it.
Branda also supports adding custom CSS styles to your WordPress back-end, but with so many built-in options, chances are you won’t ever need to!
Adding Contextual Help Content
Every WordPress admin page includes its own contextual help section.
This section provides the user with helpful information on how to navigate the settings displayed within that particular admin page.
With the Help Content module, you can make changes to the existing help content, add new help items and/or a help sidebar.
To add a help item, go to the Help Content module, and then click on the purple Add Help Item button.
Add as many help items as you need, then drag and drop to sort these.
If you want, you can also add a sidebar within the help content area.
By default, Branda keeps the default help items and merges the new help items with them. However, you can disable this setting to delete the default help items.
Once you’ve finished making all the changes, press the Save Changes button. You may have to logout and login again to see the changes take effect.
Adding Custom Widgets to the Dashboard
While removing widgets from the WordPress dashboard is fairly simple, adding a new one isn’t quite as easy. You’ll need to know how to add code to your WordPress’ core files.
However, with Branda on your side, it’s a walk in the park to add a new widget.
Let’s add a new feed widget to show the latest posts from the WPMU DEV blog on the WordPress dashboard.
To do that, head on to the Widgets > Dashboard Feeds module.
Now, enter the widget’s Site URL, Feed title, and Feed URL. You can also set the display and visibility settings for the feed here.
Click ‘Add’ and it’s done.
And that’s not all. You can also add custom widgets to your dashboard.
To do that, head on to Widgets > Dashboard Widgets module. Scroll down to find the Text Widgets section and then click the purple Add Text Widget button.
Done. Simple as.
Adding a Customized Error Screen
Sometimes things go wrong unexpectedly and your site visitors are hit with the old ‘Error establishing a database connection’ screen before you’ve got the chance to jump on and apply a fix.
Branda gives you the tools to make that screen a little less…boring.
This is done through the same type of interface we used when creating a custom login page.
There are easy to use drop-downs where you can select your new error message, choose the background (and a separate logo if required) as well as amend the color schemes across the elements.
What’s more – there’s even an option at the bottom of the screen where you can opt to have an email sent to you if a visitor encounters this error screen, allowing you to spring into action before too many people follow suit.
And While We’re on Custom Pages…
…’Coming Soon’ and ‘Maintenance Mode’ pages are a breeze to create.
You can upload your own background image, choose how the timer is displayed, and input your own custom message.
Branda and Roles
We know, Branda offers a lot of power.
By this stage, you may have started to worry about which users may have access to these powers.
Thanks to Branda’s user permission settings, you never have to worry about the power falling into the wrong hands.
Once a user has seen the possibilities that Branda unlocks, we know it can be tempting to jump in and start changing the color scheme or adding your own custom messages.
This is precisely why we made sure that only your most trustworthy lineup can be granted these superpowers
Making Your Dashboard Truly Your Own
Think of your WordPress dashboard as a skeleton to build the perfect body.
Once you have your foundation ready, dress it up in your style.
Add your brand’s fonts, colors, logo, any useful content, and other cool features to make it come alive!
Branda makes it easy for you to achieve all this, and more, with no coding necessary (although if you’re feeling fancy, there’s always space to add a few lines of custom CSS.)
Did I mention it’s now free? 🙂