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Why WordPress admin notices matter (and how to manage them effectively)

Every time you log into the WordPress dashboard, you are probably greeted with a few message at the top of your screen. These messages are called WordPress admin notices. Contrary to what many WordPress users might think – that they’re an annoyance without an ‘off’ switch – they can be incredibly useful. At least, that is if you know how to manage them effectively.

If you’ve got a handle on WordPress admin notices, this usually means you’re organized when it comes to your website. This includes tasks such as components that need updating, dealing with errors, and even fixing possible technical and user issues.

In this article, we’re going to break down why admin notices are so important. We also explain why they can be problematic in some cases. At the end we will show you how with the help of the Admin Notices Manager plugin for WordPress you can manage these notices and read them at your convenience. Let’s get right to it!

Why admin notices are important

There are various types of admin notices you’ll see while using WordPress, as we explain in more detail in our introduction to WordPress admin notices. For starters, there are notices that come from third-party tools installed on your website, such as plugins and themes. In most cases, they tell you about configuration issues, recommendations for other tools, and more.

Admin notice from a third party plugin

Then you have internal admin notices. These you can set them up yourself manually or by using third party plugins. In most cases, you use this type of admin notice to share internal messages with other team members, for example to tell them about planned website maintenance or outage:

Custom internal admin notices

Finally, you have the default set of notices that WordPress uses to report back to you. For example to confirm that a plugin was installed, or a theme has been upgraded. One key thing to remember is that WordPress uses a basic color-coding system. This enables you to differentiate between the different types of notifications. Green is for success, red is for error, yellow is for warnings, and blue is for information. You can read more about this in our WordPress admin notices guide.

Although some plugins use custom colors for their own admin notifications, many also follow this basic color system. This means you should be able to get an idea of what type of notice you’re dealing with at a glance, which is useful when you get inundated with messages.

The primary concern with WordPress admin notices

If you’re active on WordPress forums or community websites, you’ll notice that a lot of people aren’t big fans of admin notices. We can sum up the problems that most users have with them in three simple points:

  1. There are too many of them. If you use a lot of third-party tools, you’ll end up having to deal with a large number of notices. This can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t mean that it’s safe to ignore them.
  2. Admin notices are issued for very minor reasons. A big part of why you get so many admin notices could be that, in some cases, developers add them in situations where they might not be necessary.
  3. Admin notices are used to promote premium software. Developers use admin notices to promote premium versions of their tools, sales offers, and other information. Although this is helpful for some people, others might not be interested.

There have been a few situations where developers have used admin notices for marketing purposes on all the WordPress dashboard pages. In such cases they received significant backlash from the WordPress community. For example, a prominent case saw a developer using admin notices to include a massive sales promotion during Black Friday1. However, it is important to note that this wouldn’t have been an issue if the promotion was shown on the plugin’s own pages.

Examples of good use case

However, these notices do fulfill a critical role in WordPress website maintenance. They provide important information in a format that’s difficult to ignore. Without them, you’d miss out on a lot of background processes that you’d never know about. This means it’s never a good idea to ignore them. For example:

  1. Plugin developers use them to advise you of the new features included in the latest update of the plugin. Some of these features might require your attention, because if not configured they might affect the functionality of your website.
  2. Admin notices can also be used to guide you through the configuration of a plugin, to advise you that a particular setting or process requires your attention. For example, something needs to be approved or rejected.
  3. Theme developers typically use them to recommend third party plugins that you need in order to use some of the theme’s features.
  4. Last but not least, developers use them to promote the features of a plugin, especially the premium features. There is nothing wrong with promotion as long as the adverts are not too invasive and one can still use the free edition of the plugin.

Still, as happens with many other types of information, getting too much means the most important notices become easy to miss. If you’re in a role where you use admin notices to share important information with others, the best overall advice we can give is to not to abuse them. That way, when users do see one of those floating notification bars, they’ll pay attention to it.

How to manage them effectively

Ignoring admin notices is never the right approach, even if you’re drowning among dozens of them. However, if you’re struggling under their weight, you definitely need to find an approach that enables you to manage this information effectively.

Here’s a ‘simple’ solution. Log into WordPress more often, even if you don’t need to publish or schedule any new content. By logging in, you can take a quick look at any pending admin notices and prevent them from piling up. Moreover, you’re much more likely to catch any potential issues with your site if you actively monitor its health.

Another more proactive approach you can take is to use a plugin that changes the way that you deal with admin notices; the Admin Notices Manager plugin. This plugin creates a notification ‘center’ to your dashboard, which enables you to look up any past messages even after you dismiss them.

The Admin Notices Manager plugin in action

Think of that center as a notifications inbox. With this plugin, you can check out your inbox at any time and prevent admin notices from cluttering your dashboard. When you’re ready to look at them, you’ll know precisely where they are.

Manage your admin notices using the right tools

As your website grows, you’ll probably end up dealing with massive numbers of admin notices regularly. This means in some cases, important notices might slip through the cracks. The best way to avoid this happening is to use a tool such as the Admin Notices Manager plugin, to ensure that you never miss critical notifications.

Admin Notices Manager banner

Do you find yourself regularly ignoring admin messages? We encourage you to take a closer look at the types of notifications you’re getting. In some cases, you’ll deal with plugins that send a lot of unuseful notices. It can be worth looking into alternatives that don’t abuse admin notifications.

  1. https://wptavern.com/black-friday-banner-gone-wrong-advertising-in-free-plugins ↩︎

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