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I want to make the entire Homepage on the Dashboard empty and add in my own custom screen options. How do I go about doing this? Do I create one from scratch or edit what's already there? Is there some kind of codex for this, I'm not even sure what they're called...

For example, If I just wanted to add a small message to the Dashboard Homepage "Hello World" how would I go about doing this?

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Replacing the dashboard and adding to the current one are both accomplished with plugins. Fortunately, some pretty smart folks have already figured it out for us...

To completely rewrite the Dashboard, you'll need to create a new page and redirect requests to the built-in dashboard page to your custom one. Fortunately, someone has already figured this out and wrote an excellent post about how to do it over at http://www.wpexplorer.com/how-to-wordpress-custom-dashboard/.

Your second question (adding a small message) also has a good answer already in the Codex (the official WordPress documentation). It'll take you through the steps to add a new widget to the existing dashboard to display your message.

http://codex.wordpress.org/Example_Dashboard_Widget

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