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Admin Dashboard vs. Admin Panel - What’s the difference?

In enterprise software development, 'admin dashboard' and 'admin panel' are terms often used interchangeably. This article aims to clarify their distinctions, explore their features, and use cases, and emphasize the importance of managing complex operations efficiently.

A visual presenting an example of an admin dashboard with 4 charts.

Written by Chrissy Petipois

A Deep Dive into Admin Panels

An admin panel in its purest form is defined as a centralized user interface that manages the backend of your application. Enterprise software application developers have a vital responsibility to add an admin panel to their software development. This is because having an admin panel allows the users to perform repetitive tasks, efficiently and securely.

A screenshot of a real estate management admin panel
A screenshot of a real estate management admin panel - from one of the live demos. Forest Admin doesn't have access to customers' data.

Applications can range from real estate management to complex financial systems, regardless of the scope of the application an admin panel is essential for organization and management. As we take a deep dive into what makes an admin panel in practical terms, we will discover the purpose and importance of this essential addition to software applications.

User Management

When it comes to granting access to certain users in the enterprise application software, user management plays a vital role in creating a solid admin panel. This feature is not only essential for the users but also crucial for security.

A screenshot of an e-learning software application use case from one of the live demos.

In the above example, an e-learning software application or course platform would need to have different users with different roles. In addition to this, the admin panel facilitates the ability to grant or remove access to users easily.

Data Management

As the main product of any software, the data in the backend of an application not only needs protection but also needs to be managed by the authenticated users of the software.  Enterprise application software also needs to be aware of updates in real time to track trends, issues, and KPIs among other things.

This is achieved with the use of the admin dashboard which the developer needs to implement to show charts and real-time data metrics. So an admin dashboard is a vital component of an admin panel as it allows the user to visualize the data at a glance. The dashboard is composed of charts, graphs, and other visualization features which frees the user from wasting time sifting through and processing large amounts of data.

A screenshot of an admin dashboard inside a financial tech company admin panel.

Content Management

Exploring the use of an admin panel when it comes to content management, admin users can control the frontend content without writing code. They can also update, remove, and create necessary content for overall use in the application. Having the ability to remove outdated and irrelevant content as well as keep content up to date is a vital part of the content management system in an admin panel.

A screenshot of a Forest Admin admin panel use case for real estate management.

The example shown above is a real estate management admin panel. For this type of application, the admin user can create new properties, update or delete existing ones, and track commissions from the agents.

Backend and Security Settings

Security settings and configurations are essential when developing an admin panel. Several technologies need to combine to form a secure, robust security system.

A simple GIF with a padlock.

User authentication and authorization, secure communication, secure data storage, and session management are just a few of the elements needed to accomplish this task when developing an admin panel. Using secure server systems - like AWS or Kubernetes and database backends - like MySQL or MongoDB, this aspect of admin panel development will truly be secure

Admin Panels: Real-World Examples


Ada is one of the largest European car rental companies. The admin panel solution they use helps with user management validating new customers and dealing with reservation requests. The admin panel also helps to coordinate fueling, charging, dispatching, and regular inspections. Read more about how Ada uses Forest Admin.

A screenshot illustrating an admin panel of Ada. Forest Admin doesn't have access to customer data.
A screenshot illustrating an admin panel of Ada. Forest Admin doesn't have access to customer data.


Spendesk is an all-in-one spending solution built for finance teams. In this case study, the admin panel is used for advanced customer management, support, and data visualization. Read more about how Spendesk uses Forest Admin.

A screenshot illustrating an admin panel of Ada. Forest Admin doesn't have access to customer data.
A screenshot illustrating an admin panel of Spendesk. Forest Admin doesn't have access to customer data.

Custom vs Readymade

Now that we have reviewed several components that make up the admin panel and also explored some real-world examples, the next subject to consider is whether to code an admin panel for your project from scratch or use a readymade customizable solution. Here are some factors to consider when choosing between custom or readymade admin panel solutions:


Creating a custom admin panel from scratch takes a lot of time, as there are so many different technologies and areas to implement. From the frontend UI/UX design, database design and structure, security, and server requirements, the time spent implementing everything you need to create a custom admin panel is going to take a considerable amount.

Using a readymade solution saves you as the developer time as there are common features already present to implement, as well as, the opportunity to create or customize features specific to your project. So instead of making all the features from scratch, you can spend your time implementing features specific to your application.


Every project is unique, so there is no specific fixed price for creating an admin panel. The factors to consider will depend on your application development-specific needs. Some factors to consider would be:

  • The scale of a project,
  • The technology stack to use,
  • The backend development,
  • Adding security features,
  • Researching and implementing third-party integrations,
  • The location and size of the team,
  • And much more,

A readymade solution does come with a cost, however, as you consider the factors for the custom solution you can find a solution that is relevant to your project thus eliminating the need to combine and integrate all the relevant technologies required for a custom solution.

Create an Admin Panel Effortlessly

Forest Admin offers developers a complete solution for admin panel and dashboard development. Used by several companies, it will save you time and money as the pricing is affordable and the customization options are endless.

A screenshot of a real estate management admin panel - from one of the live demos. Forest Admin doesn't have access to customers' data.
A screenshot of a real estate management admin panel - from one of the live demos. Forest Admin doesn't have access to customers' data.


In conclusion, we have seen that having an admin panel gives us more control and flexibility over the website and application content. Many elements make up the admin panel, including an admin dashboard that visually summarizes data on the backend at a glance. This clarifies the distinction between the two terms most commonly used in enterprise software development.

We have also discussed the various ways you can approach admin panel development, custom, or a readymade solution. So whatever software application you are developing, an admin panel should not be an afterthought but an essential element to implement for your client or company.