Who Moved My Cheese? The New WordPress Admin Interface
Two of my blogging heroes and inspiration Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky have joined together on a new venture called StackOverflow: overflowing with awesomeness. They are also doing a weekly podcast, and you can download the first 45 minute podcast here (8 MB). In the discussion, Joel makes a great comment: Windows Vista gives you change without giving you any value. As a Windows XP user there is no compelling reason to upgrade because you’re going to have to relearn where everything is, but you don’t get any new and compelling features or applications to offset that.
People don’t like change, to the point where you can write a book about it and sell 5 million copies.
This perfectly explained my resistance to the new WordPress 2.5 admin interface: it changed where everything is without giving any perceived value. The value in the new UI is that it is easier for new people to find things, but as someone who has been blogging with WordPress for two years I found myself continually getting irritated and bitching about it on Twitter.
(See how the text in that image is impossible to read on the webpage? That’s the 500px problem in a nutshell. And there’s NO WAY FOR ME TO FIX THIS because we can’t change our blog themes on WordPress.com.)
- Not enough contrast between colours.
- Instead of having everything in the sidebar beside the post, you have to scroll down the page to add tags, categories, excerpts.
- Inserting a link is no longer Ctrl-K, it’s now Alt-Shift-A.
- As Chris says, “This is muscle memory by now!”
- Hitting Tab in a link list no longer indents the list, now it jumps down to Tags. You have to use the Indent button from the Advanced Menu instead and there doesn’t seem to be a hotkey for this.
- New interface for uploading media and images, with Gallery mode.
- More fields to fill out than before, and no way to permanently change the default settings to what you want. The defaults should be configurable by the Settings >> Media menu.
- The dreaded 500px feature. If your theme is missing a special code then all of your image uploads will be squished to 500px.
- This would have been a great feature two years ago when if you uploaded an image that was too wide for your theme it would break Internet Explorer 6. It is still a great feature, but annoying.
- Delete button is right beside the save button. Causes some people to worry they’ll accidentally delete a post.
- The new editor is supposed to prevent your code from getting screwed up, yet I was able really munge my code by switching between the Visual and HTML editors. I haven’t been able to reproduce it, so I’m willing to concede it was my fault some how. :)
- You can no longer view the comments marked as spam with Akismet. I’ve tested this on self-hosted WordPress and WordPress.com and it’s broken in both of them.
- What happens is that every “page” in the page shows the same 20-40 comments. See screenshots. Notice that I have Greasemonkey turned off so there shouldn’t be any scripts causing this to happen.
Who moved my cheese? My first week with the new WordPress 2.5 admin involved lots of frustration and much swearing, not to mention that I had to update my Akismet Auntie Spam and WordPress Comment Ninja Firefox scripts to work with the new interfaces.
Because of issues I had with the new features (hotkeys changed, image uploading takes longer, Akismet interface) I perceived that the new interface changed and I’m not getting any value from it. Who moved my cheese? Why do I have to deal with things being moved around without getting anything from it?
Of course, a week later and I’m enjoying the new admin interface once I’m past the learning curve. I do think things are more intelligently laid out, and I especially like the new list interfaces to managing comments. But that doesn’t discount the psychological impact that I didn’t feel like there was a good reason to learn the new interface.
As a software developer, it’s something to keep in mind. People don’t want to relearn your interface unless their are enough compelling features that they see the value in it. Give them a carrot while they’re looking for their cheese.
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