Open Letter to the Devs

As someone who has taught human beings for close to 40 years, I can tell you that one size will never fit all.

What that means for YOU is that the interface you create must always have ‘layers’ so it can cater to the abilities of all users – i.e. absolute beginners through to power users. At the moment it dumbs everything down in an attempt to suit absolute beginners.

Now I agree that pitching to the lowest common denominator is a nice idea, at least in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice because it ignores all those in the middle to high end of the bell curve. These users are not smarter than beginners, they have simply learned more, and put that learning to use. They have different needs.

Let me give you an example. When I started my blog on WordPress, everything was new and my first efforts were pretty basic. I knew how to setup my blog, write a blog post, publish it, and browse the Reader. That was about it. Well over 500 posts later, I need all the functionality of the existing dashboard to manage the sheer volume of pages and posts on my blog. Yet instead of giving me more tools, you’ve gone and hidden all the most powerful ones.

I haven’t been happy about these changes for quite some time, but I want this post to be more positive than negative so instead of whining, I’m going to make some common sense suggestions :

1. How about trusting your WordPress bloggers enough to ask them what they want and need? You know where we live – talk to us!

2. How about redesigning the interface so that new users are walked through the basic functions in a series of real time tutorials? The method works well in most MMOs and could work here.

3. How about accepting that all users are not the same, and giving those who want it, direct access to the dashboard. Perhaps you could have an ‘Advanced’ button up the top of the screen. Or even one called ‘Dashboard’. Wouldn’t that be radical?

4. Finally, how about giving your users the courtesy of some warning when you change things? For years now you’ve been treating us as conscripted beta-testers. We get no warning, we get no explanations and we get no apology when you inevitably get things wrong. At the very least, it would be nice to have the option of ‘opting out’.

I recognize that most of these suggestions will never see the light of day, but putting an ‘Advanced’ button within easy reach is such a small thing to ask for. Do you really care so little about what we think?

Yours most sincerely,

A.C. Flory

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

10 responses to “Open Letter to the Devs

  • Honie Briggs

    Revenue generation is the name of the game. Paying to opt in AND opt out, they get us coming and going no matter our skill level. You put this much more nicely than I would have. I’m with you on being a beta guinea. Ask for customer input? What? HA!


    • acflory

      Yeah 😦

      I can see it as a business model – we pay for our ‘free’ service by being the guinea pigs – but I suspect the popularity and reputation of WP is based more on its free users than on its paid ones. -shrug-


  • davidprosser

    I like wordpress but I niggle that we’re not given the chance to change fonts and sizes when we’re writing. Maybe that’s a given on the paying section butt I would have thought it a basic need of most bloggers in the freebie blog section too.
    I understand you must make things special for those who pay for blog space but surely that could be done in the style department for layouts etc. Newbies/freebies don’t need that many choices.
    I agree with Meeks that listening to users would be a nice idea rather than just plonking changes before us. You may find that some users have ideas to improve what you offer and avoid some of the inevitable hiccups that come with changes.

    xxx Massive Hugs Meeks xxx


  • EllaDee

    Meeks, noooo I don’t want to be walked through tutorials…. horrors… it would be like reading instructions on how to assemble or operate something! 😉
    I think I must be a “wordpress-lite” user, I just do the same old same old via the Dashboard link under EllaDee in the top left hand corner, view comments via the little icon at the top RHS… and very little else, not caring about stats or anything.
    I notice if the appearance changes or something operates differently but I think because in the office things are constantly tweaked I find it easier to go with the flow… God forbid I’d pay attention if it details were communicated to me 🙂
    They only time I get upset is if it stops working At All 🙂


  • pinkagendist



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