#WordPress – new vs old

I’ve been blogging with WordPress since December, 2011, so I still have access to the old WP dashboard. I still prefer the old WP dashboard… because it works, but today I thought I’d give the ‘new’ interface a try.

The task: to find the shortlink [abbreviated URL] for one of my older posts.

I found the post in question [an interesting journey in its own right], and then went looking for the shortlink command:

[Click the screenshot to see the full sized image]

It wasn’t under any of the options on the menu to the right, so where was it? I knew it had to be there somewhere and kept looking.

I finally found the shortlink feature…hidden behind this tiny, clear-as-mud icon :

…with an even clearer context sensitive description of ‘Edit post URL’

Now, I didn’t want to edit the URL, I wanted to copy it, but for lack of a better option, I clicked the icon. A popup appeared with the option of copying the post URL. Eureka!

This is what the URL looks like when it’s pasted into the address bar of a browser:

Not exactly short, but at least I found it… :/

Now, let’s compare the new version with the old. The screenshot below is from the old dashboard interface:

As you can see, the feature I want is clearly labelled…in words, shock horror.

When I click ‘Get Shortlink’ this is what happens:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a shortlink. If you use Twitter like I do, the difference between the two URLs couldn’t be more stark. The ‘new’ version is long, the ‘old’ version is short. Now, you can get a ‘short’ URL by using the online app ‘Tiny URL’, but why bother when you already have the option in WP itself?

I’m all for progress. I’m all for software interfaces being pitched to the newest of users; giving them lots of help is only fair because they’re the ones who need it the most. I even like nice, clean interfaces where there’s little clutter to distract the eye. Unfortunately, the current WordPress interface ticks only one of those boxes – the lack of clutter.

I know they say that one picture is worth a thousand words, but the WordPress GUI [graphical user interface] is not empowering new users because:

  1. Advanced, and not-so-advanced features are hidden behind icons that have no intrinsic meaning – i.e. the icon doesn’t look like the thing it’s meant to represent.
  2. This results in users not even knowing what is possible,
  3. Learning to associate a random looking icon with a particular function requires a great deal of trial and error on the part of the user,
  4. Learning by trial and error involves making mistakes,
  5. Making mistakes takes curiosity and a great deal of courage,
  6. Most new users are terrified of making mistakes, therefore they don’t venture past the functions that are ‘obvious’,
  7. Obvious functions usually involve words with which new users are already familiar.

I’m not sure if this is still a buzzword amongst the young but…fail, WordPress, fail.

Teaching theory

I’ve been teaching both children and adults for a very long time, and the one thing I know for certain is that humans of all ages learn best when new material is linked to old material.

For example, if I wanted to teach someone the difference between a post and a page [on a blog], I might say that a page is like a billboard because it’s permanent, whereas a post is more like an article in a newspaper – i.e. constantly changing. The analogies don’t have to be perfect, they simply have to tap into something the user already knows. Once the similarities are established, it’s much easier to learn about the differences.

So how does this teaching theory relate to the WordPress GUI? It doesn’t, and that’s the problem. The new GUI makes one piece of new information dependent upon a second piece of new information, and that usually leads to poor learning outcomes.

I can only assume that the WordPress GUI is aimed at very young people who may already be familiar with certain symbols from their use of mobile phones. But where does that leave the older user, or those who use their blogs on pc’s and laptops rather than mobile phones? Come to think of it, does anyone actually pick out the words of a post on a mobile phone? I can’t think of anything more tedious.

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Now I’m off to use old fashioned words to write another how-to book.



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

36 responses to “#WordPress – new vs old

  • D. Wallace Peach

    This is great. I didn’t know any of this and it’s so easy. I’ll have to give it a try next time. Thanks. You are such a tech whiz!


  • The Opening Sentence

    There’s a constant reminder on my dashboard to try the new WordPress experience and I know from experience it will be worse than the current one. And the changes are often covered in tech gobbledegook justification. If changes were made because of user complaints or suggestions they should tell us, but they never do. Why would users want to hide the shortened URL button?

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Hah! Yeah, I get that as well. And it’s always ‘oh, try the improved editor’ or whatever.
      You know they call themselves ‘happiness engineers’? -rolls eyes-


  • roughwighting

    Good rant, and because I’m not a techie, I only understood half of it! Yes, I’m not a “youngie” – I use my laptop and PC for my blogging work and reading, rarely my phone. Word Press works for me – I just don’t want them making things less simple! ;-0

    Liked by 1 person

  • greenpete58

    I think you’re probably right about the new interface being aimed at young people who use (er, abuse) smartphones. I’m an older person who refuses to capitulate to the zombie apocalypse and get a smartphone. And, frankly, I get tired of softwares constantly changing only for the sake of change. This occurs because many people are employed to “tinker.” They need to justify their employment. But the tinkering doesn’t necessarily result in improvement. And that’s MY rant for the day! šŸ™‚


    • acflory

      -grin- Hiya Pete! I believe you’re spot on with the comment about the ‘tinkerers’. I had to get Office 2016 because I was helping to teach it, but if you were to put 10, 13 and 16 side by side, the differences in /function/ would be absolutely minimal. In fact, just below the skin of the newish interface are all the old dialog boxes. But we all pay for the cosmetic changes so we can all be ‘on the same page’.
      -makes rude noise-
      Please feel free to come and rant any time. šŸ˜€


      • Xena

        Speaking of Office, I still use the version on my XP. LOL! Because Windows no longer supports XP, I only use it for word processing. I have not switched to any of WP’s “improved” suggestions. What worked for me in 2012 still works fine.


        • acflory

          LOL! I upgraded to Win 7 from XP years ago but I still remember XP with fondness. Actually, I still remember Win 2000 with nostalgia. Imho, 8, 8.1 and 10 are all lemons with no lemonade. Stick to your guns. šŸ™‚


          • Xena

            In 2014, my 7.0 laptop started heating up more than usual. When I took it in for repairs, the guy said that the insides were so brittle that if it started heating up again, it could not be repaired. In 2015, I got an 8.1 laptop. It’s okay, but when it comes to word processing and spreadsheets, I boot up the XP which I’ve had since 2007. It’s tried and true and I’ll never understand why Windows and Microsoft think they have to change things.


          • acflory

            lol – I do own a laptop but 99.5% of the time I use my trusty desktop so don’t have those problems. As for Microsoft, I guess they have to keep selling product or go out of business. :/


  • philosophermouseofthehedge

    It’s like a rockslide – nothing familiar to grab onto so you can slow down and make sense of it. (Going to hide and stay with old and familiar as long as possible – I just want to blog/write – not think)
    Great post

    Liked by 1 person

  • anne54

    Sorry to not comment about your post but my eye was caught by your retirement comment in the comments. That’s great news (especially if you want to retire). Is more wiring time high on the agenda? I remember when I told my dentist I had retired he said “Good, you will have more time to floss!”


    • acflory

      lmao – definitely not spending my time flossing! And yes, more time writing. I’ve set myself a target – I have to finish and publish 2 more how-tos. Only after they’re up and running can I return to fiction.
      I’ve enjoyed the last year and a half, but the desire to get lost in a story has been nagging at me like a sore tooth.
      I am going to LOVE being retired. šŸ˜€


  • Widdershins

    They’re going to have to pry my cold dead hands off the old dashboard with something akin to an atomic explosion before I’ll give it up! šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      -giggles- maybe we should start a group – Friends of the Dashboard?
      Probably need something a little more catchy, but I’m prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder in the trenches with you! Hands off the Dash!

      Liked by 1 person

  • The Story Reading Ape

    That’s definitely NOT a short link, Meeks
    I have a dot com domain, but have a free WP account and theme – which shows the same link arrangement as you.
    I rarely use the ‘advanced’ editor because it is – quite frankly – RUBBISH

    Liked by 1 person

  • MELewis

    Could not agree more, but I’m also not of the mobile generation! I am continually frustrated by the so-called innovations in the dashboard. By the way, have been wanting to ask: how are things going with Medium? Are you still doing both?

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Yeah, every time I decide to give the new stuff a try I just end up angry and frustrated.
      I still have the Medium account but, no, I haven’t been active on it at all. I’ve been meaning to bring some of the better posts back to WordPress but simply haven’t had time, or energy.
      I officially retired today but because of some health issues I’ve been running around a bit. Hope to relax more soon. šŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  • Carrie Rubin

    I still prefer the old dashboard too. I rarely post anymore, but when I do, I go to the old one.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Frank Prem

    Meeks, I just went here – good discussion.

    Led me to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zKWJ_a1q60&feature=youtu.be

    Haven’t done it yet, but probably will when I get around to it.


    • acflory

      I had a look at that video clip but couldn’t follow it because my dashboard doesn’t have the ‘Editor’ option under Appearance. I’m actually wondering whether the dashboard shown in the video is for WordPress.org rather than .com. Is very strange.

      Liked by 1 person

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