I tried to show a friend some tips and tricks for her new WordPress.com blog site yesterday.
Imagine my confusion when I realised that her version of WordPress.com does NOT have the WP-Admin button! This is what it looks like on my blog:
Clicking the WP Admin button takes me to the original WP Dashboard, which looks like this:
I cut a bit of the screenshot out in the middle so you could see it more clearly. Click the image to see it in full size.
This old Dashboard is quite powerful and great for serious bloggers who, like me, have literally hundreds if not thousands of blog posts to manage. I admit that it might be a bit daunting for the casual blogger. I also admit that the new WordPress interface may be easier to learn/use for the casual blogger, but so far, every time I’ve tried to use it, I’ve just been frustrated by how awkward and clunky the whole thing is. And slow, let’s not forget slow. As a fairly seriously blogger, I find the new-ish interface a poor tool. But horses for courses, right?
Wrong. Apparently, I still have WP Admin because I’ve been a blogger on WordPress since 2011. New bloggers are not so lucky, they don’t get a choice at all, and I fear that in time, us old guard bloggers will end up with no choice as well.
But why dumb WordPress down so badly?
In search of answers I went to Papa Google and found this:
Again, click on the image to see it at full size.
The screenshot was taken from a WordPress forum dating back to late [November?] 2015. The thread is about WP users complaining about losing the link to the old Dashboard [via WP Admin]. A couple of European Moderators have chimed in as well, complaining about not being notified of such a serious change by WordPress, and hence not being able to help their forum members.
The thing I found most interesting on this forum was the comment by an actual WordPress staff member – supernovia – who says, and I quote:
If it helps, all of the mobile apps have been like the newer admin area for a while now,
and as we transition WordPress.com to make everything more consistent, having two different interfaces was confusing new users.
And right there – ‘the mobile apps’ – is the nub of the problem. WordPress doesn’t want to maintain two separate interfaces – one for mobile apps and one for pc’s – so the interface for the pc is being dumbed down as much as possible to save development costs.
Lots of large developers have done the same thing – remember Windows 8, the OS that was meant to bridge the gap between mobile phones, tablets and pc’s? All seem to have missed the most basic point about demographics – app users don’t work on their mobile phones. People who work still use pc’s because pc’s are still a million times more powerful and convenient to use than something which can only be used by your bloody thumbs.
The corporate world doesn’t like the dumbed down, mobile version of programmes because they are not cost efficient for the user. Many of us on WordPress run what amounts to a small business via our blogs. Something designed to work efficiently as a mobile phone app will NOT allow us to work more efficiently at home, in front of a nice LARGE screen with a full-sized keyboard.
Don’t believe that the new interface is weaker and less efficient? Here’s proof. Just before starting this post, I ran an experiment using both the old Dashboard search function and the new interface search function.
The result? Dashboard 1, new interface 0. The new interface search function failed. Completely.
What did I search for?
I was searching for a draft post on making scones. This is the original post title:
Lois’ Soda Water #Scones
I typed ‘scone’ into the old Dashboard search function and it found:
This is a ‘closest match’ which found the post I was looking for.
Then, I tried to find the new interface search function. This is what it looks like:
Before you can type in any search words, you have to click the magnifying icon…excuse me? The standard for most programmes is to type the search words into the search box and /then/ click the magnifying glass to carry out the search. I guess the WordPress devs wanted to be…different.
Then, having finally found out how to actually do a search, this is what happened:
The one nice thing about the new search function is that it searches as you type so it begins displaying possible search results before you even finish typing. Or in my case, not.
Clearly the new interface search function is set for exact matches only – remember the title of my blog post is Lois’ Soda Water #Scones. The hashtag threw the search engine off completely.
Now, in the real world, I have 996 blog posts, including close to 100 drafts. I often link back to previous posts when I write new posts. After 4 years, I very rarely remember the exact title of any of my posts. That means a ‘closest match’ is VITAL. For me, the new search function is next to useless.
So, will WordPress see reason and give serious bloggers back the tools they need to work efficiently? Or are we going to have to live with this dumbed down, mobile phone app?
Sadly, I think we’ll have to live with a poor interface until someone, somewhere, realises that you can’t do real work with just your thumbs.