Tag Archives: dashboard

#WordPress dumbed down for mobile phones

meekathara furiousI 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:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach2

Clicking the WP Admin button takes me to the original WP Dashboard, which looks like this:

 

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach3

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:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach

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:

scone-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:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach4

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:

scone-not-found

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.

Unhappy, WordPress.

Meeks


Open Letter to the WordPress.com 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


Why I don’t like the new WordPress interface

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I don’t like change. There, I’ve said it. Once I’ve got a tool working efficiently, I don’t appreciate being forced to learn how to use a different one, just because someone, somewhere, thought it might be a good idea.

You see, the thing I care about is not the tool itself, it’s what I can do with that tool. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, please. Every time you do, you’re wasting my precious time. And whatever you do, please don’t make my blogging life harder!

Sadly the latest iteration of the WordPress interface does not give me anything worthwhile, but it does make what I do a little bit harder.

Before I start complaining about the failings of this new tool, I have to concede that the WordPress designers did not develop this new interface for me. In fact they did not develop it for any of us old users. Almost without fail, every innovation has been aimed squarely at new users, or to be more precise, to attract new users. This can be seen most clearly in the login screen :

wordpress interface new 1

The whole, visual thrust of this screen is to make it easy for a new user to sign up. Unfortunately, if I were a new user, I’d look at that screen and scratch my head because :

1. I would not know the format of the wordpress URLs, and hence I would not know what to type in that nice, convenient box,

2. There is nothing on this screen to help me decipher what’s expected of me.

In a word, this is poor design compounded by the fact that as an old user, I now have to add an extra click to my sign-in procedure. If I stayed in WordPress all day, that extra click might not bother me. But I’m in and out a number of times per day, and each time I have to :

a) Wait for the screen to load

b) Click the Log In button

c) Position the cursor at the new input dialogue box, and only then actually type in my log in details.

Quite frankly, this is unnecessary and more than a little annoying. Sadly, it’s just the beginning.

Once I am inside WordPress, the interface does look greatly simplified, and ‘clean’. By default, the interface opens with the Reader screen, allowing me to dive straight into other peoples’ blogs, if I so wish. Well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. First thing of a morning, I’m more likely to want to see my stats, or reply to comments. However, if I’ve just had a great idea for a new post, I’d rather get straight into writing.

Now, to be fair, there is a ‘New Post’ icon at the top right of my screen :

wordpress interface new post1but when I mouse-over it in the Opera browser, I get no tooltip telling me that this is what I should click in order to create a new post. Again, to be fair, Opera is very unforgiving of html or CSS errors, so perhaps the lack of a mouse-over is just a problem with my browser.

However, I find it hard to believe my browser is also to blame for the fact that the ‘New Post’ icon never seems to work properly for me. I can certainly type a new post, however as soon as I try to save my draft, or preview it, the waiting animation just goes berserk and won’t stop. In order to save my work, I have to :

– select all

– copy

– cancel post

– select My Sites

– select Posts

– select New Post

– and paste what I typed into a screen that can be saved.

As you can imagine, this is just a wee bit …annoying.

My biggest gripe, however, has to do with how important features have now been hidden behind acres of simplified screens. For example, in the new, streamlined interface, the only way I can find one particular post I have written is by scrolling through every single post I’ve ever written, in date order! That is the prospect I faced this morning when I went looking for my original post on ‘frozen shoulder/hydro dilation.

I eventually found the search function under My Sites/Dashboard/Posts/All Posts. Now, I have always been able to find the search function on the Dashboard, but I distinctly remember also being able to access the search function from the My Sites/Posts option as well. That is no longer available to me, and I’m forced to do everything the hard way.

[Note: if you have not already found the search function in WordPress, there is a quick how-to at the end of this post].

Again, this lack of functionality is only likely to annoy the $hit out of people like me who have 500 plus posts to wade through. But what happens when those new users become old users and discover that all the best, most efficient features have been hidden from them?

-grumble- I suppose they’ll have other interface ‘innovations’ to gripe about by then…

In the final analysis, I have no objection to WordPress making the lives of new users easier, but so far many of the innovations seem more counter intuitive than anything else. New users need hand holding. They need to be told what everything is, because when everything is new, nothing is obvious.

As for us oldies? How about some innovations that allow us to hotkey our favourite functions so we can customize our working spaces as we see fit? Now that would be a change I’d welcome.

cheers

Meeks

How to find the search function in WordPress [July 2014 version]

1. Click ‘My Sites‘ at the top left of your screen :

wordpress interface new 2

You should now see this :

wordpress interface new 3

2. Click ‘Dashboard’ as shown above.

You should now be looking at the slightly revamped Dashboard screen. This was the heart of WordPress when I began blogging almost 3 years ago.

wordpress interface dashboard 13. Click on Posts in the black, navigation panel to the left of the screen :

4. Now click on All Posts as shown below :

wordpress interface dashboard 2

You should now be looking at a table listing every single post you have ever written.

5. Click in the Search Box [at the top right of the list as shown] and type in a keyword. Then click the ‘Search Posts’ button next to it.

wordpress interface search 1

 

In the example shown above, I typed ‘Nanowrimo’ into the search box and was presented with every single post I had ever written that contained the word nanowrimo in it. This cut my ‘check it and see’ search area down to just a handful of posts.

Once you have found the post you are looking for, you can click on the ‘Edit’ option to open it up. Clicking on ‘Edit’ allows you to..tah dah…edit, but it also allows you to get a ‘Shortlink” for the post. Shortlinks are invaluable when you want to link to an old post from within a new post. Or link to any post from within a Tweet, etc.


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