Tag Archives: how-to-find

#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.

cheers

Meeks


How to link to your story on Wattpad

angryIn my last post about Wattpad, I talked about my failed attempts to link to Innerscape, Part 1, and the workaround I finally discovered. I was not particularly happy with the Wattpad interface, and said so.

Since then, Fernanda from Wattpad support replied to my email and explained how to link to my story properly. The following is a quick, pictorial version of what Fernanda told me.

Once you have created and published your story to Wattpad, you are ready to promote it beyond Wattpad.

Step 1 Click the tiny arrow next to your Wattpad name to display the drop down list as shown below:

 

Step 1

Step 1

From the drop down list, select the ‘My Profile’ option.

Step 2 The ‘My Profile’ page contains the About [you] as well as a list of stories you have published to Wattpad. In the screenshot below, you can see that I’ve only published one story [Innerscape].

Step 2

Step 2

To read [or link to] any of the stories you have published, click on the relevant link. For me, the link is for Innerscape.

You should now be looking at a sort of public page on which anyone can read your story.

Step 3 Click on the address bar for your story as shown in the screenshot below:

Step 3

Step 3

Once the URL of your story is highlighted in blue, simply copy and paste it into your tweet, FB post, blog post or other promotional site.

If you try to do any of this from within the ‘Works’ option [the obvious place to look for your story], the resultant URL will belong to your private Wattpad account and hence will not be accessible to other people – i.e. it won’t work!

I can see the programming logic behind all this but …a good interface would not hide such a common function in such a non-intuitive location. Or perhaps the Devs of Wattpad assume that anyone publishing material on Wattpad will not be interested in promoting their work anywhere else. -shrug- Or maybe they don’t want to clutter up the interface with all this unsightly and potentially technical stuff?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I believe most current user interfaces are hell bent on being innovative and different, and beggar the functionality. I’ve suffered through the latest, ongoing transformation of the WordPress.com interface, and it appears I shall have to suffer from the Wattpad one as well.

Perhaps I should be more diplomatic.

-thinks-

Nope. Poor design is poor design no matter what the intention of the developers may be.

-grump-

Meeks


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