Dusty Apple

Shelley says, “It’s odd, but when I first switched from Movable Type to WordPress, I also thought the interface was ‘unpolished’.” This is a common first impression but an uncommon lasting impression. What could be done to make WordPress a little snazzier for first-time users without compromising the speed and elegance long-time users appreciate?

21 thoughts on “Dusty Apple

  1. Get a graphics/web/or-whatever-they-call-themselves designer on board. Also, I disagree with your statemet an uncommon lasting impression, it’s more that one gets used to it. It definitely needs work. While a better interface doesn’t add more features, it in itself is a great feature. I am postive though that ‘powerusers’ will complain about any changes for the prettier – so since the interface is styled using CSS and xhtml, why not have different stylesheets? So the use can select a admin style from somewhere in the admin interface. I think that would be great! And it shouldn’t require a great deal of work either to add this.

    Also, one great failure of the current WP admin interface is that to my bad eyes practically everything is the same color – there is no visual seperation of elements. See the blogger interface. It’s a bit too simplified and geared towards newbies, but they really put some effort and thought into the design.

  2. Skinning a bad interface doesn’t help the problem, it just creates another one. The interface has improved with every version, and we’re committed to continuing that. That’s why I’m soliciting feedback.

  3. There’s also a line of thought that for things to be fast and speedy, it needs to look simple. The very idea of css is to have your cake and eat it, so please don’t listen to much to them! Else we would still be all staring at a blinking green cursor! Perhaps I’m overstating it, but design really matters. The best thing that could happen to any open source project is to get some sort of information architect, web guru and interface designer on board.

  4. I know speed isn’t necessarily connected to simplicity, but simplicity has its own merits. We have an interface designer and several web gurus. (Could use a IA.)

  5. OK, heres some specific feedback for the current interface (i’m running WP 1.2beta)

    – The words accross the top need to look more like tabs, instead of just words – they all seem to merge into each other. Also, since they do function like tabs, there needs to be something more than just the background of the word turning gray.

    – There’s just too much white space everywhere. Not that white space is bad, but somehow in WP it doesn’t seem right. Look at Reply

  6. This may sound odd, but I think part of the “unpolished” look is due to the exclusive use of serif font faces. Also, the colors used are rather dull; black, gray and (similar to) standard link blue. It looks, well, undesigned.

    I suggest more creative use of color; sophisticated use, not kindergarden-like. I suggest that some parts of the interface, especially the parts using rather small font sizes, should use sans-serif font faces, as opposed to serif ones. And, finally, I suggest icons and/or illustrations should be added to the interface.

  7. You’re most welcome. Thank you for WP.

    Once WP has the ability to have multiple blogs from one installation, the current interface will require some serious revamping. One thing which is missing is a page to seem info about the blog – sort of the main page of the blog’s admin section, where you have stuff like the recent comments, trackbacks, posts, referrers etc.
    things like number of posts, comments and so on. Right now when I login to the admin interface, i go straight to the write page. With multiple blogs, there needs be another page with a listing of all the weblogs and some vital stats. Sort of how blogger and mt do it. Here javascript can be usefull – you press a plus next to the blog and down drops/slides more info.

    – Adding spell checking. This could be javascript based. There are a number of free ones littered all over the web. (I think). Gmail implements spellcheck very well, all in javascript. Again, This should be optional.

    – While writing a post, perhaps stuff like press this button see number of words, related links from your blog, from other blogs etc. Ideally it would be great that instead of just a simply text area, the write page becomes more like a simple word processor. So then instead of writing an entry elsewhere and copypasting it, the WP write area becomes good enough. however, this is probably just bloat.

    this text box is way to thin. (using opera 7.5 i only see 4 lines.)

  8. Pingback: Liber Iioshii
  9. I know for me, I loved the nice graphics on MT 2.0. That was one of the reasons I thought the interface on WP was unpolished. I am also not a big fan of the WP logo. It is pretty large and is just too simple. I think WP needs a good “logo” rather than just decorated text. (that may just be me). I also agree with Tomas on the color issue. I would love to see some a more vibrant, yet sophisticated color scheme for the interface. In my opinion, blues and greys together are way over used on websites. If you ever need any assistance on the graphics end of things, I would love to help.

  10. Sorry, I should have mentioned, this was my impression when I first started using WordPress. With the changes in 1.2, it has really grown on me and I like most of it a lot.

    And about the logo being large. At second glance, it is just the right size. There is a lot of unused space, though in the grey, header area.

  11. How about making sure that the posting interface works properly in Opera as well? I know, I know… hack your own stylesheets… 🙂 but it would be nice to polish the code enough that it would work in *all* browsers.

  12. One thing which is missing is a page to see[] info about the blog — sort of the main page of the blog’s admin section, where you have stuff like the recent comments, trackbacks, posts, referrers etc.

    That sounds familiar. 🙂

  13. Just to clarify, in my post I said that I didn’t find it unpolished, but that some people do.

    To me, its fast, intuitive, easy to read, and doesn’t have a lot of graphics — yeah.

    Matt, hold a ‘skin the Administration pages’ contest. Pure CSS changes only. Could be fun, and then people can download whatever skin they want.

  14. Matt–

    Mix up some sans-serif fonts with the serifs. Too many serif fonts–particularly in the menus–can feel overwhelming. My two cents…


  15. Matt:

    I would suggest that you come up with an ideal end-point and slowly migrate the UI in that direction. Incremental change is always easier to accept.

  16. I’m still on version 1.0.1, so I don’t know if the UI has improved in the latest release, but the biggest issue in my mind is the fact that the input fields and the buttons look exactly the same! Buttons really should pop out a bit more, letting the user know to “press me!”

    In general, I would say that there’s just not enough contrast between different types of elements–everything sort of blends together. Aside from that, though, it’s pretty easy to use once you get used to it. But I’d love to see some subtle use of color.

    Just noticed your “Say It!” button in the comment form also looks like a text field, just like the WP interface. 🙂

  17. I like the UI fine, though I can think of a few extra things would make it extra nice. 🙂 I will mess around with the stylesheet – I think it’s worth pointing out that people can do that.

    For what it’s worth, the MT3.0 interface (from what I saw from the Beta) looked similarly “unpolished” as well, though it was just as robust as it’s previous incarnation…

  18. – Javascript can be a terrible thing, but used properly it can also be great. For example, the tasks software by AlexKing uses it”¦ gmail puts it to good use also. It could probably do lots of good stuff in the WP interface also, though as to what exactly, i’m not sure.

    The one use that immediately sprung to mind when I first started with WordPress is on the Options page in the default date/time options. Dynamic display of what the different options do would be a marked improvement for those who vaguely (but don’t quite) remember the syntax. Of course, the whole thing of adding in incomprehensible PHP argument code probably isn’t so great, either, but at least this Javascript would make it a little simpler.