I’ve been using the new WordPress 2.5 on a project which I upgraded from 2.3.3. It seemed very swish, with some great new features: Media Management, multi-file uploading, Gravatars, tidier menus and — the big one — an improved Write screen. When WordPress was in RC phase, this was said about the Write screen:
.”..only displays the information that you’ll use most often. It displays the most common fields in a way that makes posting incredibly easy. Additional options are hidden away until you need them. The new Write screen anticipates the natural flow of the way you write.”
WordPress’ Write screen is the core of the software. If this doesn’t work well, it doesn’t matter how many nice new features have been included, you’re gonna have a bad time blogging. So it was encouraging to read about its improvments. But rather than improving the experience, they made it worse. Why? In short: Bad use of screen real estate.
I’ll look at this in detail in my next post, but frustrated by these problems, I posted over on Zeldman’s blog to exercise my frustration. For those not in the know, Jeffrey Zeldman is an internationally respected designer, writer and one of the founders of the Web Standards Project. I’ve followed his work for several years, indeed, I try to practice what he preaches and I’ve respected him from afar. He is founder and Creative Director of Happy Cog Studios, the team who were drafted in to re-design the back-end of WordPress 2.5.
Happy Cog’s ‘About’ blurb says this:
Happy Cog delivers beautiful websites that never lose sight of the human being using them. From site structure to interface design, from branding to content development, Happy Cog’s people are the authorities.
Self-praise is no recommendation, but I honestly believe their statement: they do indeed make beautiful and very usable websites. Why then did they screw up WordPress’ Write Screen? I find it quite strange that such a respected agency can get it so wrong, but I guess these things happen even to the ‘authorities’.
I know I’m not in a minority. There are many threads on the WordPress Requests and Feedback forums decrying the changes as anything from “a usability error” to the fact that “it has ruined the whole blogging experience for me”. So, in the face of all this hatred over the new Write screen, I wanted to try and be heard.
I posted my criticisms on Zeldman’s blog. No response. I posted on the WordPress Feedback support forum. No response. I posted in the Ideas section of the WordPress site. No response (well, that one’s fair enough, you assume they simply read the ideas and grab any that are good). The only engaging conversation I got wasn’t with anyone connected to WordPress, but in fact the company I used to work for. Finally, a moderator on the WP Feedback forum had this to say about us posting our criticisms:
It won’t help… the main developers don’t generally read these forums. So… why discuss the problem in a place that the main people who can remedy the problem won’t see it? On the other hand, the devs do read the mailing lists. Really.
Now, I appreciate that developers are busy developing. But whay have a forum that’s called “Requests and Feedback” that invites “Feature requests; criticism” if you’re not going to bother reading what we have to say? Frankly, it beggars belief. I am looking forward to getting a sensible answer.
I am sorry to sound so negative, but I’m very annoyed and frustrated. I still think WordPress is a good piece of software and there are plenty of people who have no problems with the new changes. I just need to know that we, the disgruntled users, are being listened to and our complaints are being taken seriously.
Right now, that doesn’t seem to be happening.