A nerdy aside: one of the ways in which the WordPress.com interface changed recently was in the way we can include images in posts. This thumbnail is generated by WordPress. It’s rather smaller than I like images in posts to be, but the medium size image generated is rather larger (400 rather than 128 rather than the just-right 240 of the small image size at Flickr).
Of the many topics in the WordPress.com support forums prompted by the “2.5” redesign, the largest currently has 167 responses. There’s a lot of repetition and agreement in there. That’s not a criticism of (most of) those who’ve repeated and agreed, since the forums are there for the bloggers. But it does make for some tedious reading.
So I was struck by a recent contribution, which expressed a fresher concern.
The only thing that worries me is how the changed dashboard and entry pages will feel to an absolutely new, tyro blogger with little or no web experience. Will they be frightened away?
I think that the new design (not the new bugs) will feel better to a new blogger than did the old design. I’d be interested to hear if anyone’s done any testing on this.
I get the impression that the WordPress.org community is less bothered about the new design than is the WordPress.com community. I can think of several reasons for this. For example, the .org community comprises those who upgrade the WordPress software for themselves, and so will install 2.5 when they’re ready.
So, I’m thinking that: if we plotted approval of 2.5 against blogger experience, we’d see a U-shaped curve. Those who approve least tend to be moderately experienced bloggers, of which there are many at WordPress.com.
I should add that the U-shaped curve thought is a rather tentative hypothesis about what we’d find if we gathered data from WordPress bloggers on a couple of variables. There would of course be “outliers,” such as WordPress.com bloggers who love the new interface and novice bloggers who hate it.
The main goal of the recent WordPress 2.5 was to to increase usability. Unfortunately, some, particularly at WordPress.com, have initially experienced the new release as a decrease in usability.
Overall, though, I’m disappointed with the review. There is no mention of the fact that, when writing a post, we now have to page down to assign it to a category. I am far from alone in preferring the Categories box to be at the side of the Post content box, as it used to be prior to 2.5
The review itself has some barriers to usability. I shuddered at writing such as “color that is contrastful to the rest of the design, possibly a complimentary color” (should be “contrasts with the rest of the design” and “complementary,” although the second error is nowhere near as annoying as the first).
I also object to the lack of a link to any other page at the site (noscope.com). The front page consists mainly of many large images: thumbnails, with links to larger images, would have made it more user-friendly.
Perhaps some of the above is harsh. But those who preach usability should be prepared to be judged on usability. That includes WordPress, although I should add that I consider some of the judgment of 2.5 to be hasty.
After WordPress 2.5, what next? Matt Mullenweg gave a talk at the recent WordCamp in Dallas about 2.5 and beyond. There’s video of the talk at the WordPress Podcast. The “beyond” part of the talk, which starts at around the 50 minute mark, doesn’t include anything earth-shattering.
The more immediate sequel to the launch of 2.5 was the 2.5-ification of WordPress.com. That just happened, to considerable outcry in the support forums. Some of the outcry might have been pre-empted by an announcement that the dashboard was about to change, and here’s how. On the other hand, some people just plain don’t like the new dash, and are lobbying for the return of the old look, or at least for the option of keeping the old look. Personally, I’m not part of the outcry, which I expect to die down soon.
Since WordPress 2.5 was released over the weekend, there’s been an avalanche of posts. This is my little snowflake of a contribution.
As Reuven Lerner remarked, the emphasis of the new release is on usability. That’s usability for the blogger/admin: usability for the reader depends on the theme, and on other administration choices.
I’m running 2.5 on one of my other blogs. I still find the interface a lot cleaner. I can even see how categories and tags being shifted down the post page, which I don’t like, can be seen as part of the spring cleaning.
I really appreciate the upgrade to plugin management. The plugins screen told me that a new version (1.1) of the Yahoo Media Player plugin was available, and a few clicks later, I was running the new version, with no need for any explicit downloading and uploading.
Usability has long been considered a weakness of free/open source software. It’s good to see GPL’d projects, such as WordPress, making usability a priority. WordPress.com, where this blog lives, should be getting 2.5-ized soon.
It started when Anil Dash posted that WordPress 2.5 is about to be released, and we [Six Apart] wanted to encourage WordPress users to upgrade. To Movable Type. Mike Arrington noted that Dash’s blog post was so tame that I can’t even find a good quote to pull. I suspect that Mike was disappointed.
If so, his disappointment was short-lived. Matt of WordPress twittered that six apart is getting desperate, and dirty.
Somehow Anil and Matt remind me of Hillary and Obama, although I’m not quite sure who is who. Perhaps we have a better politics/tech fit in John McCain/Steve Ballmer.