Support » Alpha/Beta/RC » Admin menu doesn't expand/collapse in 3.3 beta 1. Why?

  • Resolved jonschlinkert


    First, I absolutely love the additions and design changes that have been made to the menus. Thank you for that.

    However, I’m really hoping that the exclusion of the expand/collapse was either an accident or temporary. Usability testing is a big part of my job and I think this is a bad idea. The Admin area of WordPress is pretty rich with functionality, so many people keep the menus expanded while they are working so they have a “global” view of the options. Consider how frustrating it will be for users who are new to WordPress when they install a plugin and have to scroll over every menu option to find where it’s buried, and then they learn that there are two different places where the plugin has changed the menu… Not being able to open all of the menus to orient yourself is a problem.

    On a more personal level, I can’t imagine wanting to continue using WordPress if the expand/collapse isn’t restored, and I currently have close to 500 sites running. The “usablity” of wordpress is what attracted me, I’m dumbfounded how someone thinks that taking away the expand/collapse feature isn’t going to dramatically steepen the learning curve in WordPress.

    Please, please, please I urge you not to remove the expand/collapse feature from 3.3.

Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 87 total)
  • (First, if you upgraded from 3.2 to 3.3 and you don’t see the change, no need to comment on it further to that regard. The point has been made. If you want to get a look at what’s coming in 3.3 do a fresh install so we can focus this thread whether or not the new menu is desirable.)

    @ipstenu, thanks for contributing to my post, I’ve read a ton of your other posts over the past year and your comments have helped me through countless questions and issues with WordPress. You’ve been invaluable…

    six of one, half a dozen of the other

    I don’t agree. With the menu in 3.2 we can choose whether we want the minimalist collapsed feature. We won’t have a choice in 3.3. So this is a contentious feature change.

    there’s no way to please everyone on this.

    Again, I’m not sure I agree. Who was asking you to remove the expand/collapse feature? Can you point us to that request and the support for it? I disagree with you point again. I’ll eat my words if you prove me wrong, but this is a case of designer self-indulgence (albeit fantastic design), without regard for the actual utility of the design choice(s) being made with the menu. In other words, why is the designer “fixing” something that wasn’t broken? If these were complaints about the menu before, this isn’t going to fix that. And the decision has been made to make this change only so you can “jump out of the frying pan into the fire”, then it’s a superfluous change, and I believe that goes against WordPress philosophy.

    So again,

    there’s no way to please everyone on this.

    I think there is:

    at some point down the road, the Feature Pointers in WordPress 3.3 may have an API added on to them so that Plugins can point out new features or point out where the configuration option pages are located right after installation/activation.

    Fantastic, I love that this is coming. My suggestion is that you release the new menu simultaneous to API additions, so that both plugin developers and users can prepare, and give users like me the ability to find workarounds to the functionality they’re losing and embrace the change.

    Not to be dramatic, but WordPress administration with 500+ sites takes up hundreds of hours of my time each month, and the menu change is something I am *passionately* unhappy about.

    Newbies are always going to have a problem.

    Good point, so the menu change is less important to new users than existing users. Clearly the WP community is huge and still growing, and we all benefit from recruiting new users to WP.

    So if I had a vote in planning the releases I would strongly urge that the menu not be changed until navigation and information architecture problems can be solved the “right way”, so that new users can find their way around quickly, and to simultaneously release an API which enables third-party functionally so as to not alienate existing users. Especially evangelistic power users with hundreds or thousands of sites, who will be frustrated that the menu system was overhauled WITHOUT even fixing what was wrong with it in the first place.

    The menu in 3.2 has all kinds of problems, but primarily related to information architecture and despite having a better appearance, and without the aforementioned API, 3.3 is only going to make those IA problems worse. Releasing the new menu system at the same time as the API is a change I would embrace wholeheartedly, and that is a situation everyone could be happy with.

    Until that situation becomes plausible, please reconsider this change. My OCD brain is already counting the minutes I’ll lose in productivity every hour, fumbling over a new menu system that doesn’t even solve the usability problems that the old on had.

    Jeff Chandler


    Volunteer Moderator and Voice of WP

    I still don’t understand what the problem is?

    How do you end up losing more time in the day with the menu change? Unlike WordPress 3.2, you don’t need to click a little arrow to vertically expand a menu just to see what’s underneath. In 3.3, you simply hover over the menus and the links show up in a sideways flyout menu. If anything, this should make finding newer links quicker versus slower.

    P.S. Here is the link to the ticket which has discussions around the implementation of the feature.

    Moderator Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)


    🏳️‍🌈 Plugin Review Team Rep

    Caveat: I am not WordPress 🙂 I represent no one but myself. And possibly Andrea when we’re sharing a brain. My opinions are my own, though I’ve been lurking in #wordpress-ui and reading a LOT of trac tickets lately, plus I switched to svn (i.e. aortic) a month ago, so I’ve been watching 3.3 grow.

    Also, bear in mind that all these changes are not done in a vacuum. You’re coming in on act 3 (with act 4 being RC and the finale being the finale release of 3.3). There’s been a lot of UI tweaking, finishing tickets that were punting. So some of these passionate reactions are ones the dev team has already seen, argued, burned in effigy, and come to a decision.

    If you’ve not, read 3.3 Pre-Beta User Feedback (aka Testing Results) to get a bit of an idea of what Act 2 of this looks like.

    With the menu in 3.2 we can choose whether we want the minimalist collapsed feature. We won’t have a choice in 3.3. So this is a contentious feature change.

    The minimalist-collapsed (minimalist) isn’t the same as the collapsed-when-not-active (cwna) though, and you only got the flyouts on minimalist and never on cwna, so this is actually making minimalist and cwna more in-line with each other.

    My point about we can’t please everyone is … well I like (and in fact prefer) the new way about it. You don’t. We’re perfect examples of people who use WP regularly and are experienced, but have different use-styles.

    After using hover menus for a while, I find I can click through menus much faster on my 3.3-svn install than I could do on my 3.2, even though I know exactly where everything is.

    BTW – Pointers API isn’t ‘baked’ and there was a bit of talk about if it was better to release a make-do and know people would use it and it would change on them, or to not release it as pluggable at all. I’m not sure what the end result on that was, but I think a ‘first version’ will likely come with 3.3, but be prepared for changes/refinements.

    @jeffr0, I still don’t understand what you don’t understand.

    If anything, this should make finding newer links quicker versus slower.

    Seriously? I have to say you have me at a complete loss. How is having to hover over each and every menu option even remotely comparable to just ‘looking at your open menu all at once’?
    That’s like trying to read a book that has one word on each page.

    I personally like the change.

    I’m not going to debate you about your opinion of “how nice the design is”, it sounds like you’re emotionally attached to the idea of the new design rather than arguing a point based on need. I’m focusing on utility and whether or not the new menu is actually better from an information architecture and usefulness standpoint.

    The problem you bring up exists with or without this change. In WordPress 3.2.1, you have to go down each top level menu item, click a mouse button to expand the menu, see if the plugin option link is within the menu…

    Yeah, in 3.2.1 you have to do that ONCE, to be precise. But with 3.3 we’ll have to do it every time we want to look at any menu option.

    if not you can collapse the menu or move on to the next one.

    No, YOU do that. The reason for this entire long winded post is that I don’t, ever, collapse my menus – accept for menus that are not used often. I strongly prefer for the menus to stay expanded at all times. With menu system in 3.2.1 you and I both get our way. With the new menu system, I’m losing something, you’re gaining nothing.

    In fact, despite the fact that I have installed hundreds of WP sites, when I activated multisite on a fresh 3.3 install yesterday I had to try to remember where the Network Setup button was, so I hovered over a bunch of options until I saw it. I don’t want to *have to* remember, which is why I usually leave the menus expanded. For new users this will be a PITA. Especially when you consider the grab bag of menu changes you’ll get with each new plugin.

    P.S. Here is the link to the ticket which has discussions around the implementation of the feature.

    Yep, I saw that. I’m still searching for the problem they were trying to solve. In other words, the feature was requested by a WordPress core contributor, but not as a response to outcries from dissatisfied users or usability testing which suggested that certain problems with the menu is hurting adoption or power users from being productive.

    There are a few ideas in the thread that standout as being useful, such as the concept of getting anywhere in fewer clicks. Beyond that, the entire process for how the menu was conceived of and designed was a solution looking for a problem to solve, and not the other way around.

    So I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one, @jeffr0,
    Being required to hover over each menu in the admin menu is not a scalable design pattern. Maybe making it optional so that nobody is losing out on things they use consistently is a much better way to go. We’ll have the best of both worlds.

    Many people didn’t realize they could collapse the menus, so they would end up with

    Now that’s fixed.

    @jaredatch… it seems that’s exactly what the OP is wanting, all items available at all times

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42) Admin

    FWIW, I don’t like the flyout menus either.

    @ipstenu, I see your points, and I want to clarify that I do actually like the new design, a lot. It’s very clean and light and I’m glad to see that part of it get implemented. I also agree that the flyout menus are awesome in some scenarios, and for certain styles. That’s why they’re so popular they can be been found on the front end of most websites made since the mid 90s.

    I just disagree that it’s a good design choice for a backend admin area that: 1) has a ton of standard functionality, 2) can expand to have even more functionality through the use of plugins, and 3) is accommodating to people whose job is use the admin area of WordPress all day.

    Nonetheless, I’ve made my point(s) and it sounds as if the decision has been made with finality, so no point in wasting more time debating this point. Thanks for the comments and feedback.

    Or just some items available, I have certain menus open and know where everything is

    Moderator Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)


    🏳️‍🌈 Plugin Review Team Rep

    Otto didn’t like the small(er) text in the site name for 3.2 either.

    I would posit that people on the UI team use WordPress all day, every day, possibly more than we do, but that’s just a guess. Personal workflow changes are always going to be contentious and alas, that’s what this is. (I don’t like the placement of network admin links on the 3.3 admin bar, before someone thinks I’m all WP Kool-Aid)

    I suspect someone will come up with a plugin to force-expand all menu items sooner or later for just that use-case, jonschlinkert


    Thats a possibility of course, but it’s the use of the word “many”, what percentage of WordPress users have never use enough of the internet to work out the up/down arrow clickable state? (i’m not doubting there are some of course).

    The issue for many of us is that the option to keep menu items ‘of our choosing’ open indefinitely (or until we choose otherwise) has been taken from us.

    Who knows how “many” people used the feature as intended against the “many” who couldn’t click the close button. Yet instead a real positive usability feature has been removed in favour of an exceptionally unusable/in-accessible feature hastily added to the WordPress core.

    For me, as someone who doesn’t use a mouse due to a long standing disability, hover menus are quite frankly – horrific.

    But it’s ok, Jane Wells and her team (who do a power of work behind the scenes) ran UX testing the other day… all on able bodied people using FireFox and Chrome (12 on mac, 8 on PC). Does anyone think this is indicative of the real world? Zero IE users? Zero non-mouse users?

    Not to mention the fact that we got rid of hover menu’s for a good reason after 10 years of HCI studies showed that people don’t use them well. Users like to decide where they are going first, THEN move their mouse. Hover menus force users to do the opposite. It actually takes longer than a click/open procedure. Not to mention it causes large amounts of hassle for people on non-mouse inputs.

    If you’re using a tablet device, or phone, or keyboard etc. you’re going to have to do MORE work, not less, to get the hover function working.

    I totally understand that many of the good folks commenting here (including personal favourites Jeffro and Ipstenu) like the change. It’s cool they do, and I’m sure they’re not alone. But I worry when we rush ahead with these type of changes without knowing the impact on all of our users. We can’t continue to keep calling anyone who’s not using Chrome on a MacBookPro an edge case. We can’t continue to build and test our backend on the basis that everyone has or uses a mouse.

    More importantly though, wasn’t there more important stuff to fix? With all due respect to the amazing work the core devs do, we have hundred of bugs in the Trac system; so who decided to ignore them and remake the Admin UI for the 3rd time in 5 releases??

    Oh also, the feature really blows big time with JavaScript turned off.

    But then again everyone in the world has JavaScript turned on right? everyone? 100%. Sure.

    Looks like I was hasty in my assumption.

    @jaredatch, huh?

    Here is an image of a single book page on, 17 pages in length on my screen.

    Here is what I see on my screen if I don’t want to scroll. 1 page.

    It’s known in the design community that a big factor in’s success is that they don’t require users to click on tabs to see reviews, or tags, or forums, etc. You just…. scroll. You can disagree as much as you want. Designers often want less because it looks nicer (and I’m a designer by the way), but that isn’t always what is best in practice, over time, and amongst a broad set of users.

    By the way, the book in the images is a fantastic web design book called Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug. Might be worth a read.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42) Admin

    Oh also, the feature really blows big time with JavaScript turned off.

    To be fair, the flyout menus are CSS based and work fine without Javascript.

    I ran a quick test on a local site, and it appears that Javascript is used for “hover-intent”, which solves the hover-tunneling problem to some degree. So without javascript, you would have that issue, but the menus themselves do at least work.

    the book in the images is a fantastic web design book called Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug

    My favourite design book of all time!

    I ran a quick test on a local site, and it appears that Javascript is used for “hover-intent”, which solves the hover-tunneling problem to some degree. So without javascript, you would have that issue, but the menus themselves do at least work.

    Oh Absolutely, they do work (sorry if it looks like I said otherwise, I didn’t mean to), but pure CSS hovers are very poor usability-wise based on “mouse tunnelling” (JS hovers can add a delay so that users can at least attempt to move their mouse directly from hover item to the next chosen menu item)

Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 87 total)
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