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[Resolved] Admin menu doesn't expand/collapse in 3.3 beta 1. Why?

  • 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 - 31 through 45 (of 87 total)
  • @kevinjohngallagher thank you for reminding me about usability on tablet devices. I can’t believe I didn’t even think about my iPad concerning this change yet, I travel a lot and use the iPad for all things WP while I’m on the road. I sure I’m the only one who does that as well.

    So I just logged onto my WP 3.3 install with the iPad. The menu doesn’t even work. You have to click on a menu option to get it to show, but then when you click on another side menu option the menu doesn’t change until you click it a second time, which activates that menu section. Was this tested at all on iDevices?

    This is a perfect example of why a fly-out only menu is a bad idea, no matter how well executed. As of today, it’s simply not even possible to make flyout menus an attractive UI element on tablets and mobile devices, because at best it always adds an extra step, at worst the menus don’t behave and cause you to not reach your destination at all.

    I strongly encourage anyone who has an iPad to do the same and test a WP 3.3 install on it ASAP so you can come back and tell the rest of us what you think. The WP team does great work and they always try to do the right thing for the community, but they need to hear your opinion to make an informed decision.

    The entire point of WordPress is to make it easy to write. That’s been kind of the goal of new features like the Distraction Free Writing Mode, and the easy-to-use drag-and-drop uploader.

    Fundamentally, having plugins/themes add “3 different menus to different sections” of the nav menu is a huge design flaw in the plugins/themes. Not WordPress. Every additional menu on the page gets in the way of the user’s primary purpose – to create content.

    Having a huge menu with several sections open all the time further detracts from this primary use case. You won’t be changing your timezone settings, permalink options, theme background, widget layout, or active plugins every day. Those options should get out of the way and let you do what you’re entering the site to do – write.

    All of your options are still there. All of the menus are still there. We’ve added features (pointers) to allow plugin/theme authors to alert you if/when they add new admin pages (rather than using the Settings API).

    WordPress is designed so that new features and feature changes will benefit the vast majority of users. Fact is, if you’re a developer or power user (most of us in this thread are one of the two), then you’re not in that “majority of users” category. The majority of the community uses WordPress to write … not to hunt for settings on different admin pages and tweak options.

    Those options should get out of the way and let you do what you’re entering the site to do – write.

    As we move to WordPress being used less and less (percentage wise) primarily as a blogging platform, the sole / singular / main purpose of it’s user-base purely to “write” under the posts section diminishes. Custom Post Type went a long way to kick starting that.

    … if you’re a developer or power user (most of us in this thread are one of the two), then you’re not in that “majority of users” category

    I totally agree. We’re not the majority, we’re the minority at the high end, but more and more that number is growing. Outside of “WordPress.com” users, the number of multiple install users is growing rapidly.

    The majority of the community uses WordPress to write … not to hunt for settings on different admin pages and tweak options.

    Again, totally agreed.
    But this change doesn’t make it easier to write blog posts, it makes it the same amount of work; but increases the amount of time to us power users. As well as moving those on a non-ideal system setup to being edge cases.

    We “power users” not being the target of an update i can totally understand; but making life more difficult for disabled people who don’t use a mouse, I dunno man. Sometimes aiming to please the majority needs to be weight up against how much it makes life more difficult for the minority. Over the last few releases, I’ve felt we forgotten that sometimes (even if we don’t mean to).

    First, remember that “simply hovering” IS considered a click by itself in web design. So anything after that is a second click. To suggest otherwise is naive or wishful thinking.

    The entire point of WordPress is to make it easy to write.

    Well, then please focus more on that and less on the menus. I love the drag and drop loader, though, that’s pretty awesome. Btw, can you point me to where the “easy to write” copy is on WordPress? I found tons of plugins and themes that have that marketing copy like “we make it easier for you to write with WordPress”, but not so much luck on WordPress.org or .com themselves.

    Fundamentally, having plugins/themes add “3 different menus to different sections” of the nav menu is a huge design flaw in the plugins/themes.

    For clarification, I know of two: Themes and Plugins, what’s the third? In any case, who says it’s flawed? I think that it conceptually it makes more sense to have separate menus for these completely different concepts: different in purpose, utility, function, form, business model, economics, execution and amount of time administering. The last one is key. However, assuming you are right (and you probably are), and there is a really great way to combine these concepts, that point is irrelevant to this particular thread.

    Having a huge menu with several sections open all the time further detracts from this primary use case.

    Causal flaws regarding the establishment of your use case as the “standard candle”, I disagree. If you personally can’t concentrate with the menu open, close it. I don’t have a problem at all getting things done with the menu open. Please remember that the admin area is where some people spend all day working. All day. Not just “writing” like a machine without ever leaving the posts section. I, like a lot of other folks, like to move around a lot and I like to do it quickly. So I don’t like having to look for what I need, I want to click once and be there, not hover, scan, click. Hovering is fine on a website, it sucks doing it over and over again in the admin area. It sucks on a PC/Mac, but it sucks even more on an iPad, to the point of being unusable. Go test it yourself, then come back and share your comments, I look forward to your feedback.

    The majority of the community uses WordPress to write …

    Are you absolutely sure about that? Sounds like it makes sense when you just say it like that. But let’s think about it. Besides the fact that there are no numbers to substantiate your claim, I personally can write even more easily with Microsoft Word, a plain text editor, a loose leaf notebook, sand, a Sharpie, a sparkler (although sand and sparklers aren’t good if you want to save what you’re writing), or even a block of quartz if I’m thus inclined (admittedly the quartz is probably be more difficult, but imminently longer lasting and more secure than WordPress). But don’t take my word for it, let’s quote the front page of WordPress.org:

    WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.

    “Beautiful WEBSITE OR BLOG”. WordPress is not Twitter. In your quest for oversimplification you seem to be conveniently forgetting the fact that the WordPress community, and “power users” like me, have come a long way on this journey with WordPress, and us power-users make up the head of the proverbial long-tail and probably carry far more economic weight and network effect. Remember the law of increasing returns? It says that “each new node added to a network increases the value of the network exponentially”. Also remember that the “nodes” in WordPress’s network is USERS, not blogs or sites, but USERS. And us “power users” are the super-nodes of this network. You wouldn’t have the externalities to recruit or attract the rest of the community in the first place. I’m thinking that’s worth considering. As for learning curve, how do you think the “rest of the community” actually learns how to use it? Let’s get real for a second, I’m good at picking up technical things, but I had to get help with WordPress early on. Who helped me? The power users and developers. The people who were evangelically passionate about the platform. Now I do the same for others. I see how people use WordPress, I recently helped my sister start using it and she is not in technically inclined in the least. The very first things I said was, “Okay, first expand all of your menus, then open my email and start at number one.” Now I’ll have to modify that to say something like “hover over the side menu options until you find X. Did you find it? Keep hovering it’s there.”

    Also to your point about “being simple to write”, I personally chose WP because of the very fact that it’s scalable and extensible, AND as of 3.2.1 it’s simple to use. WordPress is being architected AND designed with principles that support my use case far more than yours. If you don’t agree, then why does multisite exist at all? Why themes? Why plugins? I think it’s because these are things that give users whatever environment they want so that they can be at their most creative. You know where I stand on “easy to write”.

    …not to hunt for settings on different admin pages and tweak options.

    Of course not, that would be a strange use of one’s time. (Unless you’re hover-searching for pages that just might hold the key to your timezone settings and permalink options).

    Last Eric, can you tell us how many of the people who constitute the “majority of the community” use WordPress for just “writing” versus company websites, social media marketing, PR, light e-commerce, reviews, domain name sales, ad revenue, affiliate programs, etc. etc. etc. You’re going down a slippery slope with your viewpoint, because you’re not paying homage to the millions of sites that now use WordPress for much much more than “just blogging”. That kind of thinking is going to alienate lots of influential WordPress power users.

    esmi

    @esmi

    Forum Moderator

    but making life more difficult for disabled people who don’t use a mouse

    Fixable via CSS.

    http://pastebin.com/MHq7wNsr

    [css gets mangled by the forum’s parser – even inside code tags]

    esmi

    @esmi

    Forum Moderator

    First, remember that “simply hovering” IS considered a click by itself in web design. So anything after that is a second click. To suggest otherwise is naive or wishful thinking.

    Sorry but that’s rubbish. Not all user agents have a hover option (think VR software). Focus is the true “click”.

    You’re not going to get ‘options’ no matter what. WP wants to give you decisions, not options. It’ll be one or the other, but no option to pick a third.

    CSS and admin themes are a great fix (easily pluggable too).

    Checking 3.2.1 and 3.3 on the iPad. Flyout menus work for me on SVN 3.3 – Click once, they fly out. Click again, go to where I want.

    @esmi, allow me to clarify: with a flyout menu specifically, yes, each hover is the time and effort equivalent of a click.

    Focus is the true “click”.

    is a completely separate point, although also true.

    @ipstenu

    You’re not going to get ‘options’ no matter what. WP wants to give you decisions, not options. It’ll be one or the other, but no option to pick a third.

    I “get” and agree with the spirit of your point, but WordPress gives you all kinds of options, Permalinks, single site or multisite, sub folders or subdomains… If I have to choose between “flyout” menus and

    Checking 3.2.1 and 3.3 on the iPad. Flyout menus work for me on SVN 3.3 – Click once, they fly out. Click again, go to where I want.

    Yes, cool. So you reproduced the problem. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me that had to click twice to get when I need to go on the iPad, versus 3.2.1 where the menu was expanded and I only needed to click once.

    Also, Ipstenu, please try this as well: click on a menu option, and then click on a different menu option (not a sub option, a different main menu option) on the side menu. Do you see the second usability problem?

    With 500+ sites, I hope you’ve learned how to create at least a basic plugin in that time, to help administer them (or know someone who can), and if so, you should be able to write a basic plugin that switches the hover menus to how they were previously – CSS, JavaScript, and you’re well on the way to being popular with those who agree with you.

    Checking 3.2.1 and 3.3 on the iPad. Flyout menus work for me on SVN 3.3 – Click once, they fly out. Click again, go to where I want.

    Agreed. So we have the same number of clicks we had before, but now with less functionality.

    click on a menu option, and then click on a different menu option (not a sub option, a different main menu option) on the side menu. Do you see the second usability problem?

    Um, this 🙂

    You’re not going to get ‘options’ no matter what. WP wants to give you decisions, not options.

    I get that, I’m sure we all do at some level.
    The problem is, each time one of these decisions is made for us (with no option to revert), it moves another small percentage of users into the “edge case” category. Between the Kool-aid drinking (none on this thread though), and the cunning ability to skew the test data, it is at some stage going to start to push people away from WordPress (even if that’s only a tiny number of people).

    3 changes to how the back-end UI looks/feels/works in 14 months is colossal, to both new users and power users.

    With 500+ sites, I hope you’ve learned how to create at least a basic plugin in that time, to help administer them

    My Mum, a big WordPress fan, and a school teacher administers around 100 WordPress sites (90+ for her school kids per year, and about 10 personal – honestly she went nuts one summer). She couldn’t code a plug-in if her cat’s life depended on it.

    Can we drop this sanctimonious idea that everyone using WordPress for more than a blog should also be Rasmus Lerdorf??

    Yes, cool. So you reproduced the problem. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me that had to click twice to get when I need to go on the iPad, versus 3.2.1 where the menu was expanded and I only needed to click once.

    That’s not a problem, it’s by design (and works worse on 3.2 if you do not have everything expanded, which I don’t — the click to expand process on 3.2 and iPad is a PITA). If they’re already expanded, it’s fine, but if they’re not, it’s a stone cold mother.

    I agree Ipstenu, but that kind of misses the point I was raising (apologies if I wasn’t clear bro).

    • What we have now, is the same functionality on desktop & non-desktop systems, which works the same way for people using a mouse and not using a mouse.
    • What we are moving to is functionality that works differently on desktop & non-desktop systems, and which works differently for people using a mouse and not using a mouse.

    My point, which I now realise I was being a bit too specific about when trying to give an example, is that while I can absolutely see the existing menu (y’know the one only added in the last release!) not being 100% ideal for every user, it was at least consistent in it’s functionality. What we’re moving to is the opposite.

    Folks, in case this looks like concern trolling I apologise, but go try the 3.3 back-end on a Blackberry, or navigating without your mouse, or an iPad1, or an iPhone 4/3G/3 or a Windows7phone, or on IE 7, or with JavaScript turned off. Jane, someone that does stellar unheralded work, was very open that her first 20 Usability tests were done on a very specific subset of users:

    12 were on mac, 8 on PC. All used either ff or chrome as their default browser.

    I don’t know about you folks, but thats not indicative of the world I live in.

    esmi

    @esmi

    Forum Moderator

    with a flyout menu specifically, yes, each hover is the time and effort equivalent of a click.

    But the flyout is not needed to access those sub-menus. and in the context of non-mouse-using disabled people, they do not want access to that flyout as it makes moving through all of the menus incredibly tedious and definitely unwanted.

    navigating without your mouse

    Done it. And currently building up a set of fairly minor CSS fixes. The changes to the current admin menu do not represent an accessibility issue, IMNSHO.

    it was at least consistent in it’s functionality

    But it should not be consistent for these different sets of users as they have very different needs. It should be perceivable, operable, usable and robust for all users – which is completely different.

    Chip Bennett

    @chipbennett

    Theme Review Admin

    @ipstenu et al:

    there are no convention on where a settings page should go

    There never has been, to be fair.

    Not true, actually. There is a defined convention for Settings-page locations. It just seems that not many actually follow the defined convention (I’m looking at you, Automattic/JetPack!).

    They’re more like guidelines 😉 But yes, there is a suggested, but unenforced, convention, which IMO works out the same as no convention at all. And that’s why I say there’s no convention. In practice there isn’t one, and with a realistic look, there’s not a good way to say “Ah, you’re a spam plugin, you should go here!” Where I think a logical place is for my menu is often not where you think.

    I lost a year of my life to the UI implications of menu placement of folders under Program Files on Windows when we moved to XP, and the only thing I got out of it was that no matter what, someone’s going to be unhappy, so you pick what makes ‘sense’ to the peolpe in the room and document the hell out of it… Which is where a lot of plugins fail – they don’t document where their menus are for the user.

Viewing 15 replies - 31 through 45 (of 87 total)
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