Support » Requests and Feedback » Hey all, and loads of Feedback

  • Hey all
    Before I start talking about WP I’ll introduce myself. My name is Mark Finlay and I’m involved in the Open Source Desktop Project, Gnome. I mostly do usability and user interface stuff. I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half and started on Advogato but got frustrated not being able to customise it or have people comment so I am now using MT on my site
    Being a big open source head I hated having to choose MT because I couldn’t get involved or really even provide any feedback. It’s also a bit of a beast and OTT for a single user site.
    Anyway, I was recently pointed at WP. I was totally shocked to see something so incredibly mature and featureful and yet so elegant and open source. I thought it would be a least a year before the open source community came up with anything to rival MT, but it seems that we are almost there with WP. Great work guys.
    Anyway, I’m hoping I can provide some constructive usability feedback, mostly about the administtration interface. The visitor interface is really already very good, and as a blogger myself I’m mostly interested in the admin side of it. My usablility experience is mostly recently in widget design but I’d done a lot of broad usablity and user interaction reading so I should have some useful things to contribute.
    I’ve checked out and installed the latest CVS to make sure that I’m commenting on the latest work.. this post is getting long, so I’m going to post this much and then post my actual feedback in the a reply.

Viewing 11 replies - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • Admin Interface in general
    The admin interface, starting with the New post page as that is the default is in general too “busy”. On really big thing that can confuse the user is too much visual distraction in an interface. There are a lot of lines and it is quite cluttered and there is a lot of changes when you move your mouse around. I’m not a CSS guru but quickly playing with wp-admin.css I was able to do a few things that made it a little cleaner. The major specific issues are :
    1. The horizontal line under Post, Edit, Catagories etc is distracting. I replaced it here with a 10px padding which helps to space out the page a little too.
    2. I turned off the borders on the fieldset tags both on mouseover and in general. The mouseover on these was really distracting and in general I would recommend that using spacing instead of borders for all these elements of the page can reall help to clear out the interface a lot.
    A lot of the structure of a page can be “implied” and doesn’t need to be shown directly by borders and mouseovers. I’m also not totally convinced that the mouseovers on the navigation bar are necessory, it looks so great without them anyway.
    More thoughts
    1. The “Save and Continue to Editing” and “Blog this” buttons are kind of lost. They should be the last item in the main blogging “box” so that they are very easy to see and easy to click as they are going to be used all the time.
    The stuff under it should either be above the buttons or should be in a seporate box.
    2. The upload button is kind of out of place. I’m not exactly sure where it should go. MT has it as a main site button (ie. up beside post, edit) etc.. which i think is probably a good idea. Upload is a really useful feature and will hopefully get even more useful with thumbnailing and stuff in the future.
    3. Some of the areas of the site have two lines of horizontal navigation. This is particularly prevelent in the options sections. In general this is a very confusing navigation metaphor, it’s like having tabs withing tabs in a gui dialog. It also has the problem of not fitting in well on a 1024x display. I’d recommend using a vertical navigation bar for the options section and any other sections of the admin interface than need sub-sub dividing.
    4. It’s quite important to give feedback to the user when something has been done, like when a post has been saved or changed etc.. It’s also important that this isn’t done in a way that is too intrusive. MT makes way too much use of popup windows which i reccommend against, although where they are used in WP atm they are used well.
    I don’t have a totally solid recommendation as to how to do this in WP but in general i think that there needs to be a “Status bar area” for posting up things like “Blog posted” or “Blog Saved”. Most importantly wherever this area is it needs to never change size, even when it isn’t displaying any text. MT does it at the top of the current page but they aren’t careful enough about changing the structure of the page.
    5. The template editor is really cool, but probably shouldn’t set the text block as editable if the file permissions wont let you save the file. Also if the script could detect all editiable files in the wp dir and offer them in a list that’d be handy.
    6. The Options area needs a fair bit of cleaning up, but I’m not going to go into that in major detail because I think that it’s fairly obvious. Base settings should probably been at the top and i’m not sure if Other Options needs to exist.
    Single and Multi User setups
    Being able to have multiple blogs and multiple users is a great feature but it is one of the things about MT that I wish I could just switch off. It’s a very important thing for WP to have but one issue is that a massive amount of your user are just going to want a simple single blog system out of the box and will not want to to have multiple people posting and having multiple blogs etc.
    I think that it would be really great if in WP the person installing it could just make a once off choice, maybe even wp-config.php as to whether they want multiple user support. I don’t think it is something that people are ever going to want to change and if they do they certainly wont want to do it regularly.
    The benefit of this is that then the single user’s admin interface won’t be cluttered by stuff related to multiple users like extra preferences and the Users area. The major thing to be careful about if going down this road is that you are creating two “modes” which can is something that needs to be constantly kept in mind to make sure that changes to the code works and makes sense in both.
    On thing about Wp that slightly scares me is the use of SQL. I’m just always afraid that my data will get eaten. It’s also harder to backup data from an sql server than a flat database. I’m not suggesting for a second that you change, but an backup/restore function in the admin interface, or maybe even an autobackup would really be cool.
    OT: MT Conversion
    Off topic, but any idea when the MT conversion tool will be ready? I can’t wait to actually start using WP 🙂

    just one more thing. Just had a quick look at the admin interface of the last release tarball and the posting for was actually a lot cleaner then. Methinks someone tried to make it too fancy 😉

    Hey Mark,
    Glad to see another UI guy around here. (grin ;))
    Yeah, I’ve wondered about the use of either frames or fixed-position divs to anchor certain constructs at times. Things like the blog-now button, etc. Or other ‘buttonbar/menu’ type commands.
    I had actually started on a DB backup, though it’s a backup from MySQL remote to MySQL local, meant for people who work on designs locally, but content remotely. I’ve been considering an ‘admin-hack’ to put it together as a backup to some binary format file, but I’d at least start with a backup-to-db option. I use my php script every day or two now just to make sure my posts, comments, and even my refer list is all backed up to my local install. Especially since the day I had the directions reversed accidentally and blew away a post or two… 😉 Now I back up more religiously, and I don’t TOUCH the script any more until I really have time to overhaul it with, well, a multi-stage ‘UI’, like the wp-install script.

    Mark’s post encouraged me to finally register for these forums (a lot less painful then I expected) just to post a “me too!” I’ve been using b2 for a while and I’ve never quite liked the admin interface, but it’s loads easier to use then the current WP interface. I mean that with no disprespect — I see all of the wonderful changes that have been made and they make me very happy. I do see, however, that as progress has been made and many new features created, they have been bolted on to the admin interface perhaps a little too quickly. What Mark said about all of the extra borders and such is spot-on. I’d suggest putting all of the options like publish, categorized, etc. underneath, and starting out the post page with just the basics on top: title, body, post/save. (I still haven’t figured out how the excerpt box works. I was actually wondering if there is a way to disable it.)
    I also agree with the idea that many people will be using the system for a single blogger. I know that is how I have, and the option to simply hide all of the multi-user stuff would be great.
    I was thinking of posting a diff of some design changes, but I’ve been so busy working on my site’s redesign that I haven’t gotten to it. Sorry!
    Keep up the good work, and maybe after the 1.0 release think about re-working the admin area.

    I sure like the idea of the remote to local backup of the DB. I have just recently installed PHP and MySQL on my local computer and I was thinking about copying the DB locally to be used for site design and testing. Being a noob at all of this stuff, a utility of some kind to synch local and remote DBs would be very nice to have.

    I am totally impressed by your response to Sisob. A lot of people would have taken such feedback as negative criticism. I’m glad that Sisob posted what he did, because I believe that he is genuinely interested in making WP even better than it is.
    Kudos to you all! 🙂
    .: WP RULES :.

    Glad that everyone is welcoming of Usability feedback. Yeah some projects can take it quite badly. Look forward to working with you guys in the near future 🙂
    Merry Christmas Everyone

    Oh yeah, and as for the backup, the local database thing would be cool, but I was mostly just thinking of dumping the database to a file on the server 🙂

    Sisob –
    Yeah, dumping to a file would happen wherever you are running the script from… So if you put the script up on your remote server, it’ll dump from there. If you run from your local machine, it’ll create a local backup file. Shouldn’t be too hard, though I do require (at the moment) duplication of the DB config vars.

    davidchat: Sounds good, we should start a new thread soon and discusshow it might work and eventually even fit in with WP.
    As for all the usablility stuff, I have even more ideas as to how to sepporate single/multi user modes if that idea is a goer, and more ideas as to how to tidy up the My Profile/Options sections as well as some of the other stuff. But I’ll wait to see the reaction to my waffle so far 🙂
    Then maybe we can make new topics about individual ideas of mine that you guys like so that this thread don’t go mad.

    Another issue I’d like to point out is that the large amount of pure #FFFFFF white space makes the admin interface too difficult to view for many laptop screens, which tend to exaggerate white, and close to white shades of grey. I think the admin interface should have some darker greys, such as this site.

Viewing 11 replies - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
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