The big news of the day in the world of blogging is the fact that a Release Candidate of WordPress 2.5 has been released, along with a post mentioning some of the changes to the admin panel that had been shown off in the past. Naturally, there was the stream of “all hail WordPress and their greatest version yet” type posts. Clearly, they’re excited about something.
About what? Well, I’m not sure. The cynic in me says that they’re excited because it’s something NEW! And, it’s from WordPress! That’s got to be the formula for instant success, right? Well, it is if you’re someone who, as a guy who advertises on the radio says, in relation to stocks, ones that are exciting, with things happening all the time to them.
However, there is another type of person - the one that he likes to have work for his company - the one who likes to find consistent performers, and items where you don’t have to change constantly. He admits liking something that a lot of people like - boring and consistent.
Anyway, so how does that relate to the latest news about WordPress? Well, the new version has completely changed everything in the backend of the admin panel, for, as far as I can tell, no discernable reason. Sure, there are the marketing speak things like “interviewing users” and making wide generalizations such as this one, which makes absolutely no sense at all to me -
The WordPress navigation has confounded even sophisticated users.
My response to that is that WordPress has a strange thing called a “learning curve.” If you can’t get the hang of the admin panel after a short amount of time, then I have to wonder if you really are taking the time to understand how it all works. Personally, it took about a week or so of using it to get the hang of where everything was, and then I was set to go. If, as they claim, “sophisiticated users” are having problems with navigation, then I sincerely question the level of their sophisitcation.
Another of the lovely generalizations is this one, from the beginning of the post -
The result is a new way of interacting with WordPress that will remain familiar to seasoned users while improving the experience for everyone.
I’d consider myself a somewhat seasoned user, having been using WP for about 6 months now, and is the new interface familiar? Uh, no. It might say WordPress on the cover, but what’s inside says that this is a product that was designed for beginners.
But there’s more
Apparently, I fall into a minority of people who do not ignore the dashboard. Their solution (as it was for the rest of the admin panel) was to gut the whole thing and make things less user-friendly. For those who aren’t familiar, this is what the WordPress Dashboard looks like currently on my blog -
In my opinion, this current dashboard look is quite simple - you’ve got the links to the things you most likely want to do right at the top - a new post, add a link, and edit your theme. Below that is the Development blog, and to the right is the Recent Activity panel, where you have the latest links to your blog, along with comments and posts, then the Blog Stats section - that’s something that I will come back to shortly, but at the bottom of the page is one of the best features of the dashboard as it is right now.
The links that are grouped under “Other WordPress News” are some of the more interesting links, usually by folks involved in WordPress and their associated projects, but the cool thing is that it’s a way to read some interesting posts written by interesting people. So far, I have not seen this mentioned in the new dashboard.
Now, with the blog stats part of the dashboard. Right now, it’s in a tucked away place, mostly because it’s not something you concern yourself with that much, at least that’s how I’ve become over the last few months - I’m not too concerned about my stats as I used to be. However, the new version of the dashboard puts the blog’s “ego” front and centre with putting the stats (albeit without the number of comments) up at the top. It makes no sense to have it there, and then there’s something right below it that concerns me a lot, especially for new users to WordPress.
The line below it mentions the theme you’re using, along with the number of widgets you have. Next to that is a big old button that says “Change Theme.” I fear that having a button there will make people want to change their themes from day to day, which is something that you don’t want to do if you want to gain an appreciable readership. The current link - “Change your site’s look or theme” is much more subtle, and makes it sound like there is a process that you have to go through to do it. “Change Theme” makes it sound like you can just flip a switch and bam it works. Not good, if you ask me.
Let me just quote one last item from the post -
If you’re jonesing for the old look under your user options you can now select the “classic” colors and get those old blues back.
Now, that’s creative thinking, eh? Let’s change everything around, but you know, if you like the old way, you can have this new way look like the old way. Of course, that won’t change the fact that you’re totally lost as to where everything is supposed to be.
Cause for Concern?
Something that I noticed is that, if you go by the number of trackbacks on the post, only 59 posts link back to that post - quite a few of them aren’t even in English. However, a quick search on Google for blog posts that link results in (as I write this) 284 posts with a link. Now, this great disparity tells me either one of three things - 1. The use of a caching plugin has been insituted to handle the extreme load on the server; 2. There are a lot of trackbacks coming in, and they’re having a hard time handling the moderation task; or 3. They’re manually sifting through the trackbacks to make an editorial comment.
The third one is a result of my noticing that one of the first posts about the new release, Andrew Boyd’s WordPress 2.5: Perhaps I was wrong (posted sometime around 6 AM my time, about 6 hours or so after the original post was made), which had mulitple links back to the original post wasn’t listed amongst the trackbacks. The only ones that are listed there are ones that seem to be neutral (i.e. Mashable) or positive (i.e. BloggingBits).
Some further reading
If you want to read up on what folks are thinking about, there’s always the Aussie Bloggers Forum’s WordPress 2.5 Sneak Peek thread, along with the myriad of links provided by Google’s blog search (hey, Scroogle folks, would it be possible to make a Scroogle blog search? )
Also, if you want to look at what it looks like, you can take the WP 2.5 Demo Site for a test run.
What do you think
Comments are open for this post, so I’d invite you to leave your reaction to the happenings of WP 2.5, and if you are excited about it, for that matter, let me know, and also why you’re excited about the release.