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WordPress 2.5 is released

Two days ago WordPress released a sneak peek of their latest version, 2.5. Redesigned from the ground up by the team at Happy Cog Studios, the WordPress Admin area now has improved navigation, organization and integration. The visual design looks pretty sleek, too.

The folks at WordPress included a lot of screenshots in their post to illustrate how things have changed, but I decided to take a closer look and compare each new section with the old.

First I had to deactivate the SpotMilk plug-in that changes the Admin theme (thanks to Matthew Oliphant for recommending it), and then I went through and took screenshots of each tab using my favorite app ever, Skitch.

Before installing the new version, WordPress strongly encourages you to backup all of your files and database, which took about 20 minutes. Then copying over the new files took about 6 minutes.

When I started this post, I was typing in WordPress 2.3.3 and now I’m in WordPress 2.5. So without further ado, before and after shots of my blog admin area for your viewing pleasure.

Dashboard

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

The most dramatic change here is the top navigation. Previously it was one long string of tabs across the page, but now they’ve been consolidated and prioritized so that primary needs are separated from secondary ones.

Pertinent blog stats have been pulled up to the top of the page. Additionally, the most common activities on login (writing a post and writing a page) are more easily accessible with two large buttons on the top right. I personally think that managing comments is a more common activity, but I obviously don’t have the facts.

The WordPress Development Blog is also given much less prominence, which seems like the right move.

Write

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

The collapsible options were moved from the right column to the bottom of the page, while the actions (Save, Publish, Preview) are now on the right. The titlebar has been tweaked a bit, now with four buttons to add media to the post or page. A nice functionality change is now when you save a post, it doesn’t automatically switch from HTML view to Visual; the mode you’re in at the time you save is maintained.

What I don’t get are the related links on the right. They’re distracting and unnecessary. The space would be better used by the tags and categories sections, which don’t need the 75% page width they’ve been given.

The weirdest design decision of all was to put the Link tab under Write. Really poor information scent in my opinion. Who thinks to themselves, I really need to write a link to my blog? No one. They think, I need to add a link, and that could easily be done in the Manage section.

Manage

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

The layout hasn’t changed a whole lot here, but the biggest difference is that draft posts are now filed under Manage instead of Write. It threw me at first because it took me a moment to find the post I was working on (this one!), but when I stopped to think about it, Manage is where I used to look for draft items so I think this was a wise move.

I like how they’ve removed the View, Edit and Delete links beside each item, which always felt clunky. Now post titles are clickable, linking directly to the Edit mode, while clicking on Published beside a post brings the user to the live page. Pagination is now at the top and bottom of the page (nice) and the addition of tags is very helpful.

Comments

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

The Comments area is pretty much the same. The only real change is the integration of View Mode and Mass Edit mode, which reduces a click so that’s good. I definitely don’t get the addition of Detail View and List View though; the only difference is that List View doesn’t display the body of the comment, but that removes all context from the item so I just don’t see the point of it.

Links

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

Blogroll has been renamed Links and now lives in the Manage section. As for the page itself, the only changes are the removal of Edit and Delete actions like in the Manage section, and moving the checkboxes over the left side of the page where they obviously belong. They’ve added a search box, but I don’t see its usefulness. Very few people have so many links in their blogroll that they can’t easily be scrolled through.

Themes

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

Same page, but now instead of the section being called Presentation, it’s called Design. I like that.

Widgets

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

The available widgets have been pulled up to the top of the page, but I think it’s a mistake to put them on the left side. The widgets currently being used should be the primary focus and thus displayed on the left side of the page. Despite the headers, it actually took me a moment to realize that it was switched around. However, I do think the widget descriptions are a nice touch.

Still don’t understand the purpose of a search box on the page.

Theme Editor

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

Virtually the same, but with the really nice addition of the filenames beside each file in the theme (it’s surprising how important this is). I also really like how they separated out the Styles files, though I think they belong at the top of the list — they’re probably what users tinker with the most.

I’d still like to see an Update File button at the top of the page as well as the bottom where it appears now.

Plugins

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

Plugins are now a secondary link in the top nav. I get the thought behind this decision, but I’ve always wished they were better integrated with the themes. Otherwise the page itself is the same, with one addition: the Deactivate All Plugins button at the top of the page. I suppose this is for WordPress upgrades in particular. It’s a nice feature, but I don’t see why it needs to be front and center; I’d venture to guess that this isn’t that common a use case.

Options/Settings

WordPress 2.3.3

WordPress 2.5

» What’s changed?

First off, the name. Thank you. I’m sure everyone has struggled with this part of the Admin area. The term “Options” never made much sense. I also appreciate the subtle change of adding the light blue background to chunk each setting. Goes to show how a little design touch can go a long way.

I’m disappointed that more work wasn’t put into consolidating the subsections — there are far too many and there has always been poor information scent as to which items exist where. I hope to see a vast improvement here in subsequent releases. It just seems like low-hanging fruit to me.

Overall, I’m happy with the changes that have been made. There’s certainly nothing that I can’t adjust to, and I know that navigating around will be faster in the long run. The look and feel is definitely much better, but I still might choose to activate SpotMilk if/when they update to accommodate WordPress 2.5. In all fairness this is the very first release candidate and I’m sure a whole slew of improvements are just around the corner. Despite my criticisms, WordPress is an incredible product and a really stand-up company with a great reputation. The folks at Happy Cog are incredibly talented and widely recognized leaders in the field. I would have loved to be a part of this project and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us next.

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Comments

  1. Great write up it actually has made me want to upgrade which is what I am going to go do right now.

    By the way whats the plug in I see in your screenshots for XML sitemaps?

  2. All in all seems like they’re making an effort ^.^ I still think they could learn a thing or two from the folks at Mozilla. You know they hired usability experts and psychologists to help re-design Firefox 3? Awesome stuff.

    A note on moderating comments vs. writing being more frequent – I personally use my email to moderate comments as they come in, but definitely write more often from the dashboard. I use my drafts as post incubators – as we speak, I have over 20 drafts :)

    Very nice and thorough ^.^ I’m tempted to give Skitch a try, but honestly don’t mind the old fashioned way because I like knowing where my files are ;)

    P.S. Sorry I haven’t commented before. I don’t often get the time what with Twitter and NowSourcing =P

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  1. […] to take a close look at new versions to see if they will help or hurt my workflow. Over a year ago I wrote extensively about WordPress 2.5, which was a drastic overhaul of all aspects of the admin tool. I failed to […]

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