Another Idea for Widgets

Part of the goal of redesigning widgets in WordPress is to make the connection between widget areas, and their presentation on the front-end of your site, more obvious. It’s clear that there’s a big disconnect between the narrow column of sidebars (or widget areas) in wp-admin, and their location within your site’s theme. Here’s an idea that presents a blueprint of your theme’s templates, allowing you to add widgets to the available widget areas:

Widget Area Blueprint

During some recent user testing, it became clear that the current UI for managing widgets does little to make it clear that widgets must be placed using drag-and-drop. It seems that re-ordering widgets using drag-and-drop is intuitive, but the initial placement of widgets is more cumbersome and not so obvious. This design tries to solve that problem by relying on the “Add Widget” button for each area. You can drag-and-drop widgets between areas, or click on the “Add Widget” button to popup a media-like modal from which you can choose widgets.

My hesitation with this approach, and with the general concept of front-end editing in general, is that it puts a lot of “stuff” in front of your face. This approach makes a lot of sense for managing the location of widgets, but not so much for managing the content of widgets. What do you think?

Browsing Themes in WordPress

Along with working on Widgets, I’m also working on some ideas for the theme experience in WordPress. Working with Matías Ventura, I’ve come up with the following wireframe:

Theme Browser Wireframe

The big idea here is to merge the two pages, Manage Themes and Install Themes. We ran a user test, which you should totally watch, and quickly discovered that the user got completely lost looking for a way to add/browse themes. The label “Install Themes” didn’t convey that they could search and browse. The above wireframe aims to make searching and browsing the main focus of the themes page. Your installed themes are displayed at the top, with your active theme highlighted. The rest of the page is dedicated to browsing and searching themes. Its a quick idea, but something I think could make the overall experience better. What do you think?

Prototype W

Widgets, Widgets, Widgets: Rethinking Widgets in WordPress

I spent some time today working on a plugin that redesigns the widgets in WordPress. It’s a prototype. I love to build quick prototypes, not design something on a static Photoshop canvas. This way, I get to play with the “thing” I’m building and tweak it in realtime. This method of “don’t just draw, build something real” is the primary reason I learned PHP as a designer.

Check out the code on GitHub, and note that this plugin currently requires that you modify a Core WordPress file to make a few functions “plugabble.”

Exploring Layouts for the WordPress Media Library

3.6 Media Menu with MP6WordPress 3.5 brought us the great media modal, which makes it super easy to upload and add images while writing a post. The modal features a grid-based layout, with large images that make browsing your library a breeze. Meanwhile, the main media page hasn’t changed much. It still lists your media library using a standard WordPress table view. Its not bad, and sometimes the table view is useful — but that grid-based layout from 3.5 would bring that easy, breezy browsing to the main media page.

I’ve worked up a few quick wireframes to run through the idea. I’m diggin’ it. There’s the standard table list view, a hybrid view, and a traditional grid view. Lots more ideas brewing in my head, but I wanted to get these “on paper.” What do you think?