Re-Thinking The WordPress Admin, A New Concept Dashboard Design
I’ve been thinking a lot about the WordPress admin lately. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement.
The WordPress team has done a great job improving the admin design over the years, but we still have a long way to go.
I deal with customers almost every day who tell me how difficult WordPress is to use. As designers/developers, sometimes we forget what it’s like to look at WordPress with virgin eyes.
For most non-developers, the first feeling is overwhelm. Confusion. Panic!
Even as an experienced WordPress user, I am getting tired of looking at all the excess (dare I say clutter?) in the admin. So I decided to do a mockup of what I want the admin area to look like.
Not really for anyone else, not thinking of how difficult it would be to implement, just sort of a dream.
Here’s what I came up with.
When I log in, this is what I see on my dashboard (click to enlarge):
It’s mostly stuff I don’t need or use, but I kind of just got used to ignoring it.
I count 22 menu items on the left side, plus the admin bar at the top. That’s just absurd. Granted, several of those are from themes/plugins, but it’s still just unnecessary.
I don’t click on half of those links on a regular basis, so why do I need to see them at all times?
Not to mention the random news feeds, stats that are completely useless (who cares how many tags I have?), and the seems-like-it-would-be-useful-but-I-never-use-it QuickPress.
Sure, you can customize some of it with the Screen Options tab, but that’s a band-aid fix.
Here’s a visual break-down. (click to enlarge)
This needs more than an “admin theme,” the problem goes deeper than CSS can fix.
Feature creep and over-zealous plugins have taken their toll, it’s time to completely re-think things.
A Concept Design
What if when you logged in, you got all the relevant information you needed from your dashboard, instead of a jumble of random tidbits?
Here’s what I want to see on my admin dashboard:
Doesn’t that just make you go, ahhhh? Simplicity and usefulness. White space. No gradients.
Now I’m not a UI designer, and I don’t claim that this is perfect, or even complete. Nevertheless, this is what I want MY WordPress admin dashboard to look like.
The Dashboard Boxes
Instead of the current stats like how many categories and tags I have, the only thing I care about is my site visitors. There might be a couple other useful stats we could add here, but that’s the bare-bones essentials.
I want a “Recent Site Updates” box, so that I can see any recent changes, and I can go directly back to the page/post I was editing last.
The comment box is much more compact, I don’t need to see avatars. I just want to read most of each comment, and approve/spam/trash it.
I added an “Orders” box, I’m sure not everyone needs that, but it’s the only other thing I personally want to see every time I log in. There would of course have to be room for personalizing these boxes, and plugins adding their own.
I don’t think the current vertical left menu is bad, but it can be overwhelming to non-developers. Especially when you have 22 menu items like me!
A top horizontal menu is more familiar to most people, and it eliminates duplicates between the left menu and admin bar.
I removed all non-critical links from view. The links I click the most are Pages, Posts, Menus, Widgets, and Settings. Honestly Settings could even be removed from that, or replaced with Plugins. Links such as Tools, Users, Media, and other menus are non-critical. Anything else can be accessed from the More drop-down link.
The Help Button
The current admin help tab is a cool idea, but it needs some work. It’s too inconspicuous, I’ve never heard a customer mention that it was helpful to them. I’m pretty sure most people don’t even know it’s there.
Plus, when you expand it, you get long-winded explanations of the finest details. That is great if you are a developer trying to learn the ins and outs of WordPress, but it is almost useless for a busy business owner just trying to figure out how to make a simple edit.
The help tab should expand and show images and simple instructions for non-developers, maybe even video. Here’s an example of what you could see if you expand the help tab on the page edit screen:
You could click the blue FAQ questions, which would expand/collapse and show image based instructions. That way you could quickly see how to do something, without having to sort through paragraphs of text.
What do you think?
That’s the way I want MY dashboard to look. Shout out to the great work by the core WordPress team, I don’t mean to knock their work. However, the current dashboard gives me anxiety when I look at it, this concept design makes me feel good.
Do you want your dashboard to look like this? Is it something that can be tweaked and built upon, or do you hate it?
I’m interested to know what you think in the comments, cheers!
Scott Bolinger is a WordPress theme designer and co-founder of Press Coders.