3 minute read

Let me start with a harsh sounding statement and work my way back from there:

WP Admin is a UI clusterfuck.

Over the past few years WordPress’ name has, for some reason, been synonymous with user-friendlyness. If you only use custom code that’s well designed to work with the WordPress admin or keep WordPress down to basic functionality, there might be some truth in that statement… But since I started to do consultency again I get into more and more situations where I’m looking at a thrown-together WordPress site, which needs each active plugin for a minisucle part of it’s functionality.

It’s a collection of single page applications with little overlapping UI, colors and conventions (Visual Composer, anyone?). I mean; look at the example above. Woo introduces it’s own color, UpdraftPlus has a nag the size of a house, and each and every plugin adds one or more pages to the side-menu.

The Problem

The biggest problem isn’t WordPress itself, although It could use cleaning up… I mean; the WP Admin dashboard looks like the cockpit of a Boeing 747 that’s screaming information at you. But still.. the biggest problem is plugins. Most of them either have an extremely unique (that’s putting it lightly) user interface or have no real interface or information architecture at all.

This is in big part due to the developers themselves and the fact that plugins have gotten huge in their features and functionality, but it’s also because there’s no strict UI-guide or even UI-kit in place for WordPress. Most of us seem to have to guess what’s the best font- button or margin size for our project-page. There should also be active encouragement towards plugin and theme developers to clean up the amount of settingpages added to the side-menu. These things are bugs, and just like ‘actual bugs’ they should be treated with messages towards the developers and pull requests.

WP Admin style guide

The best solution, in my opinion, for creating cleaner new plugins and overhauling old plugins could be a styleguide that gets enforced, promoted and encouraged by the core team. In 2013 Helen Hou-Sandi started a project called the wp-style-guide. The last commit is from two years ago, which seems like it needs new love and attention.

I’ll be checking it out the coming weeks, and will try and contribute some new stuff to it, because a lot has happened to WordPress Admin and the WordPress plugin landscape over the last 2 years. If there’s anyone who wants to join me and think of cool things to add, edit or change please, leave a comment, DM me on Twitter or Github and let’s work together to clean up WP Admin a bit.

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