An Alternative Admin Interface for WordPress 3.8

By and large, most WordPress users are in love with the new admin interface. However, there are some who have been resistant to the changes in the design, as evidenced by the creation of the wp-admin classic, a plugin that actually goes so far as to conjure up the old, unresponsive admin from the dead. While I find this kind of resistance perplexing, given the overwhelmingly positive reaction to WordPress 3.8’s new design, it’s interesting to examine where opponents are coming from.

Go ahead and paint the walls

photo credit: spo0nman - cc
photo credit: spo0nmancc

The fact that you can do anything you want to customize the frontend and the backend is why so many people enjoy WordPress in the first place. So if you want to make a plugin that removes the new admin design or changes it in some way to suit your needs, by all means, go for it! Add more color schemes to WordPress 3.8, make the admin 50 shades of grey, or nuke it entirely and go back to the old admin design. If a different style of backend inspires you to publish great content, do whatever it takes.

Avenue Factory’s Alternative Admin Interface

WordPress designer and developer Haseeb Qureshi created a plugin called Admin Interface by Avenue Factory that he claims “restores visual balance and tactility to WordPress 3.8.” Although he sees the admin design as a giant leap forward, Quereshi says, “It appears to be chaotic and with no balance, right out of the box.”

His plugin loads a CSS file to override some of the styles in the new WordPress admin. Qureshi’s changes address his main concern: “Looking at WordPress 3.8 now, it just seems that the sidebar, widefat table elements, and the general type size are fighting for attention.”

Can you spot the differences in the screenshot below? The plugin adds a more tactile view to the sidebar and makes some subtle changes in typography and spacing.

Admin Interface by Avenue Factory
Admin Interface by Avenue Factory

His plugin also makes some broad stroke changes to the .widefat class, as you can see on the posts screen:

posts-screen

If you’ve had similar thoughts about the new admin design, the Admin Interface by Avenue Factory might be an option to explore for housing some of your own custom tweaks.

Even if you don’t think that the WordPress admin needs a more tactile appearance, it’s cool to see the freedom designers and developers have to make changes with just a simple CSS file. Since millions of people are using WordPress, it’s likely that more alternatives to the admin design will pop up. Personally, I prefer the default interface as it currently ships with 3.8, but not everyone perceives colors, space and balance in the same way. We’re lucky that with WordPress you’re never locked into the default.

11 Comments


  1. I’m with you Sarah.
    I like the new interface so I’m not likely to make any changes.

    I prefer to spend time on writing content and making the front end look good rather than looking for the perfect dashboard.

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  2. Although a new lick of paint on the admin interface was probably overdue, I’m in the camp that feels the resulting design just doesn’t hang together. Typography is dreadful, and clear ‘bugs’ (like what happened to the grouping of elements in left admin column?). I think they forgot that most users using WordPress aren’t developers and just developed something ‘pretty’.

    I too have no time to worry about updating the admin UI as i want to focus on end site, but find it worrying that WP got it wrong, as many people feel, as this is the kind of thing that puts people off using a system.

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  3. Ditto… I like the new look in 3.8.. I appreciate all the hard work that goes into the software I use… “for free”.. except for some plugins etc.. I do buy.

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  4. Thanks, Sarah. I looked at it but didn’t prefer it.

    It made the menu text smaller, which I personally didn’t like.

    Also, it gave the menu items a gradient, which although making them easier to discern individually, also clashed greatly with the flat design of WP 3.8. A simple subtle line border would have been better.

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  5. I don’t like it neither.
    The integration with MP6 was the right move. Further modifications aren’t adding a great improvement yet.
    Happy holidays to everybody!

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  6. Resistance to change isn’t really the issue, Sarah … I’m sure I’m not alone in finding the new nav sidebar simply unusable.

    The visual clash between it and the main area is really difficult on the eye, and as for the sidebar itself, white text on a black background is a long-time readability no-no. Having to distinguish between black and the dark grey of submenus is equally difficult.

    I’ve had similar feedback from clients, so the alternatives you’ve provided are very welcome.

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  7. I think that the new interface is a massive improvement. I spend most of my time in the backend so for me the update was a pleasant surprise, loving WordPress again at the moment.

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  8. I still can’t decide if I like it or not. There are some elements that look much better, but was kind’a used with the old version. Probably just takes time to get me used with it.

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  9. I also created one which retains most of the core aesthetics of 3.8 and stays “flat”. When working on sites which have a lot of menu items having some padding, a slightly smaller font and a subtle border really helps the eyeballs.

    It also works well with the Admin Color Schemer Plugin

    It’s on
    http://wordpress.org/plugins/better-admin-reading/

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  10. Newer isn’t always better. My “resistence” is that the Add New Plugins page is now filled with excessively large boxes that are hard to scan through quickly rather than the old list/table. There’s no way to toggle the view between list and grid. There is no way to sort. This is just bad UI design. It’s dumbed down and less usable.

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