Dashboard Usage Survey Results Now Available

Dave Martin also known as Lessbloat has published the results from the Dashboard survey. There were 438 responses which is a good sample to start from but Dave mentions that the survey has biased results as most of the people who participated were developers. Knowing that the majority of responses were from the developer community, the results don’t surprise me one bit.

Out of 416 answers, when asked Which sections of the Dashboard do you never use (and think should go away?) Other WordPress News took first place with 79% of the vote with QuickPress a very close second at 78% they were within 3 votes of each other. WordPress Blog, Plugins, and Incoming Links were generally close to taking the third spot. I would have thought that the Welcome Screen would have the least amount of votes to be removed but the Recent Comments widget claimed that position.

Question 2 Results For Dashboard Survey

Question 3 asked, How often do you post with QuickPress? it’s almost comical to see the response of Never take 92% of the vote.

Question 3 Results

Question 4 asked What sort of modifications do you typically make to the Dashboard (for yourself or for clients), and why? There is no illustration since the results are text-based but the CSV containing the responses is publicly available. I browsed through the document and was not surprised at the amount of people who remove most of the Dashboard widgets or completely redesign the Dashboard to fit their project.

Question 5 asked If you could wave a magic wand, what types of things would you show on the Dashboard? These answers are also publicly available as a CSV file and I thought were interesting. The majority of answers revolve around the idea of creating a Quicklinks Dashboard widget that would enable a quick way to accomplish common tasks. For example: A widget called “I would like to…” with a list of common tasks (add new post/page/media/theme/plugin, moderate comments, etc.) that would take the user straight to that section of wp-admin;” While you can’t access all tasks within the Dashboard, the Admin Bar already facilitates a quick way to create a new Post, Media, Page, User, Role, and if you have GravityForms installed, Forms. I wonder if the Admin bar is not being seen, is not being used, or simply isn’t the answer.

Stats were another popular suggestion for the Dashboard whether it was the stats that come with Jetpack or Google Analytics, a lot of people just want to see stats right on the Dashboard.

My Thoughts:

Taking into consideration that many of the survey respondents are developers and consultants, many of their answers correlate with what they commonly experience with clients. The issue I take with those responses is that I’m not a client. Reading over the survey responses, I get the feeling that people need a ton of hand holding to get anything done or to navigate anywhere within the WordPress back-end. Maybe that’s the case but not for me. Some people even suggested to just get rid of the entire Dashboard concept and just forward people to the post creation screen or the settings screen depending on the user role.

Personally, I think the Dashboard concept needs to be completely rethought. Not only thinking about how the current implementation can be improved, but also what is the Dashboard really supposed to accomplish? Let’s also dedicate some time and discussion in creating an all new Dashboard concept just to see where it goes.

The more I think about it, the more I’d like to see the Dashboard function just like the Dashboard in my car. Give me warnings or caution signs of things that don’t seem right such as a page or link that is causing 404 errors for people, the average page load on the site increasing to an unacceptable level, etc. The Right Now box in the current implementation is the most important meta box for me. I feel that if information such as what I see in the Unpublished Content meta box from Edit Flow and the Site Stats was combined into the Right Now box, it would be much more useful and cut down the number of metaboxes on the screen. I’d like to be able to use the Right Now box to view trends on the site as well as be able to act on those trends. In fact, let’s get rid of the Right Now box and just call the whole thing Dashboard. One metabox filled with all kinds of information. Not sure how well tabs would work here because one box would quickly get cluttered with TOO MUCH information. As a site administrator, I want to see all of the information I can. This wouldn’t work for other user roles. I’d like to see user roles with fewer capabilities get a slimmed down version of what’s presented on the Dashboard. I think this already occurs to an extent where certain links are inaccessible based on capabilities.

Time To Get Involved:

The Dashboard revamp will take place as a plugin similar to how MP6 was developed. If you are interested in working on this plugin, you’re encouraged to leave a comment on the announcement post. I love the fact that there is a discussion taking place about a major facet of WordPress and furthermore, that development will take place in a plugin rather than in core itself. I’m really digging these changes in the development approach of WordPress.

8 Comments


  1. Personally, I think the Dashboard concept needs to be completely rethought. Not only thinking about how the current implementation can be improved, but also what is the Dashboard really supposed to accomplish?

    Yeah, I agree. What is the dashboard really supposed to accomplish? I’d say this is what I would expect it to do for me as an administrator:

    The more I think about it, the more I’d like to see the Dashboard function just like the Dashboard in my car. Give me warnings or caution signs of things that don’t seem right such as a page or link that is causing 404 errors for people, the average page load on the site increasing to an unacceptable level, etc.

    But that’s for me as an administrator. After all, as an administrator, I’m the one driving the car. But that kind of dashboard wouldn’t be very useful to non-admins. I guess maybe they really don’t need that kind of dashboard – and maybe some of the lower roles don’t need a dashboard at all. So I think giving different roles different landing pages makes sense. But it would really depend on the nature of the site – for some sites the dashboard might be really important at all levels. So I guess it comes back around to how can the dashboard be made more useful and more customizable.

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  2. Taking into consideration that many of the survey respondents are developers and consultants, many of their answers correlate with what they commonly experience with clients.

    And we’re equating “clients” with the general usership? No, relatively (very) few WordPress users are clients.

    It’s as much a bias-factor to give special weight to the constituency of users who are clients, as it is to focus on developers. We know ‘right off the bat’, that clients will amount to only some modest multiple of the developer & service-provider population who meet clients’ needs.

    “Clients” are a self-selected cohort who, broadly speaking, are attracted to the idea of paying money for hand-holding. And those who earn a livelihood from this cohort, actively select for & foster ‘helplessness’.

    “Clients” are by definition a sharply atypical, unrepresentative element of the overall WordPress usership.
    =====

    These remarks apply even more strongly to WordPress, than will be case with competing products such as Drupal or Joomla. Other website and CMS ware do not hold out to the prospective adopter, that “Yes, You, the Compleat Newbie, can install it in 5 Minutes! Your very own Blog! All by Yourself!”. Remember?

    WordPress deliberately & actively specializes in appealing to the unsupported user … and it is they who will be the base-line cohort that needs to be examined.

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  3. As one of the non-developers who responded… I must admit the idea of getting rid of the Dashboard completely didn’t occur to me, but it could work. The sidebar is always there with all the links that are needed, but where would be put the news? As another link to a new page? Then we might just as well keep the Dashboard there, because I certainly don’t want to lose A Better Planet, which gives me all the WordPress news I need.

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  4. @Ted Clayton
    I strongly disagree with several of your points. I make my living helping clients who get in over their heads with WP. Sure, if users install a vanilla version of WP, with one of the default themes, and avoids using any plugins that expand the functionality of WP, they probably don’t need any hand holding, or help. Most people adopting WP, in my experience, don’t fall into that category. Plugins conflict. Newbies don’t know to check versions, or research when the plugin they want was last updated, or even understand how plugins work. The WP repository is 90% outdated, unsupported, poorly tested plugins.

    I think that’s the issue with advertising WP as being easy enough for anyone’s tech-illiterate great-grandmother to start a state-of-the-art website. That’s only true if said grandmother never wants to do anything but write a simple blog.

    Personally, I don’t teach any of my clients to be helpless. I take the time to explain the things they should have already known, so they don’t have to continue to pay someone else.

    My clients come to me because they’re afraid to ask for help from the WP community.

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  5. Came across this plugin today which gives the Right Now dashboard widget support for custom post types and taxonomies. It also puts draft notices next to each. I’d like to hear your thoughts on something like this becoming the new Right Now dashboard widget

    http://wordpress.org/plugins/right-now-reloaded/

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  6. @Selena MacIntosh
    “Give them a fish, they eat for a day; Teach them to fish, they eat for a lifetime”.

    The satisfactions of modern educational roles are legendary. From kindergarten to Post Doctoral Fellowships, the rewards of teaching, training and guiding are the foundation & backbone of our most redeeming institutions & cultural values.

    But business is still business … and the repeat-customer is every bit the icon as the fish and the fisher. Dominant business reality is that a provider ‘builds a relationship’ with the customer.

    It’s not that they couldn’t do it themselves, but that it’s so much smarter & sexier, not to. It is the business of business, to foster that milieu.

    Helplessness is admittedly a loaded word. But in the greatest country that has ever been, that the preponderance of all economic activity consists of consumer spending …. ‘Helplessness R Us”.

    Most 3rd party WordPress providers rely heavily on the permanent or recurring customer.

    There are exceptions, and there are the exceptional. Even in an era of ‘mass-everything’, the few often contribute way-disproportionally. It sounds like you are one.

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  7. I think the dashboard should have details from all the plugins, theme and actions you perform so that you can see at a glance all the stats. The problem is that the dashboard has kinda been abused by some developers who think it is the place to push their own posts and who can blame them.

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  8. @David suggested:

    I think the dashboard should have details from all the plugins, theme and actions you perform …

    Of course, Admin has a special “Plugins” page – and there are additional plugins to enhance this official Plugins page. I depend heavily on a couple of those Plugins-page-plugins, and experiment with several others.

    If you have a ton of plugins, then it’s hard to roll them into the ‘Dashboard experience’, tidily …. and, the more plugins you have, the more it tends to become the case, that one wants these additional plugins, to help with plugin management, on the special Plugin page.

    The same applies to Themes. I also use a Themes-page-enhancement plugin that is designed by default to display up to 100 installed themes, on the Admin Themes page, with added enhancements.

    There are also products & options for the Dashboard page itself, that make a point of showing additional information about the site plugins & themes … but usually just ‘how many’, and which theme is currently the active one.

    The “actions you perform” question would need to be a little more specific.

    If there is an interest in the specific plugins for the Plugins or Themes pages, or for plugins or options that increase/enhance the information shown in the Dashboard page itself, I will go into that further.

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