Initiative Aims to Improve the New User Experience in WordPress 4.2

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photo credit: zu.com – Image136(license)

Drew Jaynes, who is leading the release cycle for WordPress 4.2 announced on the Make.WordPress.core blog, that a new community initiative has been launched called NUX or New User Experience. The group is made up of more than 15 members of the WordPress community who have experience in onboarding clients, training clients, and work with new users on a regular basis. According to the announcement, the group’s main task is as follows:

The group will be tasked with helping to identify common pain points new users might experience using WordPress. The hope is to (re)invigorate the conversation about making NUX a priority in core decision-making. We’ll work together to identify problems and recommend solutions.

With regards to 4.2, the group will brainstorm actionable goals and make recommendations to improve the new user experience throughout the WordPress backend. Jaynes says, “These changes would likely include improvements to contextual help on various screens, improvements to the content of the Welcome Panel, as well as adjustments to many other established workflows in core interfaces including the installation process.”

Recommendations large and small will receive direct feedback from core developers. This provides an opportunity for new users to immediately contribute back to WordPress. The group’s first meeting will be held Tuesday, February 10, 2015 14:00 UTC-5 in the #core-flow channel on Slack.

Re-establishing Easy as a Selling Point

I’ve used WordPress since 2008 and one of its strongest selling points has always been that it’s easy to use. However, as WordPress has advanced, I think it’s become progressively more difficult to use. Within the last two years, several articles have highlighted the increasing difficulty in using and explaining WordPress.

I think a good base to start from to improve the user experience is Jen Mylo’s site setup journal experiment. In the series, Mylo documents what it’s like as a new user to install WordPress on a host, setup a website, and browse through documentation. Part 1 covers domains and hosting while part 2 is about setting up WordPress. Her journey is an eye-opening experience and shows how many areas of WordPress are ripe for improvement.

If WordPress is going to achieve 50% market share, it needs to be easy to install and use. The New User Experience initiative is a good step towards ensuring the future of WordPress adoption.

4 Comments


  1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been working on WordPress projects that put an emphasis on narrative storytelling with multiple authors. One experiment being family websites that allow a whole family to tell their family history in compelling long-form fashion, while writing new chapters via ongoing blogging/journaling in areas that they are interested in.

    By far the biggest challenge so far has not been setting the sites up or achieving the functionality I need, but making WordPress approachable for the whole family. Anyone my parent’s age, or older, are incredibly intimidated by the whole process and it’s been next to impossible to gently on-board them.

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    1. I would be interested to know if these older ones have programs on their computer they do know how to use without too much hesitation, and how long did it take them to feel comfortable with it?

      That would answer 1) if there are UX design cues that WP could use, and 2) whether it’s WP or just the computer in general that’s the issue.

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      1. I mean they use email, word processors, spreadsheets, etc. But those are things they took the time to learn for work. They don’t want to learn how to use something as complex as WordPress on a whim or for an experiment. In addition to what was mentioned in this post, I think designing a WP Admin theme for certain experiences is going to be key in getting users like the ones I’m talking about.

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  2. I think it’s great that this group exists. User empathy will, I think, be what determines whether WordPress lives or dies in the long run, and it’s nice to see a proactive effort in that direction.

    I’d love to see more vigorous questioning of “What do you, as a site owner, find difficult about WordPress?” and then those things being made development priorities Not only for new users, but for users in general.

    For example, I’m *really* excited about the Front-End Editor, and suspect it would revolutionize the WordPress user experience once completed and debugged (not at all easy, obviously). The emphasis and official support it’s being given (in its current incarnation as a plugin) doesn’t seem to match its helpfulness to the WordPress UX.

    tl;dr: This working group seems like a great development! Would love to see more like it.

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