Michael Arestad Sparks Renewed Effort to Improve the Content Creation Experience in WordPress

In 2013, Mel Choyce, Design Engineer at Automattic, published a proposal to improve the content creation and editing experience in WordPress. Her proposal and associated mockups like the one below, generated a lot of discussion. However, the project lost steam and major changes to the Add New Post screen were not implemented.

Post Writing/Editing Interface Concept From 2013

The post editor has undergone numerous improvements over the years from metaboxes in WordPress 2.0 to oEmbed support in 2.9. Here’s what the post editor looked like in WordPress 3.0.

WordPress 3.0 Post Editor Interface
WordPress 3.0 Post Editor Interface

Michael Arestad, Designer at Automattic, is sparking renewed interest to revamp the content editing and creation experience in WordPress. The project is composed of several smaller projects such as, the publishing user experience, automatic saving, the toolbar, metaboxes, and more.

“A few of us have been talking about getting these projects going for a while so I wanted to see how much interest there is and how many contributors we have to work with. I am by no means leading this as much as doing what I can to get the people interested in some of these projects going on them. I’ll personally be working on some of the longer projects,” Arestad told the Tavern.

A few people have already committed to parts of the project. Tammie Lister is leading a team focused on improving the Revisions UI while Hugo Baeta is leading the Toolbar Remix team.

The Revisions UI project is focused on experimenting with alternative interfaces to improve user friendliness with a secondary goal of providing a way for users to quickly switch between revisions. The Toolbar Remix team will audit the toolbar in the editor and determine whether buttons should be rearranged, added, or removed.

“Most of these projects will span multiple releases depending on the complexity of implementations and the number of usability tests required. There might be a few small ones that make 4.5,” Arestad said.

A majority of the projects are in the beginning stages. If you’re interested in contributing to an initiative, contact Arestad on SlackHQ or the person leading the project that interests you. You can also leave feedback by commenting on the proposal.

Looking Forward to Change

I work in the post editor everyday and while it’s a good experience, I want to experiment with alternative interfaces like the conceptual editor in the screenshot above. Consolidating metaboxes into the visual editor is a refreshing idea that I want to use in the real world to see if it speeds up my workflow.

If I were a betting man, I’d say the Add New Post screen is the most viewed and used part of the WordPress backend. Any changes to the editor and experience will affect a large number of users as evidenced by the removal of the View Post and Get Shortlink buttons in WordPress 4.4. However, any change that is implemented will likely be meticulously calculated by the core team.

What changes to the Add New Post screen do you want to see that would improve the way you create content in WordPress?

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