Survey – How Do You Use The Dashboard?

Amidst all of the conversation taking place on improving the WordPress back-end user interface, there is now a public survey you are encouraged to participate in that will help determine how people use the dashboard and where improvements need to take place. The survey is only 5 questions long but should provide enough information to determine a direction of travel for improvements. For a moment, let’s take a look at the proposed dashboard for the Ghost platform.

Try Ghost Dashboard
Preview Of The Proposed Ghost Dashboard

I think a few people, including myself became enamored over the dashboard concept for Ghost but upon looking at it more closely, it’s just a bunch of numbers in my face. Hard to judge something I haven’t been able to play around with but it was nice to see a refreshing take on the entire dashboard concept. In the WordPress Dashboard Survey, I was reminded just how much I don’t use the Dashboard for anything other than getting at-a-glance information. I also realized that if the Right Now meta box included information from some other dashboard widgets like recent comments, recent drafts, etc, that the Right Now box would be more beneficial to me and provide less widgets to be displayed on the screen at one time.

I’m opening up the conversation by asking what is it that would make the dashboard super useful for you? There is an intricate balance that needs to be observed on the type and amount of data that is shown to the user before it becomes information overload or just a bunch of numbers in front of the users face. There is also the problem of creating a dashboard that’s useful to everyone, not just specific use cases of WordPress.


10 responses to “Survey – How Do You Use The Dashboard?”

  1. First off, like you, I was surprised to realize just how much I ignore the dashboard. I just glance at it on the way through, checking for news and any comments I might have missed in my email feed.

    It would be nice to have selectable blog (RSS, possibly Twitter too) feeds. That way I can alert my customers to changes by setting up their own feed. Stats with trends, and a snapshot of what’s going on right now – how many people are on the site, and where. Yes I can get this by checking out analytics, but it would be much more useful on the dashboard. Being able to drag and drop common menu selections would be a boon, instead of constantly navigating the menus for those few items I use frequently.

    How’s that for starters?

  2. The problem of the Dashboard, is the problem of the Hyperlinked Internet.

    With ready linking-ability, comes the challenge of presenting & selecting the links available.

    Or to use the common expression, the problem is one of Navigation.

    Complaints are heard, about the number & complexity of links & choices being presented to the user or visitor. Not just in the Dashboard environment, but on websites in general, and really, throughout the full breadth & height of the Internet itself.

    The response of ‘some’ has been to identify the wealth of choice & options as ‘the problem’, and undertake to eliminate it. Yeah, I think that’s misguided.

    The WordPress ‘backend’, or Administration, or Dashboard, is an add-on. It can be completely replaced. Various types of techie users and serious entities using WordPress, do rip the whole dang thing out and install their own system.

    It seems attractive & reasonable to me, for WordPress itself to offer the product with several different such backends, aimed at several levels/kinds of users:

    1.) The Nice Consumer’s solution. Those who don’t want to be confronted by what they experience as an excess of in-yer-face Facts & Expectations. “I just wanna type in my post”! A huge swath of the complaint-action can be eliminated, by addressing this category alone.

    2.) The Sorcerer’s Apprentice solution. Those who like to see lots of Check Boxes & Radio Buttons; with as much of the functional guts as feasible made accessible through a prepared interface (not so much ‘hand-holding’, as ‘paint-by-numbers’). The popularity of the Atahualpa theme, with over 200 options, and the #1 downloaded theme across more than half a decade …. demonstrates convincingly that this approach is attractive to a large class of WordPress user.

    3.) The Professional Developer’s solution. Lastly, advanced users of several kinds can be lumped together by their common preference for a solution-set that assumes one is engaged pretty-much full-time with WordPress and other geeky stuff. This category self-identifies as ‘insiders’ and elites.

    Personally, I would prefer to see these kinds of solutions in the Plugin repository. WordPress Admin may be a little too much of a hairball these days, for that to be practical, but I do see signs that we are headed for a future in which WP becomes more-amenable to this level of modification, through plugins.

    Meanwhile, WordPress itself could offer a range of versions, perhaps as a stop-gap while rationalization of the API slowly comes about.

  3. The Ghost dashboard is pretty… for a blogging platform. That doesn’t mean it’s right for WordPress. To me, the key to a WordPress Dashboard is a) deciding if one is necessary at all, b) ensuring if one does exist that it’s extremely flexible for adding and removing elements to it, for specific user AND globally. A flexible methodology for doing so is key to making it work. Not to mention removing useless fluff items that are in there now (most of them)

  4. The Right Now section is great. Perhaps something similar for custom post types that are properly registered with WordPress? Also it would be nice to have a simple analytics view. I don’t think a full-fledged analytics package would be proper. But a “lite” one to help users get a quick overview of how the site is doing (visits/page-views, top 10 posts, average page load time, etc.).

  5. On my own sites one of the first things I do is completely gut the dashboard. I have nothing there except for a whole lot of empty space. :)

  6. I think the dashboard is terribly underused, and I also completely ignore it most of the time. I’m working on a plugin right now that will give me the choice of where to start working upon logging in (recent drafts, new post, etc.), and that will bypass the dashboard entirely. I think its the most underused part of wordpress since the Links menu-item got removed.

  7. Hi Jeffro,
    On my own sites one of the first things I do is completely gut the dashboard. I have nothing there except for a whole lot of empty space.
    Thanks for sharing

  8. My main use of the dashboard is to check the WordPress Planet feed.

    I think the real ‘problem’ with the dashboard, and the whole administration end of WordPress is that it isn’t themable. No one dashboard is going to fit all WordPress users, any more than one front-end theme is. The dashboard doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’ nearly so much as it needs to be made more customizable.

  9. Over the years I’ve severely limited my use of the dashboard page. At the moment it shows my statistics. That’s it.

    The widget showing incoming links has been broken for ages (~Google Blogsearch). Up to last week, I used to display WordPress Stats as well (through Jetpack), but I got rid of those as well to speed-up my pages.

    For me, the dashboard should show current status and alerts. Come to think of it: that’s exactly what a car dashboard does as well!

  10. I’m fan of the empty dashboard, but lately for some projects I’m moving some theme options to the dashboard (like featuring some posts into homepage).


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