WordPress 4.3 Moves Customize to Its Own Top-level Menu in the Admin Bar

When menu management was proposed to be merged into WordPress 4.3, a common complaint expressed by readers was that clicking the Widgets menu item in the admin bar loads the customizer instead of the Widgets admin screen. WordPress 4.3 separates the management interfaces by moving the Customize link to the top-level menu of the admin bar. This link opens the customizer, allowing you to manage menus, appearance, and widgets through the customizer interface.

WordPress 4.2 Admin Bar
WordPress 4.2 Admin Bar
WP43AdminBar
WordPress 4.3 Admin Bar

The Dashboard, Themes, Widgets, and Menus links take users to their corresponding admin pages in the backend of WordPress. This makes it clear which interface users are about to enter. The enhancement is a result of ticket #32678 where Helen Hou-Sandí and other WordPress core contributors discussed ways to improve the context of each link over the course of five weeks.

Within the ticket, Nick Halsey, who has spent a lot of time on the customizer, explains that the approach taken in the ticket addresses short-term problems while setting the stage for future improvements.

The Customizer gets the visibility it deserves and becomes more conceptually separated from ‘Appearance’, the admin becomes significantly more accessible from the front-end, the often-unhelpful dashboard is de-emphasized, etc. We also have the ability to easily upgrade the Customize link to do a much faster/shinier loading of the Customizer in the future without moving it.

Notably, the add-content and edit-content links remain separated from the admin menu (and we skip submenus there for simplicity), setting us up to be able to point them to a front-end-contextual content-creating/editing experience if we build that in the future, without moving links around. This minor rearrangement should be able to last several years without things moving around much if at all, even as further adjustments are made to the features they point to.

On the surface, it appears to be a simple change but a lot of time and effort went into it. It required several core contributors to discuss a variety of mockups, ideas, and flows before the team figured out a solution.

Separating how users enter each interface will be a welcome enhancement to anyone who prefers one over the other to manage themes, widgets, and menus.

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12 Comments


  1. Note that in my comment quoted above, the “the admin becomes significantly more accessible from the front-end, the often-unhelpful dashboard is de-emphasized, etc.” part is in reference to replacing the “site title” dropdwon menu with the entire admin menu (as the widgets/menus/themes links there aren’t super useful), which will likely happen in 4.4 now.

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  2. Is there a reason that I cannot see this in the beta4?

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  3. There is no such thing as a ‘simple change’ ;-) I would appreciate a screen shot of what is under the new Customize menu please. Thanks for all the hard work on this – it is appreciated. Having the widgets and menus not be consistent (one going to Customizer and one going to the backend) was a real pain and I never did get use to it. THANK YOU!

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    1. I would appreciate a screen shot of what is under the new Customize menu please

      There are no child menus under the new Customize link in the Toolbar, it’s top-level only. Hope that helps.

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  4. Do people use the Customizer so often that it requires a dedicated top level spot? It can get quite crowded with the top level links.

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  5. Yes! This is a win. At least from my perspective, anyway. Was very frustrating to have to remember to go to Dashboard –> Appearance –> Widgets to get to the Widget admin instead of just clicking on the Widgets drop down.

    I get that the customizer is where WordPress is going. But I still don’t like using it personally. But then I still nearly exclusively use the text editor for publishing instead of the visual editor too. So I know I’m no where near the center of the user bell curve. Heh.

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    1. Yes, this is great. It gets the Customizer out of traditional Appearance editing. Can’t imagine how many panicked support calls this fix has made unnecessary.

      I’m on your bellcurve, Chris. The less javascript the better. Letters in even the comments here appear with a five second lag much of the time.

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    2. I hate it when a plugin adds their own main level menu, under let’s say Appearance, Plugins, etc…they should go under as a sub-menu. Less top level menu options the better.

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