WordPress.org is second only to WordPress.com in Google search results for “WordPress,” followed by the project’s download, about, and featured themes pages. Unfortunately, visitors to WordPress.org land on an outdated website that doesn’t accurately represent the vibrance of the WordPress project and its strong community. As the face of the open source project, WordPress.org is in desperate need of a redesign.
Designer Hugo Baeta is currently gathering feedback on the user experience of the site as part of a long-term plan for its improvement. WordPress.org is a slow-moving machine when it comes to updates and design changes, but Baeta’s research is a solid first step towards action.
“As we take on efforts of documenting and creating more polished and art directed design foundations for the WordPress project as a whole, the .org sites need to get some love as well,” Baeta said.
He posted results of a lengthy 55-question survey, summarizing anonymous feedback from 32 of WordPress’ most active contributors – project leads, team reps, and highly active community members. The survey asked open-ended questions to encourage honest feedback on the site’s biggest pain-points.
“This survey will help us get a better idea of the direction we need to go on a long-term plan to make improvements to WordPress.org, building a more solid and thought-out foundation so the community can grow and thrive for years to come,” Baeta said.
For 81% of respondents, the primary reason they visit WordPress.org is to contribute to WordPress. Nearly all agreed that the design feels tired, old, outdated, and inconsistent. It’s not surprising, given the sample’s demographic, that most respondents rarely (if ever) visit the WordPress download page, the themes directory, hosting, or showcase pages.
Overall, the survey’s participants find the current design to be inconsistent and confusing to navigate unless you are an insider. Several responses communicated frustration that the site isn’t 100% WordPress and that its underlying code prevents it from being easily updated.
Survey participants offered both sharp criticism and constructive feedback. If you have the time and inclination, the results are worth a read.
WordPress.org serves two different types of users: contributors and the millions of people who use and the software. Baeta did not indicate his next step in the UX research, but it would be worthwhile to sample some first time visitors and users who frequent the pages that contributors don’t often visit.
While open source software websites aren’t usually known for their cutting edge designs, many inspirational examples can be found at BeautifulOpen.com. Browsing that catalogue, it’s clear that WordPress.org could greatly benefit from a brighter, more user-friendly design.
Companies like Wix and Weebly, some of WordPress’ commercial competitors, could never get away with having websites that don’t demonstrate the quality of their products. If WordPress is going to continue to grow past its current 26% market share, the project’s website should reflect its reputation of being easy-to-use software for creating beautiful websites.