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Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

How usable is WordPress? (Part VII – Rough Paper Prototypes)

with 4 comments

I’ve started to move on from analyzing problems in the WordPress interface into sketches of what, specifically, can be improved. Design of this kind seems to work best in a series of iterations, so this is  iteration one of three. As preface, here is what the back-end of a hosted blog looks like (click the image to see the entire screen width; opens in a new window):


A "back-end" - the Dashboard

Some of my ideas on how to improve the interface can be found in these paper prototypes (a Google Doc PDF).

Recommendations (each are further explained in the PDF):

  1. Make the “Visit Site” button more visible.
  2. Show the changeable nature of the interface by adding “x” (close window marks) to each module.
  3. Re-organize the left navigation based on user goals: to blog! Better “chunk” functions based in order of usage.
  4. Remove “turbo” from upper right corner.
  5. Remove the WordPress announcement banner.
  6. Begin to improve clarity in WYSIWYG by moving “upload/insert” into main tool section.
  7. Improve ability to find where things are in the back-end menus by putting “edit” links in front end – like is currently done for each post (when user is logged in).
  8. Make module/menu expandability easier – don’t have the drop down arrow disappear.
  9. Improve Help menus by adding links from text to function.
  10. Link dashboard modules to their corresponding pages in the back-end.

Here’s a quick visual of some of the changes to the dashboard (again, click to see full image); you can see hand-drawn sketches and revisions in the PDF:

Interface edits

A rough mock-up of some proposed changes

Confused? Feel free to drop me a line with any questions.

In the meantime, see the next iteration of my mock redesign in Part VIII – Iteration 2.

This post is part of the ten-part series called Is WordPress Usable?

The series documents my learning process in attempting to systematically identify usability problems in, and suggest improvements to, the blogging software as might be done in the emerging field of User Experience.  This project was undertaken as part of LIS590IIL, a class held in the Graduate School of Library and Informaton Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois during Fall of 2009.


Written by nicolibrarian

November 18, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Posted in UX/IxD Portfolio

Tagged with , , ,

4 Responses

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  1. hey nicole, this is awesome! i have had a horrid time trying to figure out wordpress, even the most simple things seem buried under 4+ clicks and vague and misdirected terminology. i am really excited to see the iterations!

    and i am loving your UIUC materials suggestions, i wish i had an eye for things like you do!! 🙂

    side note: any idea what you are taking next semester?? trying to figure out my schedule and hitting a few conflicts


    November 19, 2009 at 12:06 am

    • Hey, Lynn.

      Thanks for the comment! I am really liking the process of working on making WordPress better. It’s so hard to design for novices/beginners, and then frequent users. They do say all design is about trade-offs – I think WordPress has chosen a lot of trade-offs that benefit more experienced users, or folks who are really within their community (that’s entirely a guess).

      I also posted my class schedule for the Spring here: I may add LIS452 (the python class) on to that – I’m trying to decide. I *do* have a lot of time since I’m not working…



      November 19, 2009 at 12:13 am

  2. i definitely wonder what community they have in mind with the current design! can’t imagine it being very accessible to even experienced users? though maybe that is just me


    November 19, 2009 at 3:01 am

  3. Damn, that sound’s so easy if you think about it.

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    January 9, 2010 at 6:21 pm

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