WordPress. First signs of uncoolness, evilness even.

I’m annoyed at WordPress. Up until now their stunning blogging application has made it wonderfully simple to get writing and posting pictures on the web. Their ethos has been true – make it free, make it simple and open to everyone. Their source code is available at WordPress.org, and their WordPress.com site hosts for free. Sure you can pay for your own domain name and so forth – but is is cheap.

Meanwhile it has been a steady march on the incfease in usability, with essentially no miss-steps. Designed and run by nerds for everyone. (Trade Me was like this – the nerds in control of usability, with MBA’s very scarce on the ground.)

But all good things come to an end. It starts with a simple tree.

That Tree was a button which called up a small dialog box, where you entered a url and description, and voila, a picture appeared in your blog. It was ever so simple that anyone could use it, no HTML required. Even if you can write HTML, it was so much simpler to use the dbox.

Now WordPress have screwed it up.

They have replaced the simple green tree button with an Add Media button row. It sucks sucks sucks.

All of a sudden my nice easy process of blogging just took a turn for the worse and a frustration leap. It takes more time for me to post, so I, and millions of others, are therefore less likely to post.

Here’s what happened, the impact and why I believe WordPress have done this and why I believe it is wrong.

1: The tree is gone – it used to be amongst the two rows of buttons, and there is still plenty of room for it. It has been replaced by the box logo (!) next to the “add media” text. Sadly you can only see this logo if you are editing in ordinary mode, and not in full screen mode.

2: Clicking that box logo brings up the world’s biggest dialog box. It covers up the screen and as it is flash, takes its time about loading as well. Here it is – actual size on my screen.

the world\'s emptiest huge dialog box

3: You have to select the url box (an extra step – before you just started typing), then paste the url of the photo, tab/click to the next box, and enter a description. Now you are done – so press enter.

wordpress

4: Whoops – an error, and all of your lovely information is now gone. So sorry. Start again.

This sucks in three ways – the simplicity has gone, the box is big and slow so the usability suffers and the intent is evil. The box defaults to the top part (upload files) but notice how the bottom part is highlighted. It’s as if WordPress know that most people want to use the bottom part, but they are making you touch the top part.

The Evil Intent.

I believe the intent of this change, and WordPress are unapologetic about the change, is to drive people to load their images on to WordPress’s own servers.

I further believe that WordPress are trying to promote loading of more videos and sound onto their own servers. In short they want to beat Flickr/Photobucket and YouTube at their own game.

They will fail – after all they are not Flickr or Youtube. Moreover they are pissing off their own customers, which is a great way to get them ready to go to the next big thing, just as everyone has already moved from blogger to Moveable Type to WordPress.
Wordpress is the best blogging platform, but this moves sends the first signal that perhaps being the best and simplest blogging platform is not their core aim. If this is so WordPress, then please have a change of heart, or you will lose your core, and your corps. If this is not so, then please put the stupid tree back so that I can keep advising people to use WordPress.

P.S. I sent a support email and got a response back very quickly for more information. Color me very impressed about that, but unimpressed by the “1) The tree has been replaced by the Add an Image button on the Add Media toolbar.” comment – which is a stonewall.

P.P.S How much would it suck (and be cool) to be in a company where all of our customers’ can and do write about your service and have it read by anybody and everybody?
What great feedback for the developers…

P.P.P.S Yes I know that one reason for the new add image feature is the ability to move the position around. It sucks.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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8 Responses to WordPress. First signs of uncoolness, evilness even.

  1. Elladatort says:

    I totally agree with you! I’m mad along with you, but I understand that what wordpress is trying to do is promote their site, which really is not working at all, as you have explained. At first i thought what they tried to do was to make things simpler/ have more freedom, but obviously that hasn’t worked too well. Thanks for the post!

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  2. Lance: I agree that this feature is pain in the arse.

    We host WordPress on our own server at interest.co.nz so we are bypassing this ‘feature’ and hosting the images ourselves and then embedding using ‘the tree’.

    Re WordPress wanting to be the next YouTube /Flickr, I think that may be reaching a little. Probably it’s more likely an example of features for features sake. Someone thought it would be a cool idea but it’s not.

    BTW: Bernard says hello.

    Bryan Spondre

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  3. On the other hand … embedding a YouTube video using the new media bar is now trivial where it used to be a bit of a pain.

    Given the prominence that is given to linking to media on other sites (rather than uploading to WordPress servers), including YouTube and Flickr, I’m not sure that I agree that this is an evil-inspired plan to host all of the content themselves, with the associated infrastructure and bandwidth costs that will come with that. Unless they can tip a few more users into their optional plans which include extra storage I suppose. I’m currently using less than 10% of my free space, so I don’t imaging that is common.

    I think it’s more likely just a case of an over enthusiastic UI designer getting ahead of users.

    “Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence”

    See:

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  4. Thomas says:

    I personally find the new media button quite useful,
    The main benefit for me is being able to upload multiple images at once.

    Admittedly it takes a little getting used to, but now I find it a much faster way to upload and insert images. I prefer to upload images rather than link to them in other places as you never know when they might disappear..

    Thomas

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  5. Marc Lehmann says:

    Totally relate to this. I’m just linking direct to images on flicker or ftp them to my server. Also their crappy ‘date’ driven search needs work.

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  6. Pete says:

    Happy Cog Studios (workplace of web design legends like Jeffery Zeldman and Jason Santa Maria) did the redevelopment of the interface, not automattic (owners of WordPress).

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  7. elliot says:

    Maybe you should chek out silver stripe… I think wordpress overall is still better than the other main blogging programmes. Lets hope they are on to it and listen to everyones comments

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  8. Juha says:

    Don’t complain about WordPress… you should see some of the stuff I’ve had to work with. WP is super slick in comparison :)

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