Consideration of the new user experience in WordPress

Helen Hou-Sandí — a Lead Developer of WordPress — has some really good thoughts on the new user experience (NUX) for WordPress. She will be leading WordPress 4.7, and says that she’d like to tackle some of the NUX problems in WordPress in that release, both from the perspective of core, as well as the Twenty Seventeen theme.

The part of NUX that I would like to start tackling in 4.7 is initial site setup, which also ties in with theme setup, whether that’s initially for a site or on theme switch. My premise here is that a user should be able to go from a fresh install of WordPress to being ready to show somebody else their site in a unified experience that allows for live, non-destructive previews.

She goes on to list out some important considerations and questions that must be taken into account when attempting to make this experience better.

The new user experience (I mean it in the NU-X sense, not the N-UX sense, which she also notes as frustratingly a different but related problem) has a lot of room to get better in WordPress. As Helen says, it’s too easy for users to get confused, frustrated, and abandon their websites early on.

Onboarding is a part of the NUX, and most (successful) startups and web apps spend a great deal of time on onboarding, and WordPress has catching up to do. I would like to see a sustained effort, not just in 4.7, but ongoing, to improve new user experience and onboarding.

A while back (WP 4.2 / Spring 2015), there was a decent effort at improving UX that fizzled for a variety of appropriate reasons. But that doesn’t mean the effort can’t be rekindled.

One practical change that may help is the creation of a user experience “focus” on Trac. If I’m not mistaken (I could be), there isn’t a way to filter tickets based on user experience. Current listed focus areas are: Accessibility, Administration, Docs, JavaScript, Multisite, Performance, RTL, Template, and UI. While UI kind of qualifies as design, it’s not encompassing of user experience, or especially new user experience.

Helen has a lot of good ideas, and she’s an ideal release lead to take on this kind of endeavor, as she’s also a WordPress Lead Developer, with a lot of experience in this area generally. I look forward to seeing what she makes of it, and hope many of my readers will participate in the process. Meanwhile, check out the rest of her post and considerations for improving NUX.

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