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Stop Ruining the WP Admin Area

digwp.com | Aug. 2, 2016 | 9 min read

WordPress developers respect the software you are working with. On another note, love a good rant.

39 votes   Flag
Vladimir Prelovac

Could not have helped but notice that the site is so 2009. Some good memories there.

Brian Jackson

Best line, "“If your plugin or theme stands out in the Admin Area, you're doing it wrong.” Love it!

JS Morisset

And the worst part is that some users will completely de-activate / hide admin notices because of this, and in doing so, they'll never see *real* plugin error messages that actually need fixing...


Manuel Vicedo

It appears Jeff is not publishing a comment I made on DigWP, so I'm posting it here:

I strongly disagree with some points on this. It feels like the article emphasizes on the WordPress admin area on being some holy ground that cannot be modified or altered in any way, and that adding ANY kind of notification is a sacrilege.

But as a theme/plugin author, I disagree.

Yes, some of these do cross a line. Plugin like Yoast are way too insistent on displaying notifications every single update. That is bad UX and it does ruin the WordPress experience.

However, that only applies to a small part of the cases shown in the article.

I don't know if the author has had any experience managing a WordPress product for end users, but the truth is that users don't care about it. They don't read documentation. They don't want to check your blog. Even if you got their email, they won't care about the feature list. Users just want their own problems solved, as evidenced by support requests like this:

"Your page builder does not work at all. It gives me the 'Theme could not be installed error'. What do I do? Please advise."

Because of things like that, you need to educate users along the way, directly in the WordPress admin. And you have to do so efficiently and painlessly.

Maybe the article author is familiar with WordPress already, and knows what each of the plugins he has installed does. But here is the thing: users do not. They are not familiar with WordPress, and if a plugin installs without no apparent change on the admin area (no feedback), they become lost.

Notifications are useful, and having a lot of them pop up after installing ~10 plugins is only natural. You can't expect to add a ton of functionality without instructing users in some way. In your examples, I can name a few that do their job right:

- TGM ensures the necessary functionality will be present.
- Ultimate TinyMCE uncovers newly released features the user wouldn't know about.
- GoDaddy flush cache provides a quick guide on what you can do, in like 30 words.

The best part of this? They can be dismissed. If you want your WordPress admin to stay pristine, just click on Dismiss each time a notification appears. In most cases they will leave you alone, and you will have some additional knowledge with you. Of course there are some bad cases like Yoast, but my point is that they take a few seconds of your time in exchange for valuable information.

In summary, admin notices are not bad, if implemented correctly. They don't ruin the WordPress experience, but enhance it. That's called User Onboarding.

I get your discontent-- as an advanced user, I too get annoyed by all these popups. But there is a term for this whole thing, and it's called Curse Of Knowledge. What might seem annoying to you because you are intimate with a particular topic, might be incredibly useful for unfamiliar people.

Remember, 25% of the Internet doesn't nearly have the same WordPress skills as you do.


Also, I'm rather appalled at how Jeff has probably avoided publishing comments like this on the article. In my opinion, it's irresponsible of him to make use of an outlet such as DigWP to push out an opinion piece like that. Not only I think it's a wrong idea, but it also creates a false illusion of what web design and UX as a whole should be. If you're gongin to be like that, you should at the very least be open to constructive criticism.