WordPress 4.6 has recently been released, and now plans are being made for WordPress 4.7. At the start of each new version the WordPress team ask for ideas and suggestions for areas people would like them to focus on. This time I thought I’d write my thoughts down in a blog post.
Import and Export
I make WordPress themes for a living, and I offer my customers the content export for the theme, however there’s a lot of data missing. It would be great if the content export let you export more than just posts and pages. Adding widget and customizer settings would mean that users can reproduce demo sites exactly just by importing the demo xml file.
It would also be nice if the import system was made more robust. At the moment there can be lots of problems with imports, especially for large sites. Since I don’t work for clients I’ve only had to do a few imports in my time but every time something went wrong – often with PHP timing out, or running out of memory.
There’s a team (mostly from Human Made) who have made a start on a really nice new WordPress Import Export system.
Post Editing Experience
There’s two things I’d like to see with the post editing experience.
Firstly is Front End Editing – there’s a REST powered plugin that demos this. I think removing the admin interface (which can be quite complex/ intimidating for less technical users) would be a good thing. There is also the fact that the previews rarely match the final output – even when editor styles are used. Editing on the front end of your site would resolve this. It would also help bring WordPress a little closer to the Medium post creation experience – which seems to be universally loved.
Secondly I’d like to see some sort of integrated content builder. Not a page builder necessarily – although it could be extended to do this sort of thing. There was a start made on it many versions ago (in 2013 it seems) – but it never took off, so I’d like to see this revisited. It would help users to make more complex layouts more easily. Something like Shortcake may be a good start.
Tied into this is the post formats UI, I really like post formats and support them in all of my recent themes on Pro Theme Design. There has recently been some discussion about post formats, and it would be great to see this improved as well.
Custom Front Page
At the moment the process for creating a custom front page is incredibly convoluted. You have to set up a new page, then add a custom template, then go to the site settings (or customizer) and select the page you just created. If you want to keep the blog posts, then you will need to set up another page and assign that too.
I’m sure there has to be an easier way.
I’m a big fan of the Customizer. Being able to preview changes to the site before setting them live is so much nicer than changing things in a random page in the admin and then refreshing the front end.
There are a number of interesting projects already in the works – and I’d love to see any/ all of them integrated into core.
- Customize Posts – Edit posts and post meta in the Customizer. This is a good first step for front end editing. I think the current plugin needs improvements in the user experience, but it has a lot of potential.
- Customize Snapshots – Allow Customizer settings to be drafted, scheduled, and previewed.
- Customize Browser History – Add history and deep linking to the customizer for better integration and navigation.
There’s a few people who are passionate about developing the customizer further – in particular Weston Ruter who is really helping to drive the development.
I know there’s a lot of people who don’t like the customizer as well. Personally I think it’s a bit short sighted – however I also don’t think everything should be moved to the customizer. The customizer is the best place to preview things that will change how your website looks – other settings that are unrelated to the website layout should stay in the WordPress admin.
There’s probably loads of other things that need focusing on and things I have missed – but my focus is on improving the user experience. Anything that makes WordPress nicer to use will indirectly benefit everyone. However these are the ones that stand out to me as helping to develop WordPress as a content management system for the future. Is there anything major I have missed?