Admin Themes Are Not the Answer

This year, WordPress admin themes are going to be all the rage. And while they will no doubt reduce interface clutter, is it really the right answer to a cleaner WordPress experience?

I’m not really convinced that it is. We have to first ask ourselves, why will backend themes will become the rage this year? My only guess is because the backend of WordPress resembles trying to exit a freeway with 24 exit signs while going 80MPH. There are numerous choices to make in any given spot. In fact, on my post screen (with a few plugins active) there are 207 anchor links to click on. Now given, some are done with JS so there’s no target, some are hidden, but the fact remains, there is a whole lot you can do (irony Decisions not Options?). Backend themes will come about to reduce the confusion, geared towards specialized purposes, which in turn will smooth the workflow and get folks to where they need to get the fastest.

The backend of WordPress resembles trying to exit a freeway with 24 exit signs while going 80 MPH.

So that’s the main issue at hand. Clutter. For specific applications, simply put, you don’t need 90% of what’s there. Let’s take writing for example. To write a post, you need an editor, and a publish button. Everything else from there, is just bells and whistles. Anything that doesn’t have to do with actually writing a story, is just a distraction.

But what about editing? Don’t you need a place to administer this? Nope, it’s all done on the front-end right from within your post.

When things are edited contextually, there’s no need for an interface to manage, add, and update. You can do it from within the post that you have created. Images are edited inline. Galleries are created on the front end. Posts are added with a new post trigger. And do we really need a media library? I’m just not convinced that we do. Sure that would be amazing as an add-on, but does it really need to be in core? It’s hard to say.

This is why I believe that admin themes aren’t the answer. An admin interface doesn’t even need to exist in some applications, at least not in the sense that we think of it. An “administration” area should allow you to “administer” your site. Not edit, add, and manage your content. I think that the “content management” part should be separated from the “application” part. Not everyone utilizing WordPress actually needs to manage content, or to administer a website.

Some people just want to write a story, or publish a recipe, or share an experience. And for this, you don’t need much. The problem is that WordPress has been built to be “generally” good at everything. Invariably, it’s this notion which is the driving force behind the innovation that we’ll see this year. But I must digress, I’m excited about what 2015 will being to WordPress. Even if that means getting that Pinto a paint job. It means we’re growing, and evolving, and I for one am hella excited to be along for the ride.