“One of the things I’ve been working on a lot the past few months is sort of a radical simplification of the WordPress interface,” said WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg recently at the paidContent 2012 conference in New York.
“WordPress it’s a complex tool. It’s like the back of a digital SLR. It’s got a lot of buttons, a lot of powerful things you can do. But that doesn’t work on your phone. … You really have to radically reimagine.”
Mobile, of course, is changing our world. And it looks as if it will be changing WordPress as well.
At the paidContent event, Matt talked of WordPress embarking on its “third or fourth pivot.” He later took to his blog to expand on his comments.
WordPress was first for pure blogging, then became embraced as a CMS (though some people still deny this), is seeing growth and innovation in being used as an application platform (I think we’re about a third of the way through that), and just now starting to embrace social and mobile — the fourth phase of our evolution.
And though he is clearly working on this latest “pivot,” he admits, “I don’t have all the answers yet — that’s what makes it fun.”
That said, the goal seems to be clear: “I think when we turn 10 in 2013 the ways people experience and publish with WordPress will be shorter, simpler, faster.”
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So What Else is New?
WordPress is already morphing for mobile devices in various ways. So what’s all the hubbub about?
Well, it seems Matt has other plans up his sleeve, even if he isn’t quite sure what they are yet. He quotes Betaworks’ CEO John Bothwick as saying, “A tablet is an incredible device that you can put in front of babies or 95-year-olds, and they know how to use it.”
And this, it seems, is the challenge: designing an intuitive system for an intuitive device. And it appears his intuition tells him something completely different needs to be done.
How we democratize publishing on that sort of platform will not and should not work like WordPress’ current dashboard does. It’s not a matter of a responsive stylesheet or incremental UX improvements, it’s re-imagining and radically simplifying what we currently do, thinking outside the box of wp-admin.
The Big Question
But all this talk of simplification brings a simple question immediately to mind: Will this new interface be a replacement or simply another option? In the comments of his post, he answers, “Think of these as alternative ways to use WordPress.”
You can see the videos of the paidContent event here (free registration required).