WordPress begins to open up its redesign process

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

The ongoing documentation of Mark Boulton Design’s redesign of the Drupal website is providing some great insight into the process; Leisa Reichelt’s latest post, on the community wireframing project, is a prime example. Now — whether by happy serendipity or a desire to compete — WordPress have begun to do likewise.

The revamped UI for WordPress was released in March of this year. It was created by the esteemed Happy Cog Studios, in a process which doesn’t seem to have been much reported on (at least, I can’t find anything) other than in their own portfolio.

For the forthcoming release of 2.7, the in-house team at Automattic (the owners of WordPress) are preparing a slight refresh of the admin theme, which will focus on layout issues raised in user feedback. In the last few weeks they’ve begun releasing details of the plans; you can download copies of the wireframe proposals, for example.

One aspect of their process I find a little strange is asking users for opinions on layout decisions — without providing demos. I mean, user feedback is good; but it’s hard to make an informed decision on usability unless you actually get to try it out. You might think that something is aesthetically pleasing or logically positioned based on visuals alone, but then change your mind completely when it comes to actually interacting with it. This user involvement is doubtless not harmful, but I’m not sure how useful it is either.

That aside, it’s nice to see another big open source project taking user experience seriously, and making the process transparent.

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