I have used WordPress since 0.71 and I have seen how this simple blogging platform exploded in popularity and transformed blogging over the years.
From The State of the Word 2011, Matt Mullenweg revealed that out of 18,000 responses from users around the world, the best thing about WordPress is its ease of use and [power of] community. It is so easy to use that for every 100 domains created, 22 of them are powered by WordPress.
WordPress is also one of the most elegant blogging platform out there. One of the latest addition is the zen writing mode which is also known as the full-screen writing mode. In State of the Word 2011, Matt showed the series of iteration before WordPress attained this level of user-friendliness.
Form ever follow function; Function reforms form perpetually.
The optimized UI is one of the top priority of WordPress to meet both speed and simplicity the users demand. The best example here is the WordPress post editor because it transformed so many times to fit the evolving needs of users.
Can you still remember how WordPress post editor looked like in the early days of WordPress? Probably not. We forget easily even if we use it every day. Many bloggers are taking this for granted even if we bloggers spend most of our time using this tool.
Let\’s go back in time starting with WordPress 0.71 to see the transformation of the post editor user interface over the years.
Gold (June 9, 2003)
This is how the first WordPress post editor looks like. There were very few options here since WordPress started as a fork of b2/cafelog. There was no dashboard panels yet. When you login as admin, this is the first thing that you\’ll see. Very simple but it does the job well back in those days.
Miles (January 25, 2004)
This is the first release of WordPress with a code name after well-known jazz musician. Excerpt is now placed at the bottom and you have more formatting options.
Mingus (May 22, 2004)
It also supports automatic thumbnail creation, post preview and advanced editing options. Sub-categories were also introduced in 1.2.
Look at the buttons. They started to sport some style as well.
Strayhorn (17 February 2005)
The ability to manage static pages and template were also added in this release. As you can see in the screenshot above, post and page are now distinguished.
There are more hints of blue in this admin interface.
Duke (31 December 2005)
In this version, rich editing (WYSIWYG) and image/file uploading were added, too. AJAX was also added for faster administration. The user could also resize the post text area starting from this release.
Ella (22 January 2007)
Two very important thing added in the post editor version 2.1 are the spell check and auto-save features. These two features probably saved thousands of countless mistakes already from careless bloggers. The visual editor was also made more robust.
The post editor in versions 2.2 and 2.3 are essentially similar to the post editor of version 2.1.
Version 2.2 added a hook for WYSIWYG support in the future version of Safari and related browsers while in 2.3, WordPress supported native tagging thanks to the new taxonomy system.
Brecker (March 29, 2008)
This version marked the second face-lift of the admin user interface – less cluttered and supposedly faster and cleaner. The blue tinge is now lighter. Concurrent editing protection was added which is very useful for multi-author blogs. The visual post editor does not mess with the code anymore as it supports more complex HTML with the addition of Shortcode API. There was a \”no-distraction\” mode in this release but I could not recall if it was helpful.
There was no major change in the user interface in version 2.6 but in this release a revision control was added so you can track changes in every posts and pages with a wiki-like tracking for edits.
More features added were, word count, support for image caption and drag-and-drop reordering of galleries.
Image control was also revamped to allow easier inserting, floating, and resizing and it was fully integrated with the WYSIWYG.
Press This! was also added which provides a fast and smart pop-up to do posts to your WordPress blog.
Coltrane (December 11, 2008)
This is the third time the admin UI was overhauled. Version 2.7 was a departure from blue theme; the default interface is back to gray again.
The new dashboard lets you arrange the things that is most important to you simply by drag and drop. Many users loved this because it is easily configurable to your blogging style.
Versions 2.8 and 2.9 is very similar to 2.7 in terms of the post editor so I\’ll skip it.
WordPress 2.8 introduced Screen Options on every page at the top right hand which lets you setup up to four columns of widgets instead of the default two.
WordPress 2.9 introduced global undo / \”trash\” feature which eliminates annoying \”are you sure\” messages and protects you from accidental deletion of post or page. Built-in image editor and easier video embeds using oEmbed was also added.
Thelonious (June 17, 2010)
There was a slight change in the look and feel of the dashboard in version 3.0. The header that used to be dark gray became light gray. Contextual help was added in this version along with custom post types and custom taxonomies.
Version 3.1 is almost the same with 3.0 except that it introduced the admin bar similar to WordPress.com (which is off by default) and it added a redesigned internal linking capabilities.
The writing interface was also streamlined to hide infrequently used panels. This created a simpler and less intimidating writing experience for new bloggers while power users can activate the hidden panels via the Screen Options.
For those who missed the blue colored admin interface, a refreshed blue admin scheme was added as an option.
Gershwin (July 04, 2011)
Finally, WordPress 3.2. The focus of this release was to make WordPress faster and lighter. This is the 15th major release of WordPress and it sports a refreshed dashboard design to match that of WordPress.com
The post editor was redesigned and now features a distraction-free writing or zen mode. In this mode, all interface elements including widgets, menus and buttons fade away to give you a clean and plain white environment conducive to writing. Then, when you hover the mouse on top of the screen, the most commonly used shortcuts are made available. Just see the video:
It took more than 8 years for WordPress to showcase all these features in the post editor alone but the WordPress team is not showing any sign of slowing down.
What next for WordPress?
In the future, we can expect more HTML5 and CSS3 goodness. Mobile devices are proliferating and WordPress will continue to support these increasing number of devices. The up-coming release will also introduce responsive admin interface which is adaptive to different screen designs. It is also geared towards better media handling.
In addition, new WordPress users can get proper introduction to WordPress with the help of New User Experience or NUX (as Matt puts, it\’s the opposite of SUX).
I\’m really excited with the future of WordPress.
So, have I missed something about WordPress Post Editor? Feel free to drop your comments.