[Update – literally just as I posted this WP 2.5 was officially released. The widget interface is, I am afraid, unchanged from RC1]
I’m sure people worked very hard designing the new Widget admin interface for WordPress 2.5 – and I really don’t like criticizing someone else’s work. But I don’t understand the thought process here.
A perfectly functional (and very simple) interface was completely abandoned in favor of a very busy, very dysfunctional interface.
(click images for larger view)
To the left is the old interface.
To add a widget to a sidebar you grabbed the widget from the bottom selection and dragged it onto the sidebar you wanted it on.
You dragged the widgets to the order you preferred.
And you clicked "Save Changes". Everything was on one page, in one place.
Simple. Elegant, even
Why did it change? Especially, why did it change to this:
As you can see, I can’t even view all my widgets without scrolling the screen.
And I can’t view both Sidebars at once.
Seriously – you can’t.
You can’t just drag a widget from Sidebar 2 to Sidebar 1, either.
In fact, it takes three mouse clicks to change from Sidebar 1 to Sidebar 2.
And each widget now consumes a fair amount of screen real-estate in the admin view. Why? Just to show the text that tells me a Calendar widget puts a calendar on my blog? Why not just do that with a tool-tip as I mouse over the widget?
Here’s a suggested new layout:
Note that there are now two columns to display the widgets – less screen scrolling.
Both Sidebars are displayed. No screen switching.
This would allow you to drag and drop widgets from one Sidebar to the other.
For the most part, the changes I have seen in WordPress 2.5 are nice – and they make sense.
This new interface for managing widgets isn’t in that category. This is a huge step backwards in usability.
The changes to widget management seem to have done "just because we can" – and they don’t seem to have given
much any consideration to the user experience.
But then – this is just a Release Candidate – so things could change before WordPress 2.5 ships.
For the sake and sanity of every WordPress administrator out there, let’s hope this section does change.