How many choices should you make?

September 3, 2005

The posting interface at WordPress.com offers several options beyond the basic Title/Post fields.

I believe WordPress.com is running the multi-user version of WordPress 1.6, which has not been generally released yet, so my descriptions may not match your reality even if you’re running WP.

The Write Post page no longer is separated into Basic and Advanced screens. Instead, the page offers nine supplementary options on the single page, ranging from Post Timestamp to Password-Protect Post to the open-ended Custom Fields. The embedded screenshot shows several, though not all. Options in Write Post page in WordPress.com

I’m thrilled that most options are hidden by default, which is applied progressive disclosure at work. Very smart to reward exploration, custom options, and repeat usage without overwhelming the introductory experience. The use of plus and minus signs to denote more information available is commonplace enough to be a standard, and well applied here. The only feature which was not obviously available was the in-page ability to move the various options up and down. Buzzword-compliant… AJAX. Quite nifty, but I wonder how long it would have taken me to stumble across this possibility if I hadn’t been shown the motion. How do you invite learning and exploration without adding labels no one wants to see repeatedly?

With all that, I will say that the choice I want most of all is more themes, or an ability to customize the provided themes ever-so-slightly, perhaps with a header image? Opening up that choice is risky, of course, but this kind of broad strokes customization helps provide some visual distinction with little effort. A safer choice might simply be to allow color alterations, at the style sheet level. Many of the themes available for WordPress come in color variations which are assigned by the creators.

WordPress.com is a new audience for WordPress. While a few of us right now are exceptions, the real audience for WordPress.com is those who are not already blogging. So, those of us who know conventions, are willing to experiment, and generally are coming in with preconceived notions are likely not the best early testers. What I don’t know yet is who will benefit from (a) starting a blog right now (b) the capabilities of WordPress.com. If any of my family were interested, I’d certainly suggest WordPress.com… and I have an invite to share. Also probably better than me doing hosting support, though that’s a possibility, too.

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3 Responses to “How many choices should you make?”


  1. […] John Roberts (of News.com) likes the new post screen. […]

  2. Jim Ps2 Mod Chip Says:

    I have not yet seen the new interface, but would love to see it. I use wordpress exclusively for all of my blogs and can;t get enough of it.. (Sometimes too many plugins can do more harm than good 😉 )

    Take care


  3. […] John Roberts made some observations about the new WordPress.com posting interface. He mentioned that the use of plus/minus signs to signify collapsible options was pretty common. But I wonder if there might be people out there who don’t find it that obvious? […]


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