Better Widgets

The Widgets team has been busy. :) Outside of the Widget Customizer plugin (posted about previously), we’re also working on some updates to the main wp-admin widgets screen through the Better Widgets plugin. This plugin does a bunch of things:

  • Available widgets have moved to the right side of the screen. The idea is that your widget areas (a.k.a. sidebars) should be the real focus of the screen — these are the things you can edit and manage. This may be a controversial change, as its the opposite of the menu screen (widgets closest cousin.)
  • Brings the widget icons from the Widget Customizer plugin to wp-admin.
  • Available widgets are now contained in a separately scrollable area. The goal is to help reduce to drag-and-scroll-and-scroll-and-scroll-and-drop problem that is so common from our initial research.
  • Widget descriptions are displayed in a single line, and truncated if they are too long. Clicking/Tapping on a widget expands the description (along with the area chooser from 3.8.)
  • Inactive Widgets are displayed below your active widget areas. This may be problematic as you have to drag-and-drop inactive widgets to active widget areas, but its an area we’d like to improve — maybe they should get an “area chooser”-like UI?
  • When editing a widget, the title is highlighted (using your current color scheme).
  • Clicking/Tapping on the “Save” button inside a widget now closes the widget and gives a quick confirmation message that the settings have been saved. This is based on some of our earlier user tests.
  • You’ve always been able to drag an active/inactive widget over the list of available widgets to deactivate it (yes, really!), but its been ugly. We’ve made it a little more tolerable. Give it a try.

The plugin is still very young, but we’re looking to the community to get some interested from designers, developers, and testers. Please, install the plugin and play around. If you’d like to help us improve widgets, please join us every Monday at 20:00 UTC in #wordpress-ui — you can also drop your Skype nick below and we’ll add you to our ongoing chat.

Some things to keep in mind when testing the Better Widgets plugin:

  • Responsive styles are essentially broken. Its on our short list, but we haven’t gotten to it yet.
  • The code is quick and dirrty — I’ve been the only developer committing code. Please, lets change this!
  • Some of this may look familiar to early MP6 adopters — this code comes from an earlier version of MP6, and was removed before the MP6 merge into 3.8.
  • We need accessibility help! Keyboard navigation is a must. I’d love to ditch the separate “accessibility mode” altogether and make it accessible out of the box.