DASH Update

It’s been a couple of weeks. We’ve been heads down getting stuff done.

So, where are we at?

Here’s the existing dashboard:

Here’s what our new dashboard looks like:

What’s changed?

We removed one widget:

  • Incoming links (which doesn’t really work anymore)

We combined several widgets:

  • “WordPress Blog”, “Other WordPress News”, and “Plugins” as combined to form the new “WordPress News” plugin.
  • “Recent Comments” was merged into the new “Activity” widget, which now also shows you any scheduled posts and your last 5 most recently published posts.
  • “QuickPress” was changed to “Quick Drafts”, and we merged in “Recent Drafts”.

Plus we worked on a few additional things:

  • The Right Now widget was simplified.
  • We removed the “Number of columns” screen option. Instead the dashboard is now responsive, and shows the appropriate number of columns based on your screen resolution.
  • We replaced the “Dashboard” H2 title with a fun group of friendly welcome text and idioms.
  • The new “Activity” widget will be hookable, so plugin authors can easily add additional info to it.
  • There’s a fun little smiley if you delete all posts and comments

What’s left?

  • Code reviews. If you have time over the weekend, please look over our code. If you spot something, and need commit access to the plugin, just ping me in IRC. I’ll be doing a code review of my own (but I’m not a PHP developer, so we could still use your help). We’d like to have this code core-ready by Monday.
  • We still need to write new help tab text for each of these dashboard widget changes.
  • I’ll be adding the “Activity” widget hooks this weekend.

Huge thanks!

Major props to @joen, @ryelle, @dbernar1, @kraftbj, and @tillkruess without whom, this plugin would not exist.

Also big props to @helen, @melchoyce, @samuelsidler, Hassan Hisham, and Valerio Al Kalib for helping out along the way.


DASH Update

Accomplished this week

1) I updated our planning spreadsheet.

2) We held our weekly IRC chat last Tuesday. @joen shared:

Along with the following thoughts:

  • Far right column is for mini widgets. The added whitespace adds balance, centers the middle columns. Is reminiscent of the “Publish” box on the Write section.
  • We pulled back on the ambitions of the activity stream (for 3.8). We still have high hopes of filling out the activity stream with valuable information in a later release.
  • Hooks would be added to the top, middle, and bottom of the activity stream to make it immediately pluggable.

This mockup solicited the following feedback:

  • Maybe play with a splash of color?
  • Maybe try light or regular font-weight for the big header at the top?
  • Let’s experiment with rotating through different languages/idioms for the header text: aloha, Bienvenido, etc…
  • How about “Site Content” instead of “Right Now”?
  • Can we remove the # of widgets in “Site Content” area?
  • Maybe try one header area with “Recent Activity”, and two sub areas with sub headers, “Publishing Soon”, and “Recent Comments”?

3) Joen shared the following mockup in our Skype chat:

4) I uploaded an updated combined news feed patch. Please test this patch out if you have time, or dive in for a code review.

5) I riffed off of Joen’s latest mockup, and came up with:

Up next

#3-8, #dash

DASH Update

Accomplished this week

1) We held our weekly IRC chat last Tuesday, and @joen shared the following:

He also shared a whittled down version of the current “Right Now” widget which looks like this:

These mockups solicited the following feedback:

  • Can we merge the “3 new comments since your last visit” and “recent comments” sections?
  • Under QuickDraft, let’s just start by showing the title. On keyup, the other elements will slide down.
  • Unclear what the three dots mean in the vertical divider (they’re drag handles). We’ll keep working on it.
  • Can we add the plugins widget into the new combined “News” widget somehow?
  • Note that multisite hides the plugins widget. Something to keep in mind as we refactor these.

2) Joen worked up 2 additional mockups:

Option A:

Option B:

3) In our Skype chat we brought up 2 additional things to think about:

  • What doe the activity feed look like when a user first installs WP? When there isn’t any updates, scheduled posts, or comments?
  • Where does the welcome screen fit into all of this?

We need your help

  • We need developers. We’re ready to start building some of this out. But we need some core developers to join our ranks. If you have any interest, please leave a note in the comments.
  • Feedback on anything above is much appreciated.

Up next

We’ll hold another IRC chat this coming Tuesday at Tuesday, September 17th, 2:00pm UTC in #wordpress-ui.

#3-8, #dash

DASH Plugin Update

Accomplished this week

Some good progress this week.

1) @Joen worked on the following mockup:

2) v0.1 of plugin committed.

3) We held our second IRC chat on Tuesday in #wordpress-ui.

Joen shared his mockup (shown above). There was a bunch of great feedback specific to that mockup. Thanks again to everyone who participated! Here are some high level notes from that conversation.

  • Putting the “Content” part of “Right Now” into a fixed footer didn’t fly. I’ve explored alternatives, and I’m in fact leaning towards ditching the entire thing.
  • The vertical separator which is a slider didn’t look draggable, and it looked like a fancy scrollbar.
  • The icon styling wasn’t WordPressy enough
  • Explore alternative stylings for the “cards”
  • Show only the activity we actually have access to right now
  • Explore the notion that we know which parts of the “Activity stream” are new compared to your last visit (hence the “Welcome back” text)

4) @dbernar1 (Dan) did some clean up on my initial plugin commit

5) Dan started work on merging QuickPress and Recent Drafts.

6) Joen worked on another mockup:

  • New card style with rounded corners and a soft shadow.
  • No icons, they weren’t really helping.
  • “3 new comments since your last visit” and “recent comments” — they’re part of the same screen. I imagine this. A fresh dash says “Howdy”, and we set a cookie time. Recent Comments takes up all the space under “publishing soon”. Next time you visit (day++), the dash says “Welcome back”. Comments that trickled in over night now show up.
  • The 3 dot draggability slider indicator is now at the top of the separator.

7) I created a new trac ticket requesting a temporary hook be added to simplify our QuickPress & Recent Draft widget merge.

Where we need help

  • We need someone with commit access to get the temporary hook that I mentioned above added (see #7 above). This is a blocker for us, so it would be great if we could get this added ASAP.
  • I’d love some feedback on my combined RSS feed patch.
  • We’d love some feedback on Joen’s latest mockup (#6 above)
  • We’ve still got a pretty small crew. If any of this looks interesting to you, please ping me on IRC (lessbloat). We’ve got a side-channel Skype room where we’re discussing a bunch of stuff related to this project. Just let me know, and I’ll get you added to the room.

Up next


Dashboard Plugin Update

Progress is slow but steady in dashboard plugin land. Here’s a recap of our activity for the past week:

IRC chat notes

We held our first IRC chat on Tuesday in #wordpress-ui.

  • Rather than remove both RSS widgets from core, we decided to combine them into one.
  • Transform “QuickPress” into “QuickDraft”, putting the focus on drafting new ideas quickly seemed to be a hit.
  • We are going to play with the idea of merging QuickDraft and the “Recent Drafts” widget.
  • Removing the “columns” screen option is likely something we just need to play with. If we can get the implementation right, it could be a nice win I think.
  • We dropped the “QuickLinks” widget idea. This can stay in plugin territory for now.
  • We all liked the idea of rethinking the “Right Now” widget. @Joen is going to lead the work on this one.
  • If we get everything else nailed down in time, we may dig into the design for an “Admin activity” widget focussing specifically on collaboration.

I updated the planning spreadsheet to account for these changes.

Accomplished this week

I started work on a patch to combine “Other WordPress News” and “WordPress Blog” over on #19239. Code reviews/thoughts are welcome and much appreciated.

@joen shared an initial mockup in the IRC chat on Tuesday:

And has since worked on a couple more based on feedback:

Which would work something like this:

Up next

  • We need your help. Especially developers interested in working on this stuff. The QuickDraft widget work looks to be a fun one to work on. Please ping me on IRC if you’re interested.
  • We’ll hold another IRC chat this coming Tuesday at Tuesday, September 3rd, 2:00pm UTC in #wordpress-ui.
  • We’ll be starting up a persistent Skype chat group to discuss all things “dashboard plugin”, ping me if you want in, even if just to lurk. All are welcome.


DASH, Proposed project scope

Last week I introduced the idea of working to improve the default dashboard screen in the WordPress admin.

Project leads

I will be leading this project, and I’m excited to announce that @joen will be co-leading with me.

Meeting time

We’ll hold our first chat tomorrow at Tuesday, August 27th, 2:00pm UTC in #wordpress-ui. Please come if you’re interested in working on this with us. If you can’t make it, but would like to participate, please make a note in the comments below. We’ll plan on having a chat each Tuesday, and we’ll post a status update each Friday.

Proposed scope

My proposal for the dashboard screen redesign includes the following:

Components that I’ll oversee:

1) Move “Other WordPress News”, “WordPress Blog”, “Plugins”, an potentially “Incoming links” out of core into a plugin called “Dashboard Extras”.

2) Remove the “columns” screen option, and instead use responsive CSS to determine the optimal number of columns to display.

3) Transform “QuickPress” into “QuickDraft” changing the focus from posting to drafting new ideas quickly. Potentially merge the “Recent drafts” widget in with this one. Huge props to @melchoyce for coming up with this idea. Here’s a super rough mockup:

4) Add a new “Quick Links” dashboard widget offering an easily customizable section for links you use all the time.

Components that Joen will oversee:

5) Add a new “Admin Activity” widget to the dashboard. This would allow you to see important logged in activity for your blog.

6) “Right Now” widget re-imagined. We’ll see what we can do to make the “Right Now” section more insightful, and more comprehensive.

Joen is already working on a v1 mockup of this stuff which he’ll post in the comments for feedback.

Planning spreadsheet

Here’s a link to the planning spreadsheet we’ll use over the course of the project to track our progress. I’ve done my best to break down each component into actionable items (they may change as needed). Each item lists what skills are required. Have a look at the list, and feel free to mention in the comments below which items you’d be interested in working on.

What are your thoughts?

Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Dashboard plugin


The dashboard screen (the page with QuickPress, and Right Now stats) hasn’t been touched in ages. It’s all a bit cluttered, and based on my limited research it does a poor job of brining value to the majority of users. I’d like to explore some fresh ideas for ways to make the dashboard not only informational, but actionable for users.

Some data

I posted a survey to make/core last week asking a couple of questions specifically around the dashboard page design. In total we had 438 responses. A huge thank you to everyone who participated! Here are the results:

1. What portions of the dashboard do you like, and use every day? View 366 answers

4. What sort of modifications do you typically make to the dashboard (for yourself or for clients), and why? View 373 answers

5. If you could wave a magic wand, what types of things would you show on the dashboard? View 340 answers

It’s worth mentioning that this data is fairly biased, as the responses came mostly from the development community. With that said, there is still a great deal of insight here.


I’ll list a few things I learned from this data. I’d love to hear your reaction in the comments below. Let me know whether you agree/disagree with these conclusions:

A) As it stands, the majority of users find the existing default dashboard fairly cluttered and useless. We should look at which widgets might be better to start off disabled on a fresh WordPress install.

B) If possible, we should look to expand on the “Right Now” widget to provide even more information about your blog. One easy win would be to show all custom post types and taxonomies totals by default.

C) It might pay off to look into adding a “quick links” section with links to the areas of the admin that you visit most often. Making these links easily customizable on a per user basis would be a nice win.

D) It might be convenient to add an array option to wp-config which allows you to quickly disable dashboard widgets without having to mess with any additional code.

E) WordPress is used in a lot of different ways (mostly as a CMS, as a blog, or as both of those combined). It would be cool to figure out a way to determine how a user intends to use WordPress right when they first start, and then to do some stuff behind the scenes to simplify their intended experience based on which option they selected.

Next steps

In the comments please indicate:

1) If you have interest in working on this plugin
2) Your reactions to the insights mentioned above (A-E)
3) Any additional thoughts you have regarding the dashboard re-design

Once we figure out who is interested, we can set up a regular meeting time.