Admin Help: 7 October 2013

Today we had a fairly productive meeting (I think).

Admin help mockups were presented and discussed

from @trishasalas

from @veraxus
More mockups here


from @ubernaut


@trishasalas is proposing a new top-level sidebar menu that opens a Squarespace-like, human-driven help page with a search and some easy-to-navigate/use links, e.g.:

  • I would like to…
    • …write a post
    • …add a design
    • …etc.
  • @trishasalas will work on designing some mockups to show this page and some of the other potential screens

@jazzs3quence noted that it may be tough to sell a significantly different icon than what would work with the overall design of MP6

  • does this affect how useful it would be to have a sidebar option at all if it blends in with the other sidebar menus?

@jazzs3quence suggested that @ubernaut’s and @Matt’s mockups are really the same idea, with some slight differences and proposed that we consider them to be the same thing moving forward.

  • @jazzs3quence will try to get in touch with Matt (I’ve responded to his post, I will contact him via email if he isn’t checking post comments or doesn’t get email updates from this P2) and invite him to our next meeting since we’re talking about his mockups.
  • @ubernaut will work on some variations on Matt’s mockups that make the help on/off toggle more persistant

Both of these options will require some dev work.

We need devs

  • @jazzs3quence will set up some GitHub repos once we start laying down some code and can help with some of the development when we’ve got some ideas about the direction

@jazzs3quence has suggested that, at least for now, we look into both options and pursue both (see above)

  • @trishasalas will work on some Verify tests for these options to see if they can guide us in one direction or the other

Other notes

  • Anyone else is still free to submit mockups/ideas that are different than the ones that have been presented. We can talk about pros/cons at the next meeting.
  • The revised plan is to shoot for inclusion in 3.9

#3-8, #3-9, #admin-help

Oh and one more thing re admin help…

Oh, and one more thing re: admin help —

October 14 is the deadline for feature plugins.

What’s this mean?

It means we have 2 weeks before we need to have a working product to be considered for WordPress 3.8. It should be assumed that the feature plugin should be ready before our meeting on the 14th.

We can meet this goal if we get some mockups this week that we can talk about next week. If no mockups are presented at next week’s meeting, we won’t have anything to ship by the 14th, in any state.

#3-8, #admin-help

Admin Help: 30 September 2013

Here’s the recap:

  • @siobhan is expecting a contact from a support rep at Zurb re: free Verify account for us.
  • We’re still looking for mockups of ideas

Some further notes:

This is a really difficult task.
A lot of folks have tried various angles for handling this and it hasn’t produced a surefire answer. #21273 which was referenced last week by @DrewAPicture and can be seen in a close approximation in Codestyling Localization is an idea that cropped up around the same time as the admin help link in the admin bar discussions circa 3.5 development. However, from our user testing, the admin bar help ended up not faring so well. Which leaves us back to the beginning.

Know someone that would like to help? Invite them!
We’re a small group, which is great, but I feel like we need some left-field ideas that haven’t been tried before. If nothing else, looking at horrible ideas can help guide us toward something less horrible. 🙂 So invite anyone who may have a passing interest to the IRC chats or this P2 and I’ll pretend I didn’t just call their ideas horrible.

Mockups > patches
If anyone is wondering why I’m asking for mockups rather than patches, it’s because I think it’s easier to see whether something is a good idea or not visually. Things can get tossed out or dug into deeper before writing a line of code. I think we have a lot of more design-minded folks on this team, which is another factor, but also when we’re trying to communicate ideas to users, they are going to be more likely to respond to something visual and a mockup would be something we can show people without spending a lot of time writing a patch. So there’s that. Nothing against the folks who’ve written patches for admin help stuff when this has come up before, just trying to take a different angle and see what comes up.

On the other hand, if anyone is reading this and wants to contribute a patch, create a trac ticket, link to it here, and I’ll check it out (and take screenshots, if necessary, so it can be presented alongside the other mockups).

Also of note, our meeting time now exists in the sidebar thanks to @siobhan. 🙂

#3-8, #admin-help

Admin Help: 23 September 2013 meeting recap

User testing reflections

I think we’ve established that the current location of the help tab is not easily discoverable. Moving it to the admin bar didn’t have particularly positive results either. Changing the color dramatically enough that it no longer matched the rest of the admin made it more visible (but I don’t think that’s the end solution). So, I think we can agree that we have identified that the location of the current help tab is an issue — people aren’t finding it naturally and are resorting to other means of support when they need it.

Mockups, plz

Now we need to start coming up with solutions to the problem. Ways to make the admin help more discoverable. Last round of testing we threw two ideas into the mix with different results. As suggested by @trishasalas we’re going to try a new tool (Verify) to test out these mockups and get feedback from humans to help guide our decisions for what would work best.

@trishasalas will work on getting the Verify stuff set up.

Everyone else, now is your chance to either throw out an idea or a mockup or both. Anything that doesn’t have a mockup won’t be considered, but if you want to take someone else’s idea and mock that up (bc not everyone is a designer), feel free.

Some previously suggested ideas include:

  • Using a GetSatisfaction/Basecamp-style button on the side, e.g. :
    • I’d also like to see what comes up after this is clicked…
  • Modify the existing help tab to make it bigger, different color (but still matching the color scheme of MP6), etc
  • Add help to the sidebar
    • Where to put it? Top? Bottom? Middle? Submenus?
  • Help links scattered throughout (with an icon/image/text) which link directly to the help tab (I believe this was the idea in 21273 — which would make it similar to what Codestyling Localization does — but the last patch is several versions out of date and I didn’t have time to fiddle with it to get it to work — would still like to see this mocked up and compared to other options)

There are obviously more, but these are a few ideas that have come up a couple times. And within these, there are different ways each thing could be approached. Go nuts. We’ll talk about the mockups at the next meeting.

Also, as you’re mocking stuff up, don’t forget about this screenshot archive I (with some contributions from @trishasalas) set up of how different platforms/systems handle help for ideas and/or reference:

Please post your mockups in the comments for this post for discussion.

Ideas, plz

If you have any brilliant ideas that haven’t been covered, please add them as comments to this post. Then we can discuss each one and I can add them to the list.

See you all next week! 🙂

#3-8, #admin-help

Admin Help: User Testing scenarios

For the user testing last week, we had the users go through a series of simple tasks. For the purpose of helping get a user case in mind for the admin help, here are the tasks we had these folks go through. The videos are here and here.


The users were asked to have a particular frame of mind to use as a base for going through the tasks. This is what we gave them:

You have just set up your first WordPress website – go you! Now that you’re set up, you want to get straight to customizing and using your website. You’re going to do some basic tasks in the administration panel. If you get confused please feel free to look for help both in the admin and elsewhere.

Task 1

The first task was just to move the recorder out of the way because it covered the top left of the screen. We’ll skip that and move on to…

Task 2

Log in.
That’s pretty obvious, too, so…

Task 3

You want to change the design of your website. Find the menu item that lets you do that and choose a new design (use the help in the admin or on other sites on the internet to if you need help to do this).

When you have found a design that you like, preview it, and activate it on your website. View the front page of your website.

Task 4

Next, add a blog post. Find the menu item that lets you do that and click it. Add a title and some text to your blog post, and add an image. When you’re done, publish your post and view it on the front end.

Task 5

Return to the admin of your website. Your website has a sidebar and you want to add a calendar of your blog posts to it. Find the menu item that allows you to do this and add a calendar. (use the help in the admin or on other sites on the internet to if you need help to do this). When you’re done, save and view it on the front end.

The users were also asked some questions after they completed the tasks. For posterity, here are the questions we gave them:

What frustrated you most about using the interface?

How can we improve the interface to make it easier for you?

Were you able to find all of the help that you needed?

What additional help would you have found useful?

#3-8, #admin-help

Admin Help Videos (round two)

Some interesting results. Keep in mind (if you watch these all the way through) that some of these had multiple users doing things at the same time, so there are a few occasions where theme or widget changes disappeared because someone else was doing it, too.

No change to the help tabs

User 1
This person didn’t have any issues. Never used the help.

User 2
This person didn’t have any issues. They did leave this comment:

I would want a help section for each category/section as well as a help search box so I can quickly find an answer

…and I can’t tell if they are saying that because they didn’t find the help, or if they are saying that because they *did* but it wasn’t how they expected. I assume the former (never found it) since they never clicked the tab.

User 3
This person did have problems, never found the help tab.

Help in the admin bar

User 1
This person commented on the lack of help documentation, but his LastPass bar was covering up the help button in the admin bar. (I guess that could be an argument against the admin bar being the final location of the help button/tab.)

User 2
This person found the help button, but it seemed to be because he was specifically looking for it (because the task said “use help if you need to”). It wasn’t natural.

User 3
Had problems, but they went to Google for help. Never found the help button.

Help tab a different color

User 1
This person never needed/never used the help tab.

User 2
This person didn’t need the help but they did find it.

User 3
This person found the help tab AND ACTUALLY USED IT (but it didn’t give him the answer he was looking for).


1. I think it’s safe to say the current help tabs are hard to see/find. Not one person even noticed they existed.

2. The admin bar solution doesn’t seem to work. Placement conflicts with popular password management browser extensions and it’s pretty nondescript sitting up there. The only person who did find it had to look for it.

3. The color seemed to make the help tab easier to find (maybe?). At any rate, 2/3 people found the help tab when we gave it a color. Maybe we can use MP6 themes to bring in a color that goes with the admin color scheme?

Next steps/ideas

I’m open. Here are a few things I’m thinking:

1. Replace the tab with a ? icon in the same location. Ideally colored.
2. Use a plugin that adds help in the sidebar (this will require someone to write up some help documentation for the tasks we are looking for people to accomplish for them to find).
3. Maybe another location? Like the Feedback tabs that hang on the right side of the window with GetSatisfaction stuff?
4. Possibly extend the color help plugin to pull in styles from the active MP6 theme, if possible.

Any other thoughts/ideas?

#3-8, #admin-help, #dashboard-help, #user-testing

Admin Help Meeting Recap

Here’s the highlights of today’s meeting:

New help option to test

@ubernaut & @jazzs3quence got a new plugin in the repo to test.
This one adds a color to the help link (and a background color in MP6) and bolds the text to make it more noticeable. issues…resolved?

@siobhan contacted support to ask about whether it’s possible to move the recorder thing by default. The answer is no. So we added a task in the list of tasks for the users to complete to move the recorder first.

Prepping for the next round of testing

@siobhan made the testing site a multisite so we can have separate sub-sites for each test. I created 3 sites on the network, one with the default install, one with my plugin that moves the help to the admin bar, and one with the color help plugin. I activated MP6 across the network, made all the sites use Twentytwelve, and removed all but the Meta, Search, and Recent posts widgets in the sidebar.

I set up 3 of each test, so hopefully it won’t be a problem with people trying to do things on top of each other (unfortunately I hadn’t thought of that…)

Next week we can talk about the results. (and see if I messed things up by doing more than one at a time :/ )

#3-8, #admin-help, #dashboard-help

Admin Help Meeting recap

Thanks to @dllh, @ubernaut, & @trishasalas who showed up today and contributed to the ongoing conversation. Don’t stress it if you meant to make it and forgot, I’m happy to use the P2 as a way to hash out these discussions, too, but do let me/us know if another time would work better if you *are* intending on making it.

Here’s what we talked about:

The user testing videos weren’t very helpful

This isn’t because there was anything wrong with them, per se, but rather because of the platform we are using and how their recorder works. We wouldn’t have known this without going through it as a user, either, so this is really sort of just growing pains. I encourage ppl to take a look at the user testing videos for what they are worth, but there really isn’t a whole lot that’s applicable to what we are doing because, as you’ll notice straight off and as I commented earlier, the recorder hides the help tab anyway. So we aren’t testing whether people discover the help tab naturally because the recorder makes discovering the help tab naturally impossible.

Back to the drawing board then…

So we need to do another round of testing to figure out if we’ve got our assumptions right before we can really move forward. /sigh

  • @trishasalas and @jazzs3quence (mostly @trishasalas 🙂 )will look at the user testing platform to see if we can add more tasks. If so, we’re going to make the first task be “move the recorder to the bottom right” or something to that effect and try to make it as innocuous as possible. If we can’t, we’ll need to try another tack, probably making the first task combine a bunch of smaller tasks (which also wouldn’t be a *huge* issue, but I think ppl probably respond better to smaller, more specific tasks).
  • @trishasalas is also going to look at other potential user testing platforms we could use instead.

Features as Plugins

  • @jazzs3quence took Trac #21583 and turned it into a plugin. It’s not much, certainly not a final solution, but it can be something we use to test location of the help.
  • @ubernaut wrote a plugin that changes the color/style of the current help tab and will work with @jazzs3quence on getting it up in the .org repo as well.


  • @dllh sent over some raw data (along with some notes) about the help tab usage from It isn’t pretty and you can’t really draw a lot of solid conclusion from it, but I have it and would be happy to share or post it to google docs or something if anyone wants to take a look.

And a final reminder that the next Admin Help meeting will be on Monday 16:30 UTC in #wordpress-sfd. And if the turnout is low, I’ll just spam your inboxes. You have been warned. 🙂

#3-8, #admin-help, #dashboard-help

Contextual Help plugin

I’ve turned the last patch in this ticket into a plugin and submitted it to .org. When it gets approved, it will be available to download here. If you want to take a look at it early, let me know and I can give you a direct link to the zip. It’s not anything special, it just moves the Help tab up into the admin bar, but I wanted to get it done before our meetup next week.


Plugin is live. Download here:

#3-8, #admin-help, #dashboard-help, #plugin

Admin Help Update — Labor Day edition

Greetings Admin Help Make-ers!

As was unanimously decided by all 2 meeting-goers at the admin help IRC meeting today, I, @jazzs3quence, have been elected as your brave leader.

Here’s what was discussed:

  • Test results are in. @siobhan will post the videos. The reader’s digest result is that no one clicked on the help tabs. This should surprise precisely no one, since that’s the reason we’re here, but it at least confirms the premise that this project is based on.
  • We’re going to shoot for implementing 3 new tests next go-round:

1) Help moved to the admin bar — @jazzs3quence will look into that as well as possibly implementing something along the lines of this Trac ticket
2) Help tab a different color — @ubernaut will cut his plugin development teeth with a simple plugin that will add an admin stylesheet we can use to just apply some CSS to the help tab to make it more noticeable
3) Help in the sidebar — We’ll just throw WP-Help into the test site. @siobhan may (or may not) be able to help writing some simple text to use for docs that would be added to the WP Help plugin that could walk the user through the steps the user tests are having the testers complete.

The theory is that we can try to have this stuff ready by the next meeting so the following week can be running the tests and talking about the results after that.

@siobhan has indicated that she won’t be able to do much until December but will still come to meetings and offer suggestions/advice. We’ll have to soldier on without her. 🙂

One final note, as we start getting into building some plugins and running tests — we should be using MP6 since that’s going to be integrated into 3.8, so on the test sites and in our own dev environments we should make sure we have that plugin installed and active.

That’s all, folks!

#3-8, #admin-help, #dashboard-help