WordPress Admin Themes – Does WordPress need a facelift?

So, it’s been a bit quite around here for the last couple of months. Well, there actually has been a ton going on, just not visible to most. I am working on some really cool things, one that I am super excited about announcing but it isn’t quite ready, so you’ll have to check back another day.

Today I wanted to write a quick post to share with you some cool things that until recently I didn’t realize were so easy. Last week I had a client who wanted to change the backend look of their WordPress site. I thought to myself, there has GOT to be a way to do that easily. Well, it turns out that there is. There are “plugins” that you can install that override the css of the WordPress admin area. Funny enough, it turns out lots of people are talking about this these days. I guess it has a bit to do with the fact the admin screens haven’t changed much over the last couple of years, but I think it is also a way people are looking to differentiate themselves.

While reading around on the web I stumbled upon this article where Justin Tadlock talked about a new admin theme that has been developed. I have to admit it does look pretty cool. Then I found that same article again a couple of days later as someone else pointed me there (So I made a comment). In that comment I mentioned that I agreed with Adam Warner that one potential pitfall to changing the design of the back end is that it could become confusing to those who are learning WordPress and find a video and it looks different than their layout (which happens enough with upgrades over time anyway).  Adam specifically said:

In my experience, one issue with changing the Admin area for clients is if that if it’s coupled with sending them to any kind of tutorial videos (like http://wp101.com), the confusion sets in fast.

What I finally settled on as a good alternative is the ability to offer an option to your users to allow them the ability to simplify the interface that they are dealing with. Bring the functionality to the front that they need daily, but give them an “advanced” option to get back to the standard functionality. This can be seen in an awesome plugin by WPMUDEV Easy Blogging:

WPMU.org also posted an interesting article showing how the WordPress team has actually been working on upgrading the WordPress backend recently. What are your thoughts? Does the WordPress admin area need a facelift?






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