Yoast SEO Founder: WordPress Admin Interface Is ‘Simply Bad’

The founder of the Yoast SEO plugin, Joost de Valk, has published a critical assessment of WordPress’ user interface (UI), saying it makes it “harder to use” and may be the reason WordPress is losing market share to companies like Wix and Shopify.

The official WordPress design philosophy states that they want to make WordPress easier to use with each new version released.

They write that their goal is for the “non-technically minded” user to be the one they design for so they can be up and running with a fully functional website within five minutes.

However, the reality of how easy WordPress is to use is not far from their philosophical statement.

Even WordPress developer himself, Matt Mullenweg, said that designing in Wix is ​​faster than doing the same things in WordPress.

WordPress User Interface Design

Joost points the finger at the current WordPress admin UI as a contributing factor to why WordPress is confusing to use.

He drew attention to the fact that WordPress has three different user interfaces, forcing users to learn how to use each interface and complicating the experience of using WordPress.

To make matters worse, themes and plugins introduce their own UI elements, which again forces users to learn a completely different way of navigating and using the software.

An ideal user interface (UI) offers a consistent workspace so the user doesn’t have to stop and rethink where all the buttons and links are.

Interaction with the interface should be similar on all screens, regardless of what they are trying to achieve.

“The current state is just bad: WordPress core basically has 3 designs now.

The post edit page where I’m typing this looks nothing like the post overview page, which looks nothing like a website health page.

And then you go to plugins and each one has its own user interface there. This makes WordPress as a whole more difficult to use.”

WordPress is Old Fashioned and Losing Market Share

In addition to the UI being inconsistent, Joost also pointed out that competitors like Wix have a consistent UI across their content management systems.

So while the rest of the world moves on with best practices WordPress is stuck with the same inconsistent interface it’s had for years.

Yoast insisted that the poor user interface was contributing to the exodus of users from WordPress to competitors.

“This is how we’re losing CMS market share to companies like Wix and Shopify (each with their own design system).”

Is WordPress Hard to Use?

The main feature that makes a closed source CMS like Wix attractive is that it is easy to use. One of the reasons why it is easy to use is the consistent design system.

PC Magazine awarded Wix its Editor of the Year 2022 award, writing:

“If you want to build a website online with minimal effort and maximum creative freedom, look no further than Wix.”

WordPress received no such award. However, in PC Magazine’s review of WordPress, the authors noted that it wasn’t “particularly difficult”.

But PC Magazine’s review authors also acknowledged the learning curve for using WordPress:

“…people unfamiliar with the process may need a guiding hand.”

WordPress website ThemeIsle says:

“While WordPress requires no coding knowledge, customizing your theme is often not that simple.

By default, you don’t get quite the same visual editing experience as with Squarespace or Wix, although the new Block Editor is evolving in that direction… Some poorly coded themes can also be a pain to customize unless you’re an advanced user.”

One of the goals of WordPress is to make it easy for users to build.

So it’s puzzling that WordPress is recognized as difficult to use, especially when compared to closed source alternatives like Wix, Shopify and Duda.

Joost de Valk puts the finger on the outdated admin user interface as one of the reasons why WordPress is so difficult to use.

It practically advocates for WordPress leadership to prioritize designing a consistent user interface.

“WordPress needs a design system and it needs it fast…”

Response from Twitter WordPress Community

The response to Joost’s article was overwhelmingly positive, with many in the WordPress community thanking Joost for bringing attention to the topic.

“Great text, summary, recommendations, tips, resources. It’s not often that you get so much valuable information in one blog post.

WP Product Devs, take note! UI settings matter, whether you like the route Yoast has taken or not, I think it’s worth paying attention to.”

@Shock9699 tweeted thanks for the article, drawing attention to the mismatched menus within the WordPress admin interface.

“Totally agree. WordPress looks like a 10/15 year old CMS now. Especially with the new FSE coming out where the internal menus are different from the regular dashboard.”

@mnowak_eth tweeted agreement with the sentiments about the state of the WordPress admin UI:

“…Wordpress panel is starting to look like ancient business software (you know the names). With the entire SaaS movement constantly educating the internet community about good and bad UX and ergonomics, the wp panel has been overlooked.”

A standardized design shared by plugins and themes would create a seamless and coherent administrative interface. @wpsecurityuser tweeted a call for a standardized design system.

“Please stop plugins from implementing their own UI systems, update the wordpress admin UI and refine everything, let’s be modern.”

@bitartem drew attention to the value of having a design system in place so the WordPress ecosystem can know in advance what to expect.

“Another problem is that WordPress is in transition, I mean block editor and full site editing, and new features are added almost every day, so if there is a design system, we need to know what WordPress will become in the near future. ”

WordPress Admin User Interface Needs Improvement

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that WordPress is in trouble when the person who created it says it’s faster to get things done with closed source competition than with WordPress.

Joost’s article focuses on the outdated state of the WordPress admin interface and draws attention to the need for a coherent design statement that plugin and theme developers can adopt to create a more user-friendly end product.

Read Joost de Valk’s Blog Post

The admin user interface of WordPress needs to be better

Featured image by Shutterstock/fizkes

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