A conversation with Matt S. on Friday sparked a little research. The goal was to simplify the WordPress dashboard, so that new users would see only what they needed, and not be distracted or confused by the other bells and whistles WordPress scatters around the admin page.
My initial thought was to find a browser plug-in that isolated the functional part of a web page, darkening or obscuring the rest of the page. Or, failing that, to find just one easy option for authors who prefer to minimize distraction.
After meandering down a couple of paths, I concluded that:
- The only browser plugins that do what I was describing only work on video or flash sites.
- I tried to get Safari’s web-clip feature to do this. I had disabled Mac Dashboard a while back, ‘cos widgets hog memory. I turned it back on, and created a web clip with the “Add New Post” interface. The first two attempts didn’t work, only giving me the WP admin login page, but then I tried it again, resulting in the screenshots at the end of this article. So, that kind of does the trick, but it also seems completely random and unreliable, and thus impossible to recommend to a novice user.
- I have definitely found desktop blogging tools such as MarsEdit and Blogo helpful, especially when they can accept formatting in Markdown. But I think those apps put too much remove between a novice user and their end product; the process takes time to explain, and most folks are just going to want to get started posting.
- I’m not sure if Colleen P. has officially changed her mind about this, but I really love Posterous. All I have to do is send an email to email@example.com — with formatting, images, links, the whole shebang — and my post goes on my blog, the link to it goes on Delicious, Twitter and Facebook pull it in, etc. (If you send an email to Posterous right now, you will create a new blog.
Option 5, however, might be the best place to start: There are a few WordPress plug-ins that simplify the WP Dashboard. I have already heard good things about Fluency Admin [pictured above], and this Easy Blogging thing looks OK (though there’s a fee to that one that makes me skittish).
I guess that’s where it stands at the moment. There are also a couple of iOS apps that making blogging easy. Certainly emailing to Posterous works well enough from anywhere. I need to see how mobile blogging from Squarespace will happen.
5 thoughts on “Can I simplify the process of writing a blog post?”
Posterous has got to be the easiest choice for slick mobile blog posting but you may remember I’m not always a fan of write once/post everywhere. Your blog’s audience can differ (at least a bit if not more) from your Twitter audience, your Facebook audience, and so on. But that’s not the point here. You’re talking about ease of use for a novice blogger.
I’ve used Blogpress from my iPhone and iPad recently. It does the job, although I don’t think it’s as easy or seamless to use as it claims to be.
I’m digging your post and quest for answers on this topic. Something tells me this could become a series of posts.
Interesting. I still believe there has to be a better way. You can email posts to WordPress, but I’ve never really messed with it (despite the fact that the admin panel can be a bit crazy, I like it).
Posterous’ abilities are great and I’m a big fan. I used it mostly as a photo blog though and Instagram has kind of taken over in that regard.
Not to sound like a spam post, but I’ve bookmarked your site for further reading. 😉
I set up one Posterous site for personal, and one for business. If I email firstname.lastname@example.org from my personal email address, it goes to that page, and posts from the biz address go to my J2 Posterous page. Each has separate autopost settings.
Just found this: in WordPress > Settings > Writing, there’s a section called “Press This” with a little bookmarklet you could put in a client’s browser bar. When they click it, it pops up a small posting window, stripped of the usual WordPress dashboard. It even pre-populates the form with a link to their current browser page. Easy blogging!