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 firstname.lastname@example.org — 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.