Web Technology

Upcoming Changes to WordPress 6.1

While skimming through the latest WordPress 6.1 Product Walk-Through Recap, I noticed some really amazing features finally being added to WordPress.

I actually remember manually coding some of these features myself on Movable Type many, many years ago when that web platform used to be all the rage. Specifically the ability to customize the template for a specific category (8:55) or even a specific post (8:35) is pretty amazing.

I was also highly interested in hearing what Nicholas Diego (37:00) had to say as the Editor Triage Lead for WordPress 6.1. The reason for this is that I find the usability experience for Editor user interface to be severely lacking still, with the key issue being they are overloading the non-techie end user (but even the techie designers & developers as well) with too much functionality at once in the same place. Instead they should be creating different focused context modes that the end user can switch to (similar to Squarespace Version 5 over a decade ago), so they don’t get confused and overwhelmed.

At the very least, if they don’t do this, they should make specific areas of the interface context specific, similar to how they are almost doing it now. For example, the Structure mode area is primarily on the left side of the interface, showing the nested layout of the blocks, whereas the Style mode area is on the right hand side of the interface.

But they need to go beyond this and make the interface function much more consistently within the different modes. For example, right now when you’re using the left hand Structure area and you press a block on the page, the corresponding block within the left nested layout of blocks gets highlighted as well which is nice.

The same thing should happen with the right hand Style area as well though (when it’s open) in that when you press on a block on the page, the corresponding style editing settings for that block should automatically be shown, so you can adjust it immediately. Again because there are no focused contextual modes but rather just these panels, it can become overwhelming for the end user to figure out where to look, especially when playing with the Editor for the first time.

But as it stands right now, the specific block style areas are buried under a couple of submenus which is just crazy. Instead all block styles options should be shown by default when you open the Style panel, yet the default Body and Heading settings for the entire site should be listed at the top of the entire Style list. Then below that, each specific block type should be linked by default to either the Body or Heading style setting but with the option to specifically customize it further if the end user so wishes. This would make the Style area far more user friendly for the new user, creating a cascading style logic that they can understand.

All said and done, I’m still excited and interested in trying out WordPress 6.1 when it’s released. Oh and for those who want to see more of Nicholas Diego’s work on the Editor (aka Full Site Editing), he has a bunch of videos on WordPress.TV you can check out as well.

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