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WordPress 2.5 Admin Backend Category Shenanigans and How To Fix It

If your blog is on a WordPress platform, then you know that the new 2.5 version is out. While it's always a good idea to update the software for security reasons, upgrading always comes with a bit of anxiety. Plug-ins will invariably break, and there will be some getting used to the new admin layout. Designing a software as complex as WordPress is a big task - and overall, I'd say that Matt and the Wordpress team did a good job.

The new admin backend got a big facelift. It was re-designed from the grounds up by usability expert Jeffrey Zeldman and colleagues at Happy Cog. The look is cleaner and admin panel is supposedly designed to be easier to use by new bloggers. Except that it isn't (at least for experienced bloggers).

I'm a big fan of Zeldman (love, love, love his A List Apart website), but the new WordPress 2.5 admin backend design is a step backward in usability. It's actually harder to use the admin backend in this version as compared to the previous version of WordPress, and I'm not alone in this.

Here's why: the category as well as post author and other settings are moved from being side by side with the post editor to below it. Even with a large monitor, I'd have to scroll down to select the category on every post!

If you're not into scrolling nirvana, and would like to get the category back the way it was, Judy Becker of Persistent Illusion blog has the hack for you: she edited a few WP files so all you need is to swap these new ones with the original files and voilà! Good ol' category on the sidebar.

I find that I had to move a few options that I seldom use (like comment & ping, post authors, password protect) back to the bottom of the editor but that's just a few simple cut and paste job.

If you want to recover your admin sidebar, here's the hack: Link (Great job, Judy!)

(Lots of people complained about the re-designed widget editor, but I've never used that feature, so I really can't comment on it. Also, this hack will only work for self-hosted WordPress 2.5 - wordpress.com users, sorry - can't help you).


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My admin just upgraded last night, so I got hit with the new look today. Going to take some getting used to.

Just a note to all the web site designers and wordpress folk, light, small text is really tough for us older folks to read sometimes. Yes, it's a pretty look, but hard on older or vision impaired eyes. The light blue text in the new format is not as good as the old format.
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I'm running over on wordpress.com, and even though the new editor is slightly less buggy than the old one was (for some reason, if you rolled over one of the toolbars at the top of the page it would cause the editor window to jump back to the top of the page automatically, usually messing up stuff in the process) I do have to agree that the new UI is just a pain to use. The editing window seems to be designed for fixed-width templates (which would not work for my Blog since I use a lot of photos) so full-screen editing is the only way I can really write without having to fight the editor all the time. The fact that they removed the "view" option on the manage posts UI is a pain too, since you have to go through the editing window to find the view button now.

Issues aside, it's still less of a pain to deal with than Blogger was though.
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There is another quirk in the admin: if you're in "Manage", then you click on "Write," after publishing the post, you will be dropped back to "Manage."

I find that you need to be on the dashboard home, then you can write posts after posts with no problem.
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