With the recently launched WordPress 2.7, bloggers now marvel at how clean, beautiful and usable is the new interface. But do you remember what it used to be a couple of months ago? For those who started using WordPress years ago, can you remember what your admin area looked like?
Since I have an archive of all versions of WordPress on my development computer for function implementation historical purpose, I thought it could be fun and interesting to install them all and get reminded of what we used to use.
Ready for five years of UI evolution, from 0.7.1 in 2003 to 2.7 in 2008? Let's go!
WordPress 0.7.1 (May 2003)
The first version of WordPress had a clunky manual install procedure with a bloated b2config.php file, where you had to edit a bunch of stuff.
The landing page of wp-admin was directly the "Write Post": no dashboard in those ages of prehistoric blogging, no emphasis of satellite tasks such as managing comments. You could only assign one category to a post.
Simple interface, simple menus with no sub-menu. The page where you would manage users was called "Team" which I find interesting.
WordPress 1.0.1 (January 2004)
Weeee, the WordPress version I began playing with!
A major maturity step had been made with this version: the genuine concise wp-config.php as we still now it, almost unchanged. This is when WordPress was really born and quitted from being a half baked B2 fork.
The whole interface already looks like to what it's going to be for a couple of years. You can notice that this version introduced the ability to assign an arbitrary number of categories to a post (which was precisely what caught my interest at this time)
I remember the default look, still available as "classic", getting a lot criticism at this time.
WordPress 1.2 (May 2004)
Not a lot of change in the design, but still a revolution in the coding world: notice in the admin menu an new entry, labelled… "Plugins". Oh my. Now this is getting seriously fun.
WordPress 1.5 (February 2005)
This version introduced a menu logic that was going to last pretty long: top level links with submenus (precisely what enticed me to make the Admin Drop Down Menu plugin a few months later) Not sure why the logo is all messed up on my screenshot, I'm pretty sure it wasn't like this back in the days :)
Major change in the blogging philosophy: now with "Pages", not just "Posts". Major change in the coding philosophy: the menu "Template" is now labelled "Presentation" and gives access to… Themes! Themes, shipped with "Kubrick" (still known as "default") was probably the feature that really launched WordPress as an ubiquitous platform with an ever growing community.
This version also brings the beginnings of a dashboard. Nothing was using AJAX so things were rather slowed down when it would fetch news from the dev blog or the planet.
WordPress 2.0 (December 31, 2005)
Just in time for the party, say hello to the "big blue header".
The Write Post interface got a major overhaul: a real WYSIWYG editor, and movable/expandable items to make yourself comfortable and put oftenly use features on top of the page (aka "above the fold")
Notice the "Import" menu: while importing from other platforms such as Blogger or MovableType was a feature since 1.0, it got more proeminent in this release. "Take over the world"?
WordPress 2.1 (January 2007)
Nothing much on the top of the iceberg.
Visible changes in this version: "Links" renamed "Blogroll", "Comments" gets its own menu.
The Dashboard gets a pretty much needed AJAX enhancement, allowing for faster loading.
WordPress 2.3 (September 2007)
Right below the main textarea, you'll notice a new little feature: "Tags" appeared in this version, with huge impacts on the DB architecture that for once broke quite a few themes during the upgrade.
WordPress 2.5 (March 2008)
Admin links spread in 4 different locations all over the place, half of the information "below the fold" for maximum scrolling, menu links renamed with no logic and a washed out look. If you ask me, I hated this release, UI wise.
The Dashboard got a rework, and it started to become more customizable and usable instead of a rather useless static page.
WordPress 2.6 (September 2008?)
Two little new features show in the screenshot: a word count in the Write Post interface (wow) and the "Turbo" link for using Google Gears.
WordPress 2.7 (December 2008)
"Hey, wait a minute, is it the same platform? Everything looks so different!"
Now that's a redesign I like. The dev team asked users what they wanted and what they liked, and the result is light years beyond what the design studio produced for 2.5 six months earlier. One word to summarize it all: "Above the fold!".
The Dashboard is much more useful now and is a page from where you can interact with your blog, instead of just reading information.
So far, UI wise, 2.7 is the best release to date, with, at last, a real menu where any page is reachable from any other page. I hope that the next major release won't change everything in the layout once again, and I do have the feeling that this design will last some time.
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