Writers are as different as the stories they produce, and their ideal writing environments vary no less. One thing most writers agree on, though, is that one of the toughest challenges is overcoming distraction. At WordPress we’ve always believed that when you’re using the application, the focus should be on what’s most important — your content. In the spirit of making things faster and simpler, today we are introducing a couple of changes to your dashboard that will make it easier for you to just write.
A Fresher, Faster Dashboard
The most noticeable change is that the dashboard looks a little different. Nothing drastic, just a little facelift intended to make managing your content easier. Moving the left menu up means more room if you tend to keep a couple of sections open at the same time. Fiddling with the font sizes in the header also created more vertical space, so you can make your writing window/post box bigger on the editing screens (you can drag the lower right corner if you use the Visual editor, and/or change the default height of the writing window in Settings → Writing). We’ve also replaced the icons in the Visual Editor toolbar with new ones designed by Ben Dunkle, the same person who designed the navigation icons for the dashboard, that we think are less distracting and fit better. You’ll also be saying goodbye to the “New Post” button that used to live in the header. We’ve added an “Add New” menu to the admin bar instead, for faster, easier content creation. Oh, I almost forgot — we’ve made a number of performance improvements to make everything in the Dashboard run just a little bit faster. Yay!
With this update, WordPress has discontinued support for Internet Explorer 6. It has required increasingly complex code trickery to make the WordPress dashboard work in the IE6 browser, which was introduced 10 years ago and does not support current web standards. Even Microsoft is counting down to IE6’s extinction! If you try to log in to your Dashboard using IE6, it will be pretty broken — but don’t worry, you’ll see a red alert box that provides a link you can use to upgrade. What do we mean by broken? This is how the new dashboard looks in modern browsers:
…and this is what it looks like in IE6:
So please, if you’re still using IE6, upgrade!
While we were at it, we started looking at other older browsers, and it makes us cringe a little when we see people using them, because the web could be so much better for them (not to mention more secure) if they would update to their favorite browser’s current version. Starting with this update, if you log in to your WordPress site using an outdated browser, an orange alert will appear on your Dashboard screen letting you know, and will provide links to the browser updates and to Browse Happy, where you can learn a little more about your options.
Approve and Reply
This is a small improvement, but it feels huge. If you’re like me, sometimes you might not want to approve a comment unless you have written a reply. It used to be that if you clicked to reply to a pending comment in your Dashboard, your reply would be published but not the original comment. I know, I know, it’s not like it is difficult to click on Approve. But! We’ve made it better anyway. :) Now when you reply to a pending comment, the submit button will say “Approve and Reply,” and will perform both actions at the same time. After using this for less than a minute I was completely hooked.
Introducing Distraction-free Writing
The other big change — one that we love — is a major upgrade to the full-screen writing experience. The normal posting screen is great: you can set it up the way you want it, and you can add and edit every piece of metadata related to your post in addition to writing it. Sometimes you just want to focus on writing, though, without all the extras, right? If that’s how you feel, you may have used the full-screen writing mode in the Visual Editor before, accessible by clicking a blue screen-shaped icon in the top row of the toolbar. That full-screen mode took up the full browser screen, which was cool, but then your lines of text went all the way across, making it harder to read and edit your creations. The Visual Editor toolbar stayed up top, which was handy if you wanted to add a picture or a link, but was a little bit distracting because of the colors. And if you zoomed or resized your browser, that was not good.
Everything about this feature revamp is designed to relax you, and allow you to find your groove without distraction. There’s a lot to point out — because hey, we’re proud of it — and the new look is quiet and deceptively simple.
- It’s available for all users, whether you use the Visual Editor or HTML. Visual Editor users will notice a more laid-back icon to enter distraction-free mode, and HTML users will see a new [fullscreen] button. Click one and you’re on your way.
- Distraction-free writing mode still takes over the browser window, but the writing area is optimized for a comfortable line length and easy reading and editing. Editor styles set by themes are also supported.
- The formatting header is shown when you first arrive on the screen, to orient you, then fades away so you can focus on your writing. Move your mouse to indicate that you want access to these items and it will magically reappear.
- Only the most-used formatting and embedding icons are shown, reducing visual noise, along with a Save button in the upper right (you’ll need to go back to the regular editor to publish), and the word count in the lower left.
- Keyboard shortcuts are supported.
- You can switch beween Visual and HTML modes while in distraction-free writing mode.
- Have I mentioned how restful this screen feels when you’re writing? Well, I have now. :)
I never used to like full-screen mode for writing, but I love distraction-free mode. Try it, and I bet you will, too!
Tip: make your browser go full screen if you really want to be distraction-free. Press F11 on Windows, or Command+Shift+F on a Mac. To disable full screen, use the same keyboard shortcut, or move your mouse to the top of the screen to reveal the menu.
Get Featured on Freshly Pressed
We hope you’ll enjoy these updates as much as we do. As always, let us know what you think, but this time, let’s mix it up:
- If you encounter a bug, something looks weird/broken, or you need help with the new distraction-free writing feature, please let us know in the special distraction-free writing support forum instead of leaving a comment about the problem on this post. Note that we’ll be continuing to touch things up as needed based on your feedback for the next couple of weeks.
- There’s also a new distraction-free writing support page for reference.
- Leave your feedback on the design update in a comment on this post.
- To comment on the new distraction-free writing feature, go try it first! Write a post and see how it feels. Give it a “just write” tag. Then come back and tell us what you thought about the experience and give us your feedback in a comment on this post. Include a link to the first post you wrote in dfw mode so we can check you out.
I will personally read every first “just write”-tagged post that is linked in the comments within 48 hours. I will (completely subjectively) choose my five favorites posts and feature them on Freshly Pressed, and will also send the authors a WordPress swag pack (buttons, stickers, maybe a surprise or two) as a prize. Note: I am easily swayed by correct spelling and grammar, so be sure to make use of the built-in spelling and grammar checker!
Update 5/31/2011: I chose my winners! With hundreds of posts to read I couldn’t narrow it to 5, so I filled up Freshly Pressed today with my picks. Here are the winners in no particular order:
Faster dashboard and full-screen writing experience. Great. I love these upgrades. Thank you, WP team.
LOL … you guys are making it way too easy and taking away all my excuses! I want to say thanks and kudos … but then again I don’t!! =] I heart WordPress.
So far, I have used google docs to write my blogs, then copy and paste them in. I really do like the google interface for writing. However, I will give the new distraction free writing feature a try. Thanks for the update to the dashboard.
Good news but… what about WordPress.org users? Sniff…
I like it!
Thanks so much for the upgrade! :)
Just noticed the updated dashboard a few minutes ago and immediately checked for 3.2 features. :-) I’m a total full screen and distraction free environment fan.
Now looking forward to the addition of Twenty Eleven :-)
Keep up the amazing work.
When will this rollout to the self hosted wordpress.org version?
Love the distraction free writing. It makes it loads easier to write.
If there’s one website I’ll visit every single day and still want to do it more with every passing day… it’s WordPress!
You guys come up with something so often it’s surprises me how other blog platforms out there still exist! WP is like the Google of blogging, ha ha.
how cool is this :) thumbs up
Noticed the new sidebar a few seconds ago. Everything looks so much nicer now! Thanks again, WordPress!
How can I change it back to the old look? Is that an option? I don’t like it at all.
I have to tell you that I am constantly impressed by the level of dedication of the WP team to providing new innovations for the community. I don’t use all of them and there have been some that I have not liked all that much; but most are terrific and, what is more important, it is clear that the WP team takes its job seriously and cares about its bloggers.
Many thanks for all the hard work.
1) I’m seeing the dashboard in IE6 and it looks exactly like the “modern browser” pic (except I’ve got it set to blue instead of gray).
2) For much of the day, I’m away from a computer where I have control over the browser, or any other aspect of what’s installed on the computer. During this significant portion of the day, I’m forced to use IE6 not by choice but by corporate inertia. During such a day I may have breaks or other opportunities for a little free time, and at such moments I like to have the opportunity to interact with my blog readers or write up a post… Might I suggest that the majority of your users who are using “outdated” browsers are not doing so by choice?
Right now, everything to do with my subscriptions is defaulting to the Freshly Pressed page. Most stats are unavailable, and I don’t really see anything new that would make the glitches worth putting up with.
Wow… Awesome – Thanks!
Goodbye, IE6 – these days support asked me to upgrade to IE9 :lol:
That’s all very nice to know and thank you for it. Seeing as I’m new here and been having a few hiccups. What happens if Firefox 4 is your browser?
I really love the new look! The new distraction free posting is very nice on the eyes. I’ve still got my fingers crossed for some kind of follower widget (I’m jealous of all the Blogger users with Google Friend Connect). One day, hopefully :P
Love the new updates. :)
I liked the old dashboard better. Everything in this new looks so… plain. The old one had more design.
so fresh,. it’s simple, but cool,.
I’ll write more than before with this new look,. thanks,.
Looooove it. I’ve sometimes been drafting longer posts in simple text editors precisely for that distraction free approach — now I can do it right on WordPress (especially nice since one of my computers is a CR-48 Chromebook).
Great work! It looks very nice and useful.
Very, very nicely done! Kudos to the UI/UX team(s).
I’m excited to try it out right away. But even before I do, I can already tell you that before the redesign there were two points where one could collapse the menus to icons. Now only one. On my netbook using Chrome (more real estate above the fold to begin with), this now involves a lot of scrolling to the very bottom of the menu list. That second collapse point would make a great redesign perfect.
Thanks for listening, Jane (and don’t be a stranger; it’s been a while since you were last here!)
Thanks Jane and WordPress. This all sounds great, truly. I’m new at wordpress and love it. You truly are a very comprehensive forum. Of course, I need to spend more time in support forums for managing page issues….so any new features to make it easier on newbies is appreciated. Have a great day, Nan Collard, Nursenan
As someone who is very new to WordPress, this was very helpful! Having a blast using this! :)
Hard to find some elements – theme chooser, pages, vidges area, and posts management. I know that they are somewhere there, but…
Folks, maybe you will create `return to old one design` button?
I headed over to check out the new feature after seeing this post, and I liked it so much that I finished a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for the last week or so in under an hour!
I especially love the way that the options bar (that allows you to link text, italicize, etc.) slides down the post with you as you scroll, and the way that everything fades away after a few seconds. Surprisingly, it really DID help me focus. Thank you all for constantly improving the functionality of this site!
Hi, our new dashboard is not avaible in firefox 4 at all! Just blank space( When we’ll be pleased to see it again? IE9 is OK(
I seriously miss the New Post link on the header area. This helped me hit “New Post” on a hurry (specially when inspiration strikes you know, just like now ;) ). Please consider putting it back. Putting it back will not make the new design look ugly at all.
I am so excited about the new additions. I just last night updated the app for my blackberry 1.5, and I just love the new finessed look. It’s smooth. Not only what I am writing looks amazing, but the menus are fantastic. WordPress really went in on their upgrade. I am quite happy to see beauty when I blog on the go. I have no complaints.
Here is my lovely little “just write” post: http://rawmultimedia.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/my-tasty-cookie/
I like it – it’s like an empty canvas so I can focus on content. http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/2011/05/19/write-me/
Overall I love the upgrade. And I understand removing the New Post button from the top, but that button also had easy access to the drafts section. I really miss that as our site tends to have lots of drafts that are worked on over a couple of weeks.
Loved the idea of making us free to write! That’s the way! This will help everybody that loves to write and are not a geek!
Indeed, liked the fact of know that the wordpress company cares about the improving of writing!
Count me in the “I don’t like it at all one bit either” camp. All crammed and shoved together with that tiny, ugly font….The whole thing is not at all aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, I appreciate the FREE blog, FREE, free, free…. so why am I complaining again…. :)
Well, all compliments aside, I can say this much: Jane is going to have to read through SO many blogs in the next 48 hours celebrating this new look. Well, all the best!
Nice and it works! ;)
I love such features, they make blogging to fun and loveable
The new update is great!
Thanks for all the help with just write, every bit helps.
My reaction, as well as a little try for the Freshly Pressed ;)
I just took a quick peek and I can’t wait to write my blog post tonight. Awesome changes.
I love it!!
Fantastic update and can’t wait to see it in action when I post my next blog :)
I like the new look. It is an improvement over the old setup, without being so drastically different that it is hard to figure out. Facebook should take lessons from WordPress.
I will never understand why WordPress does not care about Opera users.
Something is wrong with this upgrade with the Opera browser.
I am not very happy!
I know I’m an arse for pointing it out, but “submit” was misspelt as “subwit” in the Approve and Reply section.
I like the distraction free writing. In the beginning, the formatting header was appearing and disappearing while I didn’t touch my pc. Luckily, it stopped while I was writing. I also like the new ‘Add New’ button on the admin bar.
The new design is a little bit… colourless. I like the simplified menu on the left, but I miss some colour in the new design.
And here’s my “just write” post. :)
Laura(lee)H “how can I go back”
somehow I activated old IE and I haven’t seen the new page, I think it was something to do with starting in safe mode,
I love the new layout and design! I liked the old full screen enough, but this I like even better.
People still use IE6? That’s insane. I’m using IE9 right now. Geez.
I love how much faster the dashboard is now. Thanks.
Looks good! Keep up the great work, WordPress :)
(and keep it free because I’m cheap!)
I love love the new layout! so much better!! I really think that the site stats should have its own section in the top header! its really important to me and i would love fast access!
This is how to do a redesign properly.
I don’t like it. I write a post, then save it in draft to revisit later on. The old style had a button at the top of the tool bar to quickly access drafts. Now I have several more steps in the new advanced tool bar to reach the drafts.
But I guess it’s progress.
Not to be a party pooper since I do like the changes in general, but some of the advanced offerings, like underline or text color and media postings, aren’t available in fullscreen and I use the advanced controls a lot, especially spellcheck and the picture and video features. I do like that I can go into HTML mode in fullscreen and how well it cuts the distractions.
I don’t like it. It looks like an older version rather than a newer one! Everything’s block-like instead of smooth.
Doesn’t anyone else feel this way? Or are they just hiding?
I agree with Alee: “I liked the old dashboard better. Everything in this new looks so… plain. The old one had more design.”
And I agree with Laura(lea) H.
So far I don’t like it as it appears to have interfered with my ability to upload photos from my desktop!!!! Not a happy bunny at the moment.
Maybe instead of the new design being that bad, it’s just that I have an old browser. When I logged in, there was a little box that said: It appears you have an old, unsupported version of Firefox browser. I don’t have Firefox, I have Flock. Is this why the upgrade doesn’t look so good?
And here is for the contest: http://bigb94.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/life-lessons-tiny-wings/
I just tried the “just write” option and loved it! It felt much more creative and I didn’t realize how cluttered the other page felt until I tried this one. Even so, I am glad you kept it easy to add images as I like to do that while I am writing. Thanks Word Press!
Suave! I dig the new look! Keep up the good work!
Awesome! Google Chrome or Safari all the way!!!!!
Very bad news. I can not manage a blog. And where there are statistics? I will have to delete the blog with this service.
New dashboard looks great! It’s a good change without being a complete overhaul. Thanks!
I really love the distraction-free writing feature. I like to write stories and with this new feature was able to completely focus on what I was writing without being distracted by all the options and buttons. I’m loving it! I wrote this little story… http://zaiuregrey.com/2011/05/19/beneath-the-sky/. :) Thanks for the new features! :)
One Negative Thing, If I Upload An Image, And Insert It Into The Post, I Cant Re Size The Picture, I Mean Like I Cant Make It Bigger Or Smaller. Which Really Sucks! :(
But Everything Else Is Cool!
I noticed something was different and I was thinking this is so odd (cause I just hooked up a new monitor)… then I realized WordPress much have had an update.
MTG, Comics, Gaming, Movies, and more – http://www.captainbloggington.wordpress.com
Ohh! So this was the update, and here I was freaking out, how come the page is not loading completely, my internet connection is awesome!
Wow. I really love the “just write”-Function! I think, now I gonna write Blog more often! Thx <3
WordPress FTW! you guys rock, my dashboard now looks better then before.
Nice update, but it’s going to take some time getting used to it. I’m already raising my eyebrow left and right. For now, I like the old dashboard better, but as time ensues I’ll probably be used to the new ‘faster’ dash very quickly. Thanks!
Nice, I already used some of the features, I especially love this thing where you use previous posts as a sample for the new one.
One thing wasn’t working, though:
I tried to make a new category for my new post and it didn’t appear in the right sidebar. But when I clicked on Categories in the left dashboard-sidebar, it was there.
So I copied the entry, refreshed the “new article”-page, the category appeared and I just pasted my text, but it would be nice if that would be fixed, of course.
Excellent changes, WordPress Rules!
I absolutely love it. Like somoene said it, it’s like an empty canvas, and all you have to worry about is filling it.
Great feature, especially for the ADD-challenged! I tried it out myself, and here’s the result:
Thank you, before I did get distracted with all the buttons and I never liked going to the full screen mode till now.
I’m happy that this update is not a drastic change and I don’t have to go relearn WordPress.
I like it the changes, so far.
Love the new dashboard layout. It feels more professional and does take up less space.
You know what would save even more space? If “WordPress.com tip: Want to stand out from the crowd? Buy a premium theme →” didn’t appear at the top of my dashboard at all times.
That little yellow box used to be a great way to see new features or news. Now it’s a pesky banner ad.
Thanks for the updates and the new Distraction Free Component. I really like it a lot. I love to write and this is right up my alley (bad pun intended!) Thank you for all your hard work. I have just entered the world of blogging and I am completely impressed with the set up here. I feel very much at home and the format is so conducive to my writing style. Please feel free to check out my blog, especially the post about this feature…
I’m a little technically-challenged, so please forgive me if the above does not come out as an easy-to-click link… Thanks again! :)
I noticed over usage of Arial in the WP 3.2 beta. I hope that would not be the case in the stable build!
This upgrade does not work correctly in Firefox 4
I like it, it’s very slick and tres cool… but the Dashboard is still missing the Random Blog arrow, which was one of the coolest features on WordPress, as well as the ‘Add To Blogroll’ button, which was extremely handy to have. Other than that, great job.
The update is amazing :)
Amazing update, kudos to the developers!
The older dashboard looks better.
But its ok, I love the new one too.
A question. Are you offering Chrome Frame support for users who are stuck on Internet Explorer 6? I could not locate it in the source code.
Google has made it to work without requiring the administrative powers… So this is something that can still be offered?
Here’s my post about “Just Write” : http://karmardav.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/distraction-free/
Thanks for the explanations!
This is very nice !!!!!!
Well, I must say the new style is VERY eye-friendly, especially with bloggers such as myself, who have poor eyesight to begin with. It also looks very nice with Firefox Mozilla, which I very recently switched over too. Bravo and props to all involved!
As per your wishes, here’s the link to my blog and the first post I used the new system with…http://dispatchesfromnowhere.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/go-old-in-style-with-a-luxury-sports-car/. =)
Nice advancement,keep it up