Lack of Contextual Help

I don’t like the fact that very few developers are using contextual help menus in their themes and plugins. While I knew this before it struck me as odd that plugins put out by Automattic aren’t using contextual help menus either.

  • IntenseDebate
  • Jetpack JetPack 1.2 added contextual help, Yay
  • Akismet
  • Polldaddy
  • Sharedaddy

Now I know that all of these plugins have fantastic documentation elsewhere I am just curious why none of them have any contextual help menus. I would really like to see help menus in every single theme and plugin and maybe if Automattic did it than more developers would as well.

Note: Twenty Eleven has a contextual help menu on its options screen (which I like).

Update Help Menu

For some odd reason I am obsessed with the contextual help menus (which is why I am really excited for this trac ticket). While the help content is steller and I love that every WordPress screen has it, I think in a few areas the content could be written a bit clearer. I am not expert in English by any means but I wanted to try to rewrite a few screens to see how it could be made easier to read. Here is my first attempt. This is the rewritten help info from the update page.

This screen allows you update your WordPress installation as well as your themes and plugins from the WordPress.org repository. For security reasons it is very important to keep your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins up to date. When updates are available, the number of available updates will appear in a bubble on the left hand menu.

Updating your WordPress installation is a simple one-click procedure; just click on the Update button when a new version is available. To update themes or plugins, use the checkboxes to make your selection and click on the appropriate Update button. If you want to update all your themes or plugins you can check the Select All box to select them all and update them all at once.

Slightly Modified Design

I wanted to tweak the design here a bit so I splurged for the custom design upgrade. Gotta say I really love the system, especially the revisions on the custom css, its a very handy feature. Some day I need to figure out how they did it as this would be a pretty handy plugin.

So here is what I did…

  • Unboxed the layout and made it full width
  • Removed the search from the header and moved it to the sidebar
  • Tweaked the margin/padding on the header & footer
  • Removed smiley face from the footer
  • Removed comment bubbles from home page as no one ever comments
  • Changed the link color to a different blue

Custom Design Copy

Currently the text under the “Custom Design” Upgrade in the WP.com store reads…

Customize the fonts in your theme and dive into CSS to make all the presentational changes you desire.

I think it would make more sense for it to read something like…

Customize your design by adding custom fonts and make all the presentational changes you desire by adding custom css.

WordPress Trademarks

I have an interest in the area of trademark law and as you also know I am obsessed with WordPress so I thought that I would take a look at the WordPress trademarks and how they are being used.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a really nice online search system for looking up registered trademarks so I pulled the latest data for the two WordPress related trademarks and posted them below. I find these documents very interesting (especially the screen captures of the WordPress.org site around the time of WordPress 2.0), but some of you may question my sanity after going through them, but they are here if you want to take a look.

WordPress Trademark — pdf
WordPress Logo Trademark — pdf

WordPress Trademarks

WP.com Store

The WordPress.com store is where you can purchase add-ons for the WP.com blog. My mother is a teacher and she has a WordPress site for her classes. Unfortunately for her I am hosting it on my VPS and I like to tinker, which has caused her some downtime in the past. So I decided to get mom her own hosting account free from my tinkering. My first stop was of course WP.com. I started comparing WP.com to other services such as page.ly and Zippy Kid. The problem is those services have a monthly price while WordPress.com uses a yearly price. That’s fine I can do the math, no big deal. But what it did find odd was the inclusion of the daily price. To me, the daily price seems sort of useless. I think for people who are trying to choose between different services it would make more sense to give the yearly price and the monthly price as opposed to a daily price.

Current WP.com Store View

Change “My Comments” copy

First off let me say I love WordPress.com. It is so nice knowing that my blog will always be up and lightening fast. While the lack of plugin support and FTP access limits me from moving all my sites here, this site is hosted on WP.com and I couldn’t be happier.

What I have noticed is that there are some really small things (I mean small) that bother me about WP.com. I thought instead of just stewing about them I could just post them here and maybe provoke some discussion (please reply I need human interaction).

Currently the “My Comments” screen’s description reads like this.
This tracks comments you’ve made across WordPress.com so you can see when people reply to you. It will show your comment, one before yours, and replies after yours. The thread with the latest replies will be at top. 

I think something like this may get the point across better.
This tracks comments you’ve made across WordPress.com so you can keep track of all your conversations. Not only will it show your comments but also the comments you’ve replied to and all replies to your comments. The thread with the latest replies will be displayed first.

Rant: Too Many Plugins

One of WordPress’s greatest strengths is its ability of add functionality through the use of plugins. The problem is so many plugins are being used that the information (which is why we are actually visiting your site) is being obscured and the site is becoming slow to the point of uselessness. I find that I need very few plugins. For this site I use WordPress SEO by Joost, Gravity Forms, Wootumblog, Akismet, Obox Mobile, and Backup Buddy. I’ve helped some users who have convinced themselves that they need 20+ plugins. I guarantee that if you look at the plugins you are currently using you will find that they are unnecessary. </rant>

Express App = Awesome

I was a bit skeptical about blogging from an iPhone app but I have to say the combo of Obox Themes + Wootumblog + Express App + Obox Mobile is pretty much perfect. BTW this is my first post from the Express App. Hopefully you will see Wootumblog support in Obox Themes in the future. If you can’t wait I can walk you through the process, it is quite easy.

Back to WordPress

Well I decided over the weekend that I need to stop dabbling in other CMSs and focus on my true love, WordPress. In light of this decision I ported my blog over from tumblr to WordPress.  With a few modifications I got Motion Picture from Obox to work with the Woothemes tumblog plugin as well as the Obox Mobile Plugin. My decision was also influenced in part by my recent iPhone purchase as I really wanted to start using the Express App by Woothemes. The site is still a bit rough as I need to work on some design elements but I am really happy with my choice to get back to WP 100%.