WordPress.com Alpha review and screenshots

Duncan Riley> I’ve been privileged today to be invited into the WordPress.com Alpha testing program, and aside from my obvious excitement at playing with something new and also being part of the testing team that’s going to give feedback to the likes of Matt Mullenweg (I am soooo not worthy :-) ) it also gives me a chance to share some initial thoughts on the offering, after having spent 5 minutes cruising the interface, and naturally share some screenshots as well.


The first shot here is a result of receiving a “Golden Ticket” from the powers that be at WordPress. No, I’m not joking, it’s literally tagged as this. You’d appreciate even more why I love WordPress, the team has got a wicked sense of humor as well. The setup screen is class WordPress, simple, straight forward


Ok, Ok…this isn’t that exciting yet I know but I don’t like to leave things out. Simple, straight forward confirmation screen. The blog listed exists but at the time of writing this post I haven’t got around to posting anything exciting yet.


OK, still nothing to exciting yet. Standard WordPress login screen although the fonts used to type the user name in looked slightly different from a standard WP install


Now for some good stuff. The dashboard will look familiar to any users of WP1.5 and is said to be the alpha version of 1.6. Noticeable differences are obviously the introduction of a new coat of color, and the plugins option as been removed.

I’ll skip going through every other option because if you’re a WordPress user its pretty much standard for you. Except the following


To be honest I’m not entirely sure what this does. I’m guessing at this stage that it obviously indicates referers and with a bit more traffic could be a statistical package (you can look at a month to date of hits for example) but what makes it a bit more interesting is the ability to blacklist referers. Whether this is for statistical purposes or as part of a spam package I’m not sure at this stage


For a current WordPress user this is going to come as the biggest shock, but I have read somewhere that this might be standard: basically there is no ability, at least at this stage to tweak a template, although unlike the standard WordPress 1.5 install you have got a bigger variety of templates to choose from. Personally I swear to god that if I see another standard Kubrick template I’m going to scream :-) but theres a couple of nice choices. I’m sure I read Matt Mullenweg saying that the whole customize your blog market is not what they are aiming for with this service, which is fair enough, although in later releases I’d be suggesting at least some basic customization options, because even a new blogger is eventually going to want to play with the look of their blog. Even Spaces has come on board recently with this way of thinking as well.


The last big change is the layout of the “write” screen. Some of you may have played with or implemented WYSIWIG plugins in the past, but in WordPress.com WYSIWIG writing comes as standard, with no need to worry about code or similar. What use to be simple and advanced control options have been rolled into the one page with drop down menus for the various options. First impressions is that it managed to squeeze in a lot more stuff in a much smaller space, however as a WordPress user it will also require a bit of learning to find where various things have been moved to, but I’m not the key market after all. Being able to literally see what you are writing with formatting and pics.

So that’s it for now. I’ve sworn to test the service thoroughly as part of the opportunity to be an alpha tester so I’ve now got to work out what I’m going to write. I was thinking a book review blog but I cant use the Amazon plugin so I’m going to have to sleep on it.

Its Alpha, but its got a lot of the great features and usability that you’d find in your own installation of WordPress. Early days but my assessment so far is that its looking might fine. More soon.

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  1. says

    I’ve been rabbiting on about a WordPress hosted service, like Typepad, for a while, so I’m delighted it’s coming. One question which you may be able to answer, Duncan : does the service work with user domain names, or the subdomain plus domain mapping approach of Typepad? I reckon the answer will attract, or put off, a lot of potential users.

  2. says

    at this stage no to both, but its strictly an alpha test at this stage. I’d think that this would be being considered for the final launch, and although I’m an alpha tester I’m not priveleged to the development process at this stage other than providing feedback. I agree with your assessment though, you’d be wanting to look at full domains if you could, I’m not a particular fan of the subdomain plus domain mapping approach of TypePad because I keep going back to Steve Rubel’s site that’s split its stats because of it. Cant shed any more light at this stage. more soon I hope,certainly I’ll be doing some posting and giving it a bash and seeing what happens.

  3. says

    Looking Good :)
    And don’t forget to suggest categories. It’s been a sore point with Blogger and bloggers have had to resort to very creative measures in order to categorize their posts.

  4. M. Soberg says

    get me off your subscription! I am getting e-mails that I do not want and when i get one it says where to go to “not recieve” these mails from blog….but i cant because it says i need a “valid Key”…so take me off of this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. says

    Categories can be created on the fly, and categories are “tag” (Technorati) enabled – right from the start.

    The focus of WordPressMU sites like wordpress.com is on the content, not on the tweak. As it grows, I’m sure there will be some tweaking and customizing that will allow users to change the header art or a few colors and add some features in the sidebar and such, and new Themes will be arriving as soon as they are cleaned up for MU use…there is a lot of great things to look forward to that will be coming soon, I’m sure.

    Even some of the screen shots you are showing are different from what they were a few weeks ago. This is living and changing software with new surprises every day. That’s part of the fun of the special invite.

    And as one of the invites to wordpress.com you are requested to help the development process by using the Feedback button on the Administration Panels to tell the developers what you like, don’t like, and problems you find. This kind of interaction is great.

    As for the referers panel, it tracks your site access. It needs some work but the information will be more obvious as you begin to get traffic. This is a plugin not a standard feature for the future WordPress 1.6, but it’s a neat way of sorta tracking incoming links, visitors, and search requests. I look forward to seeing this improve.

    And when a user is ready to dig into customization, then they can move up into the full version of WordPress.