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.