WordPress – Common Theme For Frontend and Admin

This is something I had been meaning to write about for a long time. Probably this can be considered to be part of my consideration of WordPress as a CMS. But even from usability point of view this can make sense.

Two Different Interfaces

In WordPress today, there are two different interfaces for a user. The front end – mostly for reading and commenting, and the admin – for writing and administration of the blog.

In practice, most of the times the users who read on the blog are also the ones who write,. especially in multi-author blogs which is one of the advanced features of WordPress. The same user hence has to use both these interfaces on the same website. The default frontend and admin themes are so different that it will not be surprise if novice web users feel that they are being redirected to a completely different website. Not only can this make the users uncomfortable but they have to also learn and get used to this different layout and theme.

Since the theme engine is different, none of the attributes of the theme are carried over – the header, the masthead image (if you will), the formatting or the layout. While there is a facility to change the styling of the admin theme, to change header or footer a hack in the admin theme is required.

Is it possible to have a common theme for the frontend and the admin end? Even if not to a full extent, can writing be brought in the frontend interface?

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.

7 Responses to “WordPress – Common Theme For Frontend and Admin”

  1. sukhi Says:

    I’m not exactly a novice user, and I like to explore new tech, so I may not be the typical guy to use it.
    BUT, I like it that there are different interfaces -if you will- for admin and user purposes. That the admin doesnt change is good – it is like that for most s/w anyway.

    I like it when the admin stays constant, but the look and feel of only the front/user -end changes.

  2. Abhijit Nadgouda Says:

    Sukhi, I too feel the same for my blog here. But if we consider a situation where WordPress is being used to setup a multi-author blog for a business – where the authors are not necessarily part of the business. Then these authors become the end users and they should not be shown the admin end for submitting posts. IMHO, writing is as much end-user activity as reading, especially in a blog. I feel atleast the writing should be included in the front-end interface.

    The case for a common theme for front-end and admin-end makes sense sometimes cases where a business would like to have consistent branding on both sides. If you look at the branding activity, companies have a set of colours that they use for web-presentation – their corporate colours. In such cases it is difficult today with current WordPress.

    This argument comes up with the recent surge in the industry adopting blogging. Inspite of all this, it is still the best blogging tool, but an easier control over admin theme would be better.

  3. Abhijit Nadgouda @ iface » Logahead - New Blogging Engine Says:

    […] Hours after I write about WordPress admin theme and writing being part of the admin interface in WordPress, I read about Logahead. A brand new blogging engine with a ‘keep it simple’ philosophy. Designed from the ground-up to be fully buzzword compliant (AJAX, RSS, Web 2.0 – it’s all there), logahead lets you effortlessly do what blogs were invented for: Put your words on the web. Just blog. […]

  4. sukhi Says:

    Hmm, then you’re looking at it as less a blog and more a CMS, right? I dont quite think WP thinks of itself as that. does it?

  5. Abhijit Nadgouda Says:

    Not necessarily Sukhi, it is what the end-user does, which is split in two different interfaces. I believe that providing a consistent interface helps, whether CMS or not. Atleast writing the post should be part of the front-end interface, since we can consider administration and blogging as different activities.

    Infact look at http://codex.wordpress.org/Introduction_to_Blogging#The_Difference_Between_a_Blog_and_CMS.3F, WordPress is considered as a blogging specific CMS.

  6. sukhi Says:

    well, Abhijit, I think its important to distinguish the editing interface from the viewing one. And while it may be a bit confusing – only at the start, and only to tech-challenged people – I think people would appreciate that the change of interface tells them that they are doing something different – novice users are more likely to have issues of inadverent posts and or edits.

    And I agree that its the best blogging tool around(which is why I moved to this one). like Opera is the best browser around. And like Opera this one isnt very given to user level extensions. But the changes they’re making to WP are very promising.

  7. Abhijit Nadgouda Says:

    A change in interface is not the best way of indicating to the user that the activity is important. This is not only about novice users, this is about people who don’t want to learn technology to blog. And this is going to be pretty common, with non-IT industry taking blogging seriously. So, they should have to learn minimal to be able to blog.

    Why is commenting made so easy? Inadverent edits/posts can happen even in commenting. But this is because commenting is considered to be part and parcel of reading. I consider writing as a part and parcel of blogging. Users who read and write can be of similar profile, why do we ask them to learn two different interfaces which are so terribly different? If we consider from a company setting up a blog, they will like their users to get a consistent interface and experience.

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