Help us make the WordPress widgets admin screen better

Widgets. They’re amazingly powerful. They can – with the right combination of plugins and the right theme – give you a completely different layout on every single page. They can help your visitors find your content really easily. They can help you guide your visitors in a direction you want them to go. They can, with a little bit of thought, completely transform your site.

However, the widgets admin interface – introduced in 274 BC (give or take) – is a little outdated (I’m being kind). Theme and plugin developers have created a vast array of scenarios where widgets are useful and this can – and does – cause a pain point for users. Even the terms widget and sidebar are confusing and the latter is often a complete misnomer – many ‘widget areas’ are not on the side of anything – they’re not your average vertical, narrow accompaniment to your content. They’re often used in the footer, in the header, heck even in between the body of your content.

So, something needs to change. And I’m one of the folk who have decided to try and do something about it. There’s a few of us; Justin Sternberg, me and we’re being ably led by Shaun Andrews. On top of that we have some interest from several other folk in the UI Team (and beyond) and we’re hoping that, together, we can make the widgets (or whatever they may be called) admin screen much easier to use.

So, what can you do to help? Well, at the moment, we’re trying to find out exactly what direction to take and to do that we need to find existing pain points in the whole widget process. Not just how to add a widget to a sidebar – quite literally everything is on the table. If you have any suggestions, thoughts, ideas or, even better, questions about why x does y on the widgets screen then we’d love to help.

Shaun has made a great first post which summarizes our thinking so far so if you have anything for us – leave a comment on that post. Here’s to the crazy ones.