A better Media Uploader for WordPress – Part I

Okay, its been a long time since I wrote. To this date, WordPress 3.5 has come out and the most awaited enhancement related to Media Library has been integrated. Personally, I have been waiting to see this revamp since I started using WordPress back in 2008. Its great! Looks flawless and you can drag and drop images, create multiple galleries, The Experience is just awesome!

But here’s the catch. A lot of newbies have been really struggling with the new user interface. There are lot of things going on and even I was lost at times. You just have to go through so many clicks just to do something very simple, such as Setting a Featured Image. This was way easier in 3.4 or earlier. You now have to click twice on the Add Media pop up but then if you edit an existing gallery, you can’t set any featured image from there, Awww, close that pop up and then set it from Set Featured Image link on the post. I think its just too much work! There are many other things that I noticed could be better. I will just discuss one section for now.

Today, I sat down and really gave it a thought. How can we make it better? Less user clicks? Easy to find things? Here is a screenshot of what you get when you click the Add Media button and I have marked 3 sections that can undergo some enhancements.

1-gallery-default

#1

I think this whole section is really redundant. You don’t need that at all since the top 3 links just show the same window. Users don’t see change except for the title and they think for a second – “What happened there?”. Set Featured Image link is the most weird one in my opinion. You have to click one more time to set a featured image. In earlier versions of WordPress, you could set it from the Image details and it was easier. But it can be better in the new UI. My idea would be to just add an icon so when you click on that icon, the featured image is set. It should work something like a radio button, just one click.

#2

Upload Files link takes an extra click to upload your images. You have to click the link and the Select Files to upload, 2 clicks. And when you select files, it automatically redirects you to the Media Library window to show the progress so the Upload Files window isn’t doing much. Its not needed in my opinion. A better approach would be just add a button to directly select files preventing users to do that one extra click.

#3

If we are removing the whole left column, you can extend the whole thumbnail window so you have bigger space. Plus the drop down select options is really not that useful. I didn’t even notice it was there. For example, I wanted to set a Featured thumbnail from the uploaded images and you had to Click Set Featured Image link and then select Uploaded to that post option. At first I thought you couldn’t see the uploaded images to that post.

So, from these studies, I made a mock up of how things could be better.

Proposed Media Gallery Window

Proposed Media Gallery Window

So, as you can see, there is must less confusing options and its straight forward to newbies as well. The dropdowns are moved to the top so they are all one click. If you press Select Files to Upload button, it opens up a pop up where you can select files. Once you do that the progress of the uploading files will show up as it is now. The Create Gallery button will ask you to select multiple images before you can actually create a gallery (or just 1 image). If you Shift Select multiple images, you can then Create Gallery which would show the gallery window. Search is important for some people if you have too many images. Also, not the Set Featured Image on the right Image description. Its much easier there, but even more easier would be to just have it on top of the thumbnail so its just one click!

Well, its an idea that could be used to enhance the user experience of WordPress 3.5 Media Gallery. I will think over the “Galleries” section and write about it in another post. One of the worst part I have noticed is, if I am uploading multiple galleries in a post and and go to Uploaded to this Post option, there is no way you can distinguish which images are in which gallery as it lists all the images in that post. I tried to insert 3 galleries and accidentally deleted one. When I tried to recreate the gallery, I was lost. I didn’t know which images were the ones that were in the 3rd gallery. This is a different discussion though.

Let me know what you think! Afterall, WordPress can be made better with everyone’s feedback. :-)

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