WordPress 2.8 – Better Widgets?

Widget management is item #1 on the list of possible priorities for WordPress 2.8 development. Head on over there before the end of the year and take the survey to put your two cents in.

For my part, I’ll be delighted if they make it possible to display two or more widgetized areas (“sidebars”) on the widget management screen, and to drag and drop widgets between them.

I explored the cognitive psychology behind that design strategy in an earlier post, WordPress 2.5 Widgets?Taking the Load Off Your Mind. Here are the takeaway design suggestions:

  1. Add more informative labels to the “Available Widgets” pool. leave the column of available/used/unused widgets along the left side of the screen, but move the brief descriptions of widget functions (currently taking up space in the middle of the screen) underneath their respective widget icons (or into tooltips?), and add a note describing the current placement of the widget, e.g.the “Add” link could toggle with something like, “Currently added to Sidebar Three”
  2. In the space that has opened up, allow users to display controls for up to six widgetized areas simultaneously, each in its own “Widget Area Management Box,” just like the “Current Widgets” single display. If the theme does not have that many widgetized areas, or you don’t need to work with more than one or two, the extra Widget Area Management Boxes can collapse, like the boxes for tags and categories below the post editing window. Uncollapsed boxes can display a widget area, or can read “none selected.” [Users could also decide how many boxes to display in the first place.]
  3. Allow users to decide whether each Widget Area Management Box will display its widgets in a column (portrait orientation) or a row (landscape orientation). [This allows users to visually match the management screen display with the display of each particular sidebar on the blog.]
  4. Make everything draggable. Allow users to move individual widgets back and forth between the from the available pool and the currently displayed Widget Areas, and maybe even allow us to move the Widget Area Management Boxes themselves around in relation to each other.

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