Embracing Change: The New WordPress Reader

I’m a big fan of WordPress. It never stays still. Any half-experienced WordPress blogger knows that every so often they’re going to be briefly blindsided by one of those changes that suddenly happens. Of course it can be disconcerting – a bit like waking to find out that Santa Claus rearranged the furniture overnight as a kind of thank you for leaving him such tasty mince pies with his glass of milk, and now the picture of Aunt Mamie seems to have disappeared. 

But it’s part of what I love about WordPress – the other side of the coin that comes with innovation. And I’ve got to be honest, left to myself to install each new update, I’d soon be living in the dark ages.

I want to think the new Reader is perfect because it’s what we’ve got, for the time being. Seen purely on its own terms, as a piece of art in itself, it looks good. Great, even.

Apparently the new picture formats have come about because the majority of people who like to read don’t like to scroll. I’m not quite sure how that works out for them, but I’ll accept this is what the research says. Personally, I don’t mind scrolling that bit more if it means I can understand what I’m looking at.

The looking-through-a-letterbox crop for image posts when viewed on a desktop is a great way to maximise screen real estate, but it’s not the best way to show off pictures. I don’t know enough about the history of photography to know if there has ever been a movement where cropping was random: I doubt it somehow.

I used to ooh and aah over some of the wonderful images in my Reader. Now I keep catching myself gazing with deeply furrowed brows, thinking ‘What’s that?’ over and over. Not only will my cosmetic surgeon* be troubled, but I’m not as tempted to click.

I truly understand WordPress are in a cleft stick: each time they roll out a change someone will prefer the old way or have a suggestion of how it could be done better. I’ve seen people suggesting the users should approve changes before they are implemented, but no organisation can design by a committee of millions. So we have to trust their vision. And I do.

If the US election and Brexit have taught us anything it’s that old cliche you can’t please all of the people all of the time. The new format is preferred by lots of people according to the feedback left on the post where it was announced. Other than the way it displays images, I like it too.

I can see from my own readership how widely WordPress reaches out across the world and can’t imagine the complexity this causes for their technical team. I think they do an amazing job. And would I ask other bloggers to scroll more to suit me? Of course not. But I do have a suggestion.

Just as we have a choice of themes, I’d love it if WordPress could offer us a choice of Readers, so we can consume content the way it suits us. I’ll hold up my hands and admit I haven’t a clue what kind of issues this would create technically. My uninformed guess is that the Reader is a skin for content, much like a theme, so having several versions running concurrently might just be possible.

We wouldn’t need many choices. A more photo-centric Reader option would be useful for people who follow some of the many talented photographers and artists here on WordPress. And I can imagine people with poor internet connections (or no wifi and expensive data packages) might appreciate the option to browse using a version of the Reader that doesn’t display the pictures at all.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to suggest work for other people to do, but offering a choice of Reader formats would be a step towards pleasing more of the people more of the time.

*You guessed it – I don’t really have a cosmetic surgeon.

21 Replies to “Embracing Change: The New WordPress Reader”

  1. Your look at the WordPress Reader got me quite interested in how it was and now how it works. I don’t understand every technical detail either, but I think a very good point you make is that as long as Reader works for people on it, it keeps the service user-friendly and that in the long run is a good thing.

      1. Thanks for reassuring me and for taking my comment so nicely. I was confident I knew what you intended or I wouldn’t have mentioned it. No harm done. As you say we all make mistakes – me as much as anyone!

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