I decided to write about the WordPress.com content management system (CMS) used for creating blogs and websites. I have used this management system for both school and work and at times have found it to be very frustrating. This content management system has poor usability qualities. As I reflect on my experience, I have found that it has both poor feedback and affordances. For example, when the user signs into the content management system, there is a button located on the top left hand side of the screen that says “My Sites” (see figure 1).
This button is to be used, to pull up the user’s additional blog sites created under the account. When you click on the button, it leads to another page, but it doesn’t display a list of the other sites (see figure 2).
Unfortunately, the user has to take an extra step. In order for the list to be displayed, the user must click on a button that says in small print “switch site”(see figure 2). Unfortunately, this button does not provide an instantaneous clue to the user that the list will show, once pressed. This is an example of poor feedback and poor affordances. The poor feedback is reflected, when the user is led to a page that does not display a list of sites and lack of affordance is shown, when the user has to guess whether the button “switch site” will display the list of sites. I also noticed that visibility is an issue. For example, when the user is located on their Statistics page, it shows which blog/website it’s for (near the top of the screen) but the text within the box, that displays the name, is fairly small (figure 3).
This content management system in some respects has the characteristics of a poor conceptual model. For example, when I attempted to edit a homepage for the first time (for one of my WordPress sites) I went into the Dashboard section of the CMS, and scrolled down to the “pages” drop down box (see figures 4 & 5).
I clicked on “all pages” and a list of my pages within the site came up (see figure 6 & 7).
When I looked closely at the list, I noticed that the Home page was not included, therefore I was unable to edit that page from this location and had to try and figure out where else to go to complete this task. This was very confusing because by going to this section, in Dashboard, I assumed that all of the website’s pages would have been shown and from their I would have been able to edit any of the pages. This is yet, another example of poor usability. According to Donald Norman (an expert on design and usability) “a good conceptual model allows [a user] to predict the effects of [their] actions” (Norman, p 13). This is not always the case when doing certain task within the WordPress content management system. According to Norman it is important that the system’s image (which is the actual product) map to the user model (which represents the user mental model) (Norman, p. 16). If the function of the product is not communicated successfully, it is a sign of poor design.