Demo Testing the WordPress MP6 Admin Styles Plugin
There was a recent discussion on WordPress about the latest MP6 admin plugin. This is currently released as free open source code for your WordPress site, and it allows webmasters to use a newer updated backend stylesheet. It is still a case study and not recommended for large productions websites as there may still be a lot of bugs not touched upon.
However if there are other forward-thinking WP users then you will likely want to try this out. I just recently installed the MP6 plugin on my own website and I’d like to offer some thoughts on my own opinion. You can download the MP6 plugin right off the WordPress repository or simply search for it by name in your WordPress plugins panel.
After you activate the plugin you will notice changes right away. The admin dashboard will still look almost exactly the same, aside from icons and color choices. Both the sidebar links and the top admin toolbar have blended together into the same darker color scheme. It makes navigation appear more fluid and connected.
I really like the update choices to background colors and links. More shades of blue are being included on darker backgrounds for a nice contrast. My first thought was that it’ll be so much easier reading text on the page when you can quickly scan letters over a darker background. Even form input fields are using a different style of typography named Open Sans, a bigger default font which is much easier to read.
It is funny how all of these updates have been released just around the same time as WordPress 3.6 was announced. The updated core will feature smaller tweaks to the backend admin panel, along with greater support for custom post types. WordPress v3.6 is scheduled to be released on April 29, 2013 assuming everything will go according to plan.
The Greater Details
When it comes to structuring a usable administrative interface sometimes less is actually more. I feel this way about the newer icons used for the MP6 plugin display. The designs are all much flatter than the originals, and so they blend nicely into the page. These icons are no longer basic PNG images, but rather a fancy new icon font created solely for MP6.
It seems that the developers have really gone out of their way to support a fantastic design. And it really shows in this plugin after spending a bit of time browsing the different menus. Sometimes it is the smaller details which really showcase how useful a new design idea can be. For a similar viewpoint check out the media gallery pages.
You will notice each of the rows is zebra striped so you can quickly analyze a single piece of media. This also means you can rummage through titles and tags for posts/pages without struggling to match up the headlines. Smaller details like this are what make up fantastic user experiences.
Colors and Contrast
One other important concept for the MP6 plugin is a greater contrast of background and foreground colors. I have noticed the theme greatly revolves around grey/dark grey and blues. This is typical of many website layouts and I also feel WordPress has been following a great direction.
For example, on the plugins page you will notice that each plugin has a highlighted row color. The very left border color is only blue when the plugin has been activated – otherwise there is no border or colored background. Certainly an interesting concept when we think about UI design! And WordPress has never implemented such an idea for their designs in the past.
The buttons and input fields definitely seem to pop off the page with a more crisp palette of colors. I can’t imagine how the developers will continue to expand these changes, but if they are using detailed color schemes it will be a great success. But don’t just take my word for it! By looking through just a couple of these screenshots you should be able to see a wide variation for contrasting shades of blue and grey.
I know there will be lots of WP users who are all over this plugin. Some people may even install and let this run as the default admin style! Although it is not recommended since the plugin is still being actively developed, I will admit that I have run into zero problems while testing. In fact the design has been nothing but a pleasurable experience.
If you are looking for new updates check out the Make WordPress UI page full of detailed posts. Users and developers will share their thoughts and changes as the plugin progresses, along with any other similar projects related to updating the WordPress user interface. I am sure the creators of this plugin will eventually release it under a full stable codename with support for WordPress 3.6.
But in the meantime you can always run your site on the codes which exist now. Plus checking their MP6 plugin updates every-so-often will keep you on top of the latest changes. This way you can also update your own personal website and determine if you still want to run the MP6 admin or keep the original styles. Personally I have deactivated MP6 but left it installed on my website, just in case it turns out to be an even greater admin skin than I could use at a later date.
- WordPress MP6 Plugin Discussion Thread
- MP6 – Could This Be the Future of WordPress Admin User Interface?
- Preview The Secret New WordPress Admin Design
- How to: Add a New Admin Design with MP6 WordPress Plugin
- MP6 For WordPress Gives Your Admin Console A Modern New Look
I would really like to believe that WordPress is always moving onward and upwards to better things. It has been fascinating to see how the team is creating a new design for the administration panel, all possible via one single plugin. The WP core is a tremendous library and clearly offers a lot of room for developers to build and make it their own.
My thoughts are very positive on the MP6 plugin and I would like to see more stuff in the near future. It isn’t something that I have been using on every website, or even a majority of WP sites. But for experimental users this will be a cool learning experience to understand the possibilities. Additionally if you have your own thoughts on the MP6 plugin feel free to share with us in the post discussion area below.