WordPress Reader Changes—Do they know how you feel?

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.


You may have noticed a major update to the WordPress Reader recently.

There have been a few minor improvements since, which is a good sign. It shows that WordPress staff is listening.

  • Word count is now showing for all posts. Approximate time no longer shows for short posts, but appears in parentheses after the word count for longer posts.
  • It’s now possible to see who wrote the post more clearly, as a larger site icon (or blavatar—but no longer the Gravatar) appears at the top of the post followed by the name of the site.
  • The age of the post now appears at the top of the post. This makes it much easier to find where we had previously left off.


I wrote a post on the WordPress Reader changes a few days ago when the big surprise hit, I visited a few other blogs and read about the changes there, and I’ve discussed these changes with other bloggers. However, nobody claimed to be a fan of the new changes, whereas there were several complaints. Last night I visited the WordPress support forums, where of course I found more complaints about the new Reader.

But a comment from WordPress staff on the forum suggests that most people must be content or pleased with the changes to the Reader. That doesn’t appear to be the case from anyone I’ve interacted with (if you’re happy with the change, I’d like to hear from your perspective).

WordPress staff seems to be under the impression that only a few people are frustrated with the changes, and those few have visited the forum to complain. However, I’ve heard several complaints outside of the forum, and most of those people haven’t visited the forum. So if you’re frustrated with the changes, but haven’t let WordPress know, well, the assumption may be that you’re at least content with the changes, if not a big fan of them.

Feel free to visit the WordPress forums to voice your opinion (for, against, or neutral).


Feel free also to repeat a suggestion or comment. If only one person voices an opinion, they may think that only one person is unhappy about it.

If you’ve had any technical issues with the new Reader, please report them. WordPress staff does try to offer solutions or resolve issues, but they need to know about them.


When I open a post in the Reader, the Like button appears at the top right, the back button appears at the top left, and the comments field is way down below. That seems like the road to maximum inconvenience. Plus, most of my pc screen space is wasted, and these control buttons extend beyond that wasted space.

If you proceed to scroll down to read more of the post within the Reader or to leave a comment, be careful not to miss the scrollbar slightly or the post will close on you.


On a large screen, or with the aspect ratio of a typical laptop or pc monitor, most of the Reader is wasted space.

I see very large white sidebars, empty. The post image is tiny compared to my screen. The text background is white, which blends into the sidebars seamlessly.

To me, it looks so bland. The post’s image is so small on my screen, it no longer has the same visual attraction for me as images used to.


I’m not reading a magazine. When I read a print magazine, I understand that the pages are set in stone.

When I read online, why can’t I, the reader, have some control over the layout, design, and style?

The layout and design in the Reader is set in stone by WordPress. Neither the reader nor the blogger have control over the Reader’s display.

If they’re intent on taking control of this from the blogger, why not offer it to the reader, instead?

That would be reader-centric. Give the reader some choice for how the Reader works.


For now, the best solution may be to either:

  • Visit your favorite blogs’ homepages and add them to your Favorites toolbar so you can visit those sites directly.
  • Follow your favorite blogs with the Follow by Email option and read the posts in your email.
  • Click the link to read more to visit the post directly on the website, rather than in the Reader.
  • There are other reading apps that can be used to read WordPress blogs. You don’t have to use the WordPress Reader. You can feed your favorite blogs into a different blog reader. (I haven’t tried these, so I can’t recommend one. Try searching for an RSS reader with Google. For example, Feedly is one.)

Indeed, I have heard from a few of my followers who said that they were glad that they read my posts via email, so that they haven’t had to deal with the Reader updates.

Go to WP Admin > Appearance > Widgets and make sure that Follow by Email is an option on the sidebar of your blog.


They have made a few minor improvements since the last major update.

That’s a good sign. It shows that they are listening and considering ideas.

Maybe they could listen better. A little heads-up would show that they care. An invitation to beta-test the changes would make some experience bloggers feel involved.

It would be good marketing for WordPress to engage bloggers when updates roll out.

Are they watching? It seems like they would have engagement stats for reading habits with the Reader. I wonder what these stats are showing. One person left a comment on my blog that he had stopped reading as a result of these changes.

(But I wonder if there may be more activity than usual, and if so, this would create deceptive stats. For example, a few times, I accidentally wound up at the top of my Reader and had to scroll back down to where I had been. Several times, I’ve accidentally closed a post and had to reopen it. I’d loathe to think that WordPress feels that we’re reading more when we’re technically reading less.)


I’m not a fan of the new Reader changes.

I didn’t like the last major Reader update either.

But I do love WordPress. I recommend it to authors looking to start a new website.

But I’d love it even more if the Reader went back to the way it was.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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41 comments on “WordPress Reader Changes—Do they know how you feel?

  1. Yes, I’m quite baffled on why those staff claimed that “a lot of bloggers liked the new changes”, seriously… It’s easy to see that many bloggers were not amused about it. I have even seen a WP staff a few days ago saying that the estimated time duration is apparently “more intuitive than the number of words”. Come on! I really hope that he knew himself that what he said was BS…

    Anyway, have you noticed that the “featured image” of posts doesn’t show up on the computer version of the WP reader anymore (it still appears on the mobile version)?

      • I think that an image will only appear on a post on the reader if there is an image inside the post.

      • I’m really not sure since I myself very confused about this. From what I saw from other blogs, it seems that a random image would just appear on the reader if they have several images inside the post. Also, those posts that don’t have at least one image didn’t have images on the WP reader. However, if you look at the mobile version of the reader, you will still see those featured images…

  2. Thanks for this post Chris. I started the topic because, from past experience, I know that someone needs to kick it off and say what is wrong, and why it’s wrong. I’m really please that a lot, although a tiny proportion overall, of bloggers have joined in, including you.

    I’ve also read blogposts where people have complained. And that suggests to me that they are either too jaded to go to the forums, or they don’t even know about them.

    The positive side is that there have been some fairly quick responses. I’m still waiting for that appalling Lhs Sidebar to be removed, so I’ll go back at some point.

    Again, thanks for directing people to the thread.

  3. I still can’t get the WordPress app to work on my phone and a lot of people are complaining. Though more are happy with it, so it might be a phone version issue. Honestly, I barely notice a lot of changes unless it’s in the notifications, comments, and new posts. So I’m not a good one to go by here.

  4. I didn’t like the reader before, Chris, so I follow my fave blogs by email instead. I never use the reader, although I should check it out to see what’s going on.

  5. I was pretty vocal about it on my blog. I made it to the forums after they’d done a bit of fixing. I like the little link at the bottom of the threads. It will open posts directly to the site in a new window. I can live with that. I want people to see my site, not some watered down, homogenized site of WordPress’ choosing. I also want to see how others have decked out their blogs.

  6. I was a complainer and still am, however I’m figuring out how to do this without getting stuck on that awful “limbo” page. I go straight to the link every time (so it functions like the old reader). My only concern now is that the images don’t show consistently in my posts or the posts of others. This is particularly tough on visual artists. I’ll use your link to the forum, Chris. Thanks for this post…I was waiting for it 😀

  7. I generally follow by email, and don’t often use the reader. I was wondering where the trophy case went though. I hardly ever have a look at it, but now I have and it’s not in the same place, I’m obsessing about it. 🙂

  8. “But a comment from WordPress staff on the forum suggests that most people must be content or pleased with the changes to the Reader. That doesn’t appear to be the case from anyone I’ve interacted with (if you’re happy with the change, I’d like to hear from your perspective).”

    Unfortunately WordPress always say (people must be content with the changes or not that many bloggers are experiencing the problems as you are.) I’ve been on forums before where many were upset with either a change or something that was failing and that’s how they always answered making most bloggers quite furious. It’s the kind of reply you get from a politician. It means – they’ll do what they want regardless and make out it’s fine when it’s not.

    I don’t know anyone who is happy with these unnecessary changes.

    There’s one thing I’m left wondering about this recent change, that can only be more clear over time. If most bloggers are not visiting the actual blog/websites but reading through a kind of a preview version, will Google count those views as genuine visits to our blogs? If they don’t, over time our Google ratings may vastly change and blogs that are rated high by Google on certain posts at the present time might not be in a few months. If you were posting on a writers website for example – Google wouldn’t count the individual views per writers profile page quite as much as the overall website. I might be wrong on this, in fact I hope I am, because if it does turn out to be the case, it could be really bad news, especially for authors with books to sell.

    It would be more intelligent of WordPress to ask bloggers if they are happy or unhappy with certain aspects and then make changes. They say they do, but I don’t believe they ask. It’s the same on Tumblr, they improve things that don’t need improving, prettify the dashboard and leave the private message system, and various other failures unattended. No way to run a business! 😦

    • I believe the view counts if the post is read on its blog or by opening the interim window that shows the post, but if not clicked on within the reader the view won’t count. For views coming from search engines, this won’t have any impact.

      I also have yet to hear from anyone who prefers the new reader…

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