WordPress Reader Changes—Do they know how you feel?

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

WORDPRESS READER CHANGES

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.

DOES WORDPRESS KNOW HOW READERS FEEL?

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).

https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/reader-view?

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.

IS IT FUNCTIONAL?

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.

WHERE IS THE VISUAL APPEAL?

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.

CUSTOMIZATION?

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.

ALTERNATIVES

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.

AT LEAST THEY’RE LISTENING

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 LOVE WORDPRESS

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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More changes to the WordPress Reader…

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

WORDPRESS READER UPDATE

It looks like the WordPress reader is changing again.

I like scrolling through my WordPress reader to check out recent posts from blogs that I follow. I spend time every day reading several posts.

It’s always a shock to the system when the layout or functionality of the WordPress reader changes.

Here are a few things I notice with the current WordPress reader update:

  • Who wrote the post? I must really squint to see who the blogger is. Is this good or bad? It’s easy to fall into the habit of looking for your favorite bloggers, sometimes ignoring other posts. Will this help focus more on what looks interesting than who wrote it? But there are some magical bloggers, no matter what they write, we know it’s going to be worth a read, and we get excited when we see their posts.
  • Presently, if you proceed to click on a post that you’re not sure if you want to read in its entirety, the reader screen opens full screen, rather than in a window. And once it’s opened, the options have moved around and changed. I really don’t like this; it lacks visual appeal, and it’s hard to find any options. Tip: Skip the middle man. Click the link just under where it says There’s More. This will save you a click and you can read the post on the actual website instead of in your reader.
  • The word count was replaced with estimated reading time, like 20 sec read or 3 min read.
  • Visually, the layout has changed, too. Maybe it’s more mobile friendly. But it looks ridiculous on my very large monitor, with huge empty sidebar areas.

How do you feel about the WordPress reader changes?

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.