WordPress as CMS, is it tablet-ready?
—Too many hours at the desk – doctor shakes his head and sighs—
With Xoom in hand, I wonder whether sufficient tools with tablet capability are available to facilitate mobile practice of information architecture. (As you may have noticed if you’ve read my posts on Gliffy and Websort).
So today, I am stepping beyond the well-trodden discussion of the relative utility of WordPress as content management software and asking a much narrower question:
How well might WordPress.com serve for managing content via tablet?
For background you might like to read earlier posts on information architecture perspectives on content management and WordPress as CMS.
- For now, I am interested in the tools available to free “.com” WordPress-hosted sites. Self-hosted “.org” installs with their wider range of plug-ins probably manage more complex content, but I am not yet ready to dive in to that pool. (If you need, the difference is explained by WordPress)
- Also for now, I avoid a discussion of available themes’ suitability for tablet. My focus is how well I can manage content management functions with my tablet.
5 CMS tasks to test
Of the 10 things Paul Boag thinks should be considered in content management software, at least these five would be desirable to manage by tablet:
- Create, edit and structure pages and posts;
- Handle external assets: uploading and modifying metadata for images, documents and other files;
- Organise content and presentation;
- Manage user interaction features such as chat, forums, comments, ratings, forms and collecting responses;
- Manage multiple authors, roles and permissions;
Method: explore and discover
I am using my Xoom (an android tablet); the WordPress browser-based Dashboard; the WordPress for Android app; posting by email, and reverting to the PC when necessary.
As this is my first WordPress site, I am also still finding out what is possible at all with the tools. My eight years of blogging (! that long already?) has been with Blogger. So, no specific time assessments, only my subjective sense of convenience.
Although I began each test on the Xoom, I found myself reverting to the PC to tidy up and to further reflect on how it went…
- Tested “QuickPress” on Xoom tablet – unless it is a short, sweet, one-liner (brevity is not my first language) … save yourself the nightmare. The main dashboard editor is the same, even in html view. Aside: Looking back now at that post, I am amazed at how much easier brevity is when negative.
- Tested WordPress for Android – thankfully does not even try to be WYSIWIG, so blessedly easier, but even in drafts I would like to apply list and heading formatting without typing the html. Editing this post now in the app I have become additionally aware of the lack of undo, and word-find (ctrl-f)
- Eventually, I worked out that when one has a draft underway in the app, opening a preview from the dashboard in the browser is handy. Then I simply need to remember to save regularly, and which Xoom button does the switching.
- Tested upload documents to WordPress.com via Xoom – can upload by email with or without publishing.
- Tested WordPress Dashboard on Xoom and post by email – after pinch to expand it is easy to organise contents and user interaction.
Second last test: Presentation
Categories and tags are useful offerings and one of the principal IA contributions from this tool to the realm of content management software. However can incorporation of them into the site’s presentation be managed on a tablet?
Yes and no. I loved the ease of adding two menu items to my lonely “About”.
Not so for reorganising widgets for presentation – they simply could not be dragged and dropped.
Aside: This makes me wonder whether there is an accessibility issue (for visually impaired writers) with the interface even on the PC?
Final test, for now
WordPress rewards a Dashboard-published post with attractive encouragement to reach a new milestone and suggests some tags that might be relevant. Naturally I wonder whether I could apply those tags if I publish on the Xoom.
Unfortunately I kept forgetting to try it because my first test showed the sheer horror of trying to edit lengthy posts on the dashboard via the Xoom. So my last test will be to publish this post from the Xoom.
This post has been prepared in the WordPress for Android, and at the PC.
Answer: It depends
I would not want to be completely dependant upon this channel, but that might be as much to do with the nascent state of tablet functionality as a whole, as with the readiness of WordPress’ tools. It is a nuisance on tablets to switch between apps, so this affects the copy paste practices of linking, quoting, embedding. For content that uses little of that, the experience would probably be more seamless. However I have not head of any other robust CMS being any more tablet ready.
The ease of modifying tags and categories in both app and dashboard mean that changing labels as navigators can be handled from a tablet. That ease extends to altering menus. I doubt that the difficulty of making changes on a large scale would be any easier at a PC. In fact for large changes using a tablet somewhere comfortable might be more enjoyable.
Setting up a custom menu is also easily managed on the dashboard by tablet. Presentational/navigational changes involving widgets will, for now, take the IA back to the PC, unless we phone it in to an assistant 🙂 .
It is worth playing
My WordPress for Android test began with a quote from Matt Mullenweg … teasing about imminent simplifications to the Dashboard, geared to tablet users. I look forward to it. The app updated a couple of times since I installed it. The experience seems likely to improve.
Experienced WordPressers: what have you found?
Earlier writers on the topic had not focussed on the information architectural perspectives, and were focussed on the app:
- Tomislav Bilic at inchoo in 2011 was most impressed in his post WordPress for Android to be able to manage comments
- Jordan Austin at groovyPost in 2010 advised how to Manage WordPress from your Android Device – Screenshot Tour (this page is screenshot heavy and loads slowly)
- Admin, at Apps4U (with a lovely styled site) if disappointingly undated, wrote: Manage Your WordPress Blog with Free Android App! (the exclamation mark is theirs 🙂 and did include tablets)