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Dear WordPress: You’re a blogging service. Don’t be so clever.

September 18, 2011

This morning I was reading Scott Andersen’s blog on my iPad and wanted to make a comment. As I’ve said before, the iPad is a greta consumption device. I have several newsfeed readers that I use depending on my mood; today it was FlipBook.

After trying unsuccessfully to navigate a bizarre presentation format, I decided that maybe I had to open the blog in a browser rather than trying to do it in the limited window that FlipBook provides. So I tried that and had the same experience. So I thought that Scott was being too clever in his blog design. Sensing a topic for my own blog, I switched to my blog (in the Atomic Web browser) and started to write. And I couldn’t. The text didn’t display, the interface was difficult to navigate… it was a complete mess.

After playing around with this a bit (because I didn’t make the design changes that WordPress was showing me) I realized that WordPress, in a misguided effort to “optimize” their site for the iPad, had created this monster with animated page flips and different background colors, and then arbitrarily applied it to their hosted blogs. And while the pages are almost attractive, the site takes far longer to load on my lowly iPad, and is completely unusable once I’m there. I can’t leave a comment, I can’t post, and most importantly, I CAN’T TURN IT OFF.

Of course there is a very usable iPad client app for WordPress, and that’s what I am using right now. But apps for a web-based service should merely be a convenience, not a necessity. In trying to copy Flipbook’s page-based graphics-focused look they’ve made their site pretty much unusable. And that’s a shame, ‘cuz I hate changing blogging services.

So here are the lessons learned today.

1. Pretty does not equal usable.
2. Make sure you know where the fault lies before getting mad.

…jeff

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