Deprecate the Widgets screen in favour of the Customizer (CP v2 or later)

I would like to propose the deprecation of the Appearance > Widgets screen in favor of the Customizer > Widgets Panel.

In MHO the screen is counter intuitive and counter productive for what it does. My main reason for the proposal is that many themes are moving away from the typical “Sidebar” to what I call Widgetized Locations and the Customizer handles the return of available locations (per template) instead of the whole lot in one place.

Alternatively link and focus the submenu to the Customizer Panel just like how the Header and Background (where a theme supports them) are linked.

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From my own perspective as a developer who codes, the Customizer is a step backwards in ease of development, and I turn it off in every site I build.

The Customizer also (IMHO) makes it much easier for a client to inadvertently mess a site up completely.

I wouldn’t use a CMS where the Customizer was the only way to achieve certain development goals.

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Customizer is absolutely horrible. I’ve been amending my theme to take bits out of it.

The Widget page allows easy setup of sidebars and widget areas,

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I also do vastly prefer widgets screen over customizer. I dont work with themes a lot, and really only use the customizer to set a logo and favicon, so I might not be the expert. But I think the widgets screen serves its purpose well enough.

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Customizer is the second worst invention in WP, just after Gutenberg.

Agree, that the UI of Widgets menu have many problems, and the big ones. But widgets are blocks implemented right and I see very bright future of them.

In CP v2 or v3 i hope to see capabilities to post a widget not only in sidebars or after post, but anywhere in the page or post. Including in the middle of the text. (Via shortcode? An additional menu item on TinyMCE?) Every item can be presented as a widget and can be placed anywhere. Including TinyMCE widget.

For example, “add social icons after post” plugin should generate just a customizable widget which can be placed anywhere, including right after the post. And if you have another plugin (author box, for example) you can easily change the order they appear after a post. Now it is a nightmare.

Creating capabilities like “New widgets area anywhere in the website” or similar have limits only of our fantasy.

Widgets menu area is the very useful to manage widgets, customize them. Customizer is useful only for very inexperienced users, who want sacrifice productivity for more beginner-friendly UI.

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I see some strong points of views, valid and totally respected :slight_smile:

But, I still think that the Customizer is an under valued part of the platform and set up correctly via a theme/plugin it can also be very powerful for end users.

I guess I might have kinda shed my “Developer Cap” and think more like an end user these days? Maybe I should get back to more coding and put out a proof of concept to gauge the usability of the idea :wink:

@LinasSimonis some ideas well worth exploring and most are doable.

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I completely agree with this. In fact, it was when the Customizer was introduced that I began to think it was time to fork WordPress.

I don’t think it’s even beginner-friendly. There’s so much clicking through to find anything, the default width is ridiculously narrow, and good luck if you don’t have great eyesight! Oh, and the preview seems only to work with a following wind.

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This is what kills me. Clicking is the surest sign of bad UI.

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If we are to judge by clicks then the entire backend UI could be classed as terrible. On average it takes 3 clicks to perform an action and adding a widget via either the Widgets screen or the Customizer takes the same amount of clicks (3 to 4).

Only if you know where to click, what, usually, is not the case in the Customizer.

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The Customizer is highly customizable in itself. For example and in terms of Widgets I can create a sidebar in a theme, manipulate the Widgets link so that when clicked it lands you right inside the Widgets Section of the customizer ready for you to populate ~ that is 1 click to enter and your 2nd click is the “Add a widget” button.

I could further manipulate the functionality so that specific widget areas are placed within their related Panels in the Customizer. So a Header Widget area section inside the Header Panel, a footer one in the Footer Panel and so on, they don’t all have to live in the Widgets Panel. And there’s the auto focus callback to boot too :wink:

Like I wrote before, the Customizer is a really powerful module of the platform and can be further enhanced to accommodate almost any action you would do in the backend but centralized - Like adding menus, posts and widgets as well as editing them including changing the template and post metas e.t.c…The click factor can be improved upon with a little JS trickery so a Panel and/or Section would open on hover intent :slight_smile:

No-body is denying that Customizer is powerful, so are atomic bombs, just that they are bad news in the wrong hands.
When I create a website it is to a design (I don’t design, kid with crayons level) agreed with the client. What is not needed is the, possibly colour blind, office salesman with worse design appreciation then me, deciding to brighten up the site.
I now hide/disable as many “dangerous” features as I can.
When I create a site for a client it is a product, like a car, customization should be limited to steering wheel cover or fluffy dice, not adding spoilers or changing the braking system.
If it is somebody styling their own site, customizer is possibly useful but in my view it should be a plugin not core.

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Not everybody designs sites for specific clients, some of us create software products, whether they are plugins, themes or some sort of SAAS.

For most tasks that require visual feedback customizer is king. It fails when you actually have an existing plan that you want to follow and do not actually need the experimentation phase the customizer offers, in which case its bad UX is just in the way.

I assume that even as a developer for a specific site, it is easier to have a live demo of different color options that you can present to the client instead of changing CSS files for each iteration.

Customizer is something that need to be fixed, not removed.

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It’s hilarious to me that I decided to come look at ClassicPress because I don’t like what I see in Phase 2 of Gutenberg, and the first post I read is about removing the Widgets screen! That’s the top reason I don’t like Phase 2 – they are making the Widget screen into a place to mess with blocks!

I much prefer the existing Widgets screen to the Customizer Widgets. You can see all at once, you can see the Inactive Widgets (and use them), you can move widgets from one widget area to another, you can make widget changes without waiting for the slow Customizer to load. All four of those things are impossible from Customizer.
I don’t even see much wrong with the Widget screen. The arrows to collapse the widget list should be visible all the time, but that’s pretty minor.

I agree with this, and built a theme based on it, if you want to check it out. Part of the problem I had with it was getting default widgets into widget areas (not hard coded output, actual widgets). That’s nothing to do with the Widgets screen, but it shows a hole in functional usage of widgets.

Instead of deprecating a very useful screen, why not fix the minor problems?

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Hi @joyously – oh, the irony – too funny!

…and welcome. :slight_smile:

The forums provide a nice place to throw ideas out there and gauge interest without the “formality” of creating an official petition. I think that’s what @zulfgani was doing here. Judging by the commentary, it seems there’s not much support for deprecating the widget screen.

Completely agree – I also find it painful to work in a skinny little fraction of the screen.

Again, totally agree. Only discovered these 2 sections were collapsible by accident…but, what a handy feature!

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Yes, that is the point of this thread :slight_smile:

Also getting and reading the feedback (both for and against) gives me a better understanding for my own design workflow when creating new themes/plugins.

With regards to my proposal the case can be argued both ways but, at the end of the day it’s the majority that win and that’s the beauty of ClassicPress Democracy :wink:

BTW, welcome to this side of the pond @joyously :slight_smile:

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16 posts were split to a new topic: How to improve the widgets screen

Customizer doesn’t even work right half the time for me. Sometimes it’ll freeze, or not go to pages when I click on them. Changes don’t always show up until I save, which defeats the purpose of the Customizer.

And if they’re turning the Widget screen into more of this–and getting rid of the features I depend on because Customizer never includes my existing widgets when I change themes–Yeah, ClassicPress is a better place to be. :open_mouth:

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I find this to more a fault of the theme and/plugins on how they handle JS & the transport method when implementing their settings/controls.

The proposal was more to “move” rather than “remove” ~ given the consensus, I’ve been overruled :slight_smile:

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Well, you could say it is the fault of themes/plugins implementing the Customizer… OR you could say it is a design fault of the Customizer API being made ridiculously over-complex in the first place, making it extremely time-consuming and difficult to work with. Personally found it a complete nightmare to integrate with my theme, I’m sure there are many who would have given up because of time constraints, or not quite managed to get the “live preview” part working completely.

But as far as widgets go, having a “create widgets anywhere” functionality is definitely a great idea. Being able to insert them into content via button/shortcodes is also a necessity. And preferably by having a custom post type for widgets so they can be made re-useable (similar to blocks)… That way they could be found and managed more easily also.

Worth noting that the current “widgets” page is a bit of a misnomer, it is really a “sidebar” or “widget area” screen… If there were a widget management page for re-useable widgets it would need to be distinguished from the existing sidebar widgets screen to keep things easier to find. A persistent message at the top of each screen might help to direct to the other one so no one gets lost.

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