3.8 Menu Structure

Another recent change in the upcoming 3.8 release is the new admin menu structure. This was something that we (Dan Milward, Jane Wells and John James Jacoby) decided to do to ensure that our Plugin was aligned as closely with WordPress User Interface as possible. Heres to best practices!!

And here is what JJJ has to say about the new menu system;

The WordPress administration menus are made up of three main areas: The Dashboard, Objects, and Options. In WP e-Commerce 3.8, we’ve moved the admin menu items around a bit to help keep in alignment with this workflow.

The reason for this change is to help blend WP e-Commerce seamlessly into WordPress, so it feels like 1 complete platform rather than 2 separate ones working together. It also makes it easy to narrow down exactly what it is you’re trying to do, and concentrate on that specific task.

Products are now their own top level menu, and only contain the product specific information they require; Store wide notifications and information are located in your Dashboard; and Store settings and Marketing options are tucked in with the rest of your WordPress Settings.

We’d love to know what you think. As a community we have already decided to move the Marketing Menu further back up theย hierarchyย by giving it its own menu box, this was decided on the basis that coupons are standalone objects as opposed to them being a setting. See, nothing is set in stone. We’re flexible. But we like common sense.

So let us know your thoughts. What would you do differently? Or if you’re happy with the new look then tell us, we love warm fuzzies just as much as the next Plugin developer does ๐Ÿ˜‰

45 responses... add one

Looks like excellent changes to me. Now quit teasing and launch it! j/k …thanks for all the hard work. I look forward to utilizing all the new features in 3.8.

I don’t like this, I think it’s too confusing to have things all over the place. In my opinion it’s much more simple to have it all under one menu. I think this would confuse my clients who aren’t very computer literate.

i agree. as a novice e-commerce admin, having it all in one place has been hugely helpful in getting my first store launched. The thing with plugins is that you dont know where they are hiding all of the settings and when you have a major piece like a store it’s nice having it together instead of wondering if you are just missing something and clicking through every single menu looking for some hidden bit. please keep it together!

I also agree. Scattering about the settings just doesn’t even make sense.

What possible good can come from making something MORE difficult to use?

It seems that coders have gone quite mad these days. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. And, where did end user testing go? I’d bet you anything that a new users to the plugin would rather have all options grouped together rather than scattered about in the WordPress settings.

This is a plugin. It is not WordPress and should not attempt to embed itself into the WordPress menus like this.

Haven’t you people figured it out yet? Simple sells.

While for me personally I really like it how it integrates with WordPress using these new menus, I do however have to agree with @citrine about how this will confuse my clients. Maybe a good solution would be an option to change this or a septate plugin to allow the different menu’s.

Cannot wait until 2.8 is released though. Keep up the good work!

I agree with citrine as well. I design mostly for other people who are novices at wordpress. Often too, it will be an established blog that someone will want to add a store to. So having all ecommerce related tools and settings under one tiny roof is a huge help. Scattering it around like this just makes it harder to explain to the user.

Thanks for the feedback thus far. I think making a Plugin that lets people choose how their menu’s look would be cool. We’ll see… we’ll see…

Actually my first response was “oh no this is / is going to be confusing” but then after a couple of minutes I was like… mmm nice and it all just oddly started to feel more WordPressy to me – it’ll be like this in the beta so people will be able to experience this soon.

I would definitely put the “marketing” settings in with the products because that is also an ongoing operational function and not a systems settings.

I love the new menu structure, but I agree that Marketing should be moved to Products.

By the way, did you know that pagination in your blog is broken? All pages show exactly the same posts ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanks Sproc. Marketing will defiantly get its own menu – probably underneath products. This is because a coupon isn’t strictly speaking a product. I’m sure

We’re so busy working on 3.8 we havent fixed our own blog. I’m ashamed. We’ll try to fit it in today – always something to do around here I tell ya…

Actually I like it!

I think we all find it confusing at first, but that’s only because we’re used to how things are at present. But if we considering a new user who’s new to WordPress and e-Commerce, I’m sure this is making a lot of sense.

Off topic:
Any news on the new Members and Capabilities plugin? Mychelle was kind enough to give me a preview, and I really like it… but recurring payments aren’t working properly. Do you know anything about this, or when a fix is available?

Talk to Michelle mate. You’ve got her details no doubt – I’m pretty sure Recurring billing only works for Authorize.net and Paypal though. Message her… umm and ask her to let me know once you’ve made contact ๐Ÿ™‚

I would definitely put the โ€œmarketingโ€ settings in with the products because that is also an ongoing operational function and not a systems settings. (2)

Moving the store settings to the settings section makes complete sense (this is the way most other smaller plugins do things) – and I agree with Dan that moving Coupons out of settings to somewhere more prominent makes more sense.

This all looks great and I think is a good stepping stone towards allowing greater control over roles and what users can do – for example, it would be great if you could allow an editor to manage products but not change any settings…

But that’s a consideration for a future release, push on with… 3.8 first ๐Ÿ™‚

PS. The 3.8 store admin is looking and working great

I think you have a good idea, But….. having been developing WP sites for a few years now, thee are many, Many different combinations of plugins that can occur. For Example, what if some plugin comes along and is a great plugin, but it somehow sticks its menu in the Settings and it gets placed between your Store and Marketing links? What if WP gets the idea to change their structure or structure order? You would be forced to make an update. What about users that use the admin menu plugin that modifies the tabs differently? Will your answer be – well, don’t use that other plugin if you want the store to work?

Personally, I run about a dozen plugins, and I prefer to have each plugin in its own custom tab, rather than merged in WP tabs. Why? Because each plugin developer comes up with the same idea – place their plugin in the place that they think is relevant. 12 plugins with 12 developers having the Me First attitude, and it looks like jumbles to the end user.

If you go this route, I suggest that you make 2 files exclusive for menus. MenuOld.php and MenuNew.php. That way we developers can offer both solutions to our clients, rather than having to spend time instructing clients on a new way of doing things that doesn’t make sense to them.

BTW – other major plugins have gotten away from including their tabs in WP tabs and created their custom tab for this very reason. You were on target before, seems like you are going backwards against what other plugin developers are doing.

In your update, I also hope you solve the api key issue on the gold cart. Google Maps allows you to activate just the domain.com rather than the http://www.domain.com. By using the former domain registration, you are allowed to have one api key for multiple subdomains. This would seem more important of a fix then moving menus, as you actually make money selling upgrades. Just my dimes worth….

I fully agree with scottiedogdave as well.
Can’t wait to see the 3.8 released ๐Ÿ˜‰
Thanks for all the efforts you are putting in guys.

No. But extending personalization and making it into a standalone, yet more powerful Plugin, is something we’re considering. What additional inputs would you like (no guarantees – but its useful for us too know).

I don’t know if this has been addressed already or not, but I second the thought that it would be excellent if the personalization options were expanded. In fact, I have a need for that right now. It would be beautiful if the personalization options worked like Variations, so that you can add as many as you like. My ideal situation would be one in which you can could choose the input type (text or textarea), choose the label for the field, add the value, and this information could be searchable in the purchase logs. I know this is very specific (to the project i’m working on right now) but I know other people could use this functionality. I’d be willing to pay or donate for this ability, whether it be in the core or a plugin that someone wants to develop. (If so, hit me up: derek@derekweathersbee.com)

I’ve recently started work on a new ecommerce site using WP for the first time (I’m using the Shopfront theme by wordpressart) and all my items require personalization details to be entered by the customer. I’ve found a problem where the customer is able to ‘add to cart’ from the category page where there is no personalization input box, the box only seems to show up when (or if) the customer clicks on the item title and enters the individual item page so if they choose to add to cart from the category page they completely miss the opportunity to personalize! Anyone have any idea how I can solve this? Many thanks.

Its not currently possible – the functionality doesnt exist. But I’m pretty sure that you could find a developer in the consultants page. My own thoughts are that we create a new Personilization Plugin but it probably won’t happen right away. Itd be cool if somebody wrote this for us ๐Ÿ™‚

One thing I am missing, is a customer page in the backend.
So if a customer calls about a sales order, or something else, I will be able to lookup the customer and see his/hers orders/transactions etc.

Somehow this customer view, has never developed for E-commerce. And that is one improvement to the menu I would like to see.

I’ve been thinking about this too. I’m not sure where it will go yet – but probably in keeping with the WordPres UI. I suspect we’ll be integrating with users + roles more very soon, in the meantime though people can search their purchase logs using the search form.

I like that you’re thinking about this integration. My only concern would be granular permissions. If I wanted to create permissions using a plugin or some kind so employees or bloggers are *not* allowed to see anything ecommerce related, would I still be able to do that?? Probably, I guess I’ll just have to try it when it comes out! ๐Ÿ™‚

Your indepth thoughts and ideas on this would be really helpful. So far its just a heading on a whiteboard – we’re going to be asking the community soon to help us flesh this concept out.

Regarding the user roles, here are some random thoughts about stratifying the roles: The lowest being order processing and shipping, then adding/modifying products, then report processing/$totals/accounting downloads, then settings/export/everything/superadmin. Maybe the most flexible would be something like how BackWPup has set up their backup jobs where you aren’t just limited to predefined backup jobs–you create and name your own jobs and edit the details for each one. So here, you’d maybe ship with some default user capability groupings (order processing, product & inventory management, accounting & reports, super admin). But you can also refine specifically what permissions are granted to each grouping. Then I suppose via some user roles or capabilities plugin, you could then assign the detailed capability level that you defined to the users that we want to have those roles. That’d be super flexible. There wouldn’t be anything you couldn’t do and it could expand to include more granular access definitions over time as you have time. Albeit…the disclaimer is I haven’t played with user management plugins enough to really think through the UI.

One thing is for sure, I definitely want to prevent dollar totals from being certain people such as order processing or product managing employees.

I really like that you want to make it the ‘core’ ecommerce plugin. That statement makes me stick around here. I hope you’re playing with magento while getting inspiration for this. That’d be a good guide. My beef with magento is two fold-it’s friggin slow (hurts conversions) and not perfectly integrated with wordpress from the get go (logins; random product widgets, discounted products; etc). I LOVEEE the idea of buddypress integration (not that other users see their purchases–kind of creepy IMO, Just *solid* user account integration would be amazing. (That will be a tough one. Because profiles are public. Maybe a link or area to ‘my secure store account’ for logged in users or something.) Other than that, I’d love to see anything that can automate order processing. And maybe even a plugin to integrate with Fulfillment by Amazon drop shipping–in the distant future. The other items, buddypress and user roles are certainly much more important.

Whoa. I’ll restrain myself next time. ๐Ÿ™‚

I spent the night trying out a bunch of different e-commerce solt’s. Really loving this plugin.

After thinking about it, I don’t think I like the separated interface. Adding stats into the main dashboard display itself is cool. I hope you still keep a sales or sales manager tab b/c that workflow is super important to an ecommerce plugin. And moving the settings away seems like it might not be a good idea in the long run. The more we use WordPress as a CMS with LOTS of different features & big sections, the better I think it is to have all ecommerce (or whatever) stuff grouped together. It’d get confusing if I had to go to Settings > and look through many different plugins that put their different settings in there. It’s just clearer in my mind to go to Store > Settings.

This is sweet. I can’t wait to play with it some more.

Its possible that we’ll write a Plugin that puts everything back in the one menu box. That said we’ve been working really close with some of the core contributors to WP on this and they are really strong advocates of splitting things up. I think that once we’ve had a beta out there for a few weeks we’ll start asking for feedback – a week sounds about right. I don’t really want people to form an opinion after 5 minutes and then comment again after a week saying they have changed their mind… we think it deserves a good chance.

I have one particular site where I havent even looked at the Shop Settings for almost 2 years – so from that point of view I actually like having a tidier menu for products. We’ll see… We’ll see….

My $0.02 is that you NAILED the new menu structure!

Settings etc are hidden away (where they should be โ€” once a site is set up how often do you want to mess with those settings?) but the stuff you actually use frequently โ€” ie. products โ€” has it’s own top-level menu!

And Sales being under the Dashboard menu โ€” total sense!

As a designer who places emphasis on usability, the big decision is often what options NOT to give users.
And I think you’ve got the activity hierarchy (Products, then Sales…) pretty darn close to perfect.

I suspect most of the criticisms about the changes are based around familiarity. To any new user the new menu structure will make a lot of sense.
Criticisms about it getting confusing when there are lots of other plugins are fair, but you’d need to be using a LOT of plugins to have any trouble.

Cheers for the hard work!

I’m cooking in code for my Plugins to detect 3.8 and make use of the new menu structure, Plugins that perform actions like Reports attach to the Store menu while Plugins that control Plugin settings attach to Settings. In time I’d like to make better use of WP e-Commerce Settings pages like Presentation and other tabs.

I have to say I think it is a really bad idea from a usability point of view.

I understand that you’re working with WP core folks and that’s cool, but how many of them have clients or themselves run stores using WP e-Commerce. You need to hear it from folks who use it and have clients that use it that this is a b.a.d idea. It might work if WP e-Commerce were the only plugin that would be in use on a site, but it’s not. What you’re going to do is slow down the amount of time it takes to move withing the WP e-Commerce portion of WordPress. I for one am near begging you to bag this idea, and it is too late to bag it then please roll out the plugin that groups them all together at the same time you roll out 3.8.

I think from a USERS point of view including Store & Marketing settings in the main WP Settings panel makes much more sense and I can see why the WP Team prefer this.

I think people saying don’t split things are looking it from their own (developers) point of view too much (Or simply sticking to what they’re used to.)

You need to see the finished (client delivered) website and back-end as a cohesive single thing rather than a mixture of WP & plugins etc. I would guess most clients will not differentiate between plugins or how a site has been built at all. (Unless told otherwise) It may be how *developers* think about and build the site but for an end-user they log-on and its all just one single website, with one single Admin area.

If they want to add/edit a post they click on ‘Post’ same goes for ‘Page’ – or if they have any Custom Posts the same deal applies – (ie click ‘CDs’ to add/edit CD’s etc.) However the settings for all these and everything else are all in the main WP Settings panel.

Its much more confusing for a client to be told ‘Settings are in the Settings panel, except this bit of your site, oh and that bit – oh and the e-commerce is separate too’ .

Imagine if Photoshop/Word etc had 27 option/preference panels split up throughout the navigation menus because each part of the development team wanted to keep their relevant options/settings together with their functions? Crazy-Town – and definitely NOT good useability!!

Besides that, once the site is set-up how often is a client going to be using these (settings) panels? If the answer is ‘a lot’ I would argue that it’s whatever the specific functionality is that needs moving rather than the entire Settings panel itself.

respectfully disagree though not entirely. i just think it should be an option one way or the other. running a store and running a blog are fairly opposite each other. the store settings, while they can be integrated, are so complicated and involved that it’s really a site unto itself in a lot of cases and can benefit from not being confused or jumbled up with blog stuff. that said, i can see how having it parsed out could be helpful for someone who sort of gets the big picture of it all.

I am looking at this from a USER’S point of view – my own. And, I must humbly object to your points.

First, people do resist change. They do so for a reason. They like the familiar because they don’t have to learn something new just to get the same basic results. If the changes that they must learn are justified by a much larger benefit, they will usually welcome the changes. Otherwise, it is just one more thing to add to their already cluttered, harried lives. Resistance to change allows people to do so more tings in a day than would be possible if things changed frequently for no good reason. Change for change’s sake is poor design and will harm adoption of the plugin.

“You need to see the finished (client delivered) website and back-end as a cohesive single thing rather than a mixture of WP & plugins etc.” I could not disagree with you more. Clients deserve to know what components are WP and which are plugins. It makes maintaining a site easier if they know what they can and cannot turn off without adversely affecting the operation of the site. It also makes maintaining and learning WP and plugins easier if they are not constantly distracted by items crammed into WP in various places.

Like it or not, the WP site is the most important thing to a client, not an individual plugin (or even a set of them).

Clients as admins always want to know about and tweak their sites. They like to play with the site. And, why shouldn’t they? It is their site. Making this more difficult by continually jumping from menu area to menu area is not only confusing for them but it is downright not user friendly. I’ve fired developers for much less.

I also disagree about the confusing part being the separation of e-commerce and WP. If your client studies up on WP (and they should if they are going to run their site on it), they will understand the WP menu structure. They will also understand that adding e-commerce abilities to WP means adding plugins for additional functionality. But, when they go to the admin panels to work on their store, the menu items for the store are now scattered across 3 different areas of WordPress. That makes no sense at all.

When you were in school, you were probably taught how to develop an outline. Usually you learn this as a precursor to writing stories in elementary school. Application menus are just like those outlines. You group similar things together beneath parent objects. In this case, we have Store, Marketing, Store Sales, Store Upgrades, Products, Categories, and Variations. All of these things have a single theme in common…e-commerce (or the store). Therefore, they should be logically grouped together under such a heading.

With all other plugins grouping their related panels, and with WP doing the same, this plugin will be the odd man out and will not seem coherent or professional to many users (including myself).

Your Photoshop analogy does nto hold water. The Photoshop team is just that…a team. They develop one product. But, Photoshop plugins do NOT typicaly integrate into Photoshop menus. They have their own little menu. PS users expect that now. Any PS Plugin that broke ranks with this would seem odd, out of place and would be less preferred than plugins that keep things simple and organized in the way that users have come to expect.

“Besides that, once the site is set-up how often is a client going to be using these (settings) panels?” Quite a few of us develop site to turn over to the clents for their use. We do not do daily maintenance on sites, and have no wish to do so. So, IMHO, this pluin needs to remain true to the expectations of WP users and group all of its functionality under a main heading instead of scattered about the WP house.

And, an opportunity to drill the name of the plugin into the minds and heats of people is lost with this scheme. IF they see the name of the plugin every time they go to the admin panel of WP, and if they look for the name of the plugin every time they go to administer the store or products, they remember it more and recommend it more.

That doesn’t even get into the many, many times the name of the plugin would be mentioned in forums discussing where to go to make changes to the store or products that will be missed because they now type Settings>Marketing instead of GetShopped>Marketing when assisting someone with the plugin. That’s one hell of a thing to give up seeing as how search engines will place GetShopped lower because of the generic placement of the menu items.

Really…did you guys think about this at all?

When are you going to allow new users to register on the support forums, have been trying to register for 2 weeks now with no luck. The problem is that I never recieve any e-mail with a password in after trying to register, although your system does retain my e-mail address as it throws up a warning that the address is already registered if I try to register again, I check my inbox and spam for the reg e-mail nut it’s never there.

I have answers to offer after a quite frustrating time working out how to do things that many are asking about on the forums but they aren’t getting answers.

Also frustrated by the fact that my client is entited to a priority support after purchasing the gold cart upgrade, but without being able to register on the forums they are not able to ask anything are they?

Please get this fixed, lot’s of us who aren’t already in need it!

Maybe this is written in the wrong place, but don’t direct me to the support forums please because I can’t gain access to ask this question there can I.

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