Just trying something out

May 26th, 2013 16 comments

I decided that one of the [many] reasons why I don’t post to my blog regularly is that the tool I’ve been using to do it (WordPress) is just not very welcoming.

Getting Things Done coverIt’s kind of like what David Allen says about items on your to-do list: If you experience a sense of dread just reading them, you’re not very likely to want to start doing them. (One of his primary rules automatically makes them friendlier: Every item on your Next Actions list should be just that—the very next, and usually very small, action that you need to take to further the goal, not the whole goal itself. So rather than “Get car fixed” you’d put “Look up mechanic’s phone number” which feels much less tiring, and hence much more doable.)

In the same sense, I realized that I’ve always approached opening up the native WordPress editor with a sense of dread. It just always feels like I’m wading through a swamp in a pair of hip boots that are way too large: everything about it feels kind of cumbersome. So I decided to look around for some way to write blog posts that felt friendlier.

Right now, I’m giving Windows Live Writer a spin. Please ignore any mild sense of vertigo you may experience. [Hopefully] it’ll only be temporary.

UPDATE  Well, that went pretty well, all things considered. The vote isn’t in yet on any unintended consequences, but it was certainly more fun than working in the WordPress editor. Curiously, it didn’t preview the post in the fonts used on my site (as advertised), but I have to imagine that may be because I tinkered with the WordPress theme that I use quite a bit. We’ll see.

imageUPDATE 2  While googling to find out if I could make edits outside of Live Writer (e.g. via the WordPress app on my iPhone) and still have Live Writer stay in sync, I discovered that the reason I wasn’t seeing WYSIWYG fonts from my theme was that I hadn’t noticed the Preview tab at the bottom of the screen. (The word “Preview” was also gray, BTW.) It’s not like I hadn’t looked for it, but the status bar at the bottom of a window isn’t one of the places where I usually look for important things.

UPDATE 3  Gosh, I really like this. It’s about a thousand times better than using WordPress itself. Essentially, it’s like writing in Word (which I’ve used forever), only it has a Publish button that knows how to speak to WordPress. Maybe I’ll actually start blogging after all.

Categories: Usability
  1. May 26th, 2013 at 18:01 | #1

    Glad that you decided to stick with your blog on WordPress, after all. I am pretty much used to write the blog posts in HTML directly, because I kinda hate visual editors. They always miss a spot or insert an extra space or line. Always.

    I read your first book and just started the second one. Usability is a bit hard nut to crack, actually. In any case, I am eager to see other blog posts and, maybe, some small tips and tricks from time to time :D

    • Steve Krug
      May 26th, 2013 at 18:59 | #2

      I started my work life as a typesetter, so while I understand the lure of code-controlled formatting (HTML), I also *love* good visual editors. And the WordPress native editor is the worst of both worlds: buggy, slow, prone to data loss, etc., etc. So coming across Live Writer (I can’t believe I never heard about it before) is like finally finding a pair of shoes that fit.

      I’ll see what I can do about providing the occasional tip and trick. Thanks.

  2. May 27th, 2013 at 00:43 | #3

    Thank you. I have this blog in my feed reader (Feedly, too bad Google Reader is going away) for some time, so I’ll be waiting for your next posts :D

  3. May 28th, 2013 at 12:34 | #4

    I’ve been a huge fan of yours for a long time. I’m an avid WordPress enthusiast, but I agree that the editor has always left something to be desired (as do most web text editors). Ironically, I noticed this post while copying the site URL onto the resources page of a presentation I’m giving tonight…to a WordPress meetup group!

    One resource that has eased the process for me recently is Draft (https://draftin.com/). It is still very new, but the more I use it the more I like it. In fact, I’m writing this comment in it!

  4. Steve Krug
    May 28th, 2013 at 13:04 | #5

    @Monte Martin

    Thanks! I’m always reminded of what Groucho Marx said: “If it gets any hotter in here, I could use a big fan.”

    Draft actually looks like a pretty cool tool. I liked what the author had to say:

    “Draft isn’t just an online editor. My goal is to make us better writers by investigating the tasks we have as writers and making those tasks simpler and easier.”

    I think I’ll stick with my new best friend Live Writer for a little while, then give Draft a try. The first thing that comes to mind is using it to draft my tweets, which often go through many revisions as I try to squeeze them into a size 140 shoe. The only problem is that I’m assuming it wouldn’t be able to calculate how many characters my URLs would eat up, unless I had pre-shrunk them. (I still can’t follow what Twitter does with URLs.)

  5. May 28th, 2013 at 15:26 | #6

    Thanks for the useful post and the swell freebies (that “What a Therapist Would Say” will help me in *all kinds* of usability relationships.)

    And with as much as I adore your rare emails I can not imagine that I didn’t know you had this blog! Delighted to find and subscribe and learn from you (and your commenters [thanks, Monte!]) at whatever schedule to deign to infotain us, via whichever tools ‘fit your feet’ at the time.

    Big fan no matter the temp,

  6. Steve Krug
    May 28th, 2013 at 16:08 | #7


    Thanks, GP. The blog has been a pretty well-kept secret, mainly because I just haven’t posted very much. Hoping to turn that around. I really appreciate the support.

  7. William Boehm
    May 28th, 2013 at 17:48 | #8

    Can’t find coverage for my social imperative. Live Writer for iOS ?

  8. Steve Krug
    May 28th, 2013 at 18:21 | #9

    @William Boehm
    OK, I have to admit it: even after looking up “social imperative” (I’ve been out of college for a lonnnnnng time), I still couldn’t figure out that first sentence.

    Live Writer–being from Microsoft–is Windows only.

    When I was reading up on it, I came across a number of recommendations for comparable Mac programs (which I promptly forgot, since my only Mac is a Mac Plus that I bought to run a piece of software that was Mac-only, accessing it from my PC via VNC). It would be interesting if there was something comparable for iOS for my iPhone and iPad.

    But, of course, you were probably kidding, and now I just look kind of foolish.

  9. Nick Burman
    June 24th, 2013 at 07:10 | #10

    Just when I thought I’d give it a try, you killed all enthusiasm and curiosity with just five words – “it’s like writing in Word”. Ugh.

  10. Steve Krug
    June 24th, 2013 at 14:49 | #11

    Really? Gosh, I’ve used Word since it was a pup (Windows 3.0, I think), and it does whatever I ask it to. It’s hard for me to imagine wirting in anything else–having tried almost everything else at some point. What can’t you stand about it?

  11. July 20th, 2013 at 13:56 | #12

    You might want to try BlogJet http://www.codingrobots.com/blogjet/
    I have been told it’s a great way to post to your blog, offline.
    And don’t kill me but here is a link to the big list of all the “Web Clients” from the WordPress forum: http://codex.wordpress.org/Weblog_Client
    I hope this helps :)

    • Steve Krug
      July 20th, 2013 at 15:35 | #13

      Thanks, Mike. In the grand tradition of satisficing, since I now have something that works, I’m not looking anymore–at least until this tool breaks (or begins to bore me, I suppose.) But it’s great to know I have a link to a big list handy for when that day comes.

  12. March 14th, 2014 at 13:07 | #14

    Personally I just use the WordPress app which works fine for me or the editor itself but there’s also Barley – the front end editor which is an option?

  13. June 20th, 2017 at 19:46 | #15

    Interesting. I always enjoyed writing in WordPress. What eventually stopped me from blogging was not the interface, but that I ran out of things to say.

  14. October 2nd, 2017 at 09:05 | #16

    Possibly the developers who create WordPress need to read your book, which is great, although I find using WordPress to be an awful experience.

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