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Create an Admin Settings page w/icons grouped by category

October 30, 2018 · 23:27 · Mike Schinkel

WordPress's admin console is a rat's nest of complexity, especially when lots of plugins are added.

A while back I was reading where they showed a screenshot of CraftCMS' settings page and I feel in love with it. I thought "Wouldn't it be great if WordPress' dashboard (or settings page) could be reconfigured to use categorized icons for core features and features added by plugins rather than the bloated wild-wild-west of the WordPress admin menus?

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I could envision plugins that don't specify an icon or a category could get listed at the bottom or we could maintain a JSON file on GitHub with categorization for well-know plugins, and then also allow plugins to actively register their own icons and categories if they wanted to explicitly support ClassicPress.

Anyway, posting here hoping that others will get excited about the same.

+23 more
Difficulty: Hard
Difficulty: Moderate
Request: Modify feature
Code Potent

When I was getting started with PHP back in the *nuke days, that's exactly how it was – icons. I loved it. I saw that DB writeup, as well, and wondered when things had moved away from that. Figured I just must be getting old. lol. Upvote.

Alvaro Gois dos Santos

I feel the admin UI needs a redesign, but I'm not sure this is the way. It reminds me of those horrible Gutenberg boxes, full of icons with bad spacing… It probably needs a more extensive approach, that includes some kind of simplification of processes managing the app. It will also depend on how CP moves away from WP.

Mike Schinkel

One of the reasons I've stuck with WP instead of going to other CMS options is the lack of reliance on icons. I think text menus are quicker and better suited for people not using these pages every day. All the icons feel overwhelming. I know "feel" isn't something lots of people appreciate, but it's how a lot of us regular users evaluate these things. I guess if ClassicPress wants to go down a path to become a specialized CMS option then it could work, but for regular users like me, it would just make it feel more complex than it needs to be (which is exactly why I'm unhappy about the WP block editor). Forgive me if I'm doing this wrong! I've never commented on something like this before. :)

Mike Schinkel

@Lynn - Thanks for the comment, and it is great input. And yes, with your comment you did it right. :-)

Question: Maybe we can meet both needs? My reason for wanting this is not so much the icons but better and more logical organization of administration options.

Currently in WordPress there is no rhyme or reason as to where plugins put their options; sometimes under settings, sometime under tools, and sometime under Posts. But often they create their own menu for branding purposes and then sites with a large number of plugins can have 20 or 30 main admin menus. And I am constantly wasting time trying to track down where a plugin installed its menus because they almost never include a link to their settings from the plugin page. (If you are a plugin developer and are reading this, please of please add a link to your settings page from the plugin page.)

So, would having the proposed organization with the option to disable the display of icons be good for you? Is there another suggestion you might have for how to improve the WordPress administration organization? Or are you asking that we just keep the WordPress admin organization because you would prefer it not change?

IWO, I am trying to tease our the essence of preferences here so we can envision as solution that most people will prefer rather than just the more vocal ones like me.


@Mike Schinkel I think grouping the settings is an excellent idea or finding a way to force settings link to appear in the plugin list (where you activate and deactivate). I've never really thought about that too much because I use so few plugins on any of about 10 installs now, down from 40ish at one time. But I have noticed that issue myself. Personally, having the admin of a plugin in Tools feels kind of silly. A plugin is a <i>plugin</i>, not a tool. :)

My thought is really about the icons instead of text menus. I agree with Alvaro Gois dos Santos above. It feels like WP is all about making WP into a mobile app these days and the icons are reminiscent of that. So not a good feeling there, for sure. Text menus are useful and more intuitive if they're laid out logically.

So having the text default and the icon view an option could be a setting per user in admin or a setting per general. Either would make some sense. Definitely would over-complicate things to have a mix of icon pages of links and text menus of other links. One or the other is my suggestion. Not a mishmash.

Peter B

Has my vote! However it is "just" a UI change and i would prefer implementing functionality changes first ;-)


It seems that allowing administrators an ability to modify the UI in a way that makes sense to their own workflow would be best. For one, most probably agree that having a plugin author throw a colorized icon in your top-level menu can be annoying. The ability to organize and even 'hide' some less used functionality in a drawer would be nice.