If ya wanna click it, ya better put a button on it

How do I upload an image in WordPress?

Frequently, clients who are staring at the WordPress content editing screen ask me, “How do I upload an image?” As an experienced WordPress user/designer/developer I used to get blown away by how silly such a question sounded. The button’s right there! But after running in to this problem again and again, I’ve decided the user is not at fault in this case.

The interface is deceptive. Let me explain…

An inconsistent UI design language

The upload/insert text+icon combo is too subtle and actually deceptive UI when you look at the WordPress dashboard overall.

The same design language for the page header (icon+text on transparent background) is used for the clickable link (text+icon on transparent background). By that logic the Upload/Insert link looks like a small title or descriptive text. It doesn’t look clickable, and it should.

Make clickable things look clickable

So as the user scans for some visual que to capture their attention and say, “Click me to upload your stuff!”, they skim right over the small text that lies outside of the area containing lots of other more obvious buttons.

Even something as simple as what I’ve mocked-up here would be an improvement:

Now there is a clear distinction between the rest of the UI and the Upload/Insert button. It doesn’t look like part of the dashboard text anymore. It looks clickable. And it is.

(UPDATE: Since publishing this post I’ve written a plugin that makes the Upload/Insert button look clickable.)


Anybody on the WordPress UI team out there that could respond to this suggestion?

*Special thanks to WordPress and Beyoncé for inspiring this post.



WordPress 3.5 took my advice!

Actions do more than words.


Use words to source actions.

As an independent contractor/freelancer I’ve realized that selling plays a critical role in business. Like it or not, it’s a necessity, but it’s not my strength.

In an effort to learn more about sales I signed up for a sales-related email newsletter filled with quotes, inspiration and advice on sales productivity. Today’s quote applies to business as much as life in general.

One’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.
Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), English pioneer of modern nursing

What if I created instead of tweeted the next time something inspired me?

I want to post more content on my blog, so I’ve created a new rule for myself. Before I post something on twitter I ask the following question:

Could this work as a blog post?

This idea started by accident when I installed a Twitter plugin on my website and it started creating posts from everything I tweeted. After several posts were out there in the open, I realized that I had broken through a mental block and transformed my publishing cycle.

My old publishing cycle

  1. Get an idea.
  2. Save a draft.
  3. Let it sit for a week, month… year.
  4. Review list of saved drafts every once in a while.
  5. Edit a draft.
  6. Save more drafts, pushing old saved drafts farther down the list.
  7. Edit a draft.
  8. Publish something not even saved as a draft.

New publishing cycle

  1. Get an idea.
  2. Publish it.
  3. Feel the pressure of something being exposed to the public.
  4. Reopen the editor, start tweaking things, adding more photos and editing text.

My goal isn’t to create a life-changing epic piece of literature every time a write a blog post. This new method is more of a personal development exercise. I’m still trying to find my “writing voice”, as they say. Part of that process involves simply writing more.

So lately, every time I feel a tweet coming on, I start writing about it. I get in a flow, and even if it’s not blowing your mind right now, it feels good.

The world’s simplest phone

I love this.

The world’s simplest phone in a sleek little black box. It’s called John’s Phone. Consider it the anti-iPhone. No apps or hi-res screen. Just a phone with buttons that works really well. A better user experience through LESS experience.

John's Phone, The Anit-iPhone, the simplest phone.

Has anybody used one, or seen it in person?

The Never Ending Project: How to Prevent Scope Creep

Have you ever worked on a project that would… not… end!? Me, too. Poorly organized fixed-rate projects quickly turn into hourly-rate eating monsters that even Falkor couldn’t save you from.

What is Scope Creep?

Scope Creep is any work requested by the client that isn’t included within your original agreement. It can happen at any point in the project. The smallest little rabbit trail conversation with a client can lead to a whole list of to-dos that are way beyond the budget and deadline. Just because the project isn’t finished, doesn’t mean that all client requests are fulfilled. Consider the context of their requests. If the requests do not fall within the services you’ve agreed to provide, those requests are scope creep. You don’t want to waste precious time on tasks that are out of scope without getting compensated. There is no reason to work for free, and it’s no fun to see your hourly rate diminish as you burn the midnight oil over and over to finish that one last client request.

Let’s solve this problem.

1. Get a signed contract for every project.

Your first line of defense is a solid contract that explains the exact process and deliverables for every project. State clearly what this project includes, how long it will take, and how much it will cost. Also, and most importantly, make sure you include how much you will charge for any work outside of the project scope. That’s right, a Scope Creep Fee! This has saved my tail on several occasions. Tell them that their request isn’t covered in the current contract, but offer to create a new contract for the extra work. Or simply charge an hourly rate to cover anything outside of scope, like I do.

2. Enforce the contract throughout the project.

The best most detailed contract in the world is worthless if you don’t enforce it. At the end of the day, you have to AT LEAST deliver whatever  is written in that document. Refer to it often. You both signed it. It’s legally binding.

3. Get proof of their approval.

This is something I could probably get better at. I don’t have a formal signature-based process for approving each phase of a project. But it wouldn’t hurt. This came up while I was chatting with a designer friend who asked me this question:

“How do you typically send design proofs to clients, especially when there are a ton of on-going changes?”

My response:

“Email… and I have it spelled out in the contract how many changes/revisions are allowed before additional charges are added”


“I was thinking there might be a website that could upload a proof straight out of photoshop/illustrator… the client gets a link that they can keep checking back with”


“There are services like that… http://www.conceptshare.com/ for example, or http://www.getsignoff.com/


“Nice. Exactly what i’m looking for.”


“I’ve also used Basecamp‘s messaging system to send proofs since you can upload images”


Do yourself a favor. Don’t work for anyone without knowing exactly what they expect of you, when it’s due, and who gives final approval.  Getting these administrative details out of the way allows you to focus on what you do best… your job.

Do any of you expert freelancers have some wisdom you’d like to share? How do you prevent scope creep? Any methods or tools you can suggest?