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How your feedback is helping to shape Movable Type

By Byrne Reese
Posted June 13, 2007.

Many users have taken the time to send us feedback about Movable Type 4.0. Users are sending us email directly, they are submitting feedback through our web form, members of ProNet are talking tirelessly on the mailing list and comments can be found all over from users that have a concern, a bug, an idea, or just an opinion.

The amount of feedback is overwhelming -- but in a good way, because the feedback really helps us to understand not what we think is important to our users, but what actually is important to our users. A good illustration of this can be found in Movable Type's new information architecture introduced in the most recent beta: Beta 2.

The IA of Movable Type is something we have been revising and refining constantly since the moment we first started working on MT4 because we feel that it has the greatest impact on usability of the application then any other feature.

Picture 1.jpgBut at some point we knew we had to stop developing the IA in a vacuum and listen to what our users had to say. It wasn't long after releasing Beta 1 that users began telling us that they loved the direction of the IA, but it was still not perfect. Users expressed a lot of confusion between the Edit and Organize menus; they were simply not intuitive enough and users said they found themselves hunting around the menus for the item they were looking for.

That's when the alarm bells started going off. The last thing you want to hear is that your users were "hunting" for anything. The user interface and information architecture needs to be self-evident. So in Beta 2 we combined the two menus under a new menu called "Manage." It is a significant change despite its simplicity and we are anxious to hear what users think about this new organization. We know the IA and navigation is not perfect. We still have a lot of feedback we are incorporating into the application, but we will continue to evolve the application with your help.

Of course the new navigation is just one of the many new features and fixes found in this release. Other goodies you can find are:

We want to continue hearing from you. So please, leave us a comment, send us feedback or blog about idea or concern (don't forget to send us a TrackBack to this post). No idea is too small, or bug insignificant. Every opinion counts. Just keep talking, we are listening.



metisinternet on June 13, 2007, 4:01 p.m. Reply

It is fantastic to see Movable Type so responsive and so engaged with the community. Movable Type Beta 1 did not work, but within 5 days the Beta 2 has solved the problem.

Karl Elvis MacRae

Karl Elvis MacRae on June 13, 2007, 4:03 p.m. Reply

I think you’re ‘solving’ the symptom and ignoring the cause. While making menus slightly less obscure is a step forward, it’s a step forward in an inherently wrong direction.

The root problem with the new interface is that you took what was a simple, clean, intuitive interface in mt3 and hid away most of the tasks behind pull-downs and page loads. This is a backwards step in usability.

You need to back way, way up to where you went wrong - too many pull-downs and page loads, not enough useful links on the dashboard - and re-think the entire concept. As we’ve been saying, the design looks nice, but you went for an un-cluttered aesthetic and in the process, made the tool harder to use. That’s exactly backwards. Make it work well, and THEN think about how to make it look nice without decreasing usability.


demonsurfer on June 13, 2007, 6:44 p.m. Reply

The ‘create > page’ is handy, however it seems to only publish to the same directory as the archives and is not alterable other than to subdirectories from there (unless I’m missing something).. I publish archives using alternative root path, so archives go to ‘siteroot / archives / year / month / entrytitle’. New ‘pages’ seem to publish to the archives directory (or subdirectories if specified), but it would be nice to be able to set their own path so I can publish pages to the siteroot only, not the archives directory. If I unselect ‘page’ from ‘settings > archive types’ it doesn’t seem to publish anywhere, although it goes through the motions of being published.. does any of this make sense?


demonsurfer on June 13, 2007, 7:21 p.m. Reply

Err.. and ‘folders’ doesn’t seem to actually create folders on the server.. although I do like the idea of both pages and folders. Any intention of having ‘pages’ write into the weblog backup text file (when using export) along with the entries themselves? Or a separate exportable backup file for ‘pages’? ..I realize it’s only experimental at present, but pretty groovy for creating non-blog pages.


clarknova on June 13, 2007, 8:50 p.m. Reply

Thanks guys, so far I think this is a big step in the right direction for MT. I’ve been using MT 4 for the last couple of days without running into any bugs to report. Overall, the interface is easier to use and tasks can be done in less time.

One thing I’ve always found hard to do is modifying templates, though. Templates, widgets, archives, and modules seem to be always so difficult to find when you’re editing a particular template. Let’s say you’re modifying the index template, if you want to modify a particular module you have to at least use three clicks to get there. And why do I have to go one place to modify a widget manager order and to another different place to modify that widget’s code? It’s by far the most frustating aspect of MT in my experience. And something that would help a lot would be a template preview. Oh, well.

All that said, I have to tell you guys the new post editing interface is a breeze, it’s so much easier to edit posts and add pictures and other media.

Keep up the good work, and thank you guys.


Dan Wolfgang

Dan Wolfgang on June 14, 2007, 9:18 a.m. Reply

“And why do I have to go one place to modify a widget manager order and to another different place to modify that widget’s code?”

Y’know, I’ve thought this before, but the magnitude of what it means didn’t strike me until just now when I read it. Allowing me to order and edit my widgets from the same place would be phenomenal!


Milton on July 17, 2012, 11:24 a.m. Reply

I think MT is offering usability and I don’t agree with Karl about that. Of course, it is impossible to give an answer to all the feedbacks and to change the code according to them.

Tom Appelgreen

Tom Appelgreen on October 25, 2012, 12:18 a.m. Reply

Simply said, Moveable Type is a bit more complex than the other CMS but for a reason. MT is giving far more options to the webmasters and coders than the other platforms. You can’t have both, you know.

Pete Crowly

Pete Crowly on November 13, 2012, 9:31 p.m. Reply

No user needs to hunt for anything because Moveable Type has a great tutorial site where you can find all the answers you want. Just type the word in the search bar and the answer is given.

Anne Sterten

Anne Sterten on November 28, 2012, 8:15 p.m. Reply

You should read the feedbacks about the paid services. This would help you keep many of your clients. Unfortunately, both Movable Type and Vox suffered from the paid services.

Byrne Reese

Byrne Reese was previously the Product Manager of Movable Type at Six Apart, where he had also held positions as the Manager of Platform Technology and Product Manager for TypePad. Byrne is a huge supporter of the Movable Type user and developer community. He dedicates much of his time to promoting and educating people about Movable Type as well as building the tools and plugins for Movable Type that are showcased on Majordojo. He contributes regularly to open source; and he is an advocate for open protocols and standards like Atom and OpenID.