Unified We Navigate?

In mid-March 2021, WordPress.com rolled out Unified Navigation to combine both the newer “Calypso/Default/WordPress.com” dashboard and WP Admin.

Later, in July 2021, a dashboard “Switcher” was introduced to make changing from one dashboard to the other more intuitive with a further refinement to the interface.

WordPress.com is in the process of rolling out a single, unified navigation that replaces the two existing, separate ones: Calypso, the exclusively WordPress.com dashboard at wordpress.com/home/yoursite.wordpress.com that was introduced in 2015, and WP Admin, the original WordPress dashboard, at yoursite.wordpress.com/wp-admin/ (For background see this post.)

When your account has flipped to unified navigation and you open your My Site dashboard, you’ll see a mix of both the WordPress.com and WP Admin dashboards depending on which screen you are in. The default for the majority of dashboard screens is the WordPress.com/Default view.

Accessing View Menu in Dashboard showing Default and Classic views

If you prefer to work in the parallel WP Admin dashboard, you’ll need to click on the “View” tab that appears in the upper right corner of your browser window and select “Classic view.”

Dashboard screens that are by default using the Classic view layout include:

  • Feedback> Form Responses
  • Settings> Reading
  • Settings> Media

For those writing in the Classic Editor, the switch to unified navigation also meant losing access to the Classic Editor in WP Admin’s Posts dashboard. In order to recover access for now, you’ll first need to switch to the “Classic view” in the Posts and Pages dashboards.

If you switched dashboard screens and want to return to the other version of that dashboard, click again on the “View” tab in your browser window to access the switcher.

With unified navigation not all existing features can be easily found and, in some cases, are duplicated between screens:

  1. Stats no longer include full Sharing Stats (posts/pages shared to social media)
  2. Adding images from the free Pexels Library directly to your Media Library can only be done in Media Library> Default view
  3. On Premium and higher plans, resharing your posts can only be done in the Posts> Default view
  4. Viewing your Followers and Email Followers can only be done in Users> Default View
  5. If you have a multi-author site and want to see which posts were written by each author, that can only be done in Users> Classic view
  6. Bulk editing and Quick editing can only be done in the Posts or Pages> Classic view
  7. The Support Site itself leans heavily towards information on working in the Default view/WordPress.com dashboard.

I’m still exploring, so this list may be partial or inaccurate.

Screencapture of WordPress.com Quick Links dashboard
Click to view full size

Regardless, the direct link to WP Admin, which previously appeared at the bottom of your site dashboard sidebar, has disappeared (yet again for some of us). The link can now be found under Manage Blogs in your Account Profile . This is the same link as the Global Dashboard and we still need access to that dashboard in order to accomplish some administrative tasks.

You can also find a link to WP Admin on your site’s Home dashboard page under “Quick Links.”

Personally speaking, I was accustomed to constantly flipping between the two full dashboards depending on what I was doing and it really made no difference to me which one I was in because I’m comfortable in either. That does not mean everyone is nor does it make me happy that my onsite work flow is about to change yet again. From a visual viewpoint, having separate dashboards made it easy for me to identify where I was. Now, however, I might need a map.

As with every change on the platform, users have begun posting to the community forums that features in the WP Admin dashboard, like the Link Manager* or being able to find posts by author in the User dashboard, are no longer available to them. However, these features can be accessed via direct link if you know it, but apparently not all of them. (*Noting that the Links menu returned to the sidebar as of 24 March 2021, regardless which dashboard you use-but only if you used it previously.)

The original feedback thread in the community forums on this change has closed since first publishing this post in March 2021, but if you want to leave feedback for WordPress.com you can still do so by posting to the “contact support” link in your site’s My Home dashboard. When doing so, also note what Support Staff mention:

We’ll be gathering feedback on any friction you’re running into, so if something feels off, please add details to this thread: let us know what you clicked on, what you expected, and what happened instead. If you can share a bit about your typical use, too, that would be helpful.

However, if you have encountered a bug, please head directly to the support contact form.

If you need some help transitioning to the Classic Block or the full Block Editor, check out my earlier posts:

This post was originally published in March 2021 and was updated in March 2022.

As always, the information in this post is correct as of publication date. Changes are inevitable.

Photo by Mabel Amber on Pexels.com

Published by JenT

After 4 years hand-coding websites, 2 years setting up and running WordPress sites, I launched my first website on WordPress.com in 2006 and never looked back. Since then, I’ve helped other site owners safely navigate through the ins and outs of the ever-changing WordPress.com ecosystem. Find me at wpcommaven.com

16 thoughts on “Unified We Navigate?

  1. Great post.

    I see that option and I pushed it to advanced navigation. I don’t see ~/wp-admin in the sidebar but I am ‘in it’ already when I go to a site. At the top of the side bar is says ‘Browse sites’ or ‘Switch sites’ depending on what view I am in. I don’t recall seeing ‘Browse sites’ before, but maybe I just didn’t notice.

    When I do not use the advanced navigation and I go from within a draft post to preview the post, then I see the preview within the frame that has the options to ‘close, edit header, see on some view other than desktop’ and go to site.

    When I use the advanced navigation and I am in a draft post on one of my sites that is a sub-domain (thenameofmysite.wordpress,..) and go to view a preview from within the draft, then everything works OK.

    When I use the advanced navigation and go to one of my sites that is not a sub-domain URL (such as my main site) then when I go to preview from within a draft of a post, I get a ‘post not found’.

    If I replace the URL in the preview page with thenameofmysite.wordpress.com/p=XXXX?preview=true (where XXXX is the post ID), then I can see the preview of the draft.

    I have had this issue for a year or more, and reported it. I was hoping this amalgamation of navigation would solve it. Maybe I will report it on the forum as you mentioned.

    I might switch off advanced navigation.

    1. Thanks for reading. 🙂

      Although my account hasn’t been switched yet, I can already see my biggest grumble will be being forced to choose and knowing neither unified dashboard exactly fills the bill for me. I much prefer the full dashboard of each.

      “Switch Site” is Calypso’s site changer; “Browse Sites” looks to be WP Admin in the unified navigation. It doesn’t exist in WP Admin’s regular dashboard.

      You said, “When I use the advanced navigation and go to one of my sites that is not a sub-domain URL (such as my main site) then when I go to preview from within a draft of a post, I get a ‘post not found’.” I guess you mean you’re viewing on your custom domain name rather than the yoursite.wordpress.com? From reports in the forums, it could well be a browser cookie issue because browsers have gotten much “stricter” on cookies. I even have issues trying to “Like,” follow or post a comment on WPcom sites that have a custom domain because the site (WPcom) doesn’t recognize me as being logged in. It’s a pain. Hope you’ll be able to resolve it.

      1. Yes, kind of. I am in a post. I save draft and then go to the ‘preview’ option that’s at top right. It asks how I would like to see the post preview. I opt for desktop and it opens a new page and that’s when I get the ‘page not found’. I have experimented with turning ‘prevent cross-site tracking’ on an off in Safari, but it doesn’t make any difference. Where ‘prevent cross-site tracking’ does make a difference is like what you describe – when I try to like a post or comment on a post. If I have ‘prevent cross-site tracking’ set, then I am not recognised as being logged in on another tab in the same browser.

      2. Does it help if you make an exception for either your custom domain or wordpress.com? I’ve not had time to fully explore with any of the browsers I’m using on my PC, but I’m going to have to at some point because this behavior is annoying beyond belief. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be a WPcom problem/issue as much as a browser issue. (Gotta go, that beet borscht doesn’t make itself!) 😉

  2. On a completely related matter, are there any viable alternatives to WordPress.com? I can find many alternatives to Worpress.org (basically, different services that help you build a site) but people who use wordpress.org have a specific need for a website (commerce, education, etc.) that most wordpress.com users don’t.

    Me? I’m not trying to do anything other than entertain myself by writing and posting photos.

    If I’m unable to edit posts using the Classic Editor (assuming I’ll still be able to create posts using the Classic Editor), it will render all the templates I’ve created useless and it will be another reason for me to wish the hemorrhoids of the decision-makers at WP to explode . . .daily. But it won’t be the end of the world.

    Losing the Classic Editor altogether is a different matter. That might be the proverbial straw (not that Automattic will have any bowel movements based on what I think or do).

    I’m playing with themes and posts on Blogger to see if it’s improved from 11 years ago, but I’ve never liked that interface either . . . although, WordPress is catching up to it in terms of dislike. Plus, it goes against me trying to get away from everything Google. And, I’m not sure I can transfer all my content to Blogger like I *might* be able to do by going with my own website.

    Side note: in one of my recent marathon exchanges with WP Support, I challenged them to duplicate creating one of my posts; namely, alternating photos (roughly 50) and words. This was prompted by their claim that the block editor is better and faster. The person admitted it wasn’t and that she struggled and it took her longer to do. BUT. . . she wasn’t the organ grinder (decision-maker) and it’s obvious the platform no longer caters to “regular” bloggers (people like me don’t merit the fancy term of “content creators”).

    I’ve not been switched yet but — like you — I don’t mind the two versions of the navigation panel (although I mostly use the Admin version) but I can live with whatever mash-up the sadistic bastards want to come up with.

    . . . but losing the Classic Editor option? Yeah . . . that’s gonna trigger some serious soul-searching on my part . . . made all that more difficult by the fact I’m soulless.

    1. Yes, changes are a pain in the …. WordPress.com is essentially managed WP hosting. I don’t know what plan you currently have on your site, but you could look around to see how it compares cost-wise. Given that you have a custom domain, it shouldn’t impact traffic. And of course if you self-host, you can install the Classic Editor plugin directly and use that for however long it’s maintained on ORG. But if by alternatives you mean free alternatives, then not so much.

      And I’ve now been switched over, literally between one screen and the next. I immediately switched on the Advanced Navigation pages in my Account settings, but I won’t be able to fully explore until I’m finally done cooking for our holiday and then recovered from the family gathering on the weekend. Meantime, back to the kitchen!

    2. I have the Premium, but it’s not even the cost. It’s the principle. Like Google, I don’t think they live by the motto “do no evil” and I certainly don’t think they cater to their users.

      Like most companies who come to dominate their field, they realize they don’t have to worry about anything beyond making more money in any way they can, and they do that by lowering the bang for the buck.

      I could almost accept that, but, like Microsoft, Google, and nearly every company I deal with, they claim the changes they’re making benefit the users, all the while degrading (or, to your their word, deprecating) the user experience.

      Here are the real costs to the users of all their recent “improvements”: frustration and time. By far, the “time” cost is the most grating.

      But, where that falls apart is when the “time” cost of their fiddling is greater than the time investment in switching to other platforms.

      Right now, it’s the content that is hanging me up . . . I’m dealing with a few things at the moment, but my priority soon will switch to figuring out the effort (and if it can be done) to switch 10 years of blogging to another platform. If I have to, I’ll do it manually (less than 3,000 posts . . . I figure it would take me a few months).

      Over the years, I’ve had a couple of software companies that have lost my business specifically because they had a great product and “fiddled” with it to the point that it ceased to be of value to me. For some, I still use the product versions from many years ago.

      Microsoft Office 2007 (I have an older one yet, but it won’t run on Windows 10), On1 Perfect Suite 9 and 10, Quicken 2011, Picasa 3, Microsoft Movie Maker and Media Player, and on and on. Each of them works better than their modern counterparts.

      The only one that so far has delivered on their promise of improvements (with no additional cost) is Adobe. The reason? I get the impression that the programmers and decision-makers are also users of their products, but the main reason? . . . they listen to their customers.

      Anyway, let me get off this soapbox.

      Hope your holiday meal and family gathering go (went?) well.

    1. Well-spotted, Thiago! However, PressThis only appears under Writing settings if you have the default dashboard enabled, which opens the newer Calypso version of Settings.

      PressThis in WP Admin was under Tools, which now opens the Marketing dashboard in Calypso when you have Advanced Navigation enabled. Regardless, it looks like you can get to the WP Admin Tools dashboard by direct link /wp-admin/tools.php

      Like I said, I might need a map. :/

  3. Oh my Jen, what happened to the WordPress.com that I knew? I took a little break but now I really should add some posts, new photos and more content. I never learned how to use Block Editor and my “Admin” button seems to be missing. I see that WP.com has some webinars, but it either seems like they are for total newbies or for those who want to sell on their site. Now do I figure out how to proceed? It seems like they don’t want to help those who used WP in the past and need a little help to move forward. Thanks for all your informative articles. It seems as if you are the only one who feels my pain!

    1. Yes, TPTB keep moving the furniture around. Just about everything is still there, but you need to find the secret door. Do what I wrote above, head to your account settings and flip the switch to “Advanced Dashboard Pages” and make sure to save your changes by clicking the button below the selection of dashboard colors. That will bring back mostly the older WP Admin pages to your dashboard, so no need for the WP Admin link. Then in the Posts and Pages you’ll see the link to Classic Editor as well.

      In spite of my campaigning for a Block Editor webinar, there isn’t one. The webinars that WPcom offers are more general. They did publish a support guide for Writers and Bloggers that might help, check it out at https://wordpress.com/support/wordpress-editor-for-writers-bloggers/

      But again, I do encourage you to start a draft post and be zen. Put your cursor in the editing area and start writing. No need to add a block to do that. The formatting toolbar will be hovering above the block. I’ve got two tutorials that can help and I’ve linked to them in my post. And if you have a paid upgrade on your site, bug Support! Heck you’re paying for it. 🙂

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