The Customizer is the way forward… It essentially removes the fear and disconnect between the WP Admin and the front end of someone’s site. So, it’s a bridge that gives people the confidence to make changes, while seeing those changes in real time. — Matt Mullenweg
Matt said that during his Q&A keynote at WordCamp Europe in 2015. When I heard this I thought YES! That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking lately and have not articulated nearly as eloquently.
The more I use the Customizer, the more I love it!
I think a lot of people have negative feelings towards the Customizer. Maybe they are developers who have been writing much more extensive options panels and feel limited by the Customizer. Maybe they tried the Customizer a while ago with a theme that didn’t take advantage of it and couldn’t see the point. Maybe they don’t need to instruct users how to modify their site very often… Whatever the reason, there is negativity towards the Customizer.
If more of us could see the Customizer as a bridge to give users confidence to make changes I think we would better see the potential of this tool.
Yes, for a long-ish time the Customizer has been pretty basic. It was also a bit cumbersome to use at times, but there have been improvements that makes it more useful and easier to use. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Nested panels instead of dropdowns
Rather than having to scroll down forever through your expanded sections, each section opens in a new panel. Trust me, it’s easier to use!
You have been able to edit widgets in the Customizer for a few versions of WordPress now, but there have been improvements to the way to can add, move and edit them (just click the reorder link to reorder or move to another widget area).
In WordPress 4.3 menu management was added to the Customizer. This is great, because there is a significant disconnect in many user’s minds between the creation of content and the presentation of that content in WordPress. For example, I often get asked why a page that a user just created is not being displayed on the site (it hasn’t been added to the menu yet, so they don’t know how to find it). Having the menu in the Customizer is not a complete solution to this kind of confusion, but by making the menu management a more obvious part of the total site setup it is a step in the right direction.
As well as breaking down fear of change, the Customizer is an opportunity to provide more consistent theme settings, which I think is needed.
If you haven’t taken a look at the Customizer recently, please check it out!