We get to look at a lot of sites and we often see them decorated with a series of colorful admin notices coming from WordPress, plugins and themes. On the other hand, our stats tell us that over 50% of the support tickets are about incorrect usage of something. Before we rush to make changes, I want to hear what you think about admin messages.

“Admin messages” is a mechanism in WordPress, which allows to display notices on the top of the admin. The code that wants to display these notices can choose where, to who and for how long these messages should appear.

There are admin messages about almost anything, from critical updates to “good to know” to “you should buy this”. Since all these messages use the same visual format, it’s not always easy to tell what’s critical and what’s less.

WPML generates a “healthy” number of admin messages as well. In WPML 4.0, we’re looking at how to reduce our messages, so that the critical ones can get more attention. We’ll be removing messages about “nice to know” and we’ll be creating wizards for processes that require several steps (so we don’t need to show messages about the next step). Still, we’re going to have to show some messages in some cases.

Before we make these changes, I want to know how you feel about admin messages. We created a short poll which we’re asking you to take.

Tell us in the poll (the poll is closed, leave your comments below)

Or, if the poll is already closed (it’s going to be open for a week), feel free to leave a comment here.

Update – the survey results

We already got a lot of excellent feedback to our survey, so here it is for you.

What’s the state of admin messages in your sites?
What’s your opinion about the admin messages that you see?
How do you feel about WPML’s admin messages?

What we’ve learned (especially from the open-text answers):

  • The most welcome type of admin messages are those alerting about something very wrong, explaining what the symptoms are and offering to take action. For example, the message you’ll see in “WooCommerce Multilingual”, if WPML plugin isn’t installed.
  • The most unwelcome messages are those trying to upsell something or just annoy with unimportant information. A good example is the message that we recently added about .mo files that WPML will start blocking to get your site running faster.

Our takeaways are:

  • Be very conservative about what admin messages we show, where, to who and for how long.
  • When there’s a process to follow, show a wizard instead of a sequence of messages.
  • When we feel that we absolutely must show a message about something that’s “nice to know”, show it only temporarily, next to the action that led to the message (like Google Drive telling you for a couple of seconds that all your changes are saved).
  • Fight the urge to use admin message to promote stuff, even good stuff that’s already part of the plugin.

I’m closing the survey now. If you want to tell us more, leave your comments here.