Over the last year, there have been tantalizing hints of a new direction for WordPress.
In this interview from May, Matt Mullenweg says that he "had been hard at work coming up with a new interface that will eradicate some of the complexity that WordPress is usually associated with."
He went on to say, "one of the things I’ve been working on for the past few months is a radical simplification of the interface."
Matt himself summed up his thoughts in this blog post: "There are hints of this [increased simplicity] already happening in our iPhone and Android apps, but even though I’m thinking about this all the time I don’t have all the answers yet."
In the comments he reassures people that they won't lose access to existing WordPress features, but we should "think of these as alternative ways to use WordPress."
So can we get glimpses of the new WordPress?
Yes, I believe so.
The WordPress.org version has a huge userbase and changing direction can only be done slowly.
However, the WordPress.com version of WordPress has no such limitations. The WordPress.com team can move as quickly as they want and in whatever direction they think their users want.
So what do their users want? In a word: Tumblr. They want a radical simplification of the interface. How do I know that? Because that's what the WordPress.com team is giving them.
Let's take a look at how WordPress.com now compares to Tumblr:
Choosing what type of post to write
Here are the choices from WordPress.com:
And here are the choices from Tumblr:
The writing screen
Here's the writing screen from WordPress.com:
And here's the writing screen from Tumblr:
The photo upload screen
Here's the photo upload screen from WordPress.com:
And here's the photo upload screen from Tumblr:
WordPress allows people to, "Share with the world, your community, or your closest friends."
Whereas Tumblr is "the best place to find and share the coolest stuff in the world."
What's the difference between the WordPress and Tumblr slogans? Tumble promises to help you find content.
Well, here's what Wordpress.com promises for 2013 ...
So how do you find new content?
Either by browsing three columns of large photos with tags on WordPress:
Or by browsing three columns of large photos with tags on Tumblr:
What about the "old" WordPress dashboard?
So WordPress.com has now become Tumblr? No, not entirely.
The normal WordPress.org dashboard is still available, it's just been tucked away, behind all the Tumblr-style interfaces.
You might even say that WordPress.com is now showing an alternative way to use WordPress.
Could these changes come to WordPress.org?
I think it's pretty clear that WordPress.com showchases the direction that Matt and the Automattic team would like to take WordPress in. Simplification is the future for the blogging market.
The question is whether it would ever be possible to introduce such changes to the WordPress.org version? Yes, it could be done by adding a simpler WordPress.com interface and allowing people to easily click through the current WordPress.org interface.
Perhaps we're looking at WordPress 4, due in 2014?