I Love You, WordPress! But…
...There are certain things that I hate about you, sadly. Yes, I know, many WordPress users will disagree (some will already have started cursing me, even without reading this article). On the other hand, many non-WP users might be passing those *I-knew-it* smiles while reading this text. Perhaps you are one of them? In any case, my point behind this article is not to trash-talk WordPress. Trust me: I love WordPress! As a matter of fact, I use WP on many of my websites. Plus, I’m currently writing this article for Noupe, an awesome website that uses WordPress. In short: WordPress, I love you. However, there comes a time, when your loved one ends up doing certain things that you cannot stand. Forgive me if I sound melodramatic, but as far as I am concerned, present-day WordPress is doing many things that I do not like. *sigh*
Things I Hate About WordPressWith you still being with me, chances are, that you have a slight idea, even see some points by yourself that I’ll be mentioning here. Maybe you have created a small list of your own? Serialized data? Global functions? Permission settings? Cluttered database? Actually, I’ve learned to live with all of that: each CMS has its own way of creating and doing things, and you cannot expect every developer to master everything. In other words, I have not many complaints related to the WP code. No matter in how good or bad shape it might be, I’ve learned to use it, and I’ve gotten used to it. *Image Source What about the post editor? It surely is a pain, isn’t it? A good number of us dislike the new Media Manager for sure, don’t we? Once again, let’s just leave the Media Manager and TinyMCE alone. What exactly do I hate about WordPress then?
1. "Just Write!" --What?If you’ve paid close attention to the distraction-free editor in its initial stages, you will have noticed the text at the bottom of the screen -- “Just Write!”. As I noted in one of my previous articles, back in 2009, I migrated from Drupal to WordPress. Back then, WP offered me simplicity and ease of use. Sure, I could never give up Drupal completely, and I still like it, but WordPress offered me something Drupal didn’t -- speed and agility. Drupal was bloated, WordPress was not. [caption id="attachment_73978" align="alignnone" width="550"] "Just Write"?[/caption] *Image Source However, looking at WordPress 3.5, I know one thing for sure: WordPress is no longer the bloat-free software that it once used to be. If you’ve been watching the evolution of WordPress down the ages, you will have noticed that the speed and swift operation that WP was once known for, is continuously being sacrificed at the altar of each new release. My response? Wherever possible (or necessary), use less bloated CMSs, such as Habari or Radiant, or even Concrete5.
2. Who (or What) is the Target Audience, Again?WordPress began as a blogging platform, and not essentially a CMS. However, owing to its awesomeness, it soon established itself as the world’s most popular CMS. Make no mistake about it: I strongly feel that WP deserves its #1 spot. Naturally, as the world’s apex CMS, WordPress has to cater to a diverse array of users. Its target audience includes geeks sitting in their basements, as well as grandmothers attempting to create a picture gallery on their blogs. However, the ‘average’ WP user is neither a geek nor a true newbie. He/she is, in fact, somewhere in between the two levels of expertise. [caption id="attachment_73982" align="alignnone" width="550"] Figuring Out WP's Target Audience...[/caption] *Image Source Time and again, I have classified the primary users of WordPress as under:
Now, WordPress is making good attempts to please its audience. Twenty Twelve features a custom homepage that probably caters well to a corporate or business look, whereas the new Media Manager allows easy creation of galleries, which might be a blessing for portfolio users and artists. However, in the midst of all these changes, whatever happened to the bloggers’ CMS? Even the trends in WP themes present a dismal picture, which brings me to my next point!
- Portfolio purposes (artists, designers, photographers, etc)
- Corporate/business websites (you know, homepage with a big slider and 3 widgets and a separate blog page)
- News/magazine websites (though most of the time, I feel WP shares this position with Drupal, Joomla!, Expression Engine and of course MODX)
- Blogging (obviously)
A rant well needed. With a please all mentality WordPress has lost some of its vigor. A way to filter items would be that much more awesome. The new media manager is a little disappointing in the way it handles information, and I strongly do believe that the way it handles information within the database should be more efficient.
Until WordPress gets back to its roots of simplicity, things will only get that much worse.
“roots of simplicity”: True that! Like I said, there are reasons why WP became number one, and the ‘simplicity’ element is one of those reasons. Thanks for reading and commenting!
I did the exact oposite. I was all for WordPress and used to hate the idea of Drupal, but more so because I didn’t know how to properly use Drupal. Now I’m a professional Drupal developer and I couldn’t be happier. WordPress was nice and clean to start, but I was always looking for a module to do the most basic of things, or turning away people who wanted fully customized content (without the need of more mods or custom code).
Drupal 7 Content Type sytem + Views 3 can not be beaten in my opinion though.
Back when I migrated to WP, Drupal 7 wasn’t in existence. Then again, I never ‘left’ Drupal entirely either. I still use it, though I became more of a WP user than Drupal user.
Nice to hear about your ventures with Drupal. It surely is a wonderful piece of software. :-)
How about all the immature security holes still present in wp? WTF is my response to WP security. WP is the reason I left my homebrewed CMS behind 5 years ago. Then I quickly realized wp was half-baked. I wanted more – more CMS, and so I learned Drupal. Thanks WP for your lack of CMS features and lack of security – I’ve falling in love with Drupal because of you.
Haha! Well, with each WP update, the security front surely does improve…but yes, a lot still needs to be done. :)
No Akismet? How to you prevent spam comments?
Generally AntispamBee or Mollom.
Nice article! Oh and plugins? – it’s the same in all CMS…. and updating them is also a lot of fun :[
Haha…*updating plugins* is still tolerable; problem arises when plugin updates are not released, and you’re stuck with an outdated extension.
Lies lies and more lies.
You well know WP can be tweaked to your needs, doesnt NEED to be out-of-the-box solution.
Your rant is like complaining “why cows aren’t born as hamburgers? but I love cows”
Ummm…well. I know WP can be *tweaked* to my needs, but that’s what am suggestion under “My response”, am I not? I know WP database needs tweaking at times, and I also know that many WP readymade themes talk in absolutes, and this is why I have managed to find work-around ways.
Thanks for reading. ;)
Agree.. A lot of these arguments are all amature issues. If your argument is a for a n00b solution then I guess it all stands, but as a platform, WordPress is more than powerful enough
Do you not think that WP projects itself as a n00b’s CMS, and WP’s popularity relies manifolds on its user friendliness?
That said, though, your argument is relational: I can use the same argument to defend any CMS or software for that matter. A Drupal user will claim that their CMS can be extended to suit any purpose, so will a Concrete5 user, a Joomla! user, and so on.
I do, however, agree that WP is a great software. I just feel that there are certain areas where it lacks. :-)
Regarding 4): yes, WordPress stores it’s URL in the database, however you can override it by defining the constant WP_SITEURL in wp-config.php:
define( ‘WP_SITEURL’, ‘http://www.mynewdomain.com’ );
I generally do that. Though most of the time, my clients don’t. And if they lose access to the site, and all they have is a database dump, I have to migrate hosts with that. In that case, I just use the search function in PHPmyAdmin and replace the old URL with new one. :D
Couldn’t agree more with the author- especially the bloated plugin repository. Trying to search for a plug-in? Good luck! The search function works as badly as Facebook search.
The bewildering array of plug-ins is just too much to take in with most of the free plugins sub-par. There really should be a top 100 list that fluctuates with hot and cold plug-ins of the week.
“Top 100 list of plugins”: Ah…yes. This can work as an excellent solution, IMO. In fact, I wonder why WP hasn’t thought of it: they do have the Recent and Popular plugins/themes feature; all that is needed is to refine the Popular plugins’ sorting mechanism!
Glad you agree with me. Thanks. :-)
Thanks for your thoughts, you raise some interesting points.
Making the site URL in the database variable (non-absolute) would be big (and seemingly simple, although my SQL experience is minuscule). I also agree with your points about the target audience and bloat (WP would seem a bit bloated for an individual who just wanted a blog). In fact, it would be interesting if WordPress offered different versions of their software for different kinds of customers (e.g., Blogging, Blogging+CMS, Blogging+Multi-Site, etc.).
Yet, some of your criticism seems slightly misdirected. The theme issues you mentioned are primarily issues that result from the methods of third-party producers, not WordPress. Part of what makes WordPress amazing is that it allows third-party (good or bad) products to hook in. I wouldn’t blame WordPress for this — especially in light of their current theme policy which discourages plugin-like functionality in a theme: “Since the purpose of Themes is to define the presentation of user content, Themes must not be used to define the generation of user content, or to define Theme-independent site options or functionality.” (http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Review#Guidelines)
In a similar way, I disagree with your complaint about the massive (and, admittedly, messy) plugin repository. While it may be true that new users are not protected from inferior options, implementing a rigorous solution to this problem would risk damaging the community. In order for new, and/or better, options and capabilities to arise, there must be freedom to develop, and there must be risk. Plus, all plugins are manually approved to make sure they meet basic requirements — so it is improbable that something really bad would happen if a user were to install a plugin that wasn’t the best.
Besides, most information about good plugins (like Yoast’s SEO and All In One) is really only a Google search away. That’s why it’s open-source.
Theme issues: I agree. Like I myself said in the article, even users are to be blamed: the ideal way to implement custom post types is via a plugin, and not in a theme… but most of the users and theme devs don’t care. In fact, some of the most successful theme devs on TF are the ones who violate this practice, lol. Again, this isn’t much of a security issue, and is just an annoyance, so obviously everyone gets away with it. This is where the community needs to step in, because I know, WP itself cannot “dictate” ways for theme design and dev. All WP can do is provide coding guidelines, which they are doing already.
Coming to the plugin repo. Yes, good info is generally one search away. And yes, if a plugin is in the repo, it isn’t *unsafe* either. However, plugins that were updated 2 years ago still show up on page one in search results. Many users end up installing them. I often get complaints from clients that their site is broken…only to find out that it was an incompatible plugin. Considering the fact that most people don’t use multiple plugins, having a ranking mechanism in place won’t hurt much.
Thanks for the detailed feedback. :)
I absolutely disagree with the statement that “it is improbable that something really bad would happen if a user were to install a plugin”. There are many of the plugins in the repository that are flawed and can/will create security holes in your install. Case in point, and a very BIG issue is the Portable phpMyAdmin plugin: http://wpmu.org/portable-phpmyadmin-unsafe-for-wordpress-consumption/
I agree with Sufyan in regard to the repository as a whole but will state it another way; it’s crap. If a plugin page throws a warning that it hasn’t been updated in 2 years then it has no place in the repository. Granted WordPress isn’t responsible for the plugins directly, or responsible for less than intelligent people installing one of them, they should at a minimum notify the developer to either update it or delete it. In the event the developer doesn’t respond? Dump it.
True that…but such exceptional “hazards” cannot be taken as a token to discard the entire plugin repo. I feel there are many great plugins in there: both code-wise and purpose-wise. But some bad apples cast em all in a bad light.
No matter what! I still love WordPress, As far as WordPress is concerned the pros are much more then cons and no matter what WordPress rules and Keep ruling the CMS world.
I love WP too, and this is exactly why I’ll be happy to see it improve. :)
I agree with many of your points:
– absolute urls for links and images is just wrong
– yes, wordpress has a lot of plugins, but the reason you need so many is because so many things are missing from the core.
– yes, the editor sucks. It constantly mangles code
– image manager is also bad. You should be able to store media in folders so it’s easy to find it if you want to use it again. Yes, it’s cute, but it’s pretty bad
– finally, I think that wordpress should have stuck with being a blog rather than a cms, because as a cms it missing too many features that you have to install plugins to fix. Or, it should become a real cms like Joomla and make a blog plugin.
“the reason you need so many [plugins] is because so many things are missing from the core”: Agreed. For instance, take Concrete5. It comes with support for Sitemaps and SEO metadata. WP, on the other hand, requires plugins.
I think WP has already become a real CMS in most aspects. A blog plugin, though, will surely be a welcome addition.
Since I mod and customize my themes for clients, I tend to put graphics that are “structural”, typically theme, branding, page and user interface elements that I don’t want clients to mess with, in their own folders and place them by absolute URL, they don’t even SHOW UP in the Media Manager.
That leaves the MM for “content” items, and users are welcome to muck about with stuff in there – if they can figure it out.
“if they can figure it out”… Haha! Good one. :)
This is exactly the reason I started a new open source “Site Management” Engine calls Spud…Built with a more modular approach, because, lets face it, building a CMS engine that has too wide of a target audience can detract from the product. Spud has CMS as an engine, but not at its core. It also has Blog (optionally installed), or photo galleries and media management. All are built as independent modules.
I had a quick glance through it, and this seems like an interesting software. All the best with it! :)
Thanks. Did I mention performance was a focus. Page response times are down to 6ms in production. That’s before caching is turned on.
Still love WP for it’s overall ease of deployment, and for allowing end users to work with the CMS of WP sites/blogs. But with each successive version update, I have to do more and more server level tinkering, replacement of orphaned plug-ins, theme modding, and it’s almost a REQUIREMENT to install some sort of chaching plug-in to snatch SOME speed back from the heavy back-end before I let a client see a WP site.
And clients ALWAYS want some branding and customization. If a theme is any good or attractive at all, hundreds of sites use it, so you HAVE to customize it to differentiate the site. Woe be designer or developer that doesn’t have a firm grip of massively nested CSS and PHP includes.
The Editor has very much become a road of pain, and you have to be VERY careful about switching from Visual to HTML modes, and I have to install a plug in to have WP honor Paragraphs and Returns.
Image Manager… WTF? Try EXPLAINING how that works to a tech-phobic CLIENT.
So lots to love, stuff to hate…
OH. The 3.5 upgrade failed on a clients site… some kind of permissions issue I suspect.. Gotta go.
Couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing your experience. :)
Thank you for mention dessign.net much appreciated… Yes WordPress is very powerful CMS with amazing community behind it thats why I love WordPress.
I do agree maybe its time for WordPress to focus or divide the CMS into 3 categories; bloggers, portfolios (designers), and business.. (just an opinion)
As to the plugins less is always more..there needs to be some control system integrated…no need for thousands of plugins
No probs. You’re doing a great job with your themes. Keep ’em coming. :)
As for plugins, yes, agreed. I think a ranking or sorting mechanism is badly needed. Too many plugins do not help anyone. Even the devs’ hard work goes unnoticed as most of the time, a good plugin by a lesser known author doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves.
WP has it’s issues, however the reason it’s used so widely over Drupal is that at the end of the day, the CMS is for the end user, not the developer. If I sit “Jane” the marketing director in front of both CMS’s, WP is going to be much more user friendly and easier to use that Drupal is at it’s current state.
Drupal is great for developers, but falls on it’s face for your typical user. My clients pay me to make easy to use systems, not lower my stress level.
Yes, that’s the practical side of things. This is one of the primary reasons behind WP’s popularity. :)
I want to learn open source CMS. Any good suggestions please.
Umm….how about WordPress? :D
One word: PHP. I tried switching to WordPress years ago but creating my own templates in PHP was such a ridiculous pain. After a year or two I decided that the frustration was not at all worth it and switched back to MovableType. Now I use Tumblr. Making a theme is dead-easy and, although not as full-featured for sure, it covers my needs fine. It turns out I didn’t need a Swiss army knife, I just needed box cutter.
As an ardent RoR and Perl fanboy, I smiled when I read your comment. Absolutely! :D
Though I do think that MT isn’t any better than WP anymore: I generally turn to Radiant or Refinery nowadays.
Thankfully WordPress is open source and with that the ability to fork. After all, WP is a fork itself. There is a wonderful project under way by John Nolan to fork WP back to a blogging platform. In his words “WordPress is so much more than just a blogging platform,” and “WordPress, by anyone’s definition, is no longer ‘just a blogging platform’.” It’s called “Ghost” and I’m looking forward to the first beta.
Check out John’s take here http://john.onolan.org/ghost/
Yes, even I am eagerly waiting for the release of Ghost. :)
Very nice writing Sufyan.. I like you writing style!
Thank you Taimoor. Much appreciated. :-)
Your welcome bro. :-)
WordPress plugin repository is nomore a safe place too. This is 3rd time i saw unwanted affiliate links and even adsense ad banner. I am talking about this plgin
http://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-reviews/strx-magic-floating-sidebar-maker this plugin is showing developer’s own ads, further 7-8 affiliate link, your twitter handler, google+ handler, donate us button!!!! thats what i found till now
It come to my notice when i found i was getting unusually low CTR after installing this plugin, by installing this plugin you may ask us to donate but you can sell your plugin for some money, but you can’t do things like this, this is really unethical
I wrote a detailed review on this plugin. http://www.designrapid.com/wordpress-plugins-security-issue
I want the developer to answer me, i contacted him via his blog then wrote a review today, but i think he is guilty and want to avoid me.
Whoa! Nice catch there. Thanks for sharing your findings and raising this issue. :)
I agree with Ben Nash that security is a major issue. I came across an amazing statistic that the National Vulnerability Database (http://nvd.nist.gov/) found that WordPress went from 2 known vulnerabilities in version 1.0 to 5733 vulnerability at the start of 2010 – probably many more by now. Many users aren’t aware of basic security measures like changing admin password, directory structure vulnerabilities, etc., and are susceptible to getting hacked. Even for more experienced users, there is a constant need to install updates to guard against new vulnerabilities, and I for one have found that sometimes these updates change the behaviour of the site – especially when there are custom components or plugins I have tweaked a bit, these can break on a site update. So it’s always a dillemma of whether to update and suffer the consequences of possible non-backward-compatibility, or leave the site as is and risk an attack. Anyone else in this situation – I would love to hear others’ thoughts. And Merry Christmas for those celebrating :)
5733 is a huge number in anyone’s book.
That said, Merry Christmas to you too! :)
I use WordPress quite a bit myself. I think anytime you have to cater to such a wide audience you are going to have some complaints.
Yes, that’s true. But I do notice that of late WP has been leaning more towards a specific side, rather than attempting to keep it balanced.
I can totally relate to your thoughts here and it’s just been a few months here on a self hosted blog, especially the themes part. Just too much of options everywhere and too many choices to make. As much as I would love to be happy with the various options and ample support available from the community, it very hard to get that perfection that you were looking for. May be I am a hard nut to please but, i haven’t gotten bliss from it yet. It sure is getting bloated. the sql part seriously gave me a nightmare once, am looking forward to learn SQL now :) Do I like it, yes.will I recommend it yes, but will also share a word of caution. Nicely written Uzayr. Hope the word spreads and WordPress gets a hint at where they need to focus.
Thanks for the feedback, and yes, many people are facing those SQL problems. Lucky for me…I have a background in databases. :D
Criticism is necessary for self-reflection and growth.
“Bloat” seems inevitable when there is large and active user-base. Though that can be reversed with cleaner, more refined coding and improvements in server-technology.
I also agree with the daunting number of plugins though plugins. Though they are prolific because of easy installation and fast implementation.
Many of WordPress aficionados are not hardcore coders. As a designer, WordPress has made my life easier and I’ve learned a lot from its many contributors.
“As a designer, WordPress has made my life easier…” –Absolutely! I agree. But as you said in the first line of your comment, “criticism is necessary for self-reflection and growth”. :)
Thanks for reading and commenting.
I agree with most things wholeheartedly. I am particularly flummoxed by the selection of plug-ins and themes out there. It is a similar problem as what has happened with the app stores for Apple and Android. Identifying a quality plugin or theme is an exercise of extreme patience and unfortunately a lot of trial and error.
Comparing the WP plugin repo with Android app store: ABSOLUTELY! Whenever I search Google Play for a particular app, category-wise, I’m bombarded with a zillion results that shout “useless”. Same with the WP plugin repository.
Un poco dramático pero tienes razón es las apreciaciones sobre wordpress, de todos modos sigue siendo la mejor opción libre que existe y con una gran comunidad.
I think this goes back to the tools of choice for the job at hand. I reach for WP in most cases, but I realize that many of my clients need other solutions. Drupal fits the needs of some of those clients while a completely customized build of WP is needed for others.
For me, it’s about knowing the limitations of each. I agree with the concerns mentioned, but it’s important to know why and when to use each tool. WP is just that – a tool. Used improperly on the wrong job, and it’s sure to be a mess.
Point number 3 is rubbish! People shouldn’t be changing themes on a whim anyway. Of course things aren’t all going to ‘just work’ when you switch themes. Imagine if it did. Websites would look different each time you visited them just because the owner of the site ‘felt like’ changing the look that day.
Point number 5 is rubbish also. People like different things, give them a choice! Horses for courses etc etc
I really wanted to know a critique’s view on WordPress,as I have joined a course which says I can have a very good Webdesign business if I learn how to build websites in WordPress(without knowledge of coding). Though i love how fast I can get a site online, I sincerely feel the need to make it perfect for each client that I build it for.Knowing a little how to customize it according to the client doesn’t satisfy me.
So,what according to you I should learn more to be able to tweak WordPress more to the particular requirements?
I know my comment is totally off the topic but your blog has such a rare to find information that I could not resist saying what I wanted to.You can edit my comment and remove the part which is unrelated.
As I am a new user I don’t know if my comment has the required depth to appear here,still I don’t mind saying what i think about the plugins.
Yes,there are so many plugins that it is difficult and most importantly time taking to find one which suits you best.Viewing the details of the plugins and viewing its ratings though helps to a great extent in choosing it.To me not having to learn to write the code and just installing it is a great favour.
Haha Nice rant.
I also hate the “dolly” plugin.
They should start branching wordpress. I mean like “WP Blog”, “WP CMS”, “WP Portfolio” and such.
The competition is starting to lighten up the code and simplify rather than bloating and over feature like my dear and beloved wordpress.
:/ Nice to know that I’m not alone in this
ps: Happy New Year
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