The Top 10 Most Infuriating Things about WordPress and How to Fix Them

Using WordPress is an experience that is very much like using another CMS, but it is also an experience that is completely unlike using any other CMS.The Top 10 Most Infuriating Things about WordPress and How to Fix Them

Maybe it is the “duct tape,” DIY nature of PHP coding, maybe it is the first-to-market nature of any product that explodes into worldwide recognition, or maybe it is something entirely undefinable.  Whatever the reason(s), many web developers hold that teaching yourself WordPress it a rite of passage—some sort of a vision quest into the heart of the digital forest. Some are after their professional content creation spirit guide, whereas others are just looking for the most direct route to casual blogging. Regardless of what you ultimately intend using WordPress is a process will bring you to the edge of sanity and back with its maddening logistics and mind-bending reasoning for nearly every part of its design.

The whole ritual generally includes, but is not limited to the following ten things.

1. Plugins

The Problem:

The WordPress plugins repository is a labyrinth of discontinued versions and half-patched improvements.

For every solid plugin author (for example, Yoast) there is going to be dozens of knockoffs floating up from the murky depths of the PHP world all trying to piggyback on the popularity of highly generic web terms (like ‘SEO plugin’).

Then, you have to go through the ordeal of trying to figure out which add-ons are either incompatible with your theme, or incompatible with other add-ons.

Finally, even if you manage to fill all of the holes in the functionality you are after, eventually you realize that the more plugins you add, the more you site is going to slow to a disgusting crawl.

The Solution:

Using WordPress plugins is like playing one big game of electronic Jenga with a drunken partner, and if you update WordPress itself, another plugin, a theme, a widget, or any number of other things, it’s probably going to bring those wooden rectangles crashing down. The advice here is to find that combination that works—then pray.

2. WYSIWYG Editing

The Problem:

At no point in (proper) web development should you think to yourself, “I am really scared to press this button right now.

Yet for many people that are writing media and stylistically rich content, switching back and forth between the WordPress ‘Visual’ and ‘Code’ tabs is in the same emotional ballpark as walking across an old WWII landmine field. You are scared—possibly for your professional life.

Just to give you a little bit of background on the WordPress editor:

  • It’s missing basic/expected features: tables, a form builder, and CSS class imports
  • It’s riddled with known flaws: no HTML in full screen, removes all code except <div>, and the <div> that are left destroy paragraph spacing.
  • Has been like this since day one.

Literally—I mean since the very first day of WordPress. Take a look at a screenshot from its debut in 2003:

 Wordpress 2003

The talk on Twitter is that the WordPress team does have plans to change the editor’s capabilities, but unfortunately it will not be until sometime around 2032.

The Solution:

If you are looking for a couple high quality alternatives, check out the Advanced, and Ultimate Tiny MCE editor plugins for a feel familiar to the native WordPress editor. Or try something completely new with the CKEditor.

3. Five (or more) Different Areas just to make an Edit

The Problem:

Developing an efficient workflow in WordPress is next to impossible.

Sorry if I have angered you, but it is. No, no, don’t fight it; just accept it. No matter how efficient you think you are, you’re still left with the sinking feeling that WordPress will never be used as a case study for highly efficient workflow.  After all, if you want to make a change on a page, chances are you will have to navigate to any number of, or all of the following areas:

  1.  The page itself
  2. One or more widgets
  3. The style sheet
  4. The settings for relevant plugins
  5. Finally, the settings for your theme

The Solution:

There is really no solution to this problem because it’s just inherent to the software.  So long as you’re (power) using the WordPress user interface you will invariably sound like you are playing Starcraft 2 in the Master League. You will find no helpful suggestion here.

 4. The Search Bar my Fourteen-year-old Cousin Coded

The Problem:

The default search bar is doesn’t really search.

The WordPress search bar is one of the first things to be replaced on any real website, at least by any real developer. Whatever algorithm that search box uses seems to have the code complexity of a weekly computer science course assignment. The search bar is so bad that even WordPress.org—the official website of the platform—doesn’t use it. Talk about a ringing endorsement.

The search bar is yet another instance of a glaring lack of functionality in WordPress that has been ignored in favor of things like Bootstrapping the UI, or ensuring that lyrics from some song I don’t care about flash across my screen.  WordPress claims that “Code is Poetry” but you have to admit, some of their efforts on par with a William McGonagall poem.

The Solution:

Get literally any other search bar.

5. User Permission Insanity

The Problem:

The actual role of the ‘user roles’ functionality.

All and all there are five different user roles: Super Admin, Admin, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber. Now, let’s take a look at something from the WordPress.org documentation regarding users and their roles (as of 2013):

 User permission WordPress

In other words, if you can’t edit posts, you cannot moderate comments. Which user’s roles can edit posts you ask? The (super) admins and the editors…and that’s it. Only the three most executive roles can perform one of the most mundane features? Why? That makes absolutely no sense.

Say you are a huge news site that has to constantly monitor your comments, you are forced with the decision of either using some other comment system completely (making this yet another core functionality that fails), or you give the interns you hire the the keys to the content castle by making them an editor just so they can delete some hate spam, something that many administrators are going to be loath to do.

The Solution:

What would be better is if contributors, who only have the ability to write and submit content, also have the ability to moderate the comments on their own content. Or, you know, just make a damn user role for moderating comments. Or even better—and I know this is a novel idea—give us the ability to set custom user roles. Something tells me it’s not all that hard, and by something I mean the post(s) on Stack Exchange where people say, “It’s not that hard.”

7.  Enough Warnings Already

Warnings

The Problem:

The dashboard warnings have been completely out-of-hand for a while now.

You can see the logic in the type of alert pictured above, after all you don’t want to overwrite someone else’s work. That said, the majority of the time you are seeing this message you are checking revisions caused by the auto-save that always end up being identical to the previous one anyway. Consider how much easier it would be if it told you that it was an exact duplicate of the previous version before taking you a few click away from where you want to be, just to show you the (lack of) differences between the two versions. Why isn’t one before the other? There is no real answer.

This is all putting aside the fact that most of the time you see this message the ‘other’ user is … yourself.

The Solution:

Instead of waiting for you to navigate into the post before it tells you what’s going on in there, perhaps in the main backend page could display which users are working on which posts so that you don’t end up running into them without looking.

8. Multisite Admins Get No Love

The Problem:

The reason you make a multisite is to get give yourself options, and you get less.

Presumably you have created a Multisite network (many WordPress websites under a meta-UI) because you are trying to make things easier for yourself. So it seems completely arbitrary that WordPress would restrict the capabilities of the administrator role so that it’s harder to do certain things. However, that is exactly what occurs. It’s not an option for the super administrator to toggle on and off; it just happens.

 Admins for WordPress

The Solution:

Once again, I am no development expert, but I don’t see this being more than a couple lines of code.

9. Lack of Social Media Sharing

The Problem:

Popular sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and maybe Reddit should all have default ‘share’ buttons by now.

I say kudos to all the companies out there making high quality social media share buttons, and I say shame on all the other options that leak their slimy code juices all over your otherwise pristine website. When it comes to dealing with a bunch of different APIs for the social media sites, it sure would be nice to have some uniformity on the WordPress side.

After all, an essential feature of a content-rich website should be the ability for users to share published information, right? This all seems fairly straightforward. Case in point: social media integration is so commonplace that the “Twitter” plugin tag is a popular tag amongst more general keyword tags such as “Post”, “widget”, “image”, and “sidebar.”

Remember how Tumblr introduced its own share button in 2011 to complement an already robust content distribution system? Remember how 2011 would be the year that Tumblr would overtake WordPress(.com) for the most number of blogs on the internet? WordPress might not remember, but Tumblr sure does.

The Solution:

Standardize social media buttons so that each theme and plugin doesn’t have to do it from scratch.

10. Wow. Just Let Me Use Jetpack Already

The Problem:

The process of getting jetpack is more complicated than the rocket science to build an actual jetpack.

At first glance Jetpack seems like a good idea: bring some of the functionality from WordPress.com accounts to those people using WordPress software with their own web hosting. This includes things like After the Deadline (grammar) and latest tweets.

When you go to get the software, however, you are met with the realization that for some odd reason you need to go through all the trouble of creating a WordPress.com account just to get these features. But if you have a blog outside of WordPress.com, it is probably because you don’t want to use WordPress.com, right? So that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

What’s worse, for web developers creating a website that will be used for a given client, the confusion (and possible anger) is compounded more when you have to explain to the person paying for your supposed web efficiency why you are signing them up for a WordPress.com account, which they don’t need, won’t use, or even understand.

The Solution:

Remove the requirement to have a WordPress.com account.

 What about you?

What have you found infuriating about WordPress? What would you like to change?

Look forward to hearing your stories and feedback in the comments below.

Guest Author: Jamil is a freelancer writer who loves to write about anything and everything. A graduate from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC, Jamil has written stories for several publications and has interviewed everyone from Hollywood celebrities to local musicians. When he’s not putting pen to paper, you can catch him watching episodes of Game of Thrones or tinkering endlessly with his Fantasy Football lineup. You can find a recent example of his work here.

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Image by Shutterstock

 

 

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/HarounKola Haroun Kola

    I agree with most of these points, and this article has also made me realise that there’s so many more that I never even knew I’d be infuriated with…

  • http://facebook.com/pages/Mind-Your-Own-Body-LLC/119097894811058 Kevin M. Norris

    Hi Jeff!

    Makes me question using WordPress. I am in dire need of a web site with limited funds. What do it yourself web site developer software do you recommend?

    Thanks Jeff!

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      At the end of the day it is really like Facebook which is the defacto social network for half the web world.
      It is the default blogging platform !

    • John Clark

      I thought I replied to this but not showing up so here it is again – we use DotNetNuke as the main platform which has an excellent series of blog modules. DNN is a CMS that also has blogging modules. WordPress is blog software that can be bent into a website CMS.

  • http://inform.ly/ Dan Norris

    Good stuff, the search is a joke. The other really annoying thing is how widgets work and not being able to easily show some widgets on some pages but not others. After all these years I really thought they would have dealt with this. I use Widget Context which barely works. Joomla had a solution for this 6 years ago or more.

  • http://twitter.com/iamLaurenBatty Lauren Batty

    Never thought I would find myself laughing about a blog post on WordPress, but this one was actually funny and well written. I am currently playing around with Squarespace, any thoughts?

  • cboulanger

    You voiced a lot of my frustrations. Installing JetPack deals with #1 & #9 to a certain extent: You can use Sharing, Forms, Extra Widgets and the Gallery features to deal with many of the most common plugin needs. But you are right that getting it going is a pain.

  • http://twitter.com/onestopentrep Chim Aaron

    I don’t disagree with the points you’re making. However many would struggle to get started at a decent technical level online without WordPress. Not everyone has technical skills or the time to build a website and not everyone can afford to hire a developer. But I accept that you’re making the case for improvements to WordPress and I think your suggestions are reasonable.

  • http://www.incion.com/ profesional web design

    Awesome post about WordPress, Thanks for posting.

  • http://paradisesocial.wordpress.com/ Mike Poynton

    Two words (actually, a word and a number): “WordPress 3.50”. Ughhhh!

  • wizardofaudj

    These are all hilarious and great. Thank you! But where is #6?

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Obviously none of us can count! :)

  • http://lutrov.com Ivan Lutrov

    Agree with almost all of those points, especially the WYSIWYG editing fiasco. But then again, nobody has written a WYSIWYG web editor that actually works, so I reckon your prediction of 2032 might be a touch optimistic.

    The “multisite admins” problem can’t be fixed with “couple lines of code”, as you suggested. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

    On a side note, the attached image to this post is an absolutely ridiculous 690K monster, which takes forever to load and therefore impacts on your own site usability. You know how to fix that, right?

  • http://lutrov.com Ivan Lutrov

    Does this blog allow comments?

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Of course!

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Thanks Ivan for that heads up. Titles are always entered. Will look into it

  • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ Davina K. Brewer

    Funny! Problems aside – fixable issues too – WP is still a very solid platform for many web novices. Like anything, you have to put in the time to learn, to code, to research which plugins work w/ what themes, etc. FWIW.

  • WowThemes.net

    Awesome post about WordPress:)

  • tompick

    This is just brilliant stuff. Definitely one I’ll include in an upcoming “best of” post. The question is – who is this “Jamil” guy? He clearly knows his stuff AND is entertaining.

  • http://www.expertvillagemedia.com/ Ruby

    Nice and very useful tips to fix it.

    Thanks for sharing great article
    Ruby
    Expert Village Media

  • abismorkal

    nice post thanks for sharing with us such a quality content.

  • Mark Simko

    easiest up to a point. for anything more advanced like widget control (Joomla modules), use groups and permissions, multiple and split menus, theme (template) editing, and using advanced editors, Joomla is far better. the little bit of time you spend learning how to use the rich feature set plays of very quickly.
    the Joomla extension directory (Jed) has detailed information on Joomla extensions (WordPress calls these plugins), with ratings. Joomla extensions with security issues cannot be listed in the Jed.
    WordPress is only easier for the most basic of web sites.

  • Robert Miller

    You can boil this article down to one sentence: Real webmasters do not use WordPress to build websites!

    I think perhaps the most important about making a website was left out of this article and that is SEO! WordPress on its’ own is a nightmare in itself, but when it comes to WordPress, it does an excellent job at butchering any organic SEO you intend you use.

    Everything about how one starts to make a business website is wrong when it comes to WordPress. The correct way to build a website is to first carefully plot out your SEO and decide what your targets and approaches will be. The very foundation to any important website should be a very solid foundation of organic SEO and then you build your website on this foundation! That’s the SEO expert’s way of doing it.

    With WordPress just the opposite is held true, first you try to figure out which template might be the best for you ideas and then you try your best to incorporate your content within the confines of the template. Where was the consideration for the SEO? Don’t even start to tell me that you’ll use the SEO plugins for WP because that is nothing but a JOKE! SEO can not be created by software and/or plugins! It is created by understanding how SEO truly works and building a website to your SEO needs.

    My customers had usually been those businesses that desperately wanted to get away from the WP bullcrap. All great websites start from a BLANK page and from scratch. You don’t need to be able write HTML5, but you do need a real web editor like Dreamweaver or Freeway Pro in order to accomplish a website like what real webmasters make.

    Forget about how the website is going to look and feel until you have totally plotted out all your SEO and then that should determine as to your look, feel and design of the website.

    But in general, I totally agree with the article, WordPress is crap at best. Pros don’t use it for websites. It is merely a blogging tool at best.

    The way I describe it to customers is this. It is the sausage machine of the web editors. You feed into the top of it your content, images, videos and wait to see what the hell it is going to spit out. The source code is nothing but a lot of garbage and unnecessary crap that gets in the way of the search engines. The search engines immediately know they are NOT dealing with an organic site! Search engines will ALWAYS rank organic SEO over backend/CMS SEO. Basically put, it is not fair for the unsuspecting businesses owners to have these damned WP crap web site “builders” be in business.

  • http://www.dalalstreetwinners.com/ pramod baviskar

    nice and helpful post for amateurs !

  • http://www.educhatforums.com Fahim Zada

    Thank you for this helpful article.
    http://www.educhatforums.com/

  • BeachWebDesigner

    Let’s see, How about security? Even paid plugins can be full of security holes. How about just adding some JavaScript to the page? Every theme has a different admin panel, oh and about five thousand other things.

  • http://www.devmadeeasy.com/ Luke Jackson

    I can’t stand wordpress websites, it like you need a plugin for everything, and you still need a good bit of JavaScript PHP CSS HTML, and HTML5 codding, sucurity pffffft….And ARGGGG, Great with ready with some awesome commentary, I’ll stick to my wire framing, boostrapping, noding, and angular, SEO and SEM are also problematic….BIG TIME! http://www.devmadeeasy.com/

  • http://nexwebsites.com NexWebSites.com

    Why use WordPress or any other CMS for that matter? If you can grasp MarkDown (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown), which is very easy to learn, you can by pass all of the issues related to WordPress, like performance, security, updates, poorly written plugins or hosting expense and have complete control of your website’s layout by using one of the many free static site generators like Jekyll, Hugo or Middleman. Writing in MarkDown can be hugely productive for writers or anyone who would like to create content and have the best performance possible.

  • Alice Wonder

    There is something seriously wrong this blog. While visiting, twice it asked me to authenticate as admin.