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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


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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