The Problem With WordPress

I love WordPress but its popularity and simplicity is a problem (to some people).

Why?

Let’s just say I love WordPress as a blogging tool. It is easy to use, easy to extend with plugins and is the venerable Swiss Army Knife of blogging tools.

The problem starts when people start using it as a CMS. The truth is, WordPress needs to do more contortions than a Cirque du Soleil performer for it to be an effective CMS.

To be fair, WordPress has never pretended to be a CMS. From its site:

WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.

The problem actually has much deeper roots than developers trying to fit WordPress into a hole that it was not made for. The problem begins because when it comes to the web, people conflate the following activities:

1. Content Generation
2. Content Publishing
3. Content Management

Let’s think about this with an example.

Say I work for a site that publishes posts on interesting stuff that happen in Singapore.

Say I want to write a post about birds in Singapore. I will go out and take photos. Do some research. Write up a post. Find some related sites. Link to those sites in my post. Associate relevant photos with the post.

I’m generating my content.

Now, in WordPress, when I am generating this content, as the writer, I am generally responsible for arranging where the photos appear in the post. If there is a colleague who finally decides where the photos are placed relative to the text, the same interface used to write the text is used (i.e. either the Visual or HTML editor).

In fact, the person publishing the post (the final action before the content can be seen by readers) should be responsible for where the photos are. To have a coherent site design, the layout of every post needs to be taken into account. The current post editors (i.e. Visual and HTML) for WordPress allows the designer to control the look of a post, however it needs the designer to know the existing code (i.e. CSS) for the site. Also, WordPress allows the writer to control the look of a post with no consideration for the look of the site.

Content Management occurs when an information architect decides on how to categorize and tag the published post making it easily available to readers and search engines.

With regards to Content Generation, I believe the current Visual and HTML editors used by WordPress (and other similar tools) is stuck in the Microsoft Office era. The tools are not fitting the way we actually work when producing content for the web.