A year of working with WordPress

26th May 2021

For a long time I found developing websites in WordPress really challenging. It is completely different to my usual approach. Usually I’d create static HTML websites and add a content management system to them using a CMS like Perch.

Last year I spent some time trying to get to grips with WordPress. During that time I’ve created full websites with it and helped people maintain their existing websites. Here are some of the things I’ve learnt.

Don’t go plug-in crazy

One of my main concerns about working with WordPress was around speed and performance and the amount of plug-ins I would need to use. Plug-ins are add-ons for WordPress that help with particular tasks such as adding a form or optimising images. I decided to choose plug-ins with good reviews from reputable developers. I only installed the plug-ins I felt were absolutely necessary.

WordPress emails you when a plug-in receives an update so you can check for any problems. I’ve found that really useful.

Akismet can be your best friend

WordPress and Akismet work brilliantly together at keeping spam away from your inbox. If you’ve got a form anywhere on your website I’d say that Akismet is an essential tool, it will save you an awful lot of time and energy.

WordPress updates itself a lot

I must admit that I was a bit surprised at how often WordPress and its plug-ins update themselves, although given its popularity I probably shouldn’t have been. The updates give you a feeling of confidence that the code is up-to-date and hopefully nice and secure.

The media library is brilliant

The media library is something I really like about WordPress. Deleting images from the library removes them from your server which saves hosting space. Not all systems do that. Being able to set an alternative description (alt) for an image just once is another great feature particularly if you reuse that image on different pages of your website.

The admin panel still feels difficult

For the websites I’ve created in WordPress I’ve used the Advanced Custom Fields plug-in (ACF) to create a custom page builder. ACF works really well but there’s still something that makes me feel uneasy about the WordPress admin panel. It doesn’t feel very friendly and I think it could be quite distracting for a lot of people. .

Summary

WordPress gets criticised by the web design community and problems do arise when it’s not set up properly. Recently I worked on a site that had thirty eight plug-ins installed and a lot of them weren’t necessary.

I’m fairly early into my adventures with WordPress but I really like it. Designed originally for blogging it works remarkably well as a fully fledged content management system.

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