Caleb Mellas over at Webinsation had a fairly long post about his perspective on WordPress as a CMS detailing how he thought WordPress ultimately drops the ball from a number of angles.
I was going to offer my thoughts in response but since there doesn’t appear to be any direct commenting system available I thought I’d bring the conversation over here (if there’s one to be had). There were a few great points of note on HackerNews as well, to be sure.
WordPress has gone through a lot of changes in the past few years and has been moving up the traditional CMS ladder in many people’s minds are more and more viable for larger and more robust website development and production. No, it’s not even close to a Joomla!, Drupal, or Expression Engine or the many other “classic” CMS out there but it does excel in native areas that have made WordPress popular.
What Caleb refreshes in his article are a few points worth calling out:
Many workers complained when Combines were introduced because they wouldn’t have a job any more (i.e. sweating long hours picking grains in the field).
However, those same workers today couldn’t imagine going back to their former jobs. They now have more time to focus on things they enjoy, because a machine can take over the menial task they once did.
Caleb reminds us that for both designers and developers that WordPress has saved us countless hours of toil and sweat of having to create these things fresh and we can be grateful for that.
He’s right in that I could never go back to the old way of “blogging” as it once was. I can’t even imagine a world without WordPress or some similar simple publication system.
Caleb goes on to describe some of the tactical challenges for end-users:
It’s the same with business owners – we shouldn’t expect them to edit their website in Dreamweaver or Coda right?
I’m going to argue that a website with a fresh install of WordPress is almost as overwhelming for our Clients as Photoshop is to a beginning photographer.
And I tend to agree with Caleb here – I’ve had so many new users (completely “green”) feel sick to their stomach when they first encounter the back-end of WordPress. Many of us are so enterprising and so used to the back-end that we forget about how cluttered and overwhelming it can be (and still is).
There must be some other ways (which many are exploring now) to present the data and options in a way that doesn’t detract from their obvious and necessary function but doesn’t scare them off.
Finally, Caleb speaks on behalf of many designers:
Sure, you can accomplish it (creative layouts) by creating a variety of Post Loops, Widgets, Custom Posts, and CSS classes; but there’s a problem.
What happens when a Client goes to make a change and accidentally deletes your h1 element with its custom class? The class disappears, and your layout breaks.
It’s here that I paused a moment and thought about some of the work that I’ve done for clients and how it is not only my job but also my responsibility to make sure that “deleting H1 tags” is not something that they could do very easily, or if ever.
I think there are not just workarounds to the “creative dilemma” that Caleb shares but rather creative solutions that can be done for those willing to discover them. I have seen some incredibly creative WordPress implementations so I don’t agree that WordPress necessarily limits the creative freedom of designers.
I will go halfway though and state that it does take a little bit more effort and work to get some of those layouts and creative designs to play well but there’s enough code and tutorials out there to get your fill if you get stuck. And the community, in many ways, will help you as well.
Thanks Caleb for a great read and thoughtful presentation of the challenges and opportunities for making WordPress even better.
Ok folks, your turn. Thoughts?
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