Pressing WordPress Woes

There’s a disturbance in the force of WordPress; I’ve sensed it.

And now my inner disquiet has been further stirred. An article caught my attention, citing a report that indicates declining WordPress market share for the first time ever, which is apparently caused by performance issues, increased complexity, and a lengthy yet unfinished release of the Full Site Editor.

These problems struck me. 

The issues seem somewhat speculative, but based on the numerous comments in the article, there’s some consensus about the Gutenberg/FSE long roll-out being a problem along with increased platform complexity overall. And based on my own experience with the Full Site Editor and other changes to the platform in the past few years, I have to agree. 

I’ve had a growing sense that WordPress has been evolving from a simple publishing platform to a full-fledged website builder. So instead of a focus on getting text-based articles online, WordPress has prioritized getting entire websites online. Where bloggers once shared their thoughts, now entrepreneurs sell their products. Being all things to all people is a burdensome load.

This adds complexity; I’ve certainly experienced it in the newer block widgets under site customization; I prefer the now “legacy” widgets. And I’m only using the default WordPress.com, ignoring plugins.

Full Site Editing pushes complexity further with the classic theme system being slowly deprecated by block-enabled site construction. Worse is that the FSE is still in beta yet is pushed on new sites. 

I recently created a new test site to begin learning the FSE. Working with an import of my existing live site, I was befuddled on my first attempt. Reading a few helpful articles and watching a good WP tutorial video, I felt some promise and gained a little hope. So I sat down on three separate occasions to purposefully practice the FSE. But I made little progress. And on attempt three, I ran into a show-stopping bug. A Template Part I tried to create simply hung the editor and was never fixed. 

At that point, having invested a few hours over several days, I didn’t see enough return; the results were lackluster and the process was cumbersome. Frustrated and disappointed, I gave up, preferring the classic theme system — which, by the way, already worked quite well. I know the world doesn’t stand still, but as I’ve grown, the saying, “Leave well-enough alone” has grown on me. 

All of this piles on top of my deep dissatisfaction with the hosting plan changes disruption announced in April. In fact, I’m surprised it wasn’t cited as part of the cause for the decline in WordPress market share. I already posted about the pricing issues here and here and here. And though WordPress has said they will address or alleviate the current structure’s weaknesses, I’m still inclined to move to an alternative blogging host. 

I checked out WordPress alternatives like Wix and should maybe try again. I tried Ghost and really like it a lot. But the site I’m loving the most, after all these years, is good old Blogger; I’m quite fond of it. In fact, I’ve been migrating most of my Jason Journals posts to it over the past few weeks. At some point after migration is done, I’ll reassess the blogging landscape once more and then decide to either hold onto WordPress a little while longer, or I’ll pack my bags and move on. 

For now, Jason Journals is tentatively hosted at WordPress.

What are your thoughts? Should I stay on WordPress or move to Blogger or elsewhere? Let me know.

Update 5/19/22

I happened upon more evidence of WordPress evolving, or devolving, from a simple blogging platform to a full CMS/website builder. Consider the credible web-knowledgable source of the following quote – Manton Reece in his book Indie Microblogging:

“In recent years, WordPress has drifted away from its roots in blogging. When I attended a WordCamp in 2017, no one was talking about blogs. It was all about using WordPress as a full CMS.

WordPress’s Gutenberg block editor has also captured most of the development attention in the WordPress community, completing the shift away from simple, text blog posts to richer, full web pages. Gutenberg represented a multi-year vision from Mullenweg to make WordPress’s default editor competitive with modern blog platforms like Medium.”

Manton Reece

14 thoughts on “Pressing WordPress Woes

    1. Hmmm…I don’t think WP will degrade though, not like social media, or won’t rely on ad-based or algorithm-driven business model. It’s just grown to be and do more, mostly I think to compete with other upcomers like Wix and its ilk. From a business standpoint, I can understand that reason for growth/change. But from a humble user/blogger view, it’s disconcerting. That’s a big reason why I really like Ghost, it’s focused on being just a great publishing platform. If Blogger doesn’t work out, Ghost is a top contender for me.

      Funny thing though. You’ve mentioned micro.blog. I sort of started rediscovering that today, just reading up on it. I’m not keen on the central focus of a common Timeline though…hmmmmm.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just meant that WP is going the way many platforms go — changes for a bigger audience and doing what others are doing abandoning what it was really all about from the beginning,

        Hmm. I kind of forgotten about micro.blog. It’ll be interesting to see where WP goes. I’m also happy to hear how much you like Blogger. Out of all things, it’s changed the least.

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        1. Ok, I see. Yes, if WP would take their manpower and talent and refocus on their roots! It would be so nice. And what are they doing with Tumblr? I don’t know.

          In this era, with social media being more downplayed by more people, that leaves room for a return to blogging.

          I discovered a new blog today you might like:

          https://kevq.uk

          Like

          1. Wow! That site is so simple and so appealing. Thanks fo sharing. I’ll dive into some of it very soon — maybe get some design ideas.

            I also wondered what their plans were with Tumblr myself. Who knows.

            Keep us updated on how Blogger is going. Like I’ve said, I may join you over there if things at WP get too weird. I even thought about starting an anonomous blog over there and just write whatever comes to mind…

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  1. I was just looking at Blogger today! I might create a test blog there to see what I think. I’ve never used it before. I’ve also never looked at Ghost, but that will be my next stop (after typing this comment). Brad’s comment above is right on, I think. While I understand WP’s desire (need) to grow and expand, it’s disappointing that it affects the simple blogger. I’d much prefer to see feature sets exposed by usage, with pricing to match.

    I appreciate you keeping us updated on your blogging journey. Thanks Jason!

    Like

    1. Rob, good to hear from ya 🙂
      I’m very fond of Blogger… I think you’d really like Ghost (there’s a free test site to really try it).
      That said, today I scheduled a post for tomorrow that shares a bit about my decision to…not move to Blogger. I hope it will make sense.
      Thanks for following along, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m looking forward to reading tomorrow’s post. I have to say, I’ve been in a blogging slump for some time. Reading your posts has helped re-kindle the flame.

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        1. Cool, Rob, great to hear. I’ll fan the flame too if I can help. 🙂
          As long as Blogger is alive, being free to use, I find value in it for testing blog things like HTML widgets, page layouts, etc. Doing something (blogging) in a different way brings new views to the task. I think my weeks of building at Blogger helped. Looking at options on other CMS sites also can inspire or reveal things.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Very good points. I agree that just interacting with other platforms and approaches can often spur new ideas or just help build excitement around blogging!

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          1. Thanks, Jason, I appreciate that. I have been thinking about starting that again. I have a long list of topics to write about and of course, tech never stands still. I’ve also been thinking about adding some other topics there such as news, tech policy and opinion. Not sure yet but it might be fun/exciting to expand a bit.

            Like

          2. Sounds good, Rob. I’d like to hear what you say on those topics. Also, since they’re tech related, I don’t think they’d be unfit or make your blog too broad. Nice thing about blogging, you can pretty much do whatever you like.

            Liked by 1 person

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