Since it’s been almost a year since I set up my last blog, it’s been a somewhat nostalgic experience looking at how the platform has changed since I started using it in 2006 with it’s 1.x incarnation.
Having played with a WP 2.7.1 install, it seems to chug along slower compared to it’s 2.5.1 predecessor, and hopefully this doesn’t signal a path down the bloatware route, even if it comes with lots of shiny bells and whistles, compared to before.
WordPress has become much easier to use now for the most part, with several functions accessible behind the browse-based point-and-click interface. In the past you had to FTP files down, edit them with a text editor and upload them, or use the clunky “theme editor” function and edit the text from there.
I started out in 1997 writing HTML on a text editor and created tables writing raw table, tr,td,/td,/tr, /table tags. I later progressed on to using WYSIWYG text editors and software like XSite Pro. These days I do almost everything exclusively with WordPress only or in tandem with other software like vBulletin forum software, Aweber email autoresponder software, Joomla or some of the new CMSes I’ve been working with recently.
HTML editors have gone to the scrapheap for me. That’s not to say that WordPress is the final word in creating new niche affiliate sites though.
Here is my wishlist:
Here are a couple of things that WordPress has done well:
- Spam control: Akismet works hard to keep trackback spam, comment spam out of the woodwork. I use a couple more for good measure so very little spam is sitting in the moderation basket each day.
- Tagging: Keywords and tags help readers find relevant content, especially with the millions of blogs floating in the blogosphere. They’re one step further towards relevant and have made older plugins like Tag Warrior float into lesser prominence.
- Native embedding of video and other embed code: While you had to jump through hoops to place a YouTube video in a blog post, the process is a pretty seamless copy-and-paste job now.
Here are a couple of things that would help WordPress become a more complete solution:
- Higher SEO intelligence: Er, who in their right mind would use a permalink structure like domainname.com/?p=284 ? To have to toggle it to a date is a slightly better with your postname showing. But I think more could be done. Recommendation: the All-In-One SEO pack plugin. Another, XML sitemaps (shouldn’t this be built into WordPress?).
- Caching to HTML or static files: WordPress is a set of PHP (a programming language) scripts and these use more computing power than most HTML pages or static pages. Shouldn’t something like Super Cache be part of the standard plugins? Lowering your server overhead is a good practise, rather than wait till you encounter server slowdowns.
- More Multimedia: With audio and video content becoming more prevalent (there was only one audio blog listed in many blog directories when I started, now there are thousands), shouldn’t the functions provided by plugins like PodPress become part of the standard issue plugins?
- More Talk: This is a weird one. With spambots actively harvest email from sites, it’s weird that blogs don’t come with a contact form or email mailto: form. Are you only supposed to talk to readers in your comments?
It’ll be interesting to see what the new versions of WordPress bring (hopefully they make it run more speedily.
I doubt that Twitter will be driving blogging out of business any day soon, and with the trend towards WordPress as a landing page, or as the building block for niche sites, its popularity looks set only to increase.
Maybe someone can take a snapshot of the proportion of WordPress sites compared to total websites today and see how much it increases a year from today.
If you’re serious about using WordPress for branding yourself, or creating affiliate/niche sites, you should also check out the Thesis WP theme (see my product review) and also the Secret Blog Weapon training.