WordPress has left the building

I don’t even know where to start with this. Most people don’t even know of my agency, so this probably isn’t a big deal to many of you, but it’s a huge deal to me. I love WordPress. With it, I have felt a genuine affinity for a product the likes of which is matched only by my Commodore64. It will be exceptionally strange for me to no longer recommend WordPress.

The reality is that we’ve moved in different directions, and if I’m honest this decision has been coming for a long time. Over the last year, for the first time since we started, we’ve migrated more clients away from, rather than to WordPress.

Our clients have consistantly given us worse and worse feedback on the update process, and asked for more and more features that WordPress simply isn’t capable of. That is not a criticism of the software itself, though I know many will think that, it’s just that it’s not able to do what we constantly try to make it do.

I don’t want this to get into a mud slinging match, but given how much I’ve defended WordPress both Publicly and Privately in the last 4 years; I do feel a real need to be open about why we’re moving away from it.

WordPress is the best blogging platform I, or indeed we, have ever used… but as a CMS is falling far behind the alternatives.

Hard Truths

WordPress has either no, or severely limited:

  1. Document management
  2. Workflow management
  3. Digital asset management
  4. Link management
  5. User management
  6. ESI Caching / CDN ability.
  7. WYSIWYG editing
  8. Single Sign-on
  9. Multi-side Admin
  10. Publishing options
  11. Access Management
  12. Application
  13. Multi-lingual
  14. n-to-n content sharing
  15. Reporting

There are plugins out there that do some of this. Document Revisions and Edit Flow are great examples of how plugins are getting there. But frankly it’s not enough. So much of this needs to be driven by, or at least firmly dictated by, the core management team (a team with 0 project managers).

This would actually be a much smaller issue if it wasn’t for the WordPress’ update schedule. I am 100% for constant updating of software, but the current desire to redesign the AdminUI 2-3 times a year creates a huge amount of friction from both clients and developers.

Additionally this causes immense trouble for our clients and users who WordPress consider to be “edge cases”, that they no longer cater for. That covers disabled users, colour blind users, those not using a mouse, those not using a desktop PC, those using a microsoft browser, especially those using IE6 or IE7, Enterprise clients, charities, or those with legal requirements around their website. (Bluntly, if you’re not using a Mac, look out).

All of this is compunded by WordPress’ shockingly poor testing and release management. I could go through how terriblly managed this all is, going through myriad of examples but instead allow me to defer to my Tester:

Kev, they released a BETA version that they didn’t even load on Windows. The MENU didn’t work. Not some advanced feature throwing a bug, the fucking MENU didn’t work. I can’t test our themes and software against that. Lets be honest mate, how did it get past their tester and release procedure? Oh, thats right, they dont have a Tester. They just load it on their MacBooks and presume it works for the other 95% of the world. It’s a fucking shambles, and clearly they’ve learnt nothing since the 3.0 fuck-up.

When the head of each “department” continues to give you that kind of feedback, it’s hard to defend. I mean, every softwre has it’s issues, of course it does and there’s a reason we originally went with WordPress; but I find myself running out of reasons to promote its use to my team as well as our clients.

Reality Bites

The straw the that broke the camel’s back? My Account Manager.

How can we claim that [WordPress] is the CMS for our clients, when you need the capability to edit ANY content on the website simply to mark a comment as spam?

For the record he’s referring to this:

Since 2.0
Allows users to moderate comments from the Comments SubPanel (although a user needs the edit_posts Capability in order to access this)

It’s been 13 releases and over 3 years since this was added to the core, and there’s no desire to fix it. And why would there be, WordPress is a blogging platform. It has some truly amazing developers, and a wonderful (if sometimes short-sighted and sycophantic) community. But WordPress is what it wants to be, and it’s not going to change as long as it’s biggest consumer is “.com”. It’s just not what we need it to be, nor what our clients need it to be.

I rarely claim to be a good boss, and I rarely actually manage to do whats right; but today my colleagues have spoken. Loud and clear, each one of my peers have said that they don’t want to use WordPress anymore. As disappointed as I am personally, and I am, we’ll be winding down our WordPress support by Q2.

Goodbye WordPress, I really loved you and I’ll miss you.

My staff wont.