States of Internets: 2

The internet loves negativity. So, here are some of the current downsides of WordPress. If we are looking for a service which will allow you to

  1. Write blogs
  2. Have a website
  3. Avoid coding
  4. Avoid the hassle of setting up host servers and buying domains
  5. Have some flexibility around how you present yourself online

and you’re evaluating WordPress, here are some downsides.

  1. It’s inevitable there’s going to be a learning curve on new additions. However, there are ways in which the block editor is a nightmare. When I started reviving this blog, I used the app exclusively, and typed from my phone. It told me about the block editor when I was trying to edit old posts, or looking at the Instagram photos currently being syndicated here by IFTTT, but it looked exactly the same. Now I’m typing on the PC, it’s wildly different than I’m used to. The text box worked like a shrunken Word, with all the distracting formatting bars in place. Now, it’s all hidden away. It took a bit of faff to figure out how to do a list, and now that I have, and am typing paragraphs rather than sentences, I’ve had to figure out how to start a new block at 2. in order to stick to the formatting philosophy of the website design, which takes you away from actually writing. Also, I’ve been a bit spoiled by Scrivener, which allows you to easily add and switch between different bits of text. I’m typing a few instalments of this blogchain simultaneously, and it’s just occurred to me that Scrivener would be an easier way to accomplish that than WordPress, where each blog is fullscreen, you have to open Chrome tabs and go into and out of menus in order to create posts, and all that nonsense. All minor gripes, but all stuff than encourages you to type elsewhere and publish here, which is against the point of a blogging service.
  1. WordPress is a blogging service, not a website provider. If you have to read around and fiddle in order to burlesque a real website, it’s not beginner friendly. If it’s essentially a subdomain of a corporate website, it’s not too far away from a Facebook page, and not really what you’re after if you seek a return to Web 1.0 but in 4K.
  1. You have no fundamental control over the HTML of your blog, so if something breaks, it can be difficult to fix. There’s all sorts of menu options, but some are obscure, and anything could be changed by WordPress and you’d be none the wiser. Some plug-ins used to be more widely available, as I recall, but currently they’re all only on business plans costing hundreds of pounds a year. This restricts your options massively. For example, I would prefer to upload photos here as a properly formatted photo post, import my entire Instagram feed prior to 2020, and push out new photos from here to there. You can certainly publish on Instagram – if you pay for a business plan and get the plug-in. Everything else looks to complicated to research in order to get a probable no because, essentially, WordPress is just another walled garden. It’s set it and forget it because why wig out over something you can’t control?
  1. Everything is provided by WordPress. I’m sure you can buy a domain elsewhere, but I think you have to pay WordPress to link it anyway. If you want to use a local server, or shop around for servers, what you actually want is If you’re happy with that, great, but it’s not vegan farm-fresh Internet by any means.
  1. The dirty secret with themes is that if any of them were actually good enough for your website, you wouldn’t have to change them around so often. That’s probably a bit harsh, considering you change website designs for the same reason you redecorate a house – in order to get a fresh perspective on it, and change the way you look at it. What I learned about decorating from working in a paint shop, though, and umpteen rented accommodations, is that all you really need is a white silk paint for kitchens and bathrooms, a magnolia matt paint for everywhere else, and you’re set. It looks fine, and you can do the real decorating with pictures and furniture instead. If there was a WordPress theme equivalent, I haven’t found it yet. Plus, each theme handles the component parts of WordPress slightly differently, so there’s still a lot of fiddling to do once you’ve picked one.

Further to the above, the new theme combined with the block editor changes meant that I had to go through some old post to try and fix the format, or give up on that post looking halfway decent again.

So, what’s the competition – and why do you need your own website anyway?

This is an occasional series.