I have been using WordPress since I first started this on the at the time nascent commercial offering of their CMS on wordpress.com in fall of 2009, and it has changed a LOT in that interregnum.
Not long after I created the original site on their hosted site, I wanted to move it to a self-hosted site. This was my first foray into shared hosting solutions (I used Media Temple, who was acquired later by Go Daddy) and I spent a lot of time tweaking it.
I also remember some of the earlier versions had some pretty major security holes, and the plugin ecosystem was filled with cobbled together plugins built by careless developers who lacked the experience to build safe code. This led to a string of exploits, and I soured on WordPress as a platform.
But even back then, it was a solid Content Management System (CMS) that provided a solid framework and an openness to extension. This fostered an ecosystem of creators who built solid extensions like frameworks for building themes, page builder apps, and other things that make it easy for a less experienced person setting up their site(s).
In the late 2010’s the trend was to go from using rich text editors that functioned like you were familiar with from spending time on Microsoft Word, to block-based editors. I think the one WordPress incorporated was from a project called “Gutenberg” and it is OK, but instead of there being this cool menu at the top of the post editor, you have to select the type of the “block”, and I guess if you author a lot in it, you get good at configuring the desired “block” type.
Alas, there are solutions. I am a Mac and PC user, and on each platform I have an editor that allows me to create in markdown, to insert images and other elements, and then to directly upload to WordPress in their “block” structure, and everything is good as a starting point.
If I didn’t have these external tools, I would probably move elsewhere than WordPress.
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I think it was 2011 when I first saw a paid addon by the parent company of WordPress. I seem to recall there being a $4 a month “Vaultpress” offer that would do a daily backup of your site, so that if you did get hacked (and that happened remarkably frequently in that era) it was practically a 1-button restore to a good state. I might even have paid for it for a year or so before I punted to go to Ghost.
I think about the same time the Jetpack suite of functionality was released, a set of cool functionality that allowed us self-hosted folks (who had a wordpress.com account) to share some of the cool features that came with a paid WP.com site. Social media sharing, notification of subscribers of new posts, and a growing list of paid options (starting with the aforementioned Vaultpress). Now look at what you can add:
I do pay for Akismet, worth every penny. But the rest are pretty pricey. Sure, you can bundle them, but if you bundle them all, it is like $50 a month.
Sure, if I was running a high traffic commercial or revenue generating site, I could justify that, but as a hobbyist doing this for fun, nah, that ain’t gonna happen. But I don’t begrudge Attomatic for selling these enhancements (and they are useful, although I am gonna say that the AI tools to write (or expand) your posts feels like cheating3.)
The other thing to note is that there is a storefront for addons and themes for WordPress (and other CMS solutions), Envato. This includes where I get my themes, Themeforest. If you can’t find something to start with there, you are impossible to please.
Final thoughts for today
WordPress is the #1 CMS for a reason. Whether you are a hobbyist like me, or running a significant traffic newspaper, or e-commerce site, there are solutions that scale, are secure, and can be very high performing.
I do not mesh well with the new authoring system (get off my lawn) but there are stand alone tools that I use, so it isn’t that huge of a ding.
If you can’t find an off the shelf solution for what you want to do, you aren’t trying. There was a time in the early 2010’s where I would have recommended any other solution besides WordPress because I got hacked about 4 times in one year. Today, unless you have something that you can’t do cleanly in WP, I would recommend WP. It has matured, and it can grow with you.
- Markdown is sort of a simple markup language where there are simple tags you insert inline to format the most common elements (headers, emphatic, bold, lists, and tables) without having to lift your hands off the keyboard to grasp the mouse. ↩︎
- I think this is due to my well-aged Gen X brain being wired differently than later generations ↩︎
- n.b.: This is 100% my babbling, no AI was harmed in the creation of this or any of my profane posts ↩︎