I love WordPress. It allows me and millions of others to create beautiful websites that are easy to update. WordPress sites can be simple or complex, and they can do most anything that you want.
That said, there is always room for improvement. Now mind you, I’m not a tech person at all, and I’m definitely not an expert or a website designer. Far from it. I’m just a person who has several WordPress websites.
Note: I’ve updated this post with the best suggestions I received here on the blog on Google+, and the About Writing Squared freelance writers forum. In some cases, I also add my take on the new information.
Here we go with my suggestions for improvement…
1. The Ability to Make Private Notes About a Post
I would love this. When I write a post, I always have lots of things I need to jot down, such as:
- Alternative post titles
- Alternative URL slugs
- Alternative meta descriptions
- Other posts of my own I may want to link to
- Posts and pages on other websites I may want to link to
- Best tags
- Text for the email I send to my subscribers
- Who to contact after I publish the post
- Different tweets for the post
- Potential future posts on the same topic
As it is, I write these either in the post itself (and then delete later), or I write it in a Word document (cumbersome).
Is there any reason you aren’t using custom fields for this? Just add a new custom field below the post edit box, and enter your info. Save it. It’s saved as meta data attached to the post and you can see it whenever you’re looking at the post-edit screen. But it doesn’t show on the public post on your site unless you call that custom field in your post template. Easy peasy.
If you don’t see your custom fields, they’re hidden. Just click the “screen options” button near the top right of the page, and tell it to show them. Then you can move them anywhere you want on your edit screen.
I asked Jennifer if the info in the custom field would wind up in the code of my published post, like custom title tag, meta description, and metatags do. Here’s her reply:
It’s not going to make anything public unless you tell it to. And by “tell it to,” I mean you would have to physically open your theme’s template files and put in a call to display the data from your custom fields. You would have no reason to do that. So it’s a non-issue. Can’t happen. Just create new custom field names and make them something unique. (If you use ones already being called publicly, obviously that’s a problem. Start them with Note or Private or something, that’s all.)
This article does a decent job explaining them in layman’s terms.
I use Peter’s Post Notes plugin to jot down important things for each blog post (along with Edit Flow plugin that allows me to add a check list to the post, so I can make sure I followed all the steps required for my blog).
Note: Edit Flow is particularly awesome because it comes with other features, such as an editorial calendar – even better than the other plugin.
And My Response
I first followed Jennifer’s suggestion and added a custom field to a blog post draft. However, it seems I’d have to add it to every single new draft, which is a minor hassle. I’m sure there is a way to write code so the custom field is automatically included in every draft or published post, but I don’t write code.
So I then went with Jeevan Jacob John’s suggestion and installed the Peter’s Post Notes. It works fairly well; the only drawback is that it can take up a lot of real estate on the right side of the draft page when I have a lot of notes, meaning it pushes other important fields like Categories and Publish way, way down the column
Still, I wish this was just a standard include for WordPress, and that it appeared on the left side below the main writing area.
2. Display the Exact Time a Post Draft Was Updated
Sometimes I click “Save Draft” and I’m not sure the draft was actually saved. If you’ve saved even once, the site says “Post draft updated,” but it doesn’t say when. I wish it would say “Post draft updated at 10:37 a.m.” so I can be sure the update happened, and I can also see how long it’s been since I last saved.
Steve Maurer said:
I believe the revision information you’re wanting is near the bottom of the page.
I just did a test draft on my site and updated it twice. Not only is the date and time for each revision listed, but who did the revision. Here’s was it said:
Steve Maurer, 1 min ago (6 March, 2014 @ 13:37:04) [Autosave]
Steve Maurer, 1 min ago (6 March, 2014 @ 13:36:37)
Note that it also gives the autosaves.
If you don’t see the revisions, click on the tab “screen options” and make sure it’s checked to show up. You can remove options that you don’t need here as well.
Jennifer Mattern added:
You can actually drag that Revisions section to wherever you want on the screen. That’s a great feature of WP. All of those sections can be dragged wherever you’d like them, even to the smaller column on the right. And you can minimize things you don’t use often to cut back on clutter (click the little up arrow in the upper right corner of the section you want to minimize). That keeps it accessible but still out of the way. If you want to hide anything entire, just click the “screen options” link near the top.
And My Response
A relatively easy fix! However, I still wish it would show me the time of the last save just above the post, right where it says “Post draft updated. Preview post.” It should go right after “updated.”
3. The Ability to Deal with Daylight Savings Time
The developers used to joke about this, but it’s not trivial. It can be confusing if you want to publish a post just after midnight, but you’re not really sure if it’s actually going to post an hour earlier (and thus have the date of the day before, if you use months and days in your URL structure). Or maybe it’ll post an hour later, after you’ve sent an email to your subscribers about the new post.
Jennifer Mattern again:
The time issue sounds like it might be related to your DST issue. If that’s the case, changing your settings to a city should help.
And My Response
Yup, that fixed it. I chose a West Coast city and I should be fine from now on.
WordPress probably addressed this several versions ago. I just remember see new updates in the past and seeing message joking about not having yet fixed the Daylight Savings Time issue.
4. Full Kitchen Sink Options in Expanded Distraction-Free Writing Mode
I really like the concept of the full page to create a post. Unfortunately, what I can mainly do there is write text and add links.
But I always need to do other stuff, including:
- Adding headers
- Pasting text
- Indenting text
- And the other options that are missing
Why can’t that be included?
Jennifer yet again (so generous with her advice!)
I think that’s the whole point though. They wanted it as minimal as possible so it’s as distraction-free as possible — you’re not getting caught up in formatting; you’re just writing. The formatting comes later. So it’s unlikely that’s going to change in WP.
But if you really want it, here’s a link with a simple hack. It adds a second expand button, so you have one for distraction-free writing and one for a full-screen version of the full editor. Just copy the code to your theme’s functions.php file before the closing tag. I remember when you used to just be able to use alt-shift-G from the editor screen, but that doesn’t seem to work on its own anymore. I hadn’t tried to go full-screen in ages.
You could also go to “screen options” and set your edit screen to one column. Then drag the edit window to make it as large as you want. Then you get a less-cluttered environment even if not fullscreen, and you don’t lose any functionality.
And if you like the look of the distraction-free editor better than the fullscreen option I pointed you to, you could always keep a cheat sheet card with keyboard shortcuts / hotkeys. If you click the question mark icon before going to full-screen (in the kitchen sink), it will give you a list of them. For example, to add an H2 heading, you would just hit ctrl-2. I’m sure you’d get used to it quickly, and it would probably even speed up your writing more when you don’t have to stop to click on buttons.
And My Response
I still think WordPress should just add the second line of features below the first. Why not?
5. Get Rid of That Nagging Single Space Indent
I don’t know about you, but I frequently find that WordPress adds a single space to the beginning of many lines. I have to click there and then hit the backspace key.
Maybe it’s something unique to me, but it happens a lot.
Jennifer the Generous:
I rarely see this, but I do know what you mean. I tend to only see it when there are images before a paragraph, if the image was added using the visual editor. It’s adding space code to the html, and when I hit enter after the image in the visual editor, I sometimes carry that space with me. I suspect this might be a TinyMCE issue (the text editor WP uses) rather than a WP issue. And TinyMCE issues are many. There are plugins to switch to another editor if you wanted to try something else. So far I haven’t been annoyed enough for that, although I’ve gotten pretty darned close.
And My Response
I’ve heard from other folks elsewhere about this issue. I wish WordPress could just take care of it. It happened again when I updated this post.
Your thoughts about my improvement suggestions? What features would you like to see added to WordPress? Anything you don’t like that you wish would go away?