20 Comments

  1. Paul Lacey
    · Reply

    This is a hit piece no doubt. But is it also a wake up call? Is there a chance, however small, however unfavourable, that WordPress the software might… just might… be loosing its self awareness? If we recognise even an element of possibility in that thought, then a moment of objective reflection at the very least of our belief system for WordPress is a worthwhile exercise. Why? Because we love WordPress – the software, the community and journey so far.

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    • Justin Tadlock
      · Reply

      WordPress seems to be one of the most self-reflective communities I have ever been involved in. We are constantly thinking and rethinking about how to improve the software. The Gutenberg project — love it or hate it — is one massive inner look and shift based on honesty about the future of the aging platform.

      It’s definitely a worthwhile exercise and one we should continue doing.

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      • Paul Lacey
        · Reply

        No matter that I have a very different view to yours of the Gutenberg project and the future of WordPress, I love your writing Justin. I read your articles top to bottom. And – you have a great sense of humour. I lol’d when you said it’s partially true that you are entirely biased.

        We are united in love for the platform. We all have that at least!

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  2. Miriam Schwab
    · Reply

    I don’t know if that post should be taken very seriously. When I first saw it, I was like “what the??” But then I saw it was basically a very mean paid ad. On the one hand, it may have caused some damage to WP’s reputation. On the other hand, WP’s market share keeps growing for many reasons and Storyblok is barely a blip on the market share landscape.

    BTW, in conversations I’ve been having recently with people from the Jamstack community (Storyblok can be considered part of that ecosystem), I’m seeing that the discourse is shifting away from “WP sucks! Boooo WP!” to “Actually, WP is a top-notch CMS that can’t be ignored, and we need to see how we can work with it.”

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    • Rinzero
      · Reply

      WordPress is large yes, but a very very very large chunk of those websites are made by hobbyists that made their own personal websites. While a headless CMS in statistics doesnt might seem as large by far. It is used in far more professional applications which are reliant on being built on a far more solid platform. Storyblok, Sanity, Contentful etc are CMS systems you find in larger projects that need the ability to scale up fairly quickly and have higher requirements in terms of security etc. WordPress is just very easy to set up, and that is currently its saving grace. But maintaining it is a different story.

      I would date to say that 80% of the wordpress websites out there are just website made by non developers.

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  3. Amith
    · Reply

    l love WordPress plugins,but for development purposes l prefer laravel

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  4. Leonard Frieder
    · Reply

    The whole Gutenberg rollout story left many devs behind, wondering what is going on and what/where their future would be. So theses articles will find their audience and also some understanding.

    The main opportunity here is not complaining about a “omg, hit piece” but to take them as wakeup calls and understand what went wrong and draw conclusions for future development and direction of WordPress.

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    • Justin Tadlock
      · Reply

      WordPress was voted the as one of the most dreaded platforms or technologies long before Gutenberg landed. See 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. That data should not be overlooked, but it is only one piece of a larger whole.

      This is also not “complaining” about a hit piece. It is about journalistic integrity in our field. Someone needed to call TNW on this.

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  5. Sascha P.
    · Reply

    If I am being completely honest, I have to say that I agree with that “hit piece” article 100%. I am not a developer, but merely a simple WordPress user, having to deal with WP on a daily basis. And I absolutely hate it.

    WordPress – to me – is such a massive mess. The editing experience is absolutely horrible, and even third-party tools that try to solve that problem (so-called site builders like Elementor) don’t really help and make every site slow and sluggish.

    Every simple thing that should be built into a modern website building tool requires a plugin. A lot of the plugins mess everything up. And you need tons of those.

    Gutenberg was a step in the right direction, but it has been in extremely slow development for years with almost no real progress from a user’s perspective. When was full site editing first announced? Years ago. And it’s still not fully here and not nearly as capable as any of the el-cheapo site builders out there.

    I am struggling every single day to get the layout of posts and pages show up the same way as they do on the backend, and even on the backend it’s a struggle to get simple layouts that are consistent. One has to constantly tweak a bazillion parameters of third party blocks, themes and plugins, and it still doesn’t work. It takes more time to maintain and “design” than it takes to actually get your content out.

    I will never understand how WordPress ever got so popular. Some will argue “it’s the ecosystem, stupid” and I will respond that this ecosystem only exists because WordPress itself is so utterly bad that third parties need to enhance it with plugins and block libraries.

    So whether that article was a hit piece or not, it was 100% right. WordPress really needs to rethink itself and take some cues from things like Webflow.

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    • Cory Hughart
      · Reply

      I appreciate your point of view here. As a developer, I’ve never used WordPress without adding my own code.

      The Gutenberg project is making inroads with the editor/front-end disconnect you’re experiencing, especially with the 5.8 release and coalescing around theme.json as a standard approach to theming. Before this, it was exclusively up to the theme developer on how to handle styling in the editor vs the front-end. While this is still mostly the case in practice, I expect to start seeing a more consistent user experience with regards to that back-end/front-end disconnect.

      WordPress is powering over 40% of the web because of its flexibility and extensibility, which is a double-edged sword. It does empower people to put up their own websites fairly easily, but that doesn’t mean that you can “design” it to look exactly the way you want without coding or a page builder. Gutenberg is eroding that distinction, but it will take a while if we want to do it well.

      Storyblok is hardly competing in the same space. It’s a headless CMS, meaning you’d have to know how to code to build the front-end yourself or have someone else build it. It really is apples to oranges.

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    • Tom
      · Reply

      Yes it is terrible, but terrible like they say democracy is terrible: “the worst form of government, except for all the others”. Having worked with some of the other CMSs myself and worked with clients who had to use other CMSs, WP is definitely less terrible. The tragedy of WP was that it was making good progress at not being terrible.

      Alas, WP got derailed twice. First Customizer grabbed most of the attention that should have been directed at making WP less terrible. Not only was it a major distraction, but it didn’t even get finished before another, bigger distraction arrived. With Gutenberg WP development really ran off the rails. Virtually nobody is now working on making WP less terrible. And Gutenberg has made WP more terrible because it expects the entire WP community to become beta testers. It is far from being ready for release into a production environment, but here we are.

      The best way to make WP not terrible is to Disable Gutenberg and scour the internet for plugins and patches. I should not need to have 67 plugins installed, but I need to. Many of these plugins accomplish simple functions that should be easily achieved via a preference setting or a button to provide a simple affordable gift. For example, to set the default posts display to just show published posts, or to add custom style buttons to the posts editor, or a button to duplicate a post.

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  6. Eric Karkovack
    · Reply

    TNW and many other online publications probably don’t feel bound by old-school journalistic standards. With the decline of newspapers, etc., it’s possible they don’t even know what those standards are.

    But if you’re going to run a sponsored post, say so right from the beginning. Don’t make it look like it’s just another piece of content. And don’t wait until the very end of the post to casually mention who sponsored it. You may have gained some pageviews, but you also lost the trust of your readers.

    As for the post itself, I had never heard of Storyblock before this – so, mission accomplished on their end. Marketing tactics like this will ensure I remember them, and never use their product.

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    • Steven Gliebe
      · Reply

      Right, it looks like an interesting product to me but this way of getting attention makes me question the quality of their leadership. Show me the nicest boat and still I don’t want a ride if the captain is acting strange.

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    • Paul Lacey
      · Reply

      Yeah – that article did Storyblock zero favours, and the integrity of those interviewed is highly questionable. Like you said, it’s on my list of avoid at all costs software!

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  7. William
    · Reply

    I’ve used Joomla (years ago), Laravel (ugh!) and Yii (Great!), and for most small business websites, IMHO, nothing beats WordPress.

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  8. R Scott LaMorte
    · Reply

    Most developers also hate PHP — but we still use it. PHP is ugly, frustrating, and in some ways outdated, but it’s also practical and well-supported and gets the job done.

    As a dev I also find WordPress to also be frustrating. But there’s a bunch of things an advanced developer can do to make it much less frustrating. We use Sage 10, which adds Laravel Blade to PHP, SASS, and a controller model approach. We use Bedrock which gives the folder structure a modern update. We use a modern CI/CD workflow. These things smooth the development process considerably.

    For site editors, the complains I see about the admin screen are generally due to poor development. Many developers put zero effort into understanding staff editorial workflow, and as a result the default editor experience is frustrating. Every project has different editorial needs, so on our projects we spend time customizing the admin side.

    Most of the stuff in that StoryBlok hit piece was pure fiction. Separating frontend dev from backend dev will not remove the need for your teams to coordinate. A headless WordPress will not magically make the editing experience better. Headless builds are not cheaper. There’s a time and place for headless, it has specific use-cases, but it’s not a magic bullet.

    I was very disappointed in the article when I first read it; I’m disgusted now that I see it was a paid hit.

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  9. Rinzero
    · Reply

    As a long term WordPress user and former front-end developer. I can find myself in the statements of many developers that WordPress became a relic which you are criticizing in an extremely cheap way. Yeah it is used a lot on the web, yes it has a huge community. But it just doesnt fit well in the current environment on the web. To make it do modern things, you need to use so many plugins. You call it a positive that there are so many plugins available. I all it a negative, it is not really curated, there is no quality control and you dont always know what you are gonna get. In the end a vast majority of WordPress websites are not secure. I receive reports daily from Wordfence about hack attemps, I receive daily news about new exploits for these WordPress plugins and I have helped so many developers to fix hacked WordPress websites. This shift in web technology made me from recommending WordPress 3 years ago for small to mid sized businesses to now going headless with yes tools such as Storyblok, Contentful, Sanity etc. But this is the issue with your article. You compare WordPress which is a do it all directly to a pure CMS system which doesn’t manage the frontend, frontend developers in WordPress often build through plugins etc. The power of going headless, is having a static website being populated by dynamic content running on extremely fast servers and loading it in from a CDN. The power of headless is being able to reuse that content on multiple platforms and in the end have the ability to save on development costs. Yeah the latter is not for every business. But the web became a much more complex world, users became more demanding and especially in the realm of e-commerce. I simply cannot recommend WordPress anymore, and yeah I still could make money of it. But I want to give my customers a better product, not directly going for easy money and being stuck troubleshooting long term.

    I have the feeling that long terms WordPress supporters never kept up with the times and are stuck in 2010 when WordPress was everything on the web. When online theme shops such as themeforest exploded. So yeah I actually did agree with the TNW article. Even if it could be viewed as biased, so could your piece.

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  10. KL
    · Reply

    The Next Web hasn’t been a good source for some time, but stooping this low… that’s a permablock from me. Sites that let companies bribe them to spam their readers on their platform deserve zero trust.

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  11. Lawrence
    · Reply

    It’s a sponsored piece so not worth a response, IMHO. But I glad you did as it’s beautifully written :)

    I’m not a developer but I understand Rinzero’s point of view. WordPress is a bit of a Franken-CMS. If Gutenberg is the future… I’m only 75% of my way through my how-the-f***-does-it-work journey. It shouldn’t be that hard to figure out (but it’s probably me).

    Here’s the thing. I may never use Gutenberg. There are plenty of other options. Great ones too.

    Rinzero says: “To make it do modern things, you need to use so many plugins.” But do you really? Of course not. What’s often lacking is strategy and best practice, and with WordPress you have a million ways to achieve them.

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