Did you miss me already?
Sorry for starting this article with that statement, but if this is your first time to visit my website, you would probably notice that my last article was written almost four years ago.
However, as I promised to some of my tech friends, I’m going to revive CarlosOnWeb.com this 2014!
So here I am.
Should I explain my long hiatus?
I don’t think so. It has nothing to do with the article’s title and, as Elbert Hubbard once said, “Never explain — your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.”
Zipped. My lips.
And, by the way… Happy New Year!
Back to WordPress
Even if I decided not to accept any programming projects for roughly five years, that doesn’t mean I stopped programming.
Like the retired Kung Fu master that you see in those Jacky Chan movies, I know the importance of occasional kicking in the air, and punching an invisible enemy, and shadow-fighting like a crazy old man. I realize, though, that I can’t compete head-to-head with Chuck Norris when the competition involves doing split up there in the stratosphere.
Layman’s Translation: “Once a programmer always as programmer.”
Technical Translation: I’m still eating PHP and MySQL and WordPress almost on a daily basis.
I get to cook my own meals, though.
That said, let me touch on the topic of the various ways people use, misuse and abuse WordPress.
Putting WordPress To Good Use
There is a good reason why WordPress has dominated the CMS arena taking the place that formerly belonged to such bloated software as Joomla, Drupal and PHPNuke (remember?)!
I can explain its success using just two words: “It works!”
WordPress doesn’t try to be an all-things-to-all-your-website’s-problem. It’s just very good at solving a very specific problem: Blogging.
It’s the ultimate no-brainer solution to the problems faced by bloggers, small publishers, and mom-and-pop online entrepreneurs all around the world. These folks simply want to get their words out into the open, letting their customers know that they exist.
That is why they want to own a website or a blog.
They don’t even care how you call it. They just want an online presence.
“Don’t make me think,” they would say. Period.
And WordPress – that magical wand – is the perfect fit.
The magic comes when you dress your website with a good design. In WordPress-speak, it’s called a Theme. There are so many good themes out there – some commercial, others free.
So what are the good uses of WordPress? Let’s count the ways:
- If you want to put a face in your faceless company, WordPress can be your virtual front-desk attendant.
- If there is a voice inside of you that wants to speak-out, WordPress is the obvious choice.
- If you have a small business that you want to market online, WordPress is a handy solution.
In other words, if you want to be online, you want it quick, no technical rah-rah, get WordPress. In 5 minutes, you have a working website.
WordPress Can Be Bad, Too
Ask any Java or .Net fanatic what they think about WordPress and they would probably laugh in your face.
Now, it’s time for you (to) fight back… I mean, laugh back. Ask them if they know of any CMS made in their favourite programming language.
Wait for the answer and then say, “Hahahah…Never heard.” Chances are good, you probably never heard of that thing.
But seriously, don’t do that. Never engage in that kind of argument. That’s bad attitude.
And speaking about bad…
Did you know that 90% of WordPress website owners are abusing and misusing WordPress?
Do you want to be in the top 10% website owners who are running their WordPress smoothly?
I don’t really have the statistics. The 90% figure, I just made it up.
But looking at so many WordPress websites from so many people, I’ve come up with my own list of top 3 most common abuses which you should not do or at least, try to avoid:
Abuse #1: Going Plugins Crazy.
Plugins are little pieces of code that you add-on to the system according to some rules set by the WordPress Team. The problem with plugins:
- Vulnerabilities could creep into the system if the plugin is not carefully done.
- Conflict issues with other plugins could arise. Some plugins step into other plugin’s shoes.
- Maintainability. An unmaintained plugin doesn’t deserve to be put in your website, because sooner or later, it could cause you some headaches.
I’d like to mention just three, but there could be more.
If you find yourself overloading your WordPress website with plugins, maybe you should not be using WordPress in the first place.
Abuse #2: Making Code Modifications Everywhere.
Sure, WordPress is open-source, but that doesn’t mean you should also mess up with the code that is already there. The problem most commonly encountered by people who put the code all over the place is that all their customizations are also lost the moment they upgrade the WordPress core into the latest version.
As a general rule, there are only two files that you should touch:
- wp-config.php. It’s a small file that sits at the root directory. You use it to set some configurations in the system.
Warning: Be very careful in when modifying any piece of the code. And before you do, always back-up your files.
Abuse #3: Not Updating the WordPress Core.
Of all the major sins committed by WordPress website owners, this is something I cannot forgive.
God forgives, but not me.
If I have my way, I’d throw these folks out the bottomless pit so they can’t use WordPress anymore. But before I do, I have to make sure I’d change their admin password first.
So, are you running on the latest and the greatest WP version now? I hope so.
How WordPress Gets Overkilled
My definition of WordPress overkill is making WordPress do something it is not intended to do.
Take this one for example from someone who wants get some opinions on whether he should go with WordPress or just straight PHP:
“I’m pretty competent in PHP, but know very little about WordPress. I’m going to be building a business directory site that has a lot of the same features as yelp – reviews, maps, searchable information, and so forth. I realize there are plugins for lots (all?) of these things on WordPress, so am considering going that route.”
Luckily, none of the WordPress developers who replied even recommended using it for an ambitious project such as this one. If you do, that’s already overkill. And searching for some random plugins address a very unique business requirement is looking for a solution that will eventually lead to another problem.
WordPress is a simple power-house that works on top of PHP and MySQL. To build with WordPress, you have to be competent in the following areas:
- Nice to have: jQuery, XML
But it doesn’t end there. You have to know and follow the guidelines and best practices that are specific to WordPress. These include the following:
- The Directory and File Structure
- Naming and Coding Standards
- Hooks, Actions and Filters
Remember the WordPress tag line? “Code is Poetry.”
If you want to be a WordPress Poet, you have to put these things in mind.