We use WordPress a lot, and as much as we love it to the bones, it’s missing a handful of very basic features out of the box. These features are easily achievable via third-party plugins, but for such rudimentary processes [and a desire to keep the plugin impact as low as humanly possible], we’ve often wondered why the ten items below are not shipped with WordPress. For the record, we’re aware that the entire reason the plugin ecosystem exists around WordPress is to expand its core functionalities; but these are features that are so basic that we believe they should ship with WordPress without needing additional plugins.
1. Cloning posts / pages / custom posts.
This is first on the list because it’s the one additional plugin that’s on every single site I’ve ever been a part of; it’s essential. It does exactly what the name says, it clones your posts, pages, and even custom posts – negating the need for you to try and cross-reference a perfect page and a blank page to ensure they look identical and have all the same additional page settings. It seems like such an obvious feature for WordPress to integrate, but yet it comes without it and requires an additional plugin to achieve.
Achievable with: Duplicate Post.
2. Editing Menu Names, Order & Visibility.
The default naming scheme for menu items in the WordPress backend isn’t completely recognizable to a first-time user or client. For example, I once had a client who only needed backend access to post blogs, however, they couldn’t see a menu item called ‘blogs’ and thought that their site was broken – it wasn’t – they’re called ‘posts’. Whilst this might seem super obvious to most, it’s important to be mindful of the varying degrees of technical knowledge of internet users. I use ‘menu editor pro’ to not only rename these menu items but to re-order them to fit the user and remove some items completely [to prevent the client changing anything that’d be disastrous] – I’d be lost without this plugin. Again, this seems like a simple inclusion for WordPress to make and would make most folks lives a lot easier.
Achievable with: Menu Editor Pro.
3. Custom Post Type Ordering
Most websites or blogs follow the same organizational pattern; the newest items first, the older items second – descending date content. However, sometimes you’ll want to change the ordering of a few pieces of content without necessarily affecting the entire organization; but this isn’t possible without an additional plugin. As an example, let’s say I have a very popular Christmas-orientated post that I feel would be beneficial to bring to the top of my website during the festive period, this isn’t possible natively, it requires an ordering plugin. When you expand beyond posts and pages into custom posts and pages [things like portfolios, galleries, and testimonials] you’ll certainly need an ordering plugin to keep your content spruced up and avoid that static ‘hasn’t worked in a year‘ kind of vibe. A simple drag and drop to order interface surely wouldn’t be that hard to implement?
Achievable with: Post Type Order.
4. Maintenance Page.
Although WordPress 4.9 [which was released today] has a new feature called ‘Preview Links‘ that allows you to give a static URL to a client that’ll allow them to access locked-down website without needing to log in, i still feel that a maintenance page is still a must-have, if for no other reason that informing potential users/customers about why the website is currently unreachable. Whilst this obviously could be achieved by creating a dedicated ‘coming soon’ page, your website would then be open – with a maintenance plugin, you’re effectively shutting off all access to those without a privileged account. Even personal bloggers have moments where they want to test out changes to their website in private, this would be a welcome addition to the WP Arsenal.
Achievable with: Maintenance.
5. Image Optimisation.
Nine times out of ten, when I encounter a very slow loading website, it’s due to really heavy images on the page. I’ve visited homepages that have had images as large as 5mb embedded into the page. For a speedy website, image optimisation is mandatory. Initially, I’ll always export my imagery via Photoshop in a ‘For Web’ resolution that maximizes quality whilst keeping a relatively small sized footprint [i tend to aim for 300kb or under per image]. Additionally, a plugin such as WP-Smush further compresses your images for the web whilst preserving quality and the pro version of the plugin goes even further by ultra-smushing your images. Essentially, this plugin ensures you’re not feeding heavy images to your users – which is so important. The media component of WordPress really could do with a built-in image optimiser – there is a tonne on the market that WP should and could partner with to integrate this directly into WordPress. Easy.
Achievable with: WP-Smush.
6. Basic Analytics.
I’ll forgive you for not getting excited about Analytics. Depending on the service used, they can be a daunting view if you do not spend the time to understand each metric and component. However, once you’ve gotten to grips with the fundamentals of analytics, they become the best tool for measuring absolutely every component of your business or website. Whilst Google Analytics seems to be the go-to on both a standalone and WordPress-plugin basis, they are fully loaded analytical tools and I’m not pushing for something quite so fully-featured to be inbuilt into WordPress, hence the use of ‘basic’. The WordPress dashboard [where Google Analytics sleeps] is the perfect place for WP to insert their own analytical tool, even if it only measures post and page views, referrers and bounce rate – a real stripped down snapshot of the performance of your website. That WP dashboard has been crying out for fresh widgets for ages now.
Achievable with: Google Analytics.
7. Basic SEO.
You can see where I’m going with the use of ‘basic’ here again…. SEO is vital in this incredibly noisy era in which so much amazing content will never be discovered. SEO helps get your content projected onto eyeballs and is pretty much mandatory for all websites. The market leader is Yoast SEO, which has free and paid solutions and does a wonderful job at everything [i use it on this very site and on every website I run!]. Their paid version can do a lot more than the free version [additional keywords, redirects, etc] and it’s well worth an upgrade. The free version will be more than enough for most users though, especially those that don’t really know the technical ins and outs and just want to walk the basic steps toward SEO glory. Specifically, i’m talking about the ability to specify an OG Image [the social sharing image of a page] and keywords and meta on a per-page and per-post basic, that’s all. Surely this would be a worthwhile addition to WordPress from installation?
Achievable with: Yoast Seo.
8. Social Network Embedding.
If you are viewing this posting on its dedicated page [click here if not], scroll down to the footer and look at the three social embeds; Instagram, Twitter & Facebook. Depending on the website [and client] I will often embed social networks on the footer to inspire connection – the negative side of this is that it often involves installing three separate plugins which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to keep your plugin footprint as minimal as possible. The inclusion of social networking widgets would be incredibly advantageous for usage in footers and sidebars across the website – anything would be better than requiring three plugins to achieve something so ubiquitous.
WP Super Cache, one of my favorite caching plugins for WordPress is actually created by the company itself and heavily promoted on the ‘add new plugin‘ page – however, it’s still an additional plugin. I believe it should arrive as part of the WordPress mainframe [or at the very least as an auto-activated plugin] as even with everything set to default; there’s a noticeable lift in the speed of every website I’ve ever tested. This default-on method for all WP installs would speed up the entire internet overnight – isn’t that a useful change? Some folks will prefer to use other caching solutions, but providing WP Super Cache right from the get-go would push users of all skill levels toward producing a website that’s optimised for speed and therefore, the user experience.
Achievable with: WP Super Cache.
I’ve always felt that WordPress was missing an opportunity by not embedding their official WordPress forums into the backend under ‘community‘. Rather than having to meander off to the WP Forums, register, login and post a question, I feel like an embed of these forums in the backend of all WP installs would be a majorly positive move for novices and experts alike. It inspires users to become part of the community and it’d reassure new users that help is waiting right there in the backend of their own website. For the record, I’m aware that these forums/help are linked to in top left of the backend, however, i’m referring to actually embedding the entire forum system into a dedicated menu item in the user backend. Auto-registering a new user account for the WP forums would be a smart move, too.
Achievable by: Directly going to the Support Forums….