I recently had a really great question on an editor’s group I belong to. The questioner is managing her own WordPress site, which is great, and should be easier than it is, I think, but changes aren’t always visible to all users, I’ve noticed.
When Features Move . . .
The questioner just wanted to change the copyright year for the content on her site, that year or set of years that you often see at the bottom (the footer) of the site layout. Unfortunately for her, WordPress had made a change over the last year or so, I think it’s been, to move a lot of layout settings to a new feature called Customize.
Customize is nice because it shows all of the theme’s features and functions (menus, widgets, color options etc.) in one place, while also showing a mockup of what the site looks like (you can see what your page looks like with the new settings before making those changes visible to the public—but you can’t change the content of pages or posts in this space). This is a feature that gets closer to what a page builder or visual composer tool can do, where you can edit all of a page’s content while looking at it as if you were a visitor rather than using a behind-the-scenes editor screen.
If you’re a WordPress user who set up a static CV-type site and then didn’t make changes for some time, you can end up missing out on any announcements telling you that customizations would be going to a new “system.” In the case of our questioner, I just gave her the path on the WordPress dashboard to get to Customize (Appearance/Customize), and she figured out the rest by going through the options on the left panel. Problem solved!
The Challenges of Evolution
As WordPress has evolved in the past several years, I have noticed it building up individual features (widgets come to mind) and then finding them a bit clunky for non-geeks to work with. I see them slowly working their system closer to some of the drag-and-drop page builder content management systems like SquareSpace or Wix. My guess is that the downside may be a loss of flexibility for theme designers and users looking to make specific customizations that might not be accommodated by a system that “assumes” too much to start with.
I still like the overall balance of ease-of-customization and customization possibilities with WordPress, but I am also curious about what we might lose in their evolution toward what looks to be a full visual composer format. I like to learn new systems, though. 🙂
We shall see!