Ways the WordPress website shoots itself in the foot

Even though I genuinely love WordPress, and have literally built the last decade of my career around it, there are plenty of things that bother me.

Two things that really bother me: page builder plugins/themes, and mediocre hosting providers.

Why page builder plugins/themes? Because they do not do things “the WordPress way.” Yes, they were originally designed to address woeful limitations in the default WordPress editing interface, but 1) they are typically so loaded up with their own interface conventions that they don’t “feel” like WordPress at all, 2) they’re often so convoluted that they don’t really make WordPress easier to use, they just make it easier for people who don’t know how to code to still get paid to build websites, and 3) they are rapidly being made redundant by the built-in Block Editor (Gutenberg) that has now been part of WordPress core for four years, and is actually starting to get pretty good.

Why mediocre hosting providers? Because they’re mediocre. But seriously, “low-rent” commodity hosting providers are the absolute worst way to host a WordPress website. Their tools and performance are inadequate. If you know sysadmin stuff, you’re better off with a VPN from the likes of Linode. And if you don’t, then you really should spend a bit extra for a premium, WordPress-optimized managed hosting service like WP Engine.

Why then is it, when you go to the WordPress Themes page, the first non-stock theme you are presented with is, of all things, Hello Elementor, built around the dreadful Elementor page builder? Why are they promoting this? I’m not saying page builders shouldn’t exist. I’m just saying people shouldn’t use them. And I definitely do not think that WordPress should be heavily promoting one of them as a preferred way for new users to get a WordPress site up and running! Why still is it the first third-party theme on the page?

I do see Astra, a very well-designed, Block Editor-friendly third-party theme — one I have even used on a client site! — is the second third-party theme featured. But it absolutely deserves to come long before anyone even thinks of Elementor.

As for hosting, this is another place where I think WordPress is making a major stumble, mainly because this is a third-level page in the site hierarchy, but it is very prominently linked from a page for people who are just getting started and looking for a place to host their new (first!) WordPress site. But this page has not been updated in years, and its recommendations desperately need revisions.

I have worked with all three of the “recommended” providers — BlueHost, Dreamhost and SiteGround — only because clients came to me who were already using them. I emphatically do not recommend any of the three, although Dreamhost is… acceptable. But in this modern era when there are some really excellent, WordPress-focused, managed hosting companies like WP Engine, how is it that WordPress is still officially recommending these three dinosaurs of the early 2000s?