WordPress’ Missing Functionality (and How to Find It)

Did you know that 26% of all internet sites are run by WordPress? WordPress has established itself as a high-end system for blogging, and is now one of the most preferred content management systems for business websites.

People love that WordPress is flexible, secure and that multiple plugins can be installed to provide additional functionality—without having to code useful tools from scratch. But even though many WordPress users have documented and shared their common issues with the software, WordPress still lacks many things business owners and developers think should come standard with an install.

Here are a few requests for functionality missing in WordPress, and some workarounds for the meantime.

1. Ability to Duplicate Posts

Some websites have a standard format for posts or pages, and having to completely redo settings to get the desired output all over again can unnecessarily time consuming. As of now, this functionality on WordPress is limited to the use of a plugin: Duplicate Post.

Using the Duplicate Post plugin, you can “clone” a post or “create a new draft.” The latter copies the post and opens it in a new window for editing, while the former creates a new post entirely.

Using this plugin, you can also edit settings that let you do things like copy:

  • Original date;
  • Original status (draft, published, pending);
  • Original excerpt; original attachments;
  • Children of the original page;
  • Taxonomies/custom fields.

This plugin allows you to work with custom post types, as well. Unfortunately, it is incompatible with some plugins, and doesn’t necessarily call out these incompatibilities on the front end. In worst case scenarios, complications from using this plugin could crash your website—make sure you have a backup!

2. Bundle Settings and Plugins for New Installs

For WordPress developers that create multiple sites from scratch, it would be particularly helpful to have some functionality that combines all desired features into a file that you could upload to the site you’re building. Many WordPress websites have the same base features, especially if you work with clients in a similar industry. At any rate, there are bound to be some launch list plugins you use on a regular basis, and installing/activating them one by one is tedious.

The closest solution to this problem is WordPress Install Profiles plugins. Once installed and activated, Go to Plugins > Bulk Install Profiles.

This tool provides a default list of plugins, and you can add or remove plugins from the list. To add a new plugin, use the name on the plugin’s URL. Once you’re done, you can give the list profile a name, and download it to your computer.

To install on another website, you’ll need to have the WordPress Install Profiles plugin installed and activated on that site, then import the profile you want. This video tutorial shows this tool in action.

It’s important to understand that this plugin bundling solution hasn’t been updated in many years – there may be issues compatibility or security issues associated with it’s use.

3. Site Caching

Site caching helps make your websites load faster by storing the website processes in an HTML file to be loaded as needed. On that note, page load is a major factor for ranking, with regards to technical SEO. Developers wish that WordPress had site caching at its core to avoid server calls.

Though WordPress doesn’t have site caching built into the platform (despite many requests for its inclusion), there are many plugins that can initiate this process, like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Additionally, some WordPress hosting companies offer site caching (like Flywheel and WPEngine). Ultimately site caching offered through a web host is more efficient than these plugins, so if that’s an option, don’t install a caching plugin.

4. Built-in Form Builder

There are a lot of form builder plugins, but since most businesses use forms anyway, why not add this functionality to the WordPress core code?

While developers wait for this functionality missing in WordPress, try an all-purpose (and highly recommended) contact form plugin like Contact Form 7. Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, and you can easily customize form and email content with simple markup. Contact Form 7 supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering, and other important security factors. This plugin is easy to set-up, flexible, offers customizable default messages, and easily-defined mail messages.

5. Improved Theming System

Although WordPress is a top-rated CMS, there is much to be improved on in terms of the theming system. Many developers call out it’s “sloppy code” and “disastrous mix of business and display logic”.

In the current version of WordPress [at the time of writing], template hierarchy does not take plugins into account. This means that if you have a plugin with a custom post type for movies (for example), the plugin has to override the template system, or create a workaround to provide a default template for displaying this custom post type.

With a code base as complex as WordPress, there’s always room to improve code practices, eliminate short codes, and fix template hierarchy for a more efficient base theme.

6. Custom User Permissions

Currently, WordPress has 5 user roles:

  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Writer

Each of these roles has specific limits on tasks (called capabilities). Many developers argue that it would be better if WordPress could allow users to set, specify, or limit what each individual user can do, especially for a multi-author/user site.

The closest thing to overcoming this functionality missing in WordPress is the Advanced Access Manager plugin, which manages both frontend and backend access.

7. File Browsing Interface

There are thousands of plugins available, but not everything is a good fit for your website. In fact, certain plugins may cause your website to slow down, and need to be deleted.

Usually an error code helps identify this, but when it does not, you have to manually deactivate all files, then reactivate them one by one in the admin area to determine what is causing the error.

If the error (like the white screen of death!) does not allow access to the admin area, you have to use a File Transfer protocol (FTP) like Firezilla to backup all plugin files.

Besides fixing problems, having access to files directly from WordPress would make it easier for developers to quickly fix issues without needing cPanel/FTP access.

Conclusion

WordPress is a powerful platform on its own. The development of various plugins have extended its usefulness and make it even more powerful. Many of these plugins can help with functionality missing in WordPress, but developers are still holding out hope that many of the aforementioned issues will get built-in solutions.

Let’s make an open letter to the people behind WordPress – what is some functionality in WordPress that you’d like to see fixed in the core code?

Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website, www.The-Blogsmith.com and read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman. More articles by Maddy Osman
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