In praise of WordPress


After over a year of fighting with Eleventy and then Astro to set up a this blog just right I find myself needing to set up yet another blog, this time for work. I could just build on what I’ve got with Astro but I can’t help but wonder if I would have been better off sticking with WordPress after all.

When I first got into Web development in the 90s I used to write little Visual Basic programs to generate the HTML pages for the site. It turns out spitting out HTML pages is easy enough that even before the existence of GitHub and Node and every other part of a modern Web dev toolchain, a high school kid could knock up a program to do it in their spare time.

So you’d think that with all the advances in Web tech in the last ~30 years, generating a static site would be amazing by now. However, my lasting impression after struggling with Eleventy and Astro is just how underwhelming it is.

Even now, after months and months of tweaking and testing, my site still doesn’t have a newsletter feature, the comments take about 10 minutes to show up, and I just spent half a day trying to fix my one and only Netlify edge function because I updated its dependencies and now it can’t figure out how to dynamically load a WASM file forcing me to migrate the whole thing to AWS instead.

All this has made me appreciate just how great WordPress—where I used to host this blog—was.

With WordPress you get:

  • A WSYIWYG blog post editor
  • Index pages by tag, day, month, year, etc. with pagination (i.e. double-pagination, something which is particularly hard in Eleventy)
  • Threaded comments with spam filtering and moderation features
  • A login system so users can receive notification about replies via email
  • Social images and metadata
  • Draft blogs and instant previews
  • An automatic newsletter system
  • A search feature
  • RSS feeds (by comparison, just look at how much trouble setting up RSS in Astro is)
  • Media management, plugins, themes, commerce features and so on.

WordPress has a reputation for being bloated—and WordPress sites certainly can be—but if I’d spent half has much time optimizing a WordPress site as I spent making this site, I’ll bet I could have made it fast enough that most people would never notice.

And I’ll bet WordPress experience is at least an order of magnitude more marketable than Astro experience if I ever decide to go into consulting!

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