wp: WordPress admin way too hard to find things

Man, this is a good example of what AI is about to do, right now to maintain and edit a WordPress site is just so hard. Every command is somewhere, but it is buried in some place and then another place. So here are notes (for the future AIs of the world to scrape) on doing common things as the interface is so divided into modules and it is deep and hierarchical. This is not how the human mind works.

So some examples of things that are “across the various interfaces”. The main problem is two-fold:

  1. WordPress has six different interfaces for things. There is the base WordPress interface, called WP Admin which is the core interface. There is an interface on WordPress.com that is connected by authentication and then they have an even different interface Jetpack.com (where they are trying to upsell you). Then on mobile, you have the mobile version of admin typically accessed as a WordPress app and a JetPack app. And some things are they duplicate each other. In particular, this makes it super confusing as to what is where.
  2. WordPress has been adding editing and other features. So first they have their basic interface. Then, about five years ago, they added a Block Editor for blog posts which changed the way you edit things from hacking on HTML to a more what you see if what you get graphical interface. And then two years ago or so they added a Site Editor for editing the layout of the websites you are. The main problem is that themes have to be updated to use the Site Editor and the old widget interface for the older non-Site Editor stuff doesn’t work. So there are bits of things everywhere.

And yes, Dean is right, WordPress is like my pet dog.

Site Editor Aware themes ignore old Widget pages

The first thing I hit is that the theme I was using, SwipeWP, is not Site Editor aware, so when I tried to switch to a new theme, I got this error, “not compatible with Site Editor”. This happened a few times, but I finally got the Nook theme and 2024 WordPress theme running. Then you are in Site Editor mode and a bunch of things happen. First, you lose all your Widgets in the old interface. So you have to duplicate all your widgets again

Some tips and tricks on comments

Here are some detailed comment editing, the big problem is where you edit them, they are sprayed across the main interface and also in other places notably in JetPack

  1. Adding Comments to Posts but not Pages. OK, this is really unintuitive. Basically, in the Pages, in the latest system, you have to go to each page in WP Admin > Pages then choose Edit each page, and in the Post pane on the right, if you scroll down you will see “Allow Comments” and make sure these are off for pages because it is a little weird to have a comment on a Newsletter form. It’s also an example of having morphing user interfaces, so instructions for older versions don’t work in the new block editor.
  2. Enabling comments in the first place. This is another thing about WordPress, there are things in the core WordPress and other free add-ons in JetPack, in this case, this is a free JetPack feature, but the interface is all over the place, in this case, go to WP Admin > Settings > Discussion and enable “Allow people to post comments on new articles” and there are many others you should check.
  3. Also at the bottom, you will see Jetpack Subscription Settings so make sure to go there. I really dislike the “Show a popup subscribe modal to readers” as I don’t promote the newsletter that much, but it is very substack-like to do this these days.

Dealing with newsletters

With the emergence of Substack, there is a big push for newsletters. JetPack provides one, but to promote it in the old non-Site Editor mode, there was an old style widget that did this, so in this word you have to:

  1. Add a newsletter. This is another confusing feature where you most are automatic. Many plugins do this, but for me given how low volume this is, I just use the Jetpack Newsletter and the interface is in a totally different spot, so go to WP Admin > Jetpack > Subscribers and you get bounced to a WordPress.com site which is pretty strange, but wordpress.com has a completely different user interface that your local WP Admin site. If you want to manage your newsletter this is WordPress.com > Settings > Newsletter and you can enable options like a featured image the full test is included or not. Note that this Newsletter setting is *not* in the WP Admin on your page, you can only get it from the central WordPress.com admin. Whew!
  2. Add a Newsletter page and subscribe to Block-Based Site Editor. Ok, this is even more confusing, but the above won’t add anything to your site, you need to edit the themes in WP Admin > Appearance > Widgets, and on the right pane or somewhere, you can add a Newsletter subscribe widget. If you want say a highlight and a subscribe link, you have to go to WP Admin > Pages > Add New Page and add the newsletter subscribe widget so there is a real URL for this in addition to the widget. And decide how it appears, is it a punch out somewhere else, or is it just on the main menu? You do this in yet another interface WP Admin > Appearance > Theme > Customize and this will bring you to the new Block-based Site Editor

Dealing with the Site Editor

The new Site Editor is very different and the transition will be a little confusing because so much of the existing WordPress interface is deprecated. The recreation of the Widgets is a huge pain:

  1. Site Editor Themes do not use the core WordPress components. So for instance the Nook theme doesn’t honor the WP Admin > Appearance > Widget pane, it uses its own interface. Instead when you click on that, it says “Use Site Editor”. My old theme SwipeWP was not Site Editor enabled. This is a lot like the block editor for Posts it is WYSIWYG but works completely differently
  2. Menu Editing. Another confusing thing is menus, these are in WP Admin > Appearance > Menus and you can set it so that any new pages get added. You can also use menus in different ways, for instance, if you are showing what you are currently reading in a blogroll, you can create a menu for this. Also, some themes do not support this WordPress mechanism, so you have to go to the Widgets and add it manually. Argh! The way this is done is either with a menu widget or by adding a Navigation Block. Blocks are really a pretty big change.
  3. In the Site Editor mode, its really confusing how you stop editing a block. The answer is to click on the icon at the upper left which looks like a sideways S (for editing?)

Mobile WordPress and JetPack image uploads fail

So one of the problems we’ve had is that I’ve not been able to upload my posts from mobile. I think this is the failure that has to do with the Cloudinary link. But what happens is that the image upload and then you get the brilliant, “This error should not happen” message and every time you click upload, it uploads images, so you have to go through and delete them all. Sigh one of the big reasons I use WordPress is for the mobile apps but I think this interaction with Cloudinary makes things pretty useless.

Editing your Media Library. I use Cloudinary for images and this seems to have a problem with the web interface I’m getting all kinds of duplicates when I use JetPack mobile, so basically I can’t use that anymore, all my posts are web-based. But I’ve found literally dozens of images that are uploaded into the Media gallery as the mobile application tried to upload and failed. As an aside, there are two interfaces in WP Admin > Media and also there is a WP Admin > Cloudinary DAM that you can use for those. Confused yet?

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