What the heck happened to WordPress!?!

I used to be able to just find a free theme, install it, go in and hack at it to move stuff around, and have a simple website in a few hours. I’ve been gone for a couple years.

Now I have all these weird blocks, there’s no sync between what I’m editing and what appears on the actual pages, I can’t do basic things like toggle the title off on the home page, change the width of a block, or resize my CSS headers… I’m sure I can do all this stuff \*somewhere\* but this is the most jarring experience I’ve ever had using a product like this.

Maybe WP is now an enterprise level product and solo people with limited skills aren’t the intended audience any more. I’m also guessing a lot of people rant here so I apologize but man… I am baffled and disappointed. I’ve been messing around with wordpress on and off for 15+ years but whatever happened in the past couple years has me feeling like a total moron.

  1. Things change over time.
    This is often for the better, and often instituted by people that know more than you about the subject.

    You don’t have to use blocks, but page builders are useful for modern site creators.

    I’m sure you can also find a legacy version of WP and install it, and get hacked within a month.

  2. What theme and/or plugins have you tried?

    There are still a lot of great free or freemium themes and plugins out there. Personally I highly recommend the Blocksy theme.

  3. “there’s no sync between what I’m editing and what appears on the actual pages” – There wasn’t before with the classic editor.

    “I can’t do basic things like toggle the title off on the home page” – This is dependent on the theme and always has been. Unrelated to anything new.

    “change the width of a block” – This would be handled with CSS and depends on the type of block as it would with HTML in general. They are more focused (i think) on making things fluid layouts and not fixed-width.

    “resize my CSS headers” – CSS they really bungled as they hid the custom CSS part if you use a basic wordpress theme. You can still get to it manually by going to /wp-admin/customize.php

  4. I just now re-read the original post in the voice of grandpa Simpson. Priceless

  5. I know, right?

    With the exception of core WordPress, evvvvverything in the WP ecosystem costs money now.

    The themes and plugins directories are filled with almost exclusively “freemium” teaser content and there’s no way to filter out that stuff to get to all the truly free content that used to make WordPress great.

    It’s just the way the community has shifted. Money ruins everything.

  6. That’s how things work. People use them, money can be made. That’s how software development works. Period.

    You can still do a lot with a purely free WordPress build.

  7. There’s an odd war going on between Gutenberg and the page builders. It comes down to ReactJS lovers trying to hijack WP

    Install the classic editor and go with a page builder.

    It’s the new movement.

  8. They are really pushing the Block Editor/Gutenberg. Classic Themes with the Customiser still exist, but the new way of creating themes is the Block Editor. I like it though. It means that every theme has its settings on the same exact place (f.ex. Content width). Before, every theme‘s Customiser way structured differently. Basically you set all the „theme“ settings, such as removing the Title from the Single Page Template, in the „Edit Site“ menu and then additionally you can create the layout of individual pages on the „Edit Page“ option. You‘ll get used to it!

  9. So don’t use Gutenberg/block-editor themes. Install any popular “classic” theme like Astra or Hello, and install the “Classic Editor” plugin. Use any page builder you like. You aren’t forced to use the “new” WordPress.

  10. Just use underscores to generate your own barebones theme, install the template zip file it spits out into WP, then go directly edit the template files and CSS of your theme yourself. It’s just so much less of a headache.

    At the end of the day, learning simple HTML and CSS just goes along much further than whatever WP implements or changes for their page building processes.

    And you can still use blocks on the actual page layout this way, too. The learning curve will be much easier once you have the main templating of your site down.

  11. Yes, I have had several tickets open and still trying. I have had to hire a webmaster where several years before everything worked so beautifully. I am now waiting on a WPP Godaddy ticket and also have retained a webmaster-very frustrated.Thank you for posting.

  12. > Maybe WP is now an enterprise level product

    No, it’s a very weird and poorly thought *combination* of a weak page builder (which most users want), and an old blogging platform (which most users don’t want). WP out of the box is a mess and does neither page layout nor content writing well.

  13. Sounds like you were in a long break from WP. Just give it sometimes, I would suggest you to build some pages with new gutenberg editor. Jamie Marsland on youtube would be perfect to follow. Just watch his videos on “Building abc website in 30 minutes” and do your own version.

    As a designer, I would say WordPress has made my dream come true. It’s now feels super easy, drag and drop no-code builder.

    In previous years, you would have to purchase page builder plugin for it. But now, native wordpress can do that.

  14. Gutenberg is the suckiest thing that ever happened to WordPress and it shows in its one and a half star rating on the repository. I ended up installing classic editor and classic widgets. The other stuff is dependent on your theme. I can still put up a website in a day, just have to download a few more things to make it work like it used to.

  15. It’s a quicker workflow all around. I’m more concerned with large enterprise companies like GoDaddy acquiring the rights to a massive number of plugins and development studios. It’s just going to make everything way more expensive going forward.

  16. Took me like 3 hours to figure out how to get my menu back on a website. Even though it showed up in Menus, and all over Theme editor. Removing and reinstalling the theme didn’t fix it. Deleting and recreating menus didn’t work. At one point I installed another menu plugin and then deleted it, only to have the entire menu subsection missing! Had to install the that unused menu plugin again.

    The constant jumping around of focus when you click something is a nuisance. Click on anything and have some other editor pop up instead of having a cohesive menu/sidebar area drove me insane.

    There are too many different “editors” and places where you need to jump through for basic functionality.

  17. Sorta the same here. Took me a good bit to figure out that I was locked into the “Gutenberg/block-editor ” in some themes. Didnt like the work flow. Currently going headless.

  18. Install disable gutenturd plugin and your back to your normal. Blocks ain’t for everyone, including me.

  19. > I’ve been messing around with wordpress on and off for 15+ years but whatever happened in the past couple years has me feeling like a total moron.

    You should have spent a little of these 15 years actually studying WordPress, instead of just “messing around”. I did exactly that and have no problem at all using it.

  20. Stop whinging. It’s FREE. What are you expecting. As a free system it’s awesome. Want to add some real power and efficiency then buy Divi or Elementor.

  21. As a newbie WordPress guy I found the same thing.  

    So it seems like the advice is get blocksy disable Gutenberg enable classic editor.

    Just want a basic blog to mess around with.   three column layout –  left col is nav, middle col is page content, right hand col is recent articles.


  22. Exactly my thoughts when I updated from my decade-old Responsive theme to the new 2024 theme. Took a while, but I got used to it. It’s all there, you just have to dig around to find everything. In the end, I’m really happy with my site and I’m sure you will be, too!

  23. I’m surprised no one has mentioned elementor with the hello starter theme. Once you understand the basics of elementor its very powerful.

  24. Tbh, the block editor is so much easier to use and performant out of the box. Getting a basic site up and running is a matter of 1hr tops with it if you have the content ready. I guess you took a very long break before coming back to wordpress.


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