Managing WordPress site content and users for the long haul

Rod Tatham

Site management - the long game

Gutenberg -v- the Classic Editor

Let's start by talking about the direction of travel in the WordPress community about the content editor itself.

Life as a WordPress content editor has evolved a lot in recent years. With the revolutionary and contraversial Gutenberg editor incorporated a few short years ago at the tail end of 2018, WordPress editors have had a lot to learn in order to stay up-to-date. Getting used to building pages with blocks - pieces of content that you can move around - rather than the old way of using simple text editors like mini word processors, has both fans and detractors.

But Gutenberg's more contemporary approach allows WordPress editors to build content from media-rich Gutenberg blocks that you know are going to work on mobile and tablet just as well as desktop, solving a bug-bear that has dogged editors since smartphones became the predominant means of accessing content on many sites.

For this reason, Sereno builds charity websites with Gutenberg blocks rather than the classic editor, but we always offer training for editors to bring them along on the journey and see the advantages of this newer way to manage content.

WordPress Plugins for wider site and user management - our pick of the bunch

The huge range of plugins available within WordPress is one of its key strengths. But with the WordPress Plugin Directory now featuring above 55,000, how on earth can a developer see the wood for the trees and make sound choices for constructing a secure and maintainable site?

At Sereno, we have evolved a set of plugins that we deploy on all our new WordPress sites. This doesn't mean that its the only sensible set to opt for, but whichever plugins you go for, make sure they work well together and there isn't too much overlap of functionality between them. They should be complementary to one another.

Here is our experience of going through this plugin-picking process to make WordPress as easy as possible for plugin editors and site admins. While these plugins may offer paid-for extra features, all of them can make your site faster for free:

Broken Link Checker

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker/

It's easy for sites to experience 'site rot'. To maximise your SEO and avoid visitor frustration, you should make sure content stays at top notch. One of the first signs of stale content is dead links within your content. This is where Broken Link Checker comes into play. It monitors all your internal and external links looking for broken links. It can detect missing images and redirects that no longer work, too.

You can even receive notifications to your email address, but usually keeping those alerts in your dashboard are less nagging and do the job, as long as you make a point of checking regularly.

A word of warning - some hosts such as WP Engine won't allow you to use this plugin, since it is quite resource hungry and presumably cause them a support headache.

Disable Comments

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/disable-comments/

The inadvertent leaving-on of comments on a WordPress site is one of the main ways hackers find a means of breaking your WordPress site, damaging its content or stealing data. This plugin has a number of features, but basically it gives you the reassurance of instantly preventing comments from any post type in WordPress (Pages, Posts, or Media). Stop the spammers!

Duplicate Page

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/duplicate-page/

This plugin speeds up your content creation by allowing you to use an existing page as a template. It lets you duplicate Posts, Pages and Custom Posts easily using just a single click. And it will save it according to your defaults - ie draft, private, public, or pending. Makes life a little easier for content creators.

Plugin Notes Plus

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/plugin-notes-plus

It's easy to get lost in lengthy admin screens in WordPress. Yes, of course we shouldn't have more plugins than we actually use, and we should remove any that we aren't actively using. We have regular reviews to make sure we prune obsolete plugins; this is good for security and site speed, as well as aiding a nice and easy site maintenance experience over time. Again - we're trying to counter site rot!

This plugin lets you post a little note in the plugins list against each item. This is great at sharing info with other editors and developers, but it also forces you to be honest with yourself about whether you really need or even use a plugin. A great little documentation tool.

Redirection

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/redirection/

Yes, this is another way to stop your site rotting! Redirection is the most popular redirect manager for WordPress. With it you can easily manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors (in other words, broken links), and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have. This can help reduce errors, make visitor experience smooth and improve your site ranking.

Stream

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/stream/

This is a very useful audit tool, especially if content editing is a job shared out across a large team. Stream is useful for keeping tabs on your WordPress users. From activating plugins to deleting posts, to login attempts and new user creation, you can see what’s changed, who changed it and when.

User Switching

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/user-switching/

Very handy for those of you managing a team where different or complicated roles and responsibilities. Swap between user accounts in WordPress at the click of a button. You’ll be instantly logged out and logged in as your desired user. This is handy for testing environments, for helping customers on WooCommerce sites, or for any site where administrators need to switch between multiple accounts.

And finally...

Making the best choices around editor tools and plugins can really help smooth out the editor experience so your team can focus on content creation rather than working around the technology.

Good luck in finding the best mix of tools to manage your content and users proactively, prevent site rot and keep your visitors happy with great, current content!