Decisions, not options

WordPress developers have gotten away from making decisions, not options, resulting in settings pages bursting at the seams and users getting increasingly frustrated with not understanding how things work.

Decisions, not options is a philosophy fostered in core WordPress development. It can be found on the WordPress site in the section discussing the philosophy of how WordPress should be developed. This particular point reds:

When making decisions these are the users we consider first. A great example of this consideration is software options. Every time you give a user an option, you are asking them to make a decision. When a user doesn’t care or understand the option this ultimately leads to frustration. As developers we sometimes feel that providing options for everything is a good thing, you can never have too many choices, right? Ultimately these choices end up being technical ones, choices that the average end user has no interest in. It’s our duty as developers to make smart design decisions and avoid putting the weight of technical choices on our end users.

It’s meant to make WordPress as simple as possible for the masses for removing options where 80+% of people will choose one particular option. Filters and hooks should be used to accommodate the needs of others.

When developers adhere to this philosophy, their users are content with how simple and robust the product is. The burden of deciding how the plugin/theme should work should rest with the developer, not the end user.

It would be great to see a return to plugins without settings pages and themes without color pickers for every single element on the site. To developers I say “Man up and make some decisions, while allowing users to make options with hooks and filters”.

Author: Dave

Dave is many things. Most importantly, he’s a husband and a father to Ellie and Jack. Almost as important, he’s British (though he lives in Florida). Following on from there, he’s a WordPress developer and civil engineer, has an unhealthy love of hummus, is vegan, likes cider, wants to travel to Iceland and Japan, loves solving puzzles and is a realist.

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