I’ve been using the W3 Total Cache plug-in for WordPress ever since it was recommended by Joost who seems to be one of the few original thinkers in the WordPress developer community. When he posts something, it usually turns out to be dead-on accurate, if for no other reason than he usually writes about his reasoning and what led him to his conclusions. It is an extra step that ensures you really know what you are talking about because then you can’t just blame a different opinion if someone comes in and points out that you are wrong based on something in your reasoning being faulty or disprovable. So, when says that WordPress publishers should be using W3 Total Cache, I listen.
However, a recent upgrade to the W3 Total Cache led to a minor annoyance. While the caching functionality is still flawless and the features in the caching WordPress 3.0 add-on are the best out there, one chance to the interface was made that bugs me.
W3TC used to be like most other WordPress plug-ins. Configuring the cache plug was done from the Settings menu on the sidebar, or by going into the Plug-ins screen and choosing settings from the options on the plugin itself. The new version adds its own special menu to the standard WordPress menu bar. Worse, it is labeled “Performance” instead of W3 Cache or something similar.
This bothers me for two reasons. One, the standard interface for WordPress is that plugins are managed via Settings, or in some cases, Tools, or within the Plugins area itself. The other menus are reserved for core WordPress functions and specifically categorized sub-functions like Themes which are supposed to be listed under Appearance. Two, labeling it as “Performance” strikes me as disingenuous even if that is not the intention. It is almost like the developer wants it to seem as if the functions provided by W3TC are core to the WordPress system when they are not. It will also increase confusion among those of us who make money writing online for a lot of our own websites, WordPress and otherwise.
I don’t reconfigure my WordPress sites every day. I do a lot of posting via Windows Live Writer or QuickPress or even ScribeFire, which means that days or even a week or two can go by without me seeing the Administrator screen in WordPress. When I do go into WordPress admin and I want to tweak my W3 Total Cache Minify settings, for example, I will no doubt click Settings and upon not finding it there try Tools or the Plugin screens. Even if I did happen to notice the cache settings menu (I work fast and I know what it supposed to be on each screen, so I have screen blindness to things that I am not looking for deliberately), it is likely that I wouldn’t know to use it right away because it is generically labeled Performance and what I am trying to find is W3 Total Cache not some WordPress performance settings.
This is not an indictment of W3 Total Cache, nor a reason to not use it or switch to another WordPress caching plug-in, but it does strike me as a move in the wrong direction for both the WordPress interface in general, and the development of this particular WordPress 3.0 plugin.