Before we started The WordPress Helpers, we used and helped others use WordPress for … quite a while. And while all is not perfect in WordPress, we have no major issues with any of its features.
Except for The Image Library. We HATE the WordPress Image Library.
WordPress Image Handling Stinks
Harsh? Maybe. Using the WordPress
Image Media Library is incredibly easy. Too easy; use The WordPress Image Library the way it’s designed and you’re going to leave a lot of garbage files in your WordPress installation—which isn’t even the problem now that storage is so inexpensive. In fact, Search Engine Optimization working as it does, having one file named “wordpress image handling.jpg” isn’t as good as also having one named “wordpress image handling 150”, another named “wordpress image handling 300”, etc. It’s a small SEO boost, but a boost it is.
Our real problem with WordPress Image Handling has to do with organization. Take a look at this; it’s The WordPress Helper’s Image Library as of right now:
Let’s talk about the problems:
- Three images show up twice. I can’t tell you why; I could figure it out, but I don’t want to.
- Three images, which are not broken, nevertheless appear to be when viewed in the library. Again, I could figure out why WordPress Image Handling is breaking down here, but I don’t want to.
- The only ways to limit what you see are by month, or by media type. Some actual media management in the WordPress Image Handling library would be a nice idea, don’t you think?
- The first four images are quasi-managed in that our mail-sending mechanism knows they belong in a special library. IT allows us to segregate its images from all the rest, so … well, there’s that “actual media management” thing again. But the WordPress Media Library just lumps everything together.
Oh: and have you noticed that this is obviously not all the images at The WordPress Helpers? In fact, the image of the Media Library isn’t IN the media Library, nor is the picture you see at the top of this article! And that’s by design.
Because of how we feel about WordPress Image Handling, we avoid using the media library whenever we can.
In most cases, that’s not a big deal. We upload most images, and the audio versions of our posts, manually and link to them via URL whenever that’s possible. This explains why our library has so few images in it. But we also understand that many users, not familiar with the unmanaged mess that the media library creates, happily click away.
We also know that only a small portion of our friends and consulting clients will alter their behavior on this matter even after we explain it. For the folks who just don’t care, we offer up two resources we came across last week. Bob Dunn, whose work was featured here once before, has put together an exhaustive walk-through of how the WordPress Media Library works. As with his article on Posts and Pages, we think Bob is sort of missing the point, but even more than in the earlier piece this is one complete resource; highly recommended if we can’t convince you to do WordPress Image Handling the right way.
Regardless of where you fall on the larger issue of WordPress Image Handling, we also want to point you at a great piece from WPExplorer. It explains the right way to handle images before you use them in WordPress, and touches on pretty much all the issues. How many issues? It almost goes too far! Also highly recommended.
Bringing us to the big issue.
Using WordPress, there are times where you’re going to want to use “featured images”. How and when will differ depending on the things you do with your website, as well as how your theme is designed. For example, the images you see across the top of this site as well as on many of our archive and sorted pages are inserted using featured images. You’ll want to use this feature eventually, and when you do you’ll find that featured images can only be inserted using the media library.
Unless you use a very neat plug-in called Nelio External Featured Image. Its name describes what it does; Nelio External Featured Image lets you use the functionality of WordPress Featured Images, but still refer to the images using direct URLs, keeping them out of the media library. WordPress Image Handling restored!
Nelio External Featured Image is an amazing add-on to WordPress’ native abilities, and it creates very little performance overhead so you needn’t worry about speed hits. And the guys at Nelio believe in support; not only did they craft a bit of custom code that made Nelio External Feature Image work correctly in The WordPress Helpers’ rather complicated site design before we launched, but this week we noticed a small problem, pointed it out, and in a matter of hours Nelio had not only fixed it, but revved External Featured Image and pushed the version including the fix to the outside world.
We presume that when they get around to documenting it (note the 1.1 vs 1.2 discrepancy), they’ll credit us 😉 .
By the way: we’d like to point out both that Nelio External Featured Image is completely free, and that Nelio has a service they sell that you’re going to want to take a look at when it’s time for A/B testing and working on marketing.
Understanding the way you manage WordPress Image Handling is important. Read Bob Dunn’s walk-through, take a look at the items you want to get under control at WPExplorer, and if you still need any kind of help, give The WordPress Helpers a shout.