Should Blogroll “Links” be removed in favor of WordPress Menus?


Yesterday, on our facebook page, we asked a question “If you could get rid of one feature or thing in WordPress, what would it be?”. Some folks from our community gave their opinion. We also asked the same question on twitter. One of our users sent us a Direct Message asking us what would we get rid of. After looking at the list of features that others suggested, we found it surprising that no one brought up “Blogroll” Links.

Back in the days when we started using WordPress, the Links feature aka blogroll was fascinating. It allowed us to add and remove links on the sidebar without dealing with code at all. It was a dream come true for us beginners. However, now the links feature seems a bit outdated and quite frankly not as easy as the “Menus”. In this article, we make a case of replacing the Blogroll “Links” feature in favor of WordPress menus.

In our recent projects, we have found ourselves using a custom menu where we used to use Links. It is much more flexible for our clients to control the order of links by simple drag-drop interface that the menus provide. This is by far one of the most requested feature that our clients ask for. Now don’t get us wrong. Links do have some of the features, we wish we could retain while using the menus. So we are going to do a comparison of features and let you decide whether blogroll “links” should be replaced in favor of WordPress Menus.

Features that Blogroll “Links” have:

  • Ability to add Custom Links
  • Add Link Description
  • Categorize Links
  • Target Property (open link a new window or same page)
  • Specify Link Relationship using rel: tags
  • Image Address
  • RSS Address
  • Notes
  • Ratings

Now let’s see how many of these things you can already do with WordPress menus. You can add custom links using the “Custom Links” area in Menus. You can categorize links by simply creating separate menus for each category. If you look at Screen Options tab at the top right corner of your admin screen, you will see there are checkboxes for Link Target, Link Relationship, and Description. So those can be added as well. So what menus cannot do that links can?

Menus does not allow you to have Notes “which are for administrator’s use to remind them why they added a link”. Again, it seems kind of pointless that someone will have a link in their sidebar without knowing why they added it there. Usually, we find users link to sites they LOVE and read regularly. You cannot have Ratings. This is used to sort links by administrator assigned rating. Well, you can do that through the drag-drop interface. Now what would be cool is if we can let public rate our links, and then this feature can be pretty nifty. RSS Address for the link. Never used this feature ever, but it may be useful for some of you. The feature that we absolutely miss is the Image Address. Yes you can use images in WordPress menus but that requires you to create a CSS class for each item. That is something most clients cannot do. Now if we can add a way to add icons to WordPress menus (either in core or through a plugin), we can completely get rid of Links area.

Now, we’ve seen some folks that use Links as a post type. So they add links and display them on a separate page which they call “Resources or Friends”. But with WordPress posts formats in version 3.1, you can add links anyways. So doesn’t it make more sense to use Post Formats for Links rather than using it as a separate post type?

Would love to hear your thoughts?