Where is the link title attribute WordPress 4.2?

This is just a quick post to mention a problematic update to the WordPress Core and a nice plugin that fixes the problem handily.

Where did the Title field go in WordPress link manager?

If you’re a long time user of WordPress you’ll recognize the following link manager screen:

  • The URL field has a place holder text
  • The title attribute is available

This is familiar and this dialog makes sense to most of us.

In WordPress 4.2 we were freed from the burden of sensible familiar interfaces by the substitution of ‘Link Text’ for ‘Title’:

  • The URL field no longer has place holder text
  • The title attribute is gone
  • You can now edit/add the anchor text

I almost published a blog post with horribly broken links because of this and it wasted a lot of time sorting out.

How to fix it? Oh you just install a plugin! The Title and Nofollow For Links plugin released on May 10th 2015 not only fixes the title box, it also adds nofollow support:

  • The URL field is unchanged
  • The title attribute is back
  • You can still edit/add the anchor text
  • You can also specify rel=”nofollow”!

While I don’t really like having extra plugins installed, at least this one fixes two issues and doesn’t add much clutter to the system.

Is the Title Attribute Relevant?

Please don’t misunderstand this post; With mobile devices chewing into the traffic breakdown of websites the value of the title attribute is becoming debatable. Some websites have over 60% mobile traffic, and devices that lack a mouse also lack any easy method to interact with titles.

“Titles are more than just hover text!”

I shouldn’t need to put so much emphasis on that statement but there’s so many web admins saying that this change isn’t much of an issue, and is actually a step in the right direction, because who needs hover text? Well search engines use titles & they help overcome minimalist designs.

Consider the following menu for a chain of Toyota car dealerships based in Victoria BC:


These menu items need to be short and easy to understand for design reasons, but at face value we have a lot of questions:

  • What sort of ‘Vehicles’ are in that menu?
  • What’s at those ‘Locations’?
  • What sort of ‘Service’ or ‘Finanacing’ is it?
  • Are those ‘Specials’ on grocery?
  • What sort of ‘Blog’ do they run?
  • Who is ‘US’?
  • Etc…

If you aren’t sure, how are the search engines figuring it out?

Title text not only explains these nice looking menu options to the users, it ensures search engines also understand what each choice is for.

Finally we also have to consider accessibility & browsers for people with disabilities. The added information that the title text adds could be very crucial for uses of these browsers, especially when the options are being read out loud by text-to-speech and you cannot visually compare your choices.