Wordpress logo header

Building my website using WordPress

I recently updated my own portfolio from flat HTML to use WordPress. Why? Firstly, having only previously dabbled with the world’s most popular CMS, I wanted to delve a little deeper. Secondly, I wanted to grow my own knowledge. And thirdly, I wanted something that would allow me to easily upload my thoughts and work.

Taking a shortcut

WordPress is renowned for having a vast array of themes available. I felt it would be advantageous to explore these a little further.

I decided to Google some of the more obvious terms: ‘Free WordPress themes‘, ‘Best WordPress themes 2017‘ were a few that I tried. After a few hours of digging around, it became somewhat evident that I was going to get more from my theme if I paid something for it.

The general consensus of the internet was that whilst free themes may provide the user with what is needed, they are somewhat limited in terms of overall functionality. Once I realised I’d be paying for a theme, I spent a little more time analysing what each theme offered.

After a few days (not solidly – that’d be insane) of comparing the various perks and pitfalls of varying paid themes, I found one that I liked. Kalium seemed to tick most of the boxes I was looking for:

  • A variety of layouts being available by default
  • The ability to make use of imagery extensively if required
  • Portfolio admin included
  • A clean, generally intuitive layout and interface as standard
  • Customer support for problems I might encounter

I purchased Kalium from Theme Forest for the grand total of about 50 quid and began my journey of WordPress exploration.

Kalium wordpress theme

Using WordPress

I’m not going to bore you with details about how I went about creating the layouts of my pages as, essentially, I configured some settings. What I did think would be useful was to explain my overall experience with the CMS.

I’ve used other Content Management Systems in the past with varying degrees of enjoyment, satisfaction and irritation. Nothing crazy, just the obvious ones really – Drupal, Joomla, Perch, Squarespace and Magento. Each have their advantages. Inevitably, each has their own downside too.

For the sake of keeping this entry short, I’m just going to condense my thoughts into 5 things I enjoyed about using WordPress.

1. The WYSIWYG editor is brilliant

It doesn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking – it just works. When compared to the Drupal editor, WordPress feels like it’s trying to be your friend and help you out. On the flip side, Drupal tries its hardest to ruin your content, imagery, layout, typography and patience in any way it can.

2. You get a lot for your money

Although I chose to pay for my theme, a significant amount of work was removed as a consequence. Kalium came with a vast array of functionality ‘out of the box’ and saved me hours of time.

3. Want something? There’s probably a plugin

Whilst the theme had functionality to make my layout work, there were other aspects of my site that I needed assistance with. Thankfully, a multitude of plugins are available. Examples I used included Yoast SEO, W3 Total Cache and (when putting my site live) Velvet Blues Update URLs. Nothing particularly surprising for an experienced WP developer, but regardless –  all were easily installed. All were simple to use. All work effectively.

4. Someone, somewhere, has experienced the same problem

Thanks to its overwhelming popularity, Google is not short of users’ experiencing problems and providing fixes for WordPress problems. I didn’t have many, but when I did, the answer was never too hard to find.

5. Everything seems clearer, with far less customisation required

Drupal especially suffers from using terminology that isn’t inherently clear unless you use it a lot. WordPress seemed to be a lot clearer from the start with less tweaking to underlying code to make aspects of the site work properly. This is probably one of the reasons it’s so popular – it requires less thinking.

Would I use it again?

Thumbs up Batman - courtesy of mymodernmet.com/thumbs-and-ammo

Definitely. Of all the CMS’s that I’ve used in the past, WordPress has been far and away the most enjoyable. Yes, Squarespace was fantastic to use and the drag and drop interface is brilliant, but I felt that a certain element of customisation was missing.

Joomla and Drupal are for the more advanced developer wanting to customise their site, but the overall usability of it is relatively poor. WordPress hits the middle ground nicely.

Can you customise it extensively if you need to? Yes. Do you have to do so in order to achieve an effective end result? No.

Unfortunately, as with every portfolio that I’ve built over the years, I’ve already started looking at how I can change this current iteration. This inevitably means I’m looking at templates. Which means spending money. Joy.

Thanks for reading 🙂