So here we are.
I have resisted the siren song of WordPress for quite some time. For one thing, I was quite comfortable working in Seditio and was reluctant to learn a new system that, as far as I could see, was just going to do the same thing. Also, I had tried WordPress years ago, when shopping for a good CMS, and at that time had found it very limited. Back then it really was only good for making a blog, and the theming system seemed incredibly stiff and confusing. Additionally, when one looks at WordPress sites, they tend to look really alike. I had always assumed this was due limitations of WordPress itself but have discovered it seems to be more of a limitation of the theme designers, or perhaps more charitably the result of a fad embracing the “classic” WordPress layout. Add to this that a gadfly colleague of mine had been pestering me to give it a try again, since she was hearing great things about it, and I reluctantly consented to take a fresh look.
Needless to say, I was impressed. So much so that when I redesigned the Ribit Web Site I scrapped the old CMS and re-did the whole thing in WordPress, including bringing over 2 years of blog entries. WordPress has really grown up in the last 5 years or so. The theming system is very elegant now, although in truth I cannot say for sure if this is a result of it changing or me just being more experienced now. The blog is now simply a feature of the site, albeit a big one, rather than the whole enchilada, and the blog features (archives, links, comments, etc) do not have to dominate the site landscape. And while I remain skeptical of a lot of the current talk of Search Engine Optimization, WordPress now makes it very easy to help the web crawlers find your site more easily. I enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the system and found that the engine now actually helps me in my design efforts by getting out of my way and freeing me up from some of the more tedious coding chores. The extensibility and vast plugin library available was also a big incentive.
After completing the Ribit site, I was so impressed that I decided my own site should be redone for WordPress. And here we are. The design was kept essentially the same. A few changes include the removal of any form of drop down navigation, as lately I have been trying more and more to sideline navigation as a heavy design element, and the inclusion of a more WordPress-esque sidebar. I also did a lot of CSS research during this redo and have discovered quite a few new tricks. CSS is really coming into its own now and I can see a point in the near future where we can do web page layout with the same freedom we enjoy for print. The entire process of recreating my site has taken about 2 weeks, working just on weekends really and some evenings; and it only took that long because I played around a lot with new CSS and script techniques. I estimate if I had just applied the design exactly as it appeared before I could have done it in a day. Or less.
I think I am going to enjoy being on board the WordPress train. I am already adjusting all my incoming work and plan to use it as my primary site development environment for the foreseeable future.