A month with WordPress

It’s just over a month since I left Blogger and started running my own WordPress site.  I’m not new at hosting sites, I have several (some phpBB, various custom stuff, previous goes at CMS’s) and I’m comfortable with apache and mysql.

Here’s a few random thoughts about WordPress.

  • Easiest, cleanest and best ‘default settings’ install of just about any web-app I’ve installed.  Really impressed with the ease at which it goes on, and how it works out-of-the-box without having to worry about any settings.
  • Solid and robust plugin architecture.  It’s a constant battle when you host your own sites to keep the number of plugins down while still adding some stuff to the site which makes it easier to use.  WordPress handles the plugins really well, I’ve not had any conflict with each other yet and I’ve not had any cause any weird issues.  I’ve added one or two that I think really add some value and I’ve added a few that are just fun stuff for me (like Pull Quotes).  Overall I’m really impressed, and the automatic one click upgrade for plugins rocks.
  • Because WordPress is popular, there are a lot of templates and I was lucky enough to find one which is basically bullet proof and ideal.  I usually have a lot of problems with templates and CMSs, either having to do a lot of customisation or losing out on features because the templates are old.  This isn’t really a WordPress ‘good point’ since it’s the template designer who’s done the hard work, but I guess the popularity and template system in WordPress helps.
  • The actual process of writing posts is pretty easy.  Sometimes I find the editor a bit clumsy, and having to flick between HTML and Visual editing mode for the more complex post styles can be annoying.  The built in media manager seems powerful and I’m probably only just scraping the top of that but it does what I need (allowing me to upload images and then including them in posts without having to FTP them to my hosting provider and work out a URL).  Compared to Blogger it’s far more flexible and powerful.
  • I like the pages feature – I felt it was a major issue that Blogger didn’t provide a built-in method of including non-dated pages/posts.
  • Managing posts / tags and categories is a pain (in 2.6 you have to edit a post to change the category / tags).  I think they’re changing this in 2.7 or later.  But, a simple plugin fixed this for me anyway and made it a lot easier.  Blogger’s tagging / category feature was reasonably limited and although I don’t think I’m benefiting yet fully from WordPress’s tagging / category system it is far more flexible.  I love the tag to category and category to tag feature, which has saved me a lot of work in restructing the posts.
  • Overall page views are down a great deal since leaving Blogger.  This is party because of the (bizarre) popularity of my posts on my thumb pain / tendonitis and party because the site doesn’t rank as highly in Google for other random topics.  Generally, I don’t mind.  This is a personal blog for me to vent and my friends to read, so how highly it ranks on Google isn’t an issue.  I could have spent a lot more time with the redirection from the Blogger blog, sending visitors to specific posts on this site, but I decided it really wasn’t worth it to preserve the people reading about thumb pain.
  • I think i already blogged about the fantastic seamless import of Blogger content into WordPress.  If not, it was fantastic.
  • I like trackbacks.  I like sending pings when I link to another blog.  Part of the reason why I left Blogger was a lack of trackbacks / pings.  If I link to someone’s blog I want them to know it, so they feel like their blog is valuable and being read.  Even if they don’t display the pings / trackbacks on their site, it’s just a nice easy way of letting people know they’re being read.
  • I never did find a plugin that worked as well as the Blogger blogroll one (which shows the last post in an rss feed you choose, for each entry).  Which is a shame.  There are some, but they seem over complex.

Overall, I’m more than pleased with the move.  I feel more in control of how the blog looks (even though I’ve hardly touched the template I’m using) and I have direct and immediate access to the content (I back the mysql database tables up each night).  WordPress itself performs flawlessly, and there aren’t any major features that I wish it had.