Goodbye WordPress

I left WordPress after my failed experiment and despite investments in a premium templates and plugins. However, I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from trying that platform. WordPress is the engine that powers over 28% of the world’s websites. So, when looking for a new platform it is a top contender. And it’s worth noting that by “WordPress” I’m referring to WordPress.org versus WordPress.com. I was surprised to find that the free version had better features than the premium offering. A good comparison between the ORG and COM offerings can be found at WPBeginner.

Considerations

What many website builders seem to be missing is the “next” step.  There are plenty of “Getting Started” guides that lead you step-by-step to a cookie-cutter website. But what if you want your look-alike website to have some personality? First, choose your template wisely and research the documentation thoroughly to ensure the developer hasn’t left any gaps. Second, the tools and plugins required by a template can lead to dramatically different implementation methods. Not only will you be learning WordPress, but your template’s idiosyncrasies and each tool required by the template.

I see WordPress appealing to two extremes: those who will use templates with little customization in a fill-in-the-blank mode, or developers who master the tools to build multiple sites. As someone who’s hand-coded HTML, CSS, and JavaScript I found the learning curve steep, and making that difficult climb would only have made sense if I were going to repeatedly leverage those skills.

Despite the inefficient prospects, I was still tempted by the challenge of learning WordPress and learning my template, because when I surmounted the initial difficulty, adding content would be trivial. But what pushed the prospect beyond palatability was the maintenance. During my one-month experiment I had to perform multiple updates of WordPress, the template, the plugins, and PHP settings. Instead of creating website content I was spending too much time on website maintenance. A big reason I was switching platforms was to focus on creating content instead of fiddling with the tools. And unless you’re foolishly complacent about security flaws and product bugs, updates are an important cost of ownership to consider.

Of all the templates I played with, one stood out and was worthy of purchase: Avada from Theme FusionIt’s Fusion-based editor offers a great deal of flexibility and power.  And the bundled sliders provide visual punch. Avada is more than a template—it is a meta-template with a bundle of nearly three dozen templates within itself.

Squarespace

WordPress has a huge variety of templates, and I found many of them much more appealing than the offerings from Squarespace.  But having worked with Squarespace before, I knew it wouldn’t have the maintenance overhead of WordPress. Despite having Squarepace experience, it still presented a learning curve because I was working with a Squarespace template that was unfamiliar.  However, the curve wasn’t nearly as steep as WordPress/Avada.  And within one afternoon I had accomplished more than I had in a month’s struggle with WordPress. And with perseverance it looks like I will be able to hammer this template into an acceptable shape. Squarespace also has some functional limitations, but for now I can live with them.