I love WordPress! I’ve been running my website on this platform for almost four years and can’t seem to think of moving elsewhere. On several occasions, I find myself navigating to Squarespace or Photoshelter and ogling at their beautifully designed themes however momentarily. These services are beautifully crafted for the full-time photographers and artists but for someone like me, the customization options and the ease of use of a service are prime.
Therefore, I’ll remain loyal to WordPress, regardless of all the bells and whistles the other services showcase. The entire platform is easy to navigate, gets frequent updates and bug fixes, has a great support forum and help with any form of functionality is always one plugin away…
WordPress is like the Android of websites: easily to customize and simple to use.
You can use the platform, run your theme on it and customize the way your website looks. With plugins being aplenty, every hassle can be easily sorted which means that more often that not, you are going to be running several plugins together. Plugin developers nor WordPress haven’t yet figured out how to tell people about which plugins are likely to be compatible with each other and which ones shouldn’t be used together. Since plugins are developed by WordPress users from around the world, it becomes almost impossible to know when a plugin might interrupt with the functionality of your website theme.
Running a portfolio website is difficult, only because it is rather strenuous to find the right (free) theme that will suit your needs. Thankfully, I found one and to make things easier, I decked it up with about a handful of plugins that range from content-security to SEO.
A few days ago, I came across a few settings on my SEO plugin that promised to make my content look more appealing on social media. I’ve been using this plugin for ages and was astonished that I had never made use of these features.
To my horror, I realized why a few days later when I had a look at the website and came across the rampant mess that was created. In the midst of all the confusion about what was causing the interface to behave so badly, I had forgotten those settings on that pesky plugin. It took me several hours to reboot the theme twice and even search for different theme options before I remembered what might have caused this to happen. (A disadvantage of using a free theme is not having support to help you through such trying moments. In any case, theme support will only suggest you to disable all the plugins and re-enable them one by one to figure out the issue.)
To put things into perspective, I use this website as a portfolio of my work and as an outlet for my views and opinions about topics from around the world that I find interesting. When something that is so important and is almost like your identity on the internet starts looking like complete trash, you start to panic. For a few hours, I had the entire website suspended and redirect to another page to make sure no one would see it. (Karma had other plans: as it turns out, I got a lot of views that day.)
I want to highlight the respect I have for everyone doing their own code and running their own websites. It takes a lot of skill, dedication and time to get things running and keeping them that way. And if you don’t know CSS or HTML enough to save yourself, you are looking at facing another level of difficulty in making things work and troubleshooting issues when they happen.
All in all, most themes are well designed to do the job they advertise; they work well so long as you don’t bite into more than you can chew.
Where you need to be really careful is with the plugins. While they are lifesavers, they can also slowly take the life out of you. If you happen to run into unanticipated trouble with your website, do what the experts say – start deactivating plugins, one by one and look if anything changes with the way the website behaves.
If that doesn’t work, look back to see if you had made any changes to settings with the plugins on your WordPress dashboard or on the plugin’s web console (as is the case with Shareholic, where you can change a different set of parameters on their website as compared to the settings on WordPress). If neither of these work, make sure you have an unedited, untouched backup of your theme somewhere on your local drive(s). Don’t be too worried about having to reboot your entire theme because once, this worked for me.
While running a website seems like a hell-lot of work, it is more rewarding in its own ways. You get to learn a lot along the way and if you are a creative, it can help create a platform where a healthy critique of your work can find home. If you’ve been thinking about starting your website for a while, just take the leap.