Another rationale for this website is that I want to learn about WordPress.
WordPress 3.1 was just released (14 Feb 2011) and includes a lot of features that veteran users have been looking for, so it seems like a great time to start – well after the bleeding edge.
In the past. I have built some websites by “hand” using XHTML, CSS, PHP, mySQL and text editors.
The main “pain” I experienced building web sites by hand was what you see is not what you get (WYSINWYG). I am not referring to using a visual page builder like DreamWeaver, but the fundamental problem is that however it’s built if you test your website on one browser, you cannot be sure it will work on all other browsers. Sure you can test on a few, but not all, and even if you get most, you still have to contend with old versions, new versions, and entirely new browsers as well as new form factors like the iPad.
Having some intermediate CSS skills, I should be able to layout web pages so they look clean, professional and have a certain amount of visual appeal. But it needs a professional web designer who is doing this all the time. Not only do they need to master which browsers handle which features, which degrade gracefully, and which browser-specific hacks to use when, but they have to constantly keep that knowledge current and maintain all those “old” websites.
The future is looking rosier though… the immaturity of browser vendors, standards, designers and users is passing… the end of a painful adolescence is in sight. Browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Opera have made great strides forward, Microsoft has been catching up and CSS3 and HTML5 standards are nearly here.
WordPress 3.1 sure looks much easier than coding by hand. Building a great website with zero coding is possible, you easily add plugins to extend functionality and just focus on the content.
- You can instantly re-skin your website with another theme.
- You can install plugins for contact forms, integration with social media sites, security, performance, analytics, search engine optimization, advertising, newsletters
With an understanding of CSS and PHP you can tweak themes and plugins, which is great but is probably the start of a slippery slope. I know I will not be able to resist changing some stuff to get it the way I want, and when the developer releases a new version I will face trying to merge back in my customizations.
Overall the platform is impressive and I am convinced this is worth investing in. Time that is, not money – it’s free of course. One of the rare occasions in technology when “the best things in life are free” is true.
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