Evolution of My Website – Switching to Word Press

I’ve been running this website in its current form (a blog) since 2004 when it was called JayZone (sounds really corny now that I reflect on it).  I created its current layout and theme in 2008 and haven’t really changed it since.  I’ve made small modifications here and there but I haven’t made any major changes.  I manage the entire site myself – the code that displays the pages, the graphics that make up the layout, the content that is on the site, the database that stores all of the info, and the web server that serves up the site.   This means that I have to make concessions about what I’m going to do when I spend time on it.

When I graduated college in 2007 and had big dreams of spending lots of time working on the site and its content, but that hasn’t really happened.  I basically split my time on the website between three things – site design (graphics), site functionality (code), and site content.  I change focus from time to time but never seem to spend enough time on the content.  I have all kinds of ideas about features that I want to add, but the problem is that I have to spend time coding it all.  Sometimes I’ll have periods where I want to code a lot and I’ll get a feature 90% complete but then I get burnt out and never finish it.

I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot recently and I’m leaning more and more towards moving my site to Word Press.  Word Press is a popular content management framework for blogs and websites.  It provides posting, commenting, content management, and photo capabilities, which is pretty much everything that I code by hand.  If I used Word Press, I would no longer have to code and I could focus on graphics and content.  I’ve been hesitant to do it because I like the having the experience of coding and I’m proud that I do it all by myself.  I code at work full time now, I’m starting to get back into Mac programming and I’m not spending enough time on my site to do what I want with it, so it’s time I give up the coding.

I’m thinking of moving my photos over to a third party source such as Flickr since they are easier to share and I’m pretty sure I can find a Word Press plugin to manage them.  I’ve always been hesitant to store my stuff on somebody else’s server, but I have a copy of the photos locally, so I’m not really sure what I’m so worried about.  What I do know is that I have a huge list of things that I want to do to my site and I don’t have time to write code for all of it.

I desperately need to update my layout and graphics (the diagonal background has to go) and I need to find a way to make my photography more prominent.  I also need to post more, integrate with Facebook, and update the other content that I have (site history, about me, interests, hobbies, etc).  I’d love to have some sort tagging functionality for my posts, I want better searching, threaded comments, theming, multiple author support, and better administration.

Word Press has been out for a while and has all of the features that I’m talking about (including an iPhone app to manage the site).  It is used by tons of websites and it’s pretty easy to set up.  Moving to Word Press won’t be easy: I still have to create a layout and new graphics, I need to figure out what to do with my photos (I really like the slide show solution that I have and need to convert or replicate it), and then I need to move all of my existing posts and comments over.  My next step at the moment is to setup a basic Word Press site for myself and see what it offers me.  Then I’ll start working on a layout that I like and come up with a strategy to move all of my stuff over.  You may see an alpha or a beta site soon!

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