This is my personal WordPress Epiphany.
You probably can’t go too far into a discussion about blogging before the topic turns to WordPress – maybe two or three sentences at most. Like ham & cheese or tea & bud, they are perfect partners.
So one would think that a guy who blogs for others (a social voice for pixels), is all over WordPress – steeping it all day long. The fact is that although I help others install, use and yes blog from it, my personal site was someplace else.
I played around with Twitter Bootstrap for some time and deployed it at http://teaz.me.
One day, after some kind of epiphany or more likely rare random moment of boredom, the following question hit me like a soggy teabag to the foot:
Where’s The Dog Food?
Why am I not eating my own dog food? Shouldn’t I be using WordPress myself if I’m helping others use it? Granted, not everyone uses WordPress, but still I couldn’t help thinking that I would be at a disadvantage for ignoring it on my own site.
I’ve jumped into different playgrounds that have included Blogger, Posterous and Tumblr – quick set-up hosted solutions. There are always pros and cons with any platform. The Posterous platform has suffered though from quite a few outages and other user experience issues since the Twitter acquisition. It’s not a solution that I recommend now.
Blogger is well integrated with Google+ and Tumblr is still a fun spot for me to spew out random off-the-cuff blog posts. Tumblr and Blogger (finally) allow access to the HTML and CSS which is important to me. They are solutions in certain situations requiring quick set-up and little need for monetization. They remove the pain of security and will have lower associated roll-out costs.
For deeper plunges into monetization and complete content control with server access, it came down to WordPress for me.
Deploying WP on my domain should save time in resolving client issues because I had my own test bed to help debug issues from – so I reasoned. I could test new releases and plugins prior to recommending them to others. Yes, this should be good.
This wasn’t my first rodeo and I’ve not had any issues installing WordPress in the past. Most hosting companies make installation pretty painless with a simple click to install WordPress option. My last couple of installs were manual affairs though. I wanted things up and running quickly rather than having to wait some amount of time for the hosting company to get it all worked out.
The manual approach requires editing a wp-config.php file so that it includes your database information with security and salt keys. This resource was useful to me. I apologize if this sounds like a complicated process, but WordPress is not as difficult to deploy as it might sound – for those who are accustomed to the lingo and do-it-yourself technical processes. There are many resources available.
On the other hand, getting someone with experience to set it all up is a less painful approach and will help you beyond the install process.
I kept thinking to myself that regular individuals and business owners would best be served by out-sourcing this whole process to someone else. Sometimes those who do this on an everyday basis forget how daunting this whole process can be. We tend to make things sound easy and painless, but forget that things can still go wrong.
Recently, I encountered a login issue for example. Why couldn’t I log-in to a WordPress site that I had been working on just minutes before? Did someone else remove me as an admin? I tried a different known login and still failed. Oh-oh! The solution required me to FTP to the server and change the plugins folder name to plugins_old. I was then able to login to WP and reach the plugins folder from the dashboard on the desktop.
Then I renamed the plugins_old folder back to plugins via FTP. I slowly began deactivating and reactivating plugins one by one until I found the plugin that was causing this painful mess. I toss in this example just to let others know that yes, things can go wrong with WordPress. However, every platform has it’s bugs – even Tumblr and Blogger. I’ve encountered issues with all of them.
Today, I’m pretty happy with WP. Even though I’m more of a plain-text-editor kind of guy, I can still appreciate the WordPress dashboard which allows one to control many aspects of a theme. I do move to a text editor (BBEdit for me) quickly when it comes time to actually post something or make more radical changes to a theme though.
Today, I can say, “Yes, I’m eating my own dog food!”
“Eating my own dog food” simply means that I’m using the products that I’m helping others use. I use them, because I believe in them.
My newfound passion for WordPress has grown exponentially after discovering how to bring Bootstrap over in the form of Shoestrap.
Bootstrap is not for everyone, but it has helped me design responsive sites quickly with a solid foundation when combined with H5BP.
I feel like I’ve found the perfect sandbox to play in. Being a part of this community will definitely mean that I’m going to be soaking up as much knowledge as I can from everyone here.
My personal goal is to seek out others who enjoy WordPress – going to places such as WP Daily – and joining conversations. I may have a few items to contribute from personal experience, but I’m quite sure you will have much to help me along.
One of the first things I tackle after an install is WordPress security. That’s probably another topic for another day though.
I look forward to hearing your suggestions, what’s worked for you – what hasn’t.
What step or plugin would you recommend to someone completely new to the world of WordPress?