Adventures in WordPress

I have to admit that I have been run through the wringer! I’ve survived my complete immersion—baptism-by-fire—into the world of WordPress. Where’s my tee-shirt?

I also have to admit that it was completely worth all the trials and tribulations. I stretched myself in ways I thought not possible. For a little background, I will tell you that I’m primarily a designer—web and print—who also hand codes HTML, and dabbles in enough JavaScript to be a bit dangerous. By no means am I a back-end programmer! And that’s the piece that led me to WordPress.

To me, Web 2.0 is less about reinventing the wheel and more about finding ways to efficiently tie together the multitude of available components, resulting in a web presence that works best towards achieving one’s goals. Here’s where WordPress comes into play. I knew that in addition to it originally being designed primarily for bloggers, it also offers a robust content management system (CMS). (It’s basically a word processor that lets anyone, not familiar with HTML, have the ability to update the content on their website, by themselves.) And, because it’s open source, there’s a large community of designers and developers continually improving the functionality of WordPress. This is accomplished via upgrades to the WordPress engine, themes, plug-ins and widgets. And, most importantly, it’s no longer just intended for bloggers!

My initial goal was to redesign the sms web development website. Through this process, I came to this conclusion: why not prototype a model of our website that could also be easily adapted for our clients. In other words, let’s find a WordPress theme, one of the many hundreds out there, and in a process similar to ours, adapt it to our client’s needs and branding.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a “theme”, as it relates to WordPress, it’s the skin, the graphic look-and-feel of a website. Themes can be very basic to quite elaborate. It can contain a main text area and a sidebar, or it can contain multiple columns. We can help you determine the best layout to suit your needs and adapt our design methods in the creation of your custom website.

Additionally, I wanted to fully understand both the functionality of WordPress and how themes relate to that functionality. And, the beauty of WordPress is that it accommodates users with little or no Web experience, to serious PHP programmers with major skills. There is a “dashboard” which lets those users with little or no experience add or update content, change color schemes, or add widgets such as calendars, or search bars, for example. Because I was doing more “structural” changes and additions, I had to get my hands dirty and climb under the hood.

In addition to the usual HTML and CSS coding I would use in building a traditional website, this platform requires knowledge of PHP, for under-the-hood workings. What that means for this context is each page is dynamically generated, rather than being a series of static pages. The benefit is that changes can take place, in one place, instead of having to do redundant changes on subsequent pages. Therefore, needless to say, I got to take a serious plunge into learning and understanding PHP! And yes, it’s all good!

The challenge that I was able to overcome, in addition to the graphic customization of an existing theme, was the expansion of said theme’s functionality. The original theme was fairly simple, but also limited. I liked the simple, intuitive structure of the site, and was especially impressed with the JQuery portfolio—an example of one of the components I mentioned early on in this post. Unfortunately, this theme did not come with blogging capabilities. I know, you’re thinking—but this is WordPress, where’s the blog? Without further boring you with the intricacies of its inner workings, I will say that the structure used for traditional blogs, a series of posts, was adapted to work with the aforementioned portfolio. Therefore, I needed to create blog functionality that would play nice with the portfolio. This is where all of my research into the under-the-hood workings of WordPress came to useful fruition.

The resulting website I’ve designed and developed, I’m proud to say, fulfills my need for a site that contains both a portfolio, to showcase work I’ve completed, and a blog, to hopefully educate clients, and potential clients, with information that will help them make decisions that will best forward their Web presence in ways that make their businesses a greater success.

I hope that your take-away from all of this is that I’ve done the heavy lifting and gotten my hands dirty so you won’t have to. I want you to know that through my immersion into this, I can help you make informed choices that will short-cut your efforts.

My invitation to you… Whether you are looking at creating a brand new website, redesigning your existing site, or needing a site tune-up, please contact us. I’ll be happy to discuss with you any of your website needs. Also remember we also design and build traditional websites, as well.

3 Responses to “Adventures in WordPress”

  1. Thom Franklin
    1:02 pm on July 17th, 2010

    Congrats and kudos on the new website. Welcome to the WordPress Club. You have tricked out this theme nicely, proving again, the easier the web making process is, the more your clients need your eye for graphics and navigation.


  2. Pitch Page Creator
    10:27 am on October 28th, 2010

    Really nice information, thanks!

  3. sms web
    3:01 pm on October 28th, 2010

    Thanks so much for stopping by! We greatly appreciate your positive feedback!

Leave a Comment