Choosing WordPress: “ooo doesn’t she LOOK fine?”

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Wordpress as a CMS

In the previous article in this series I gave a summary of some of the core differences between a CMS (content management system) and a blogging engine. I talked about some of the cases where one system is more preferable over the other when designing websites. In the conclusion to the article I mentioned that in light of what I had just written, it would have made more sense for me to go with a CMS for the website designs of Hanover Pentecostal Church, UnashamedSermons.com, and VigliottiWoodworking. Yet, as can be observed from the title of the series I obviously used WordPress instead. This article will focus on the first reason for why I made that choice.

But before I get to that I’ll give a quick rundown of some of the requirements that needed to be considered for each site.

UnashamedSermons.com
UnashamedSermons.com UnashamedSermons.com is where I host all the various sermons I have (and still am!) written and preached while pastoring at my church. There were predominately two purposes for me creating UnashamedSermons. One, I wanted a place where I could archive all my messages and access it for personal reference. Two, I wanted to make available to as many people possible these messages in the hopes more people would be impacted.

Some of the requirements needed for this site:

  • Custom theme to deal with a specific structure I wanted for the front page
  • A way of cataloging/archiving all the messages I submit

VigliottiWoodworking.com
vigliottiwoodworking.com My brother in law wanted to me to design a website for him that could be used as an online portfolio for his cabinet making business.

His requirements:

  • Simple design with pages he could edit that describe his business. Simple, but still professional looking.
  • Capability to add/remove pages at will (for him)
  • A gallery system that he could use to display pictures of work he had done. And again something he could easily edit
  • Everything had to be fast especially since he is usually working with dial-up internet access (affordable broadband is still no available where he lives) and didn’t want to have to wait through long page load-ups.

Hanover Pentecostal Church Website
hpconline In redesigning the website for my church I wanted to move away from the generic cms look in the previous design I had used (phpNuke based) and give it a more up to date look. The purpose of “HPCOnline” is to:

  • inform visitors of what my church is all about
  • to provide updates/event information for members/guests of the church
  • to make maintenance and adding of features in the future easier to do (and open up the possibility for church volunteers to assist in maintaining the site)
  • to provide a place for me to post a “Pastor’s Blog” as a way of communicating with people associating themselves with HPC (and reaching a wider audience as well).
  • show the latest sermon I’ve preached and provide not only the text of the sermon but also a podcast/downloadable file.
  • In the future, I hope to add an online library system where people can see what resources our church library contains, who has signed it out, and also sign out books themselves. On the backend the librarian can use this to maintain the church library (printing out reports of overdue books etc.)

With outlining some of the requirements I was looking to meet (just remember that’s only a summary!) in designing the three websites out of the way – it’s now time to (finally!) get to what won me over to WordPress as the solution.

Why I chose WordPress

1. Looks
When I refer to “looks” I’m referring to the robust theming/templating system that WordPress offers. While I can do graphical design work, it takes me a long time and my skills at coming up with something clean and neat are limited at best. With literally hundreds (thousands yet?) of themes currently available (and more being added daily!) there are a wide variety of not only color/graphical combinations but also site layouts to choose from. Since a large part of site design is developing a layout and graphical interface that makes it look polished to visitors, having this wide variety of themes to choose from saves time in the development process.

Another plus with the theming system WordPress offers is that due to the thought that has gone into the code architecture – the themes are for the most part – version independent. That is, with most themes you won’t have to update them when you upgrade WordPress to the latest version. Again, a plus on the maintenance side of the ledger.

Also, I must not forget to mention that creating/modifying themes is fairly straightforward and there are many excellent resources available that aid in learning how to create your own themes. If you are familiar with .css that goes a long way in the theme creation/modification process.

The first full-fledge design that I used WordPress for was my sermons site (UnashamedSermons.com). I decided I would give a go at creating a theme from scratch and even though it took me a bit longer it helped me to appreciate just how robust the theming system of WordPress is.

When I designed VigliottiWoodworking.com I again went with a custom built theme due to the requirements my brother in law had for loading speed and presentation. I was able to easily strip the theme of any extraneous WordPress functions that were not needed and yet still leave the dynamic capabilities intact for future use.

Then when it came to designing my church site I decided to go with a modification of the fresh theme since I liked the existing layout for it so much! Of course, I heavily modified the structure of various templates/pages etc so that it would fit my uses, but I was able to save alot of time by not having to worry about the graphical design so much.

Of course, looks aren’t the only reason why I went with WordPress – and looks, while important, are definitely not the only defining criteria in determining what should be used as a script for a website.

In the next article I’ll look at the guts of WordPress in all their gruesome glory!