This is sort of an ironic post to follow my previous one, given that I am doing some decidedly UNprofessional things with my website these days.
Why the blog? Why all the changes? Why, indeed!
A small number of weeks ago, I managed to land a great job in Nebraska and had to move (hastily and immediately) from Austin, TX. I lived in Nebraska for 3 years, 3 years ago, and am used to the winters and general strangeness of life in the Midwest.
What I’m not used to is Content Management Systems.
I’m a beginnings kind of guy; I have a hard time going to social events if there’s already people there (I have to be there first, to see how things start). Using a CMS seems a bit like jumping into someone else’s project in the middle, then Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-ing your way out of it. Beginning a job at a large university where everything runs on Drupal 7, I pretty quickly have to figure out what the big deal is.
At this point in my career, it’s all hand-code, all the time. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of some scripts and certain kinds of code (and now I learn that they’ve unleashed LESS and SASS and SMACSS… what’s a boy to do?); learning a framework seems kind of daunting.
In my hubris, I’ve also thought, “I can code my own blog. That’ll show ’em!” Then I realized I didn’t know who “’em” were and decided to learn about CMSs. But which one?
Back to the Topic…
Drupal was the obvious choice. Well, obvious in that I have to work with Drupal all day and should know what I’m doing. I downloaded an e-book version of the massive “Definitive Guide to Drupal 7” and learned that using Drupal to put a small blog on my small site would be a lot like using a sledgehammer to crack an egg for an omelette.
I’d tried WordPress before. I kept hearing about how easy it is to install, about how the learning curve is relatively small, about all the glorious widgets! Well, it couldn’t be that user friendly if I couldn’t figure out how to put it on my site. Thankfully, my internet service provider handled it all for me.
Most ISPs have some kind of QuickInstall feature, making just about any framework available to even the most skittish of code monkeys. Just make a directory, create a user name, and you’re off.
OK, OK, OK…
What I mean to say is thanks for being patient as I learn WordPress on my live site. It may not always be pretty but it’ll at least be fun to read.
Here are some links that have helped me immeasurably as I figure this out:
- Chris Coyier’s video screencast series on designing for WordPress is amazing. And helpful. Just like his site.
- I’m using a blank theme called Starkers HTML5, created by Nathan Staines and based on one by Elliot Jay Stocks from long ago with a similar name. Starting from a blank template is much easier than editing the default theme.
I hope to keep this list going with all the helpful things I find on my journey to CMS mastery.