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  • Resolved CaliforniaBear


    I have developed a number of static websites for non-profit organizations, mostly car clubs. They are all coded HTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript. Considering possible emergency situations (or even my age) it will be necessary to turn over responsibility for these websites to the organizations someday. It seems that a WordPress version of these websites will be easier to maintain for someone not skilled in coding. To that end I have gone through a number of tutorials including an online class with an instructor available to answer questions. I have completely redeveloped some of these websites into WordPress versions.

    In this process I have become stressed with a number of aspects of WordPress development, hence this rant. My observations come from many years of programming, starting with Basic, Fortran, etc. and with ending fairly complex multi-page websites including lots of picture galleries.

    I would love to receive responses that might help reduce the stress or counter some of my concerns. Keep in mind I’m replacing static websites, no blogging, no comments, no products to sell, no website registration, etc. So here goes…

    1) It is difficult to make pages look the way you want. You must have a good knowledge of CSS and HTML and even then you can’t always get the layout to be what you want and it would have easily done with coding. A major purpose of CSS is lost. The idea is to have External, Internal (on page), and Inline styling. Internal is completely lost. If I put in a comment about inline CSS in the page it changes the white space on the page.

    2) There is no “undo” for most actions. If you mess up it may take some effort to get back to where you started. With coded websites the latest good page is on the website or your computer. There are useful WordPress backup plugins, should you use them every 3 minutes like a word processor?

    3) The interaction between the theme and many plugins one might use can be problematic, or even between plugins, sometimes requiring significant support. At least that has been my limited experience.

    4) Using a new/different theme is like learning a new coding language, the more flexible/capable the theme the longer the learning curve. Documentation varies from poor/none to pretty good. Whereas with coding learning more capabilities of languages or extensions of languages (eg JavaScript and CSS to jQuery) builds on what you already know.

    5) If you are working on website changes, the construction mess is there for everyone to see. The media library soon becomes a cluttered mess too, at least they can’t see that.

    6) If there are problems with your host or your internet connection you simply can’t work on your website until the problems are fixed.

    7) A couple of years ago we gave up tables for page layout, with WordPress it has returned to simply center some text 80% wide on a page. (Yes there’s probably a plugin for that but the built-in capability doesn’t seem to work with theme Twenty Twelve.) Often you have to use inline styles to get a reasonable control of the amount of white space.

    8) Remember the old days when people were trained not to write “spaghetti code”. WordPress seems like the ultimate plate of spaghetti, very tasty if you get the sauce right but it can be a real mess.

Viewing 4 replies - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • I’ll see what I can answer from my experience of around 15 years programming, with a bit more then 10 of that being dedicated to websites, and the last 3 pretty much taken over by WordPress.

    1. You use page templates and your own custom themes. Pre-built themes are OK for a starting point, but if you’re going to do it right then you’ll need to create your own theme. That way you have complete control over the HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc.

    2. That’s the same as pretty much every web-based CMS out there. The internet is stateless, so it doesn’t remember past actions. WordPres sdoes have revisions built in, but I know these aren’t the saem as a standard ‘undo’ that you get with a desktop application. There are some ways of setting this up online, but you’d have to be very good to do it right as they all require insane amounts of Javascript to do something pretty basic.

    3. With the amount of different themes and plugins availalbe there’s always going to be a cross-over of functionality and also issues with compatibility. There’s really no way to avoid this unless some extremely restirctive policies are put into place, and that goaes against keeping WordPress (and it’s extras) open. The good thing is that if you find a plugin/theme that does have issues there’s almost always another one out there that won’t have issues – and if there isn’t you can write one yourself.

    4. This is 100% dependant on the themes author. You’d know that every programmer has their own way of doing things. Some theme authors do great stuff, some do not-so-great stuff. It coems down to you needing to spend a few extra minutes looking at themes to see just how good they really are. And again, if nothing is good enough, write your own!

    5. What, you don’t use a staging site for development??? I know that’s not always possible, but I’m not the only one around here that keeps mutliple development environments for this very reason.

    6. That’s the same with any online system. If you’re not online, you can’t do anything.

    7. Again, this is purely up to the theme authors and how they set out their HTML and CSS. Some are good, some aren’t.

    8. The base code for WordPress is old. WordPress itself started in 2003, and it was based on another codebase that was produced a long time before that. Rewrites are always underway to get things working as well as they can and update the codebse, but when you’re dealing with millions of sites out there that rely on that code, it’s very hard to do it in a way that will keep everyone happy and working at the same time.

    Now as an extra part, if there’s something that you’re not happy about with WordPress everyone is actively encouraged to get involved and contribute to the system. if there’s something that can or should be improved, then please fele free to improve it!.

    Thank you for the complete and thoughtful response. I’m not sure you have relived any stress but you have given me something to think about. Remember my idea is to turn these websites over to someone who is not an expert in WordPress, HTML, etc, etc. That person will want to make updates, changes and simple additions such as adding photo galleries and albums.

    1) I have used page templates (well two so far). As for my own theme, I don’t really want to get that far into WordPress, this is a hobby not a business 🙂 And if I have problems with a theme there is often good support available. If I’m not available my theme becomes its own problem.

    2) I don’t mess things up often and I can be very careful when making changes. My concern is, again, for the person with less experience trying to make changes.

    3) I’ve received some good support with a plugin problem. As far as writing my own, see 1) above.

    4) Again, see 1) above.

    5) The problem isn’t during development. That can be done in a separate subdirectory. Its making changes to an existing website that is the problem. I guess you could put up an under construction index.htm page.

    6) Recently my host has had some very slow response problems, its online but very frustrating. And moving from a website from one location/host to another is hardly a simple copy job.

    7) Stressful 🙂

    8) Interesting. I’m not sure why they came up with the idea to have beginnings and endings of divs in different files.

    Extra part) I’m just a hobbyist and not qualified to get involved in improving the system.

    It seems that pretty much all of your concerns stem from you loosing the tight control over what happens on the sites, and hoping that there’s a way that your customers (the site owners) won’t break things if they are left to their own devices.

    That’s just something that happens. No matter what you do or how much training you give someone they will break whatever you give them sometime. It doesn’t matter if it’s WordPress, Word, HTML, a house brick (OK, far out example, but I have seen people break them doing things they aren’t supposed to do).

    The biggest thing that I can say that’s going to help your issues a bit is that WordPress is a very popular system, and there’s litterally 1,000’s if not millions, of web developers out there that can take over and fix/update/upgrade the sites if you ever decide to give up the reigns. Your clients won’t be left stranded with no help at all – unless they decide that’s how they want to be.

    Thank you, that’s a very good point. My idea in converting to WordPress was for someone only familiar with computers along with a little tutorial work being able to take over a website. Looking for someone to maintain the website they are more likely to find someone familiar with WordPress. In fact one of the websites has already been transferred. It turns out a person in that car club has significant WordPress experience. He used my WordPress version as a guide then made a much nicer website based on the Weaver II Pro theme. It was his choice to completely redo the website but he could have just maintained my version.

    I do appreciate the time you have taken to respond to my rant. It has given me a better feeling about my conversion-to-WordPress project.

Viewing 4 replies - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
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