Before i get into the post, I just wanna make absolutely clear that this is NOT a flame post and im not trying to say anything bad about WordPress. I'm only trying to hear from those of you who have in-depth knowledge about the system and what it can do :) And if this is the wrong forum, I apologise.
I'm curently running a website which consists of a blog running through blogger.com and an edited template, along with a bunch of HTML files located at my webhotel. This means that whenever i wan't to edit a page(ie. not a blog entry) i have to do it manually and upload by FTP which is annoying - On top of this, the blog is made in cooporation with a friend who dosn't know anything about HTML etc. And third, the blog is about a travel-project which means that we will be needing to update both the blog as well as publish pages/articles during the entire trip and therefor an apporach with FTP upload etc. is not a feasible solution.
So I've been looking at A LOT of different blog and CMS systems and didn't find one that was like i wanted - Basically either their interface and the idea behind the system was to annoying for my taste - But wordpress looked like it had focus on both publishing a blog, but also pages which is exactly what im looking for. That i think the administrational interface could be a bit better is a minor thing - It's sure not as hopeless as most of the system I've tested out.
The current website which we're running consists of a "basic" design with a top menu, a main column for content and a sidebar. I know that WordPress can handle this easily but the requirements that i have is that i can edit the content of the sidebar on a per page basis - Ie. for my "About Us" subpage etc. i wan't different content to be in the sidebar - For instance on each of our profiles we have information about age, name, profilepicture and some "custom" information about each of us. Other pages might also have specific content in the sidebar.
Is it possible to do this with WordPress from the admin-system so we don't have to edit the template for each page? And if so - Can you tell me a bit about how?
Since im hoping to find a system which i can use for all my future websites - Ie. both for this and future projects, but also for a personal/commercial website about me as a photographer - I would like to know if WordPress can handle a website which might have a frontpage in one type of design and subpages in another design - Again this shoudl be possible without having to do custom hacking of each page that needs to be published and edited - Ie. After the initial setup it should be easy enough to work with that somebody who dosn't know HTML/PHP/CSS can publish and edit pages.
I myself know HTML/CSS/PHP and a range of other programming languages since thats what i have been working on professionally for almost a decade, but im looking for a system which is easy to use, especially for people who don't have the same skill-set, but still powerfull enough that i don't have to look for a new system every time i want to create a new website.
And my last question is if WordPress has any image gallery functionality - Since Iøm a photographer a major part of many of the websites i will be working on, will proberbly require a good way to create image-galleries.
So any light you guys can shed on my questions and any information you can provide me with, will be greatly apreciated. Also if you have any links to websites which is currently running on WordPress which goes a bit beyond the basic "just a blog" site, that shows some of the more "advanced" ways WordPress can be used - I would be very interested in those as well. Ie. pages which maybe uses a different designed frontpage than the subpages, examples of image-galleries in WordPress etc.
BAsically examples of full websites run solely with WordPress and plugins that is not just a blog with a single "about me" page etc. I think you get the idea :)
So enough ramblings from me - hope to hear from you guys :)
PS. I've actually started developing my own CMS/BLOG solution which solves all these problems, but there is no need to do all that work if WordPress can actually do it.