This is about the 5th iteration of my website. My goals keep changing and improving, I keep getting new ideas, and I wait a lot until I have a very clear and solid concept. Usually by the time I get around to implement it, the change is so big that I just start a completely new website instead of improving the old one. I’ll tell you more about my current goals and the road that led here in an about page or something. So here are my first impressions.
I’m a hardcore developer and I’ve always coded the website engine myself. This time I decided to focus more on the content and give a well-known engine a try. Obviously I chose WordPress. It’s very nice, it’s perfect for what it was intended and it feels great to install it in 5 minutes and then just start writing. It’s been about a year since I was last up-to-date about current web technologies and after the first day of using WordPress I learnt a lot already. I especially like the Gravatar service.
The point of my post is the negatives. My biggest disappointment is the handling of themes. It started with a simple thing: I wanted to put the logo of my hosting provider on the bottom of the page, and as it turns out, I have to edit my theme for that. If I change the theme, then I’ll lose those changes. That just sounds wrong! I thought a theme is about the presentation, the looks, not the content. I create some content, an engine pulls it out of a database and formats it in HTML div‘s and the like, and a theme gives it a nice look in CSS. There should be a clear separation of layers. How wrong I was.
A theme in WordPress is so much more than CSS. Every theme contains a lot, and sometimes a hell of a lot of PHP code. Usually a lot of it is duplicated in many themes, and that really hurts me. And I’m not the only one, the existence of theme frameworks proves that. Those frameworks should be united and become core features, the roles and the layers should be cleverly designed and separated. The less code a theme contains the better. The less duplicate code out there the better. Currently the WordPress theme world is just overly diversified and it’s impossible for (advanced?) users to make a perfect choice.
Some themes provide no options or extra features at all, some others provide so much that it literally frightens me when I first look at the settings. Some override the favicon, others don’t and I have to upload one manually. Some support Google Analytics, others don’t and I need a plugin for the same purpose. I like the colors of some themes, but not others. I like the layout of some themes, but not others. Some themes use tiny, fancy icons before the links in the right sidebar, but others don’t. And list goes on and on.
What’s the result of all that? I have to make a compromise, and that makes me very sad. I can choose to have some features, but it always means that I can’t have certain others. If someone wants a simple blog that just works or is lucky enough to find a theme which perfectly suits all their needs, then WordPress is a good choice, and I guess many people are like that, hence the popularity. But I’m out of luck. It already looks like I have to code so much to make it perfect that I’m starting to think that I’d rather create my own engine this time, too. Except this time it won’t be at the content’s expense because at least I have a good starting point, so it won’t be a completely different website iteration but a smooth transition. Two days after I started my blog I already have a good post, and that’s a first.