The original Briglin.com site was created in html using Microsoft Dreamweaver which was the industry standard package ten years ago. The site was clumsy and beginning to look very dated. I had previously posted an article on how to create your own web site and I thought it was worth explaining the whole upgrade process. I’ll describe the upgrade route I took and why I now support WordPress.org. – a community that does an excellent job in providing a professional level platform for free.
Starting out – Weebly, WIX, Imcreator
I looked at all these site. They offer a very graphical on-line way of creating websites. However they all have limitations and flaws. To use them fully you will have to pay and worse than that you don’t get easy access to the original code and can only use their plugins. I rejected one when I found out I had to scroll trough the uploaded images TEN at a time (Briglin.com has well over 1500 images). However if you are looking for a small website for your collection or interest then they are a good starting point. They offer a free startup level but if you need full control of your site then the three above sites will not be for you.
WordPress vs. Joomla vs. Drupal
Stepping up to the big boys of CMS I found this very useful article which compares them under the title: Site builder shootout: Drupal vs. Joomla vs. WordPress. After reading it all I followed the recommendation that beginners should opt for WordPress. Mainly for the reason is that is is probably the simpliest of the three.
I have to say that I’ve found WordPress and the whole process very hard work! I can’t really comment on Joomla / Drupal as I did not explore them but I would certainly look at them again and keep an open mind.
There are a huge number of WordPress users which is very helpful. There are thousands of help pages, posts and YouTube videos on the net. You will be needing them! I work with computers daily but it was still a lond hard process, simply because I wanted something very specific and the ‘out of the tin’ set-up needed changing. There was a lot of work in customizing the theme to suit my needs.
To get wordpress to work I did have to upgrade my hosting package to a slightly more expensive version that could handle SQL databases. These are needed to store and access the data created all three of the above CMS site builders. The new package was more expensive and I now pay about £50 a year to host the website. My data is kept is some data centre somewhere in the world. I pay for a nice fast connection to my website and the knowledge that my data is secure. You can download and use the software on your own server at home or if you have some friend with some server space you can borrow then you can install it there. There is a lot of work and expense in running you own server not least fending of all the hacking attempts, so I’m quite happy to pay for this service.
I have come to the conclusion that the name is not that important. It is Content that matters. It is far better to have good content than a good name. People will always gravitate towards good content. When I upgraded it is a simple matter to move the new site over to www.briglin.com.
WordPress.org v WordPress.com
Next hurdle is the choice of WordPress.org or WordPress.com – The .com site is not free it is a pay site. Please be aware of this. I would suggest that you will be better off with full control on your own hosting so you will need to go for WordPress.org. It is far better to be in control and not paying fees.
There is an article here; WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org — What’s the Difference?
The files for WordPress.org are installed on the server not on your PC. It is not an easy process it’s easy to mess things up. I backed up my old website then deleted all hosted files. Installing is jut about 1% of the work you will need to do so don’t think that you are there when you have got it working, but it’s nice to log in for the first time. Make sure you write down all you passwords and emails.
In WordPress you can choose a theme that allows quick switching of fonts, colours and the layout of hundreds or thousands of pages in one go. This makes Content Management Systems very powerful. You can also export all your database to another programme or upgrade in the future hopefully relatively easily. This feature is irrelevant if you have a five page website, but vital if you have five hundred pages. It would be a very time consuming process to open each one and change the fonts or colours.
You will have to pay for many themes but thousands are free and easily accessible for WordPress.org. Be sure to know what you want your site to do.
WordPress.org works off plugins.There are thousands. A plugin for your gallery for security, for image features etc. Most are free and there are so many in fact that it’s quite daunting looking through them. They need to write a plugin to tell you which plugin you need! Your site can be greatly enhanced with plugins, from adding a visitor map showing where hits are from, to controlling how images roll of the page when your gallery is clicked on. There is a pluging for everything!
I currently have over 300 pages and well over 1000 images on the site. It’s growing fast. I was worried about the front page loading slowly and so I may eventually have to limit the number of icons.
The Forum works as a plugin. Again it can be customized and it helps to know some HTML code when doing this. It is one of the advantages that I could not do before.
I’m very happy with the look of the new site and it’s functionality. I can now log in remotely from work and upload a new post including images where previously I needed to do this from home. I back up the site regularly to the cloud and I keep multiple copies. My hosting also keeps snapshots of the site so I can roll it back seven days, this is very useful if I ever get hacked (fingers crossed this does not happen).
It has been a lot of work to change over from the simple HTML/Dreamweaver site to WordPress.org CMS. Hundreds of hours. I had to rename and resize over 1000 images and re-write over 300 pages of descriptions. However it was the ‘design’ – the ‘look and feel’ of the site that really takes the time. Hopefully I will not have to do it again any time soon.
One big advantage of using modern software is the integration with other platforms. To start with the site now works well on smartphones which I feel is a prerequisite and from my data I see that do have phone and tablet users. Also The site can now link with Twitter and Facebook accounts. I would strongly suggest that you explore these avenues if you want to reach people. If that is how they want to contact you then you need to adapt and use the media that they feel most comfortable with.