Well…I am torn now. After administering both this blog and two other ones (granted the first was very half heartedly), I am finding that Wordpres, while apparently becoming the de facto standard for blogging, is not without it’s problems. It seems themes are not universally cognizant of several features that I would have thought would be common to many bloggers – first and foremost, being multimedia. Sorry, but the plugin and configuration settings for getting basic videos to play right in a blog is just damn confusing for me. Now I grant that I am no web designer extraordinaire, but I know the basics of html, CSS, php, etc., and am (hopefully) developing my multimedia skills by virtue of this blog, but this is rediculous.
The other problem that I am noticing about WordPress is documentation. Or should I say the quality of documentation. Nothing is very easy beyond adding a plugin. Once it’s added, then you must activate it. Beyond that, configuration. God forbid you want to publish multimedia in different formats (flash for the blog and Quicktime for iTunes). The whole thing requires practically a full-time job. Blogging I thought was a venue for hobbyists who wish to share their thoughts and experiences on a more visible level. Sorry, but the requirements for blogging and podcasting are WAY beyond a “hobbyist” level.
And now, here’s the kicker….say you want to customize your blog!!! Either I am making it too difficult, or my expectations for customization are too high, but I rather do not care for the default headers others choose. I get that everyone has different takes on things, and that’s the whole purpose behind themes, but if you are going to design a theme and make it WordPress-friendly, I would ask three minimal things:
- Write your documentation well…don’t assume I know what php stands for, nor expect me to have read all the ins and outs of how to adjust CSS styles and scripting. I would wager that many who would be otherwise inclined to share their thoughts regularly via blogs and such toss the idea either after investigating or trying a few things and getting wrapped in a confusing set of circular logic.
- Consider that your “theme” is just that…a theme, which means it should be customizable, and done so easily. If you want people to use your theme, then let us change the background color easily. Let us change the header image easily…and most importantly: tell us how!
- Finally, in recognition of your web skills at creating themes, help those less fortunate by ensuring your theme is widget friendly, multimedia friendly, and validates. Also, if you want people to sing your praises, and continue to use your theme beyond a few months, when releasing updates and fixes, see if you can’t deliver them in a way that doesn’t re-set everything back to default values. It’s a roya pain to re-load every customization (especially when you’re not a designer by trade that instantly knows the header image is stored in the wp-content/header.php file, and that the sidebar widgets you’ve configured need to be re-installed and activated (and sometimes reconfigured afterwards). Seriously…how the hell am I supposed to remember all that crap – if I knew all that I’d design my own theme!
I would actually pay good money for a blog that did that. Any takers?