The move to WordPress

I thought I would tell you about how I moved my iWeb website to WordPress. Anyone interested? No? Well, bad luck then, because I think this is an infinitely interesting topic, so here I go.

I felt iWeb as a pain from the start. Sure, there are a few cute templates there that can make any website look very professional. However, any personalization (of which I need many and often) requires a lot of work. Nothing gets updated in bulk if you’ve changed the original template, so any small design change needs to be repeated manually and painstakingly on every page of the site. This was one of the biggest problems. Another one was that my website had virtually no visibility on Google. On top of that, I have no respect for Apple as a company, because of how they treat their customers, as if we are half-wits who care only for appearances and think any character who wears a black t-shirt in an Apple store is a genius.

I tried to install WordPress on my hosting account a few years ago but I got stuck in the process and gave up on it. Lately however it looks like WordPress is becoming increasingly more popular as a website platform, so I thought it was time to take up the challenge again. I like Web design, what can I say.

What I was most afraid of was that I would need to change the structure of my site. The structure worked for me very well: it was logical and easy to understand for the readers (I thought and still do). My iWeb website is made of four bloglike-sections. I call them blog-like, because they are like a blog in the way they work: the pages are created in a chronological order and get updated regularly. However, they are not set up to allow comments and the actual date of each page does not actually matter, as they do not build up on each other — they can be read in any order with the same effect. Two of the bloglike-sections (MADE and READ) are independent, but the WRITTEN section has to subsections: Poetry and Translations. I’ve always viewed my website as a magazine with these various sections and, of course, with utility pages like the HOME and BIO, which are mostly static, although I do try to update the home page with whatever new is happening inside other sections of the site.

WordPress allows only one blog per installation, so that was my first challenge. I had to install six WordPress blogs: two for my HOME and BIO pages, one for the blog-blog and three for the bloglike-sections MADE, READ and WRITTEN. This way I could have clear and simple paths for each part of my website: domain name/home, domain name/written, etc. The structure is simple and feels well-organized this way. The challenge was to separate WRITTEN into two different blogs. I did this using a static front page (Settings/Reading/Front page displays) and Categories: I categorize each post as either “poetry” or “translation”, and I use the Categories widget in the sidebar to link to the pages of posts organized by category. Quite easy, actually. Much easier than I had anticipated. The only problem to this solution is that I need to manually update the separated Archives for each of these categories: I created two Archives pages (linked from each of the Category pages) and I pasted there links to all the post from each category. I need to add a new link every time a create a new post in that category.

I created my navigation bar, which links all my six WordPress installs, with the Menus option (under Appearance). I had to create this menu in each of my six installations.

I did need to tweak the style.css document quite a bit to get my design preferences in place too, but that was not that difficult either — there is plentiful advice available on the Internet about any small change.

As I haven’t been using this for long, I cannot tell how much better WordPress is compared to iWeb. It is a bit difficult to manage the website from six different places, but in the end it is not exceptionally hard. If I am logged into every one of them, I can navigate the pages through the navigation bar and WordPress will allow me to access the dashboard directly from any page I land on. It’s not bad.

Today I had to update to a new version of WordPress, and with all the customization of my website, the process worked smoothly, without any problem.

In the end, I am quite happy, and very surprised of how easy and quick the move was — it took me about one week. My website is working perfectly, looks better than before, and I didn’t need to compromise any functionality. I am ready to declare the move a success.