Last night, I started the process of migrating pixelyzed.com from a hybrid static and blog site which ran under blogCFC to a full blogging site entirely powered by WordPress (and PHP). As a long time ColdFusion developer and advocate, this is a huge change for me. It is a decision I did not take lightly but it was long time coming and was motivated by several reasons.
One of those was that I’d grown increasingly tired of the design I had in place but I wanted to get something else running quickly while I worked on a new one. Another was that, pixelyzed.com had started as a small static site I intended to update occasionally with longer articles but it had evolved into a hodge-podge of a static and blog site. That didn’t work very well as I tacked on the blog later then stopped updating the static part of the site.
This situation had another major drawback for me. Adding the blog meant that any design change needed to be made in two places, the static part which was all my code, and the blog which was powered by blogCFC (a free ColdFusion based blogging platform). Time is a limited resource even as a freelancer… or, especially as a freelancer 😉 so that was not working very well.
Now, beyond those issues, the section containing my pictures gallery was built with a Flash solution. Nothing wrong with the software but it was not trivial to publish new images so I barely ever did it after I put in the original ones. Also, the blogging software I was using was not keeping up with current trends and the long awaited new major release was nowhere in sight and nothing indicated it would be all that much better than the current one. Again though, nothing really wrong with the software, especially since it was being developed by a single individual and there’s only so much a single person can do (on top of paying work). I was realizing that my needs had outgrown it and I was blogging less and less because of it as well as my outdated design.
The entire site was starting to feel very Web 1.0 and it was becoming an embarrassment to me. So I decided to make a big change…
Like I just said, choosing WordPress was a big decision for me because, it is built in PHP and I’ve been working with ColdFusion for years. I feel way out of my comfort zone here but it is kind of exciting. On the other hand, I was planning to learn PHP anyway as it has cropped up in my client work and there’s no denying its momentum (no matter what I think of its intrinsic merits compared to ColdFusion).
When I realized I was blogging less because of the shortcomings of my own site, it also became very clear to me that, the actual software I was using to blog and the platform it was developed with mattered far less to me than the tools and features my chosen publishing solution could offer. Again, in the blogging world, WordPress has a lot of momentum now and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down… quite the opposite (see here and here)
So, as much as I love ColdFusion as a Web development platform, there really is no blogging software developed with it that matches WordPress or even comes close. I have discovered and tinkered with another ColdFusion based blogging platform called Mango Blog which shows a lot of promise though. I just may use on my webfocusdesign.com site because it will probably be easier for me to skin it to fit the existing site design as I’m more familiar with ColdFusion, and Mango is a simpler code base than WordPress.
But why did I finally settle on WordPress for pixelyzed.com? It really came down to the sheer power and flexibility of the platform. The admin area is phenomenal. Everything has been thought out carefully to make administering a blog easy while giving you a lot of flexibility and power. The sheer size of the WordPress community also means that there are plug-ins to do pretty much anything you want without your needing to see a line of code, and most of them are free. That is very refreshing to see and experience.
I got this blog running on WordPress in a few hours without the need to read more that a few lines of instructions. I (re) installed Google Analytics, installed other plug-ins to tag posts and relate them, tinkered with the placement of widgets in my layout and more, all without leaving the comfort of a visual admin area. The hardest part of this migration was getting all the data out of the blogCFC database into the WordPress one and, for that, I had the help of a utility I found here. I was even able to set SEO friendly links that follow the same pattern as those in blogCFC and I created a couple files to redirect calls to posts in their old location to the correct links in WordPress. Just a few lines of ColdFusion code did the trick.
Ok… that was the platform, now what about the design?
Why the Mystique Theme?
As you can see, the site now looks very different than it did before. It is skinned with a free and very powerful template I found yesterday as another from the same designer was ported to Mango Blog and came with the default install.
There are 2 reasons why I am using a theme instead of my own design on this site for now. First, like I said above, I was really getting tired of the old pixelyzed.com design. It represented where I was as a designer several years ago and did not reflect who I am today. Secondly, the reason I chose the Mystique theme by Digital Nature is that it’s probably the polar opposite of the old pixelyzed.com design. While not exactly minimalist, it is simpler yet bolder than what I had and uses fewer colors where my old design used way too many. It is definitely more in line with the current trends. I’ve also tried his Fusion theme (the one that was ported to Mango) which is even more minimalist but Mystique has a lot more features so I chose to start off this site’s new era with it.
I am working on a new design for the site and, going with a pre-made theme was probably an even harder decision for me to make than leaving the comfort of the ColdFusion world. But it will take me time to learn the intricacies of WordPress and be able to skin it at the level of functionality and sophistication this and many other existing themes offer. Again, time is limited and I did not want to live with my old design any longer. But a new design of mine will come.
At this time, Mystique is a very refreshing change for me and will enable me to focus on the actual content of the site and start blogging more regularly again. I may switch themes from time to time as I discover what’s out there so I’m in no rush to finish my new design. Before now, I might have been embarrassed as a designer myself to use someone else’s design on my own site but, right now, it just doesn’t matter to me. My professional site is my portfolio, its design is all mine and it contains all the details of my work, expertise and services. If people want to see what kind of designer I am, they can go there (will add a pod/widget to the blog’s sidebar with my personal links soon).
I don’t know and that is what’s exciting. I have a lot of new things to learn and I love doing that, always have. I certainly plan to start blogging more again. There’s exciting new software releases on the horizon and no, I don’t just mean WordPress 3.0 😉 See you soon and thanks for sticking with me!