I spent the last couple of days involved in an exercise in futility; trying to upgrade this site to make it a little more modern looking as well as accessible to the disabled. Drop down menus can be a bigger issue for them in some cases than I realized.
I started by changing the blog’s status to “Coming Soon”. That’s better than having a follower (potential or actual) see the blog morphing in different ways as I try to figure out what I think works from a design perspective. No issues there.
THEN… I tried to switch to the new 2023 blog template. The outright switch was also simple enough. It’s when we got to TRYING TO customize the site that everything went FUBAR.
First, there’s NO apparent way to add a background image. I went to YouTube and looked at tutorial videos for answers. WordPress.Org (the version for self hosting) seems to have extra editing controls that are missing for us poor relations here on WordPress.com. Even with those extra controls, there only seemed to be an option for pre-packaged templates that were simple colored backgrounds.
Yes, I know that the 2023 theme runs on directory style pages to get to actual posts. THIS theme (the 2011 theme) has the background image to the sides of the main content areas though. THAT is what I was looking for on the attempted new version. Essentially something that would dress up the home page. No dice.
I’m convinced that the WP.com version of the editor is just plain broken. I didn’t even have an option to change the header picture until this morning. By that time, I said the hell with it. The blog had already been down 2 1/2 days at that point. That was long enough.
Unsurprisingly, there’s no option to revert the blog back to an old format also. Even when I went to manually hunt down the 2011 theme, it wasn’t listed in any of the options. I had to manually search for the theme by name in order to bring it back up. In the only stroke of good luck during the process, the blog restored perfectly to it’s old format, pictures and all.
Why the Hate?
The reason I’m so frustrated here is because basic “What You See Is What You Get” editing has been around for decades. It’s the basis of desktop publishing programs, and better word processing programs like Corel WordPerfect. With Corel, I can put the cursor anywhere I want on a page and just start typing. Yes, WYSIWYG formatting has been around for ages for website design also. It’s still out there. Just Google “WYSIWYG Site Builder” and see how many results you get.
WordPress can’t be bothered to make something that simple for the average user. You have to have a coding background to get real functionality out of the WP Editor, and only a coder will find the broken controls for the full site editor intuitive at all. Personally, I find working with the old piece-meal editing tools easier, and I have an IT background.
Part of my time ended up being spent exploring other options, thanks to my frustration. Medium in particular intrigued me. MANY people have made the jump from here over to Medium already. I’ll share some thoughts on Medium in a separate post later today. There are ALOT of pros and cons to the site.
Let me just cut to the chase and say I’m determined to continue my blogging. In terms of using WordPress however, I’m 95% likely to switch over to private hosting and using WordPress.org. The tools are better, there are more options for plug-ins and other features… Even more so that WP.com premium accounts have. It’s just all around a better product. Since the software is all tied together, my posts would still be shared in the reader, and I’d still be able to follow those using the free .com version of WP.
For those of you who are of a similar mindset, Siteground.com has a massive sale right now. This is the site that the guy whose tutorial I watched uses and recommends. The caveat is that you have to pay for a full year in advance. Even with the middle cost plan that’s only $60 however, and includes a free domain name for the year. THAT however is with an 80% discount offer, which means the second year your costs will increase dramatically without some type of discounted renewal offer.
HostGator and similar sites that offer automated WordPress hosting (including automatic software updates) all offer similar deals.
Then there’s Medium.com. At this point, I’m strongly considering mirroring my postings there as well. It will give me better visibility and readership. I **WILL NOT** however,do what many WP.com defectors have done and only post a snippet here followed by a link to Medium. My feeling is that readers come to a blog expecting to read, not get an advertisement and a redirect.
I’ve still got a little thinking to do on the whole hosting issue. A final decision will depend upon what options I can find here as well. Any readers inclined to make changes themselves should wait until I’ve posted my findings regarding Medium also.