This is the beginning of a series of posts about developing a photographic web site. To see each post in turn, go to the very bottom of this page, and click on the pingbacks, which will take you to all the subsequent posts.
I’m thinking about redoing my web site. Actually, I’ve been thinking about that for a couple of months now, but that’s all that I’ve been doing. In an attempt to get off dead center, I’m going to make a list of my objectives. I need to do that to have something to use when talking to developers and designers, and I’m hoping that the act of making such a list will help me crystallize my thinking. Since I think that I may not be the only photographer who will embark on such a project, just as with my book, I’m going to share my hopes and dreams, successes and failures with you all. I invite suggestions and comments.
First, I want the new site to be totally WordPress based, and therefore database driven. I’m making this choice in spite of the design freedom that it surrenders, because I think that It will make the site easily maintainable without the use of a web editor like Dreamweaver. I also know that using WordPress means inviting the presence of many bugs and vulnerabilities, but I think that is counterbalanced by the extensive and growing universe of WordPress security-enhancing add-ons.
I want to be able to add content myself with roughly the same ease with which I do with the WordPress-based blog.
I want to be able to run at least three cross-linked WordPress instances – what is now my main web site, this blog, and my other blog, The Bleeding Edge – each with different content, and possibly different templates, but with a consistent look and feel.
I want to own the content, and be able to freely move it from one hosting service to another. Although I’m happy with my present hosting service, Media Temple, I’ve observed that it’s rare for a hosting service to stay in business and on the top of their game year in and year out.
I want to use third-party WordPress add-ons for the WordPress instances, although I’m happy to use different add-ons for different instances. For example, I’d be fine with using a photographic gallery theme for the material that is now on my main website, and something similar to the theme I’m now using for this blog. I am willing to make small customizations to these third-part themes, but don’t want to make substantial changes that would have to be thrown away in the event that the third part theme provider went out of business or stopped supporting the theme.
Ideally, I would like to understand any theme customization in sufficient detail to be able to replicate it myself if I decide to change themes down the road. I don’t think I can count on any particular web designer being around when and if I feel the need to change themes, and I’ve found that web designers tend to throw up their hands when asked to modify some other web designer’s code, preferring to start over.
I don’t want to have a totally custom theme for two reasons. I don’t want to pay to have it designed, and think my needs are not so unusual that they can’t be met with something off-the-shelf, or close to that. I don’t want to be faced with a complete reimplementation, possibly on an emergency basis, should the person who designed the theme become unavailable.
I don’t think I want to use an all-in-one hosting and theme provider. I suspect that, no matter what assurances are given at the outset (and many such providers won’t give any such assurance at all), when push comes to shove and you need to move your site to another hosting service (possibly on an emergency basis), something will be baked into the WordPress coding that will prevent that.
This emphasis on portability means that content customization to some part of the theme that I pick shouldn’t be done in such a way that it’s likely to break with another theme. This works pretty well with the more-or-less standard WordPress themes; you can pretty much switch back and forth at will. However, it looks like there are extensions used in some of the third-party photographically oriented themes. I don’t know much about this, and I would like to get educated on it before possibly painting myself into a corner by using features that won’t travel well.
I’d like to avoid themes that use Flash. I think that standards-based HTML protocols like HTML5 can replace the fancy Flash capabilities (most of which I don’t need anyway), and I’m worried about Flash becoming effectively obsolete in the future.
The sit should work well with mobile devices. That’s an area where the present site is inadequate.
Well, that’s all that comes to mind for now. Have I left anything important out?