Re-Coding Your Site Step 1: Choose a CMS

When I originally coded this site it was done in HTML. The purpose for the site was to be a portfolio of work. I had been applying for jobs, and everyone wanted to see samples of my work. Trying to remember my college course on HTML, I was able to use Dreamweaver to hard code a quick site.

The world has changed since then. This Facebook Generation (myself included) expects real-time updates and changing links by hand on static HTML sites is not a feasible way to make that happen. So what are the options?

I’ve been using several different CMS platforms professionally and actually get paid to test them out. I went with WordPress. It can be super easy, or it can do advanced things that make your head spin. You can update your site with an iPhone. There are countless plugins and themes. What else did I look at?

  • Blogger: At the time I started playing with it, the themes were possible to tweak, but it wasn’t very logical. A very easy system to use, but not if you have bigger intentions than blogging.
  • Expression Engine: A great platform. I’ve used EE for some large sites (500,000+ visitors/month) but have had agencies do the coding for me. I got as far as buying a license (yes, this one costs money as opposed to the open source options) and testing on my dev server. Setting up a simple layout was easy enough, but I couldn’t find plugins for some key things. This may have changed since then. There is a new version of Expression Engine now that I haven’t tried yet.
  • Symphony: Another great platform. I’ve worked with Symphony on $1 million+ projects and with the right developers, you can have a really great system. There is ultimate control, which means that you really need to design your IA and structure. For projects with budgets and resources, I’d highly recommend Symphony. I wanted my site up quickly and needed to do it on my own which rules out Symphony for now. I also wanted to post using my iPhone and WordPress had an app for that already.

Once I chose WordPress, I started tinkering with the default themes. I already had a design and wanted to recreate it using a WordPress theme. This was not the best idea, as I found out much later when I wanted to update WordPress.

Stay tuned for more on that and why I ended up going with Thematic and using a child theme.

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