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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wordpress & Artists: A First Impression

Have any of you ever wished you had your own personal Geek on call to fix your website? (I know I do!)

An important part of my business as a fantasy artist is my website where I can keep in touch with my fans and friends. From there, people are guided to information about me, sections of my stores on Amazon and Etsy, my social media profiles, and to all manner of odds and ends. Maintaining my website, however, is never an easy task for me with my archaic method of using html tables and images.

It takes weeks at a time to alter the navigation, update the galleries, or add new content. My info is scattered across a forum, 3rd party sites, and various sections with broad organization that requires a lot of click-throughs. In short, my website is a bloody mess to update because I have to do everything by hand.

I build the thumbnails, large and small, every time I want to update my gallery. I build my menu navigation from scratch in Photoshop. When I want to add news, I have to do it by typing in text on the news page and then having to redo all the RSS coding for that page. I dream constantly of a CMS (Content Management System, a type of database powered program that is useful for designing websites) built especially for artists that bares in mind our need for easy gallery updating, dynamic content, and a smooth customizable look.

It may not be specifically for artists, but I've recently stumbled upon Wordpress, a free CMS I've been investigating lately to solve my website woes. Last week, I finished a 24 hour trainer book (in about 3 days at my absorption rate) which really opened my eyes to how much having a php/css powered website can help me manage my website better!

I've only just started playing with it and here are my first impressions:

The ProsThe Cons
Super easy to create image galleries by default (or with handy dandy plugins like NexGEN) A moderate learning curve.
Ability to import blogs and comments, including Blogger, and most major blogging services.Some CSS code knowledge required (but none I couldn't find tutorials for online so far)
Tons of plugins, including ones for forums, easy form builders, social media integration, automatic metatagging, and shopping carts! Updates to Wordpress may cause some plugins or themes to go wonky.
Visual interface that's fairly self-explanatory
Tons of free themes that you can customize for your own look.
Ability to make individual posts or pages private or password protected (IE. Good for giving special subscribers sneak peeks, perhaps?)
Multiple admins and co-admin users allowed (IE. Handy if you have have a studio with multiple people)
Ability to integrate your forum, blog, and website together so people won't have to register a username at all of them separately.
Page editor allows html or rich-text editing (super handy for seeing how your pages look and giving ultimate control over your code)

So far, it seems like Wordpress is going to do everything that I want it to do to help me keep my website updated! Expect a full report once I've had more time to play with all its bells and whistles.

2 comments:

  1. It sounds excellent. Lots to absorb, but very handy. I think I'm still failing to grasp all sorts of things I could be doing with feeds for the site (as separate from the blog), mailing lists, etc, but mraaah, fiddling with that one header was enough XD

    My brother in law set me up with a CMS on my site, but I don't have backend access right now, just the WYSIWYG editing on the front, and such in the text areas. I don't really need more yet though >> I'll be curious to see how you make the most of Wordpress for gallery arrangement and updates.

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