Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordpress & Artists: Final Thoughts

After the latest redesign of my website using Wordpress' content management capabilities, I've let my thoughts percolate for awhile on my final impression of its effectiveness and usefulness for artists. So far, my impressions haven't changed much from the original Pros & Cons listing that I did previously. Here are a few thoughts that might help you come to a decision of whether you want to use it or not.

The Trouble With Wordpress... that it's definitely not for beginners, as far as online management of content. You must know how to install a database, backup a database, and upload files. If you have a Geek on call that can help you with all this, than all the better! I learned how to do this all myself and it's technically not that hard once you get the hang of it. Get yourself a good FTP program (I use Filezilla) and play around in your website's control panel until you're familiar with it. I killed my own website a few times before I finally learned how to make a backup properly. Luckily, Wordpress is insanely easy to get running again! I restored my site to basic functionality from scratch in just a day after nuking it.

Taking Risks with Plugins & Upgrades

Another issue of concern for me is that plugins are always being upgraded and sometimes they might be borked in the upgrading. There is a dialog menu that pops up before you download and install a plugin that tells you whether or not it has been tested with your version of Wordpress. Pay attention to this because it could spell disaster if you haven't backed up your site recently! Plugins and upgrades to the core of Wordpress are a calculated risk in my opinion. I'd much rather deal with that than going back to my old way of doing things (Photoshop, html, and building everything by hand). The Wordpress community also seems very tightly knit and there's always an ear out for troubleshooting, if you post your concerns on a plugin's webpage.

Code Makes My Brain Hurt

I did end up grating my brain a little over certain CSS programming that was required to make my website look the way I want, but generally I found that for everything I wanted to tweak, there was an online tutorial showing me how to do it. Be careful with following tutorials, however, as sometimes they might be for older versions! (I found this out the hard way when I nuked my site following a database backup tutorial). Pay attention to the date of the tutorial and try to find the most recent ones.

Easy to Use Gallery Functionality

Updating my galleries has never been easier with the NextGEN Wordpress plugin (you just upload, tag descriptions, and go!). It's saved me so much time with my website's upkeep, particularly where galleries are involved, and also provides a sleek looking slideshow integrated with its interface. This is definitely one of the strongest reasons I've decided to bank on Wordpress for my needs as an artist.

E-Commerce Capabilities

I've managed to get a shop running with the e-commerce plugin by Instinct (will review this in a later post). It's not the prettiest shop, but it is free (unless you want to pay to upgrade to a prettier interface with additional payment gateways). I had some bugs during setup, but have managed to get it working to allow me to accept Paypal. As an admin, you can also print packing slips and keep track of orders all in one place. Another randomly useful feature is the ability to make a product link offsite if you have it listed elsewhere. For example, I have many of my products set up so that they link to their Etsy listings instead when you click them.

It's not perfect, but it will serve my purposes till I can afford the premium plugin at $200 for a commercial license for a multiple person business. It's only $40 if you have a single employee. Considering how much I've paid in the past to upkeep an Amazon Webstore ($60 a month) or an eBay shop (approx. $20 a month), this one-time fee is a small price to pay.

All in All...

If you can handle the learning curve and don't self-destruct at the thought of a little coding, than I recommend Wordpress. It's not perfect, but it's certainly functional and easy to manage right out of the proverbial box.


  1. Nice writeup! I've been using wordpress as my combo blog and website for about a year and a half now and I love it. So much easier to maintain and update than the old html site I had before.

  2. Agreed! It's so much easier now for me to update my website than it was before. I used to really dread having to sit there and build thumbnails and alter templates. Instead of dreading updates, I look forward to them, and that I think is the most powerful aspect of all!