Settling on WordPress
After realizing I don’t have time to create my very own, homegrown dream static blog-publishing system, I decided to go with WordPress.
Why? Because it’s familiar, I know how to create themes for it, there’s tons of great plugins, and it can be tweaked to be exactly how I want it relatively easy. So here’s how I do mine.
I have pretty strict theme requirements. Because if I don’t like the way my website looks, I don’t want to write for it. Thankfully, WordPress is easy to theme.
I started with a fluid CSS layout, and tweaked the HTML and stylesheet until it was just what I wanted. From there I split it up into the appropriate files (header.php, footer.php, etc.), added WordPress’s PHP functions, and voilà: Scripta was born.
Scripta is extremely minimal, and probably wouldn’t suit most bloggers. The navigation has to be edited manually, it doesn’t have a sidebar, no previous/next links, and doesn’t even include the code necessary to allow comments. After all those things were stripped away, I was left with an extremely lightweight theme that not only looks great, but places perfect emphasis on my content. In fact, “scripta” is Latin for “writings”.
Another area that Scripta shines is that it consistently looks great on anything from large desktop monitors to tiny smartphone screens. You can test this by resizing your browser window to see how the text re-flows.
See what Scripta looks like in Mobile Safari (iPhone).
And that just about covers everything I need my WordPress theme to do. Thankfully, Scripta fills those needs beautifully. And surprisingly, it manages to pull it all off without using a single image.
I don’t want my setup to suffer from “plugin bloat” like so many other WordPress-powered websites (a negative side-effect to having so many great ones available), so I tried to avoid installing too many. Here are four I just couldn’t get by without:
- W3 Total Cache so my site can perform like a “baked” blog.
- Clean Archives Reloaded to make my archive pages more presentable.
- DF-Style Linked List to handle link-posts properly.
- Markdown on Save Improved so I can write my posts in Markdown.
If I could have gotten by with less, I would have, but I still consider four plugins to be very conservative. I may get rid of Clean My Archives at some point and go with my own solution, but it’s perfect for my current needs, so here it stays.
The common denominator among all elements of my website is one singular theme: minimalism. Not just for the sake of it, but for the sake of elegance, anti-clutter, and a great reading experience.