April 4, 2012

Websites, Portfolios, and Blogs

By Andrew at 11:02 AM

This past week I had the opportunity to consult with a friend of mine on creating a personal website.  This reminded me of the recent renovation of my own website, which, even if you did not notice, almost completely changed the way I manage my website behind the scenes.  But the beauty of the technologies that I used is that I was able to transfer all my previous posts, themes, and content to my new setup with minimal changes to the front end.

I use a service called “WordPress” to manage my site.  WordPress has two types of services, one of which they host for you with a “” address, the other which can be hosted anywhere.  I chose to use the second method which allows me to control every aspect of the software.  Since the self-hosted WordPress installation is open-source software, there are many modifications I can make to extend the functionality of my website.  To start out with, though, I can make a website as complex or as simple as I want it to be.  I could start out with a simple blog with entries, or I could eliminate the blogging functionality altogether and instead structure my site around individual pages with complex functionality.  Regardless, I can maintain a level of organization and control over the look and feel of my website that I have not been able to find in many other website-creation tools.

Why do I think that WordPress is worth blogging about?  Well, for one thing, I think that most digital media artists who are building an online presence and portfolio should consider implementing a website management system such as WordPress or Blogger to set up the basic structure of their website.  I actually began my website by coding the pages by hand, using little more than a text editor for the majority of the pages.  However, I quickly realized that managing so much code by myself was not feasible, even for someone who understands enough of what goes on in the background to make things work properly.  Regardless, I ended up using WordPress for the blog portion of my site, and more recently, I migrated the rest of my custom-coded pages over to WordPress.  Now, my site is not all that amazing, a situation that I would love to remedy, but it is at least functional, with a visual style that I like and that works for my current purposes.  However, I have used the same back-end tools to create several other websites for weddings, short-film projects, and more.  In fact, rather than creating a simple webpage from code, I would much rather set up a simple WordPress site anymore, since I can make great use of the management mechanisms of the page creation tools as well as the numerous themes, plugins, and expandable custom content.

WordPress does have its drawbacks, such as the difficulties I recently experienced trying to integrate media from multiple sites into one.  But for the most part, it can serve as a valuable tool that enables me to create professional websites with ease, allowing me to focus on the creative elements of the site yet also providing access to the raw power of the back-end code.

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