March 9, 2016

The Great WordPress Migration: Part 1

Migrating to WordPress

I’ve tried a lot of content management systems and website platforms. WordPress, Blogger, Umbraco, Statamic, Squarespace, Cactus. Right now this site runs on Jekyll, which I’ve been digging. It’s easy to use, especially on GitHub Pages, and done everything I’ve needed so far. It’s fast, lightweight, and secure. Everything a CMS should be.

But, as much as I love Jekyll, I feel like I’m missing something.

From a practical standpoint, I miss having a dashboard to quickly see how my website is doing and how I’m doing as a writer. I miss having an easy way to post without having to commit to GitHub, especially when I’m on the go with my iPad. Working Copy has been great, but that flow leaves a lot to be desired, especially with uploading images. I miss being able to extend my website as necessary with prebuilt and well-tested plugins; while there are a ton of Jekyll plugins out there, GitHub pages doesn’t have support for them, yet.

From a philosophical standpoint, I miss using software that has a sense of purpose and community built up around it.

Jekyll has a ton of advocates but, apart from the technical practicalities of building a site, it doesn’t seem to have an overarching mission. I like software that has a stated goal or lofty ideals. While a lot of times it’s essentially bullshit, it still makes me feel a bit better as a user.

So, what platform if not Jekyll?

The granddaddy of online publishing, the platform that powers 25% of the web: WordPress.

The past few years have been devoted to static site generators and flat-file content management systems. Still, I’ve always kept my eye on the folks at Automattic and the progress WordPress has been making. I think they’re doing some exciting things and I want to be part of that.

Apart from having a dashboard, a mobile app, and access to great plugins like Jetpack, I’m most looking forward to using software that is surrounded by a community that shares a singular goal, best summed up by Automattic:

We are passionate about making the web a better place.

A lot of companies make similar claims. In the case of WordPress and Automattic, I believe them. Matt Mullenweg and company have a long history of building things that make the web better. They are openly committed to improving the publishing experience for millions of people around the world, and I love that.

Sure, there are platforms that are easier to manage, easier to use, and more flexible with handling content, but there’s just something about WordPress that makes me want to invest in the platform and contribute to those ideals. Even with some of the frustrations that I know come with WordPress, I still want to use it. I think that says something.

So I’m switching back and documenting the process right here. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be migrating my website to WordPress and writing about every step. I haven’t developed a new theme in years. Hell, I’ve barely touched MAMP in just as long (is that still what people use?). But I’m excited to dive back in and start using a publishing platform that not only comes with some great features, but advances the web for everyone, too.

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