To WordPress or not to WordPress?

• ~500 words • 2 minute read

The original title of this post was going to be "When to rebuild wheels, eat your own dog food and otherwise get lost in idiomatic expressions," but that was kind of a mouthful. (And vague.)

My web development company drastically needs its website overhauled. How it got to its current state, and how it's been remarkably effective is a story for another day, but I've had this on my "someday" list for well over two years now. But paying gigs and other life distractions kept me from it.

That's going to change soon, despite the ever-increasing number of gigs and distractions. Last year's creative/professional focus was on seeing my trip through and this year I think that energy will be applied towards rebooting the way my business functions. That starts with a new website.

Another thing that's kept me from updating it though is my propensity for perpetually tinkering and reinventing wheels on the weekend. For no justifiable reason I'd rather not run the site on WordPress, even though it's what I use for a solid 65%+ of my client projects.  The short version though is there's just so much cruft involved at this point. I respect the attention to legacy support and know there's a host of niceties packed-in I've come to take for granted (publishing later, private posts, embedding media), but sometimes it feels like driving a Hummer to work when you're only going ten blocks and could take a bicycle.

I will say, if all you want to do is manage a traditional blog and little else then I'd say it's top-notch, but once you stray too far from that goal it becomes painful. There is a beautiful simplicity to the approaches found in static site builders like Jekyll and services like Siteleaf. Flat-file content management that's clearcut and easy to understand at a glance; adding metadata and incorporating it into a template can be done on the fly without having to ponder callback functions that tie into mysterious "hooks" and require an array of additional parameters to accompany them.

Over the years I've started and stopped rolling my own site management tools for a variety of purposes. Some of them have actually turned out quite good (billing, backups, managing projects locally) and others less so (A poorly-conceived OmniFocus replacement, namely). My previous approach had been to use this home-brewed setup for my personal blog while using WordPress for my business site, so as to appear like less a hypocrite when I list it as one of my offerings.

This time around though I'm thinking about doing it backwards. Continue to use WordPress here on this site — which has worked out quite well — and eat my own dog food on the business site. I'm already doing that with my custom-made billing software to great effect. Maybe this is the next logical step?

If I go that route I'll write a summary of the project.