Changing my Blog from Movable Type to WordPress was both frustrating and enjoyable. In the coming weeks, I’ll share some of my experiences in setting up a new Blog and working with WordPress.
The dynamic PHP model of WordPress, with its associated templates for each element of the page, is much more difficult for the average person to work with, than the single template static html model that Movable Type uses. If you are experienced with PHP, this will not be a problem, but for the rest of us it is important to choose a good template system, called a theme in WordPress-speak, that keeps you out of the templates, with user-friendly configuration pages in the WordPress control panel. Based on the recommendations of others, I went with Chris Pearson’s Thesis Theme and I couldn’t be happier.
Thesis Theme is both visually appealing and automated to the point that you can change the layout of the entire blog; say from a single sidebar to two sidebars, with a drop-down menu in the configuration page. Behind the scenes, Thesis Theme provides a lot of the functionality out-of-the-box that would normally require additional third-party plugins, like the ability to optimize title tags for search engines and nofollow tags to links. I’ll talk more about plugins in a future post, but suffice to say that the fewer plugins that you have to use, the better off you will be. I had CampingBlogger successfully validating XHTML 1.0 Strict this weekend, until I loaded a particular plugin that broke the validation. No amount of tweaking the code could get it to validate with the plugin, so I changed to XHTML 1.0 Transitional and now all is well.
The plethora of Plugins and widgets certainly made the change from Movable Type to WordPress and enjoyable one. Gone are the weekends of hacking code to get a threaded commenting system, or a list of related posts below each article. With WordPress, you just download the plugin or add the appropriate widget and you’re done! I have hours and hours into the templates on my old Movable Type blog, it was much more of a hands-on development process. With WordPress and a good premium theme, like Thesis Theme, your time will be much better spent writing posts than writing code.