Last week (november, 2009) I installed Wordpress as the CMS for this website. I wanted to explain the rationale behind this move. I'll explain why a web-developer would get an "off the rack" CMS and on top of that pick a commercial theme template to go with it.
Why not build my own CMS?
Why indeed. I did this once upon a time, back in 2002 and then a revised one in 2004. Then I got into Flash for a while and built a few versions of this website in Flash one with my CMS as the backend. My portfolio is still in Flash.
Why not keep the tradition going? A competent web-developer like me (hrm..) should surely be able to cobble something together himself, right? Well, I started a new CMS a few months ago, on my vacation, but working full-time (and then some), being a new father, buying a house and all the rest of the thing called life does take up most of my time. In short: Progress was slow and ambitions were high.
I wanted a CMS, blog, specific video-blog, specific music-publishing section... all of is brilliantly well-crafted and polished. And that was just for v1.0 :)
How I evaluated CMSes
So I did a reality-check and came to the conclusion that an open-source CMS would be the only way of getting something half-decent online again before the apocalypse. I looked at and installed a lot of the big players out there. Movable Type, Textpattern, ExpressionEngine, even CMS.txt and probably a few more I have already forgotten about.
Wordpress is very feature-rich but not really perfect for me in any way. It just seems like the only choice for an open-sourced CMS/blog combo. MT is a perl cgi and this just doesn't excite me. EE, and also MT to some extent, is a strange half-open project. This makes choosing the correct version a bit of a mess, especially at the stage where I download and install my candidates. How do i judge the commercial features without paying for a license for each product? TP and certainly CMS.txt did not really suit what I wanted to do.
I did not look closely at all the hosted CMSes out there. They look tasty but I host on my own hardware and it doesn't cost me a dime to do so. (That's what friends are for.)
When it came to the theme I, again, opted for the time-saver. Basic Maths was released very conveniently just when I was trying to find the time to start porting my layout to Wordpress. I have created a WP theme before once but didn't like it much.
[caption id="attachment_86" align="alignnone" width="444" caption="This website, left from 2004 and right from 2002"][/caption] This website has always had a pretty clean and simple look. Basic Maths looks a lot like what I had and was aiming for. And I looked at subtraction.com for some of the inspiration for the design. It was an easy choice. I am likely to modify and mutate the theme over time (I already have) but it is a wonderful starting point. The html and css is very clear and learning some of the finer details of Wordpress themes from this one is a joy.
I aim to follow this up with some of the little things I learn about Wordpress.