Over the years, I have constructed several WordPress websites, slowly getting better at it. I am not a website builder and do not speak any of the required computer languages. But I have found my way around WordPress and its components. It helps that that there are many people like me out there: there are lots of good instructions to be found on the internet. I do not use WordPress.org. I prefer to self-host, that is, install WordPress through my hosting provider. In this way I can choose my own website name.
On my own site, as opposed to WordPress.org, I can also define subdomains in which to run separate installations. So, my main blog is on www.theartofmisunderstanding.org, which is a WordPress blog. My wiki pages are on yet another subdomain with a MediaWiki (for creating my own Wikipedia) installation: concept.theartofmisunderstanding.org. Ik keep changing the contents of the Wiki, but that is for another post.
My website and its subdomains are automatically backed up in three generations. My hosting provider does this for me, but this option does need explicit configuration.
Sometimes it is necessary to change specific files on my website which cannot be done through the WordPress (or MediaWiki) interface. In such cases, I connect to my website through FTP (this is set up through the hosting provider) using Dreamweaver, which is part of my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Once set up, I can copy the entire remote website to my PC, change any file as necessary and upload the changed files back up again.
The reason I use WordPress is because it is free and half the world is using it. It is still being improved, and there are many extensions and additions to it. I cannot see it disappearing or falling foul of support soon. Setting up WordPress is very easy. The basic work is done for you. This is not the place for a WordPress setup tutorial (there are many on the internet, such as this one). I just want to list my own customisations:
- Jetpack. WordPress will offer this to you. It is a set of plugins which (almost) always comes in useful. You do need to connect to WordPress.org in order to install this, so you need to create a user-id there. The good thing is that then you will have automatic site-statistics. If you want to know how many people are visiting your site, that is. Another useful feature is the subscription option (which is also on this blog).
- Wordfence. Husband discovered this for me. The free version offers basic security, which is very efficient at keeping nasty bots out. You can also see who has been trying to access your site. Very enlightening. However, Wordfence can be too efficient. When I first tried to upload files to my Wiki, I was blocked. Neither I nor my provider were able to find out why. By sheer luck I noticed that Wordfence had been blocking a user. Yes, me. So I instructed Wordfence to ignore this particular “bot” in future.
- Other than these plugins, I use as few plugins as possible. This is something I learned the hard way. In my experience, plugins need constant updating, and worse, may not be supported after a while. Instead, I use commercial themes. I get them for free as part of my subscription to Envato Elements from which I also get images and graphics, as discussed in another post. The one drawback is that sometimes commercial themes are packed with plugins – which I do not want, so I discard those if I installed one by mistake.
- Themes determine what your site looks like: the layout, colours, fonts, header, footer, etc. Playing around with them is great fun: cycling through a number of themes will inspire you with ideas about what your wordpress site may look like. I use Gutenmag for this blog; Ashe for my main blog (they have a free and a paid version).
Perhaps you wonder why there is a beautiful green hobbit village at the top of this post? Well, that is where I would like to be sitting when I am writing these posts 🙂