Recently I volunteered to help my riding club update their website. While I have experience designing information architectures and writing content for websites, I’m not particularly HTML literate. So when I peeked behind the curtain I was appalled. Where was the content management system (CMS)? There was none. Instead you had to ftp the articles over to the site.
This is when I learned that I was truly technology challenged. The first time I tried to go onto the site and make edits I managed to ftp all the articles from the site onto my computer, leaving just an empty URL. That convinced me that there had to be a better way.
I’ve been using WordPress.com for more than a year now. In addition to this blog I also have a popular equestrian blog, Equine Ink. I like the flexibility afforded by the templates and I find the interface to be intuitive and easy to use. In addition, I could see that by using the WordPress CMS, we could make our website more of a community effort and involve more of our members.
Since the club wanted a Website rather than a blog, I turned to WordPress.org so we could use our own URL and have email addresses associated with the site. I set up hosting through GoDaddy.com, a service that makes it incredibly easy to upload WordPress templates. Given my previous experiences using an ftp client, I was skeptical, but it turned out that after downloading the templates onto my computer, the GoDaddy interface made it easy to upload and install them.
The wealth of free — and low cost — WordPress templates is amazing. Of course, many of them look like templates and it took some time to find one that met all of my requirements. Along with finding a template with the layout and fonts I liked, it was also important to me to find one that is supported by the author. In the end I selected Paalam, a theme written by Sadish Bala. It’s a very elegant design that works well with photo-intensive postings. Having access to support forums has already helped. I wanted to move the position of the title and was able to get the revised code very quickly.
I quickly found plug-ins that added functionality such as a photo gallery and used WordPress’s password protection function to safeguard a members only section of the site. For the technically challenged, this is certainly a quick and easy way to build a fully functioning site without becoming a programmer!
For comparison purposes, here’s the site that we started with:
Here’s the new WordPress site: