WordPress as a User

I use WordPress every day, but not like your average user.

I build things with it. I write code for it. I test it. I try to push it to places it hasn’t been before. I rarely just log in, fire up a beautiful theme, download a plugin or two and start publishing. That’s sad.

So with two recent ideas, I decided to do just that. No custom development. No stretching my own skills. I set a goal to create with just words and pictures. I now have two WordPress sites that I’m really enjoying.

Case One: Baby Blog

I launched a baby log for our daughter, Skye, who was born May 17th. My wife and I wanted control over the content we put online about our daughter and didn’t want it scattered across several social networks. So we started a simple, private WordPress blog. It includes:

The theme brings a playfulness to the site that we love, plus it doesn’t hurt that we themed the nursery to be “baby animals.” :) The combination of plugins allows us to administer a private WordPress site for just family and friends with open registration. That means people can register, but can’t access the site unless we approve them. Not to mention, all the content sits on servers we have access to at any time.

We have more than 25 posts already and no HTML, CSS or JavaScript has been written in the process. Win!

Case Two: Code Journal

As I worked on a WordPress project a few days ago, I realized I wouldn’t need a feature I’d built any longer. No one would ever see it unless I saved it somehow. But how?

A text file would probably work, but if I added a bunch of code snippets, it would become difficult to maintain. I could use something like Simplenote, which I love, but it doesn’t deal with code well. I remembered I’d heard Alex King talk about Capsule on a recent podcast I’d listened to a few months ago. So I went through another famous, five-minute install. This time, I kept it even simpler:

That’s it! I now have a super-custom, private code journal that I can add to at any time from anywhere. Easy! I’ve already saved all the code from that almost-lost feature. Future blog post on that coming!

What I Learned

Writing and publishing on these two sites has been a freeing experience. I need to create more; write more. Period.

I’m not bogged down in making the theme or functionality perfect. My family has loved seeing all the photos of my daughter. And I’ll have those for years to come! I like that I now have a home for the bits and pieces of code that might be useful later, or helpful to someone else. I hope saving them makes me a better developer.

It also made me realize, to some degree, how lightweight WordPress really is… You can’t do much in the way of a focused blog, like these two use cases without a few plugins. That’s interesting to me.¬† People say WordPress is bloated, but maybe not? That doesn’t matter to me right now though. Because I’m just publishing…