Generally speaking I like wordpress. I use it on four or five of my websites and have for years. But for years I’ve been struggling with it on my filmmaking site ScapeFilms.com. Why? Well the reason is because Scape Films is a video centric site and wordpress doesn’t seem to play well with video based sites.
See the thing is it doesn’t look the way I want it to look. Years ago (2002-2003) I build Scape Films dot com using HTML, CSS and a few choice PHP scripts. Simple stuff, but I loved the design. I had to do everything by hand, but it really highlighted what I wanted to show people.
At some point I decided I wanted to add more functionality to the site. Things like comments and an easy way for those working on films with me to add stuff. So I tore it down and rebuilt it using wordpress. But I didn’t have much experience theme-ing wordpress and so I often just used some out-of-the-box theme I downloaded from somewhere. The same is true today. I still can’t seem to wrap my head around building a custom theme for it. So I just grab something premade and modify it a little.Never works out the way I want.
So what’s the problem? Well… there are a couple. For one wordpress has what are called “pages” and “posts”. WordPress is primarily designed to be a blogging tool you install on your own website to “blog” with. Sort of like a private self hosted version of xanga your put on your own “dot com” site. Whenever you write a blog entry it’s called a “post”. It acts like you would expect a blog entry to act. It gets dated, added to your sites RSS feed and so on. But then wordpress also has what are called “pages” and they aren’t that different then “posts” except that they don’t get added to your RSS feed and they are meant to be more set in stone. Good for things you don’t plan on updating very often and are meant to always stay the same. Like a typical static webpage.
Back when I converted everything over to wordpress I made most of my stuff “pages”. It seemed to make the most sense. This stuff wasn’t really going to change much and I didn’t want them to act like blog posts. The problem I’m discovering however is that a lot of these new out-of-the-box themes seem to assume for some reason that you only have a few “pages” on your blog site. So they make them into big buttons at the top that are meant to act like site navigation. But when you run a site like mine with 15+ pages, it wants to display them all and it breaks the design leaving the site looking like crap.
That’s just the first of the problems. What I’ve also discovered is that most of these new “pretty cool” themes that really highlight things the way I want, usually only highlight “posts” not “pages”. It makes sense. Most people writing “blogs” would want to highlight their newest entries. But for my purposes it doesn’t work. I’d rather highlight my pages because I have one film per page. That’s where the film and all of its information lives.
So you’re probably thinking to yourself “why not just turn all your pages into posts?” That’s not a bad idea, except this site has been here for years and well indexed by google. So if I go tearing down pages to turn into posts, they will no longer be there for google. Anyone who finds a link to one of the pages on a google search will click the link and arrive at a page that no longer exists. Yikes! That’s not so good.
This leaves me kind of stuck. Although I think wordpress is really cool and makes my life a little bit easier when it comes to updating that website and making it really functional; it also frustrates me that I can’t make the site as cool as it used to be 6 years ago. I can’t highlight my individual films in the way I want. Nor can I create a custom design that really speaks to what we’re doing.
So I have to make a choice. Either keep wordpress and continue using it for its cool features and easy to update, well google indexed capabilities, or switch back to a hand coded HTML/CSS based site that looks the way I want and highlights what I want.