Beginning of the End

The 3 Amigos

So after posting about how unhappy I was with Blogger, and realizing it's been a long time growing, I've decided to do something about it. I decided to take advantage of some GoDaddy hosting that gave me a year of their Economy hosting for $12. Ideally I would have had a production ready site ready to go at the time of hosting purchase, but I don't. So now I feel a little pressure to get going on the production of the site. So, I spent my Saturday downloading and installing MAMP, the set of tools needed to run a web server environment on my MacBook Pro, then install and setup Wordpress and Drupal. Also, I feel a little weird talking about how I'm going to be leaving Blogger on Blogger. I feel like I'm cheating on it, or something.

What am I wanting from my site? A more customizable and responsive theme is top of the list. This theme should show off my photos in the best way possible no matter what size screen they're viewed on. The theme should be modern looking and easy to use (for both the visitor and me) and be easily customized for my needs. I don't want to code up a theme, or put in enough code on an existing theme that I might as well have written a theme.

I want some flexibility to do more than just a blog. Have you seen my gallery on this site? Notice I didn't link to it? That's because it's a hack, and it's not been updated in at least 2 years. Time to add a real gallery. Something easier to setup and maintain. That will be a secondary goal, once the blog part is up.

I want to feel more freedom in what I write about. Now this is partially my own problem, but I feel a more robust platform will let me throw in the odd post about tech, the Sharks, and anything else. This Blogger site has a theme that is tailored for photos and stretching photos to the full width of the post. This is great for my photo posts, which are 99% of what goes up here, but it's not so great if posts include a vertically aligned shot, or if I want a secondary photo in the post.

I also want my landing page to have more oomph. Maybe a header with a handful of my favorite images rotating through. Easy to use navigation menus to get around the site, and of course SEO friendly. Last and currently least is the option to have an online store for if I ever decide to sell prints or anything else I might create down the line. Part of this will require a change in hosting plans, but knowing my platform can handle this seamlessly now beats having to do this all over again later.
The two platforms I'm evaluating are Drupal, a content management system that I have some experience with already and is probably overkill for a one person blog, and a self hosted WordPress setup which specializes in blogging and is a platform I've never used before. I'm looking forward to seeing how these two compare.

A lot of this stuff can be done in Blogger, it's just not as easily done and is a time consuming hack to make it do what I want it to do. For this blog I want the creation of posts and the upkeep of the site to be simple and quick leaving me with more time to shoot and edit photos. Blogger was great to get my feet wet with a simple blog, but I don't think out of the box it has the tools to really grow.

I think I'll post a weekly update on how well, or not well, my work goes on this. It'll be a little more nerdy/geeky/technical than my usual posts, but could be interesting.

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