Cody R. DeHaan

Clean Slate

I decided to start from scratch with my website, because I wasn’t happy with where it had ended up. For a while, it has seemed like my site was a collection of old links and quips, but very little original writing. All of this old content created a lot of friction and baggage that was limiting my desire to continue writing. I want this site to be a place I can use to explore the burning questions and topics that are on my mind, as well as to share some observations, tips, and tricks that I have stumbled across in research and technology.

As this has been on my mind for a while, I also pondered whether or not I would stick with WordPress. I think WordPress is a great tool for creating websites, but it isn’t lightweight or simple. As a result, I kept an eye on other platforms that would suit my site, and various CMSes caught my attention. The ones that particularly caught my attention were those that don’t use a database (e.g., Octopress, Statamic, and Kirby), but I also considered some that are database-driven (e.g., Anchor and Koken).

With all of these alternate CMSes for my site, however, I discovered gotchas. Some didn’t have a theme I quite liked, so I’d have to spend time creating or tweaking those. Others didn’t allow for easy search or comments, or required me to compile and deploy from my computer each time I wanted to tweak the site or change a layout. I also happen to like the Jetpack plugin, which allows me to have visitor stats right in the WordPress dashboard, as well as share my content (and let my visitors share content on this site) very easily. In addition, I am familiar and comfortable with WordPress, reducing the time it would take me to learn and troubleshoot a new tool.

In the end, I decided to stick with WordPress. If you haven’t been here in a while, you might not notice the changes. However, this site is actually a completely fresh reinstall, with new CSS based on Twenty Twelve. In addition, I use Markdown on Save Improved, which allows me to write and edit my posts in Markdown1, but behind the scenes have WordPress-compatible HTML generated and displayed to visitors. In addition, I use Jetpack to allow for easy sharing of my content, as well as for analytics.

I am still undecided on comments. In the past, I’ve had mixed results. I find people mainly commenting on my content using Facebook, Twitter, or other external social media sites. For now they are enabled, but I may change that if they are unused.

I hope this spring cleaning of sorts will remove some of the friction I was having with my old site, allowing me to do more writing, and hopefully providing more value to those of you who read or stumble upon this site.

  1. I have been using Markdown for most of my writing these days. While you can easily Google for the benefits of writing in Markdown or another plain-text format, this is one topic I hope to cover in a future post. ↩︎

Published on