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Moody image of a boat heading into a cloudy horizon.
 © Leigh Ghimire

O’ friends. This WordPress journey has been long and arduous thus far. T’would seem there are surprises at every turn, and I grow weary. Things are trying––at best. Dare I say it… I’m smarting to quit this place forthwith! Aye, yew may cry, “What, pray tell, is the matter?”

O’ by my troth, I am off!!! 


Honestly, though. This week has been frustrating for me, though I’m thankful that I’m not alone: Looking through the #posiel tag, I can tell that a lot of us are struggling in this first stage of development.

For me, it is in large part because I care too much about the appearance of things. (Yes, I’m shallow in this regard; I can’t help it! I’m a Visual Art Major!) When I see nice, glossy live demos of prospective themes, I get giddy. I can visualize my ideal website, you see. And yet, when I sit down to do it… It’s as though my fingers get sticky and the vision becomes muddled. I know that it will take time to hone these formatting skills on a new platform but I fear my impatience––particularly with the visuals––is causing me to shoot myself in the foot.

I’m going to take this posting opportunity to consolidate my concerns going forward in an attempt to clear my head. If you’re reading this, hopefully you can relate. Here are the hiccups I’ve encountered thus far:

• The biggest issue by far is that I can’t decide on a theme. For one thing, I find myself wasting time searching through the different options despite the fact that––spoiler alert––most portfolio themes for photography (in addition to writing, I hope to post my own here) end up looking roughly the same. The other issue is that even when I do try to switch from one to another, there seem to be a lot of errors. Basically, one theme does not translate to another, especially once you’ve started posting! This causes me to fret that I will have a hard time migrating my existing posts over to a new theme in the future. Eventually, I did come to the conclusion that I should just stick to the one I started with; at least for the time being. But even so…

Homepage customization is beyond me, at least for now. In the Live Demos of many themes, I see a lot of cool features including slideshow images, background video, or just plain featured content/static images. This is somewhat of a priority for me since I have a visual inclination––surprising, I know, given the length of my posts. Having spent several hours on it this week, I am at least starting to discover that I need to create “Pages” (how do they differ from posts?) and look into the “Portfolio” section (why are those pages called “projects”?) I’ve managed to make some headway by creating an “Animals” section that appears to be a static page, of sorts, since it doesn’t show up in my “News” section (see screenshot below).

A zoomed out view of the top half of my site, as it stands now. (Please ignore the disproportionately small text at the top; it only appears this way because of the zoom out.) I will be adding to the “Projects” section each week.

• So that’s a small win, I suppose? Here’s the kicker though…
Beyond the structure of the posts, the layout of the posts themselves is trickier than it seems. At first, using the WordPress editor was deceptively intuitive. I understood where and how to insert text, and even images, etc. But even in this respect, I began to notice some issues: For example, there is no option to justify the paragraph text. Also, if you’re like me and you prefer to add others’ images through a URL upload (so they are more easily traced to the source instead of a screenshot and linked “credit to” caption), you may find that the image will not stay centred (see screenshot below). I wish customization options, such as these and more, existed within the standard WordPress options for post formatting.

Check out that forced left alignment of the embedded Flickr image!

• Naturally, my next thought was to turn to stylistic toolkits that come via plugins. However, I have found that Elementor offers up just as many problems as it does solutions. On the plus side, I was able to achieve a nicer layout for that “Animals” page itself since I was able to structure the images next to each other. At least, I am starting to get the hang of this plugin when it comes to images. Also, I am pleased by having options for dividers and icons; although I don’t feel able to generate them from scratch, I can sense I could get there. Surprisingly, my biggest frustrations currently revolve around fonts/typefaces. For the Elementor beginner, one option is to build off of pre-existing templates. At first, this seems like a good solution. But if you are like me and eventually want to achieve a fairly uniform look across most areas of the site, this could be a bit of a trap. I don’t like the idea of having to use the same template over and over again, and I resent that many font choices seem difficult to find/remember. I am also frustrated that it is so difficult to translate these Elementor fonts to WordPress; you cannot switch between the two formatting platforms. For now, the plan may be to edit static pages/hero content using Elementor, and turn to the regular WordPress format for most of my “academic” posts.

Screenshots of my “Animals” project page before (left) and after (right) spending time with Elementor. I figured out how to get more variety in layout; this really helps with “landscape”-oriented images, such as the picture with the two reclining black cats and the one black kitty staring out the window.

So, have there been any positives? The one thing I have going for me is probably that I’ve been able to reach a better word count than expected. Of course, it does take several hours to create each post, but at least it has been enjoyable to write more colloquially, as compared to the formal essays I generate for other courses.