I’ver been working with the WordPress program and the theme/template from Photocrati for a couple of weeks now and I have what I think is a very passable site. So far, I have been able to finalize the Main Menu System, the Major Galleries, the About Me pages, the Equipment and Techniques page, the Contact page, and I’ve made starts on the Print Sales page, and the Shopping Cart system. That seems pretty good as I didn’t have a clue as to how this whole thing worked when I began.
OK. So, it was not a walk in the park! No, not a simple or even an easy task at all. The learning curve is very steep for a beginner and though I have extensive computer skills to back me up, including being a former programmer and applications developer, it was/is still difficult. It would have been far worse if I didn’t have some skills. Mine are obviously outmoded now, but I won’t get into all of that right now.
I mentioned before that I had a great deal of difficulty familiarizing my self with the database product that is used to manage the site – MySQL. It is still a thing of great mystery to me. Short of going out and buying or finding books that teach me the whole PHP language, the database construction and its syntax, I have really been on my own. I didn’t go into learning an entire new set of programs or the language that runs them as I truly expected some relatively easy to follow instructions somewhere either on the Hosting Site, or on the WordPress site, or failing those venues, on the Photocrati site (at least as it relates to their product.) Not very much information was provided at all.
Not, at least, information that would be useful to me as a beginner. Very probably, the information that I was able to find would have been much more understandable for one who has been through most of this before. But, that is not who I am!
I have to say, to be completely fair, the Photocrati – Themes for Photographers site does provide a good deal of information. There are videos that can be accessed both at their site and on YouTube. There are FAQs and a Member’s Area as well, but the information does not go into the details that are necessary for a full understanding of the product or its operation. It is a beautiful product, and the results that can be achieved using it are nothing short of wondrous, but it does take a level of knowledge that I don’t believe is posessed by the average beginner to website building. I don’t know, maybe I expect too much! But I am a person who likes things to be made crystal-clear, particularly if a product is aimed at beginners.
Special Note: On Thursday, March 6, I contacted Photocrati for some help via their email system. I was having trouble with an eCommerce gallery (which is one of the galleries that Photocrati builds easily and quickly, usually without a hitch at all.) Drew, from Photocrati got back in touch with me after looking at my site and suggested a fix right away. It was something that I thought I had tried before but which didn’t work (actually, I hadn’t tried it, only thought I did since I had tried so many other things.) He was 100% correct and, not only that but he got back to me in less than 15 minutes with that correction! I couldn’t be happier!
Drew also told me that the Help System is undergoing a complete rebuild as they have been holding off on that prior to making some major changes in their templates. So far, it is going into place bit-by-bit and should soon be more helpful than I have indicated in these pages. UUUURHHA!
Rather Long Aside
I also have to be fair to the people who work and maintain the WordPress software. These people provide an incredible piece of Free software that does great things right out of the box (or the air, as it happens) and they do so out of personal dedication and because they can! I can’t!
I have been ranting about the difficulty that I find using all of the products mentioned here, but without them, I would still be stuck with my old site (which was OK for what it is, but really is very, very basic as it was a first website and I was really a clueless beginner when I built it). If you would like to see just what a really clueless web author, using some pretty great and Free tools can produce, it is here: This Beautiful World
OK, so having said that, I have to say that the people at the WordPress Site certainly have an extensive support base which includes installation, lessons, troubleshooting, forums and a host of other helpful information that is there just to assist those like myself.
If I find it dense and difficult, well that is my problem. But, the more I work in the system, the more I understand and the more helpful the material which they provide becomes.
End of the Aside
But muddling along, however, experimenting with different methods, trying things over and over, eventually does bring one to a decent understanding as to how all of these products, programs, and languages work. And, a very capable and complete site can eventually be built and implemented.
One very good thing is that WordPress installs faultlessy with my host’s One-Button-Install, and the very first (really, the only) thing that is produced is a very competent and feature-rich Blogging site. And, of course, that mystery-of-mysteries, the My-SQL database. After that, there are numerous free themes/templates that one can use to flesh-out the basic site – these come with the WordPress installation. Other templates are available free or for reasonable prices from third-party developers. You can find them on the web by searching for WordPress Templates.
There is also what amounts to an almost uncountable number of plug-ins that can accomplish almost any task or implement almost any feature that one could desire in a site. Some charge for the plug-ins – these are written by third-party-developers who are in business, after all – so that is quite understandable, but a good many are free. For the most part, the free ones are somewhat limited versions of the Pro level products, but they are useful “as is” and the pro versions generally simply add features not present in the free versions, and some may come with more support from the authors.
These are very easy to find, install, activate, and test. They are also easy to delete when and if they don’t work out or if they fail to do exactly what one wants to accomplish in using them.
Though some of these plug-ins are simplicity itself to setup and use, others take a level of understanding that is akin to that of figuring out the whole WordPress-SQL-Theme/Template system in the first place. Most of the instructions, when there are any, are not written for beginners but for those who have some experience in website administration at the very least. Still “. . . Perseverance Pays,” as the I Ching tells us!
Play around with this stuff long enough, try as many different approaches as you can think of, go to the authors for as much support as you can get, and you will come up with a site that is pretty, fast, capable, informative, and feature rich. It is probably not as difficult as I am making it sound here. It might just be a case of my being too close to it all – but that is how one builds a website.
And if you can’t build a website structure-by-structure, page-by-page, then you probably should go ahead and fork over the bucks to a professional web developer because, if not, you either won’t get one built, or you’ll have something that is a candidate for The 25 Worst WebSites Ever!