The Wonderful World Of WordPress Wizardry For Working With Websites

A month ago I flipped back from Jekyll to WordPress and nobody noticed. That, my friends, is how performant WordPress can be.

Back in early December I switched from WordPress to Jekyll. Since then I went all in on the whole static site generator bandwagon and life was good. However, the writing workflow I had with Jekyll was a little convoluted.

I had to faff around with optimising images so they weren’t massive. I also had to use quite a lot of HTML in every post; that’s because Markdown doesn’t account for a lot of HTML elements.

Working with drafts was probably the most frustrating thing though, as they had to be moved into a separate directory. The post’s filename also needed to have the published date in it, so I couldn’t just create the file and forget about it.

Accumulate this all together and the process became a little frustrating to deal with.

I also found that I was still pissing around with the code, if not more so than when on WordPress. So I sat back and had a think – I’m still pissing about with my site’s code, but by using Jekyll the process of producing content was slightly more convoluted. So why not just move back to WordPress?

Switching back to WordPress

On 04th February I flipped back to WordPress from Jekyll. This was relatively simple to do, as my guestbook was already running WordPress and used a theme that look exactly like the theme on my Jekyll site.

So, I restored a backup of my WordPress site from before the switch to Jekyll, so I had most of my content ready. I then dumped any posts I had made with Jekyll back into WordPress, and I was done. After an hour or so of work, I updated the DNS to point to my server…

And no-one even noticed!

Well, that’s not strictly true. A couple of people noticed, but over the course of the month, I even had 2 emails from readers who commented on how performant my site was and how awesome static site generators like Jekyll are for this.

I have to say, those 2 emails really gave me a giggle as it proves that a well optimised WordPress site can be just as performant in the real world as a static site.

What’s next?

Well, I’m really happy with how my site looks at the moment. I’m so proud of the theme I’ve built, but I’m still pissing about with things too much.

So I’m considering ditching my custom theme all together and using the official WordPress Twenty TwentyOne theme, then changing my theme every year when the WP team release their latest theme.

I think this might do two things for me:

  1. It will stop me pissing around because I didn’t build the theme.
  2. I will change the look of my site every year, so it stays contemporary and (hopefully) satisfies my need for constant change.

It will also mean that my site will be running stock WordPress and therefore will have no compatibility issues to contend with as WordPress evolves.

I’m not sure if I’m going to do this though, as I really like my current theme. So over the next few days I’ll spin up a test site and start playing with the Twenty TwentyOne theme to see if I can get on with it.

Conclusion

I’m really happy to be back on WordPress. I know, I know, I need to stop fiddling with this site – but I love playing around with this stuff and WordPress has such a special place in my heart.

I’ve also seen a couple of people flip over from SSGs to WordPress recently too. These folks include the amazing Ru Singh, everyone’s favourite WordPress geek, Chris Wiegman & my fediverse pal, Jamie Adams. It’s nice to see that I’m not alone in my love of WordPress.

Before I leave you fine people, I just want to make one thing clear – there was nothing inherently wrong with Jekyll. I actually still use it on a number of sites including The 512KB Club, Simple.css and my newsletter, The Meta Letter.

I have no plans to stop using Jekyll for these sites – as it’s great for these simple sites. But I produce a lot of content on this site and WordPress just makes more sense, I think.