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WordPress = Bliss: The Joy of Customization

by Tom Johnson on Jan 16, 2007
categories: technical-writing

You can choose from a variety of blogging platforms out there (Movable Type, Blogger, Vox, Live Journal, and so on), but there's something intangibly blissful about the open architecture of WordPress. You can get inside the code and customize it just how you want it to look. Of course some customizations take longer than others. And customization can be a frustrating experience. But other times it is extremely rewarding, and even blissful when done while listening to good music.

Because all the code is open, anything is possible. You are only limited by your lack of knowledge. I can sit at my computer for hours playing with WordPress, installing plugins, adjusting header images, playing with styles, adding new posts, reading the forums, and making it look just how I want it.


With the new version of Blogger, you can also now get into the code and customize your template. But it is harder to do, because the code is all compiled into one file. And Blogger lacks the abundance of open-source plugins to extend its functionality. Still, Blogger is not a bad option if you want a simple blog site and don't plan to do heavy customization. For some users, that might be preferable.

However, I find a lot of joy in WordPress. It is easier to customize than Blogger -- because its source files are separated, you can more easily tinker under the hood. And being able to extend the site's functionality with a continual supply of new plugins released by WordPress enthusiasts makes blogging more fun. You feel like you are riding the frontier of technology with WordPress.

As far as tinkering with code goes, one thing I've noticed is that as style option interfaces get more user-friendly, the code behind them gets more complicated. In this sense, usability makes code more tough to manually modify. And the interfaces never seem to offer all the options one wants! Blogger has a lot of settings that allow the user to modify the appearance of the blog without manually adjusting code -- hence its code may appear more daunting than WordPress's code.

WordPress seems to be moving in much the same direction. The Freshy theme I use for my Podcast site, Tech Writer Voices, has an array of user-friendly options to adjust the appearance of the blog.

visual interface

However, with all those options, it now becomes a bit more difficult just to do a simple thing like manually set the pages that appear in the header.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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