About WordStamped

WordStamped is a documented "follow along" project where I record what I know about using WordPress to build websites and blogs. After stumbling around with free WordPress themes for a time, I eventually focussed on building sites using the Genesis Framework.

Gutenberg Changed Everything

For years, I was deeply embedded in Genesis and relied heavily on their excellent theme framework and any number of child WordPress themes. When Automattic announced Gutenberg, it became clear to me that WordPress themes would soon no longer be a thing and that Genesis would one day give up on their child themes.

I started looking around for an alternative way to build sites with WordPress while still embracing the new Gutenberg core spirit that now defines WordPress. I wanted to find a tool that didn't rely on themes, given that I was sure themes were dying, but nothing was forthcoming. Then I found the site builder called Oxygen.

I may have been right about the future of WordPress themes (as in they don't have one) because StudioPress appear to now be placing a significant portion of their engineering effort into Genesis Pro. Genesis Pro is a plugin for building whole sites using Gutenberg blocks. But then you can still buy Genesis themes - they haven't stopped selling them.

But How Should You Proceed?

It's a time of flux - things are not yet settled. There are lots of choices available to you regarding WordPress. There's so much choice it could be confusing. If you are in two minds about what to use to get started with WordPress then here's a very short summary of the most popular options:

WordPress Themes?

In this case you pick a theme that most appeals to you visually and functionally, and you add content. When I used WordPress themes, I used the Genesis Framework plus a Genesis Child Theme. But there are thousands of other WordPress themes you can use including loads of free ones.

A free theme is the answer if you plan to be a casual WordPress site owner and want the easiest solution but not necessarily the best one. It's like picking a visual look and feel for your site (a theme) off a shelf and simply filling in the blanks (your own text, videos and images), to achieve a website.

But there's a lot more to running a WordPress site than how it looks.

Page Builders?

When you use a page builder, you start with a WordPress theme, then use the page builder to add content and optionally control the way the theme looks too.

  • Elementor (every non-technical person's favourite)
  • Beaver Builder (lighter weight results than Elementor and a favourite with many)

Whole Site Builders?

  • Oxygen (my favourite - the only visual tool that makes sense to me in the new Gutenberg climate)
  • Genesis Pro (not sure at this point as I haven't used it)

There are many other solutions open to you, but those are the ones I believe to be the most popular. I am sticking with Oxygen for now although at some point I will explore Genesis Pro. However it is quite expensive, and if you have already spent a fortune on Genesis in the past it might feel like a bridge too far.

Oxygen Pluses - Or Why Did I Choose Oxygen?

  • Currently the pricing is very reasonable and you can still get their lifetime offer. I don't know how long that offer will last. No-one outside the Oxygen development team knows.
  • Oxygen dispenses with WordPress themes.
  • Oxygen is not a page builder - rather it's a site builder so you are not constantly hacking or fighting a theme, to achieve the look you need
  • For experienced WordPress people, Oxygen allows you as much access to the code as you want
  • For beginners it also works as much is achievable visually, but at the same time, it does not try to dumb things down or hide the bitter truth
  • You can do almost anything with it
  • It is can produce very lean WordPress sites compared to other builders
  • Honestly - it's like a dream and keeps getting better.

Oxygen Minuses

  • Some people complain about bugs. There are a lot of reported bugs and feature requests but I rarely experience an actual bug. I suspect the reason for this is that I know when I'm expecting too much. Some users don't. If you avoid doing really dumb things, Oxygen works pretty well.
  • Oxygen needs to catch up on the mobile first approach to web site development. The way I deal with this is to build simple sites. I.e as if they were styled for mobile in the first place. I make them as lightweight and un-funkadelic as possible. This approach won't suit you if you like fancy stuff on your fancy stuff, but it suits me.
  • Oxygen doesn't work with some plugins - the sort of plugins that expect a theme to be present (e.g Sliced Invoices). There are ways around this and maybe one day the Oxygen team will build those ways into the Oxygen core.

WordStamped Is Mostly Aimed At Bloggers

My plan is to concentrate on writing about the building of sites that are destined to be blogs, rather than traditional small business sites. Although much of what I write will be applicable to both types of site. This will be especially so if content writing (or blogging) is part of your plan to build traffic to a small business website.

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