Custom WordPress Themse - Static vs. Dynamic
Building, developing and designing websites in WordPress really causes you to have to think about things in a different way.
But it’s this different way of thinking that allows you to see the real power behind WordPress.
I could show you how to create a list in WordPress, but wouldn’t be better if you learned how to create a list, place it exactly where you want it, and then be able to recall and reuse that list any time you wanted?
That’s one of the many reasons most everyone has stopped using static web designs.
You could think of your website like a puzzle.
A static site is like one of those old wooden puzzles where everything has a place it needs to fit into. While a dynamic site has a lot of little pieces that can be used and reused to create an unlimited number of choices.
Let me try that again.
You’ve got a website with a testimonials page. You break each testimonial into its own post.
You can now have a testimonial page that shows all the testimonials for your business. At the same time you can break them into categories so each product shows the testimonial given for that particular product.
Now let’s say you also want to use them one on the contact page and two in the side bar. With WordPress all this is handled automatically.
You add the testimonial page and WordPress makes it show up everywhere
you’ve instructed it to without any more effort on your part.
When I started this lens I said that WordPress changes the way you think and here’s how.
WordPress makes you look at your content in smaller pieces.
With a static site everything is created into large chunks and since you have to manually move it around and get it into place it makes it easier to work with.
However with a dynamic site you no longer have to manually move things around so you look at your content with a thought of could I use this somewhere else on the site.
If the answer is yes then you break it into a smaller, easily reusable, chunk that stands on its own.
Why Use a CMS?
A content management is designed to help the webmaster, site owner, or employees easily add content to the website.
As WordPress laid out their content management system, trying to make it as easy as possible on the end-user, it became really easy to determine the relationship between content.
For the webmaster this means that as you tell Google where and how to assemble your content WordPress builds, creates and makes it easy for you to see the relationship of your content to one another.
An example is your putting an item into a category.
You can now easily see where the content fits into the site and WordPress now knows where and how to use that content.
If you had a small 3 page website you might be thinking do I really want to change over to a CMS?
Of course even with a three page website if you wanted to change a font, logo, background or even a phone number you would have to do it page by page.
Open the first page, click the item you want to remove, delete it, add the new item, save the page and continue to the next page.
With WordPress I can change the whole design, layout, logo, font, font colors, menu or just about anything else site wide or not with just the click of a button.
Now think about instead of a 3 page website if you had a 10, 50, 100 or even thousand page website.
With WordPress I could have half the site showing on header and the other half of the site showing another header in a matter of minutes.
Let’s say you put something in the wrong category?
On a static website you would have to go page by page changing the content and link in the side menu. With WordPress I just check the category I want it to go into and uncheck the one I do not want it in.
I’ve been messing with content management systems for the last eleven years and you can pretty much take any content management system and make it do anything you want.
As a web developer I had two problems.
I needed a system that was easy to modify. A lot of my clients wanted something that was out of the ordinary so being able to easily modify and change the system around was important.
Of course what was even more important was that it had an easy to use administration area.
I was willing to learn the backend but didn’t want to spend hours and hours on the phone explaining to a client how to do things that should be easily done with a good CMS.
I guess what I am saying is it all comes down to time. WordPress has the easiest to use backend with the easiest to modify backend and it’s the reason that I only do WordPress websites now.
Working with WordPress
The content management system I decided to stick with was the one that was the easiest to make do something it was not designed to do.
Of course when modifying anything it requires some creative thinking but WordPress makes this really easy.
What you’re trying to do is make the process of creating and designing a website as easy as possible.
Let me give you an example of this.
Let’s say you’ve got a WordPress plugin that you’re using for your FAQ page. Because the design and layout is pretty much the same you could use that same plugin for your testimonial page.
There is a need for some custom coding, add-ons, and so on but it’s a heck of a lot easier then designing a whole new CMS for every site you build.
My husband went to the store and bought an all-in-one printer. We had a scanner, printer, fax, and scanner in one.
I have to admit, it was pretty cool.
Well…that was until the switch broke. When the switch broke we lost all four. Because they were all in one each item affected the performance of the other.
This is much like the way Joomla works.
When Joomla updates their backend you could find that you have to totally redesign your website. Because everything is tied together your template may not work with the latest changes to their backend.
And if you don’t update it could become a gateway for hackers.
On the other hand WordPress is more like a guided missile, unaware of anything other than its job.
The main part of WordPress; we’ll call the worker. The worker goes to the boss (the template) and gets directions on what to do.
He then begins assembling the site and in seconds he has it online and working.
Any information is stored in the database so he’ll go there to retrieve any data he needs when assembling the page.
We have plugins that allow us to plug information into the directions and as we’ll as the database.
All this starts happening in seconds. The second you type the name of the website in the browser and hit enter your website begins grabbing stuff and putting it into place.
If you want to see a website get a different set of directions right before your eyes check out CSS Zen Garden (www.csszengarden.com).
All the content stays the same but by clicking on the links your able to change the set of directions the site is receiving.
This is really what makes WordPress so awesome.
Because everything inside WordPress works totally independent of everything else you’re able to update the worker or change the directions without it having an effect on the other parts of the site.
It seems like everything time I log into WordPress there is another update. It’s simple, you just click a button and wait a couple seconds but if you had to change the design every time there was an update, it could get costly.
Another cool feature of WordPress is their plugins.
Plugins are bits of code and images that you’re able to literally plug into your theme and database.
When you start playing with plugins you can really see your WordPress site start to come to life.
You can find plugins that will:
- Turn your site into a dating site.
- Turn your site into a classified ad site.
- Track Visitors.
- Add Google Maps.
- Add content to social media sites.
And the list goes on and on. I have no idea how many new plugins hit the market per day but I’d venture to guess that there are a lot.
People all over the internet are designing new plugins every day to meet a specific need they are having at that moment.
Code gets passed around and reused on many different plugins.
Just because the code says real estate doesn’t mean you can’t use it for a car website.
In addition to post WordPress also has pages.
The big difference in post and pages is the pages only display one page at a time where a post can display many post at the same time.
Let’s say you had a FAQ’s page. Each question and answer could be its own post but displayed as one in one post.
Every time a new set of questions arise they could easily be added to the FAQ’s page without your ever having to touch the page again.
However, your about you page will most likely rarely if ever change so it could be a page.
A post is for dynamic content and a page is for static content.
Both are dynamically created though the assembly of small chunks of code.
Although unlike post pages cannot be categorized.
You can have a page that is a sub-page of another page, but the relationship is limited. At the same time you could have a post that is included in many different categories, each displaying the content differently.
I could write a post and have it appear in several different places on the website.
The way you enter and edit content for posts and pages is pretty much identical.
If you have any questions you would like me to answer please them in the comments section and I’ll answer them in my next video.