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Bill Bennett

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Why I moved back from self-hosted to WordPress.com

In December this site moved back to WordPress.com. It was a self-hosted WordPress site for two years.

The site launched on WordPress.com. It stayed with the free hosting service for a year before switching to self-hosting.

It returned to WordPress.com because self-hosting no longer offered any return on the extra work involved.

The lure of self-hosted WordPress.org

Self-hosted WordPress is a great way to learn more about web-publishing technology.

I’m a journalist. Newspapers are the past. WordPress represents a possible future. HTML, PHP and CSS are likely more useful to the rest of my career than sharpening my typewriter skills.

Often, the best way to learn about technology is by doing.

I installed the WordPress.org software, found a local host, grabbed a domain name and built a tailored site.

Getting the site running took time and effort. I had to learn a huge amount. It was challenging and satisfying.

Learning minimalism the hard way

Self-hosted WordPress is more flexible than WordPress.com. Yet in the end, this proved unimportant.

A key lesson I learnt from my time with the hosted software was the virtues of radical simplicity. I took a minimalist approach to site design. My on-line reading experience taught me simple is good, complex is bad.

Building huge, complicated feature-rich sites is tempting. I never fell into this trap, but my site became more complex than necessary.

Apart from being harder to read. Complex pages load slowly and things – we’ll leave them unspecified for the moment – get in the way of the words.

There are also problems displaying complex web sites on smart phones.

Over time my site evolved – or should that be devolved – to a minimal format. I wanted to strip it back to focus on short, snappy stories. Self-hosted WordPress’s famous flexibility no longer mattered.

Minimal is as minimal does

Minimalism is a state of mind. I realised I could apply the same principles to managing the site. I simplified day-to-day site maintenance by leaving it all to experts. Running the site now takes considerably less energy and effort. I’m free to spend more time on writing fresh content. I can focus on the important things.

I haven’t given up on self-hosted WordPress or on learning more about the mechanics of on-line publishing, I look after a few self-hosted sites and will continue to experiment with WordPress.org, PHP and CSS. However, this one is no longer my test rig.

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