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.

Technology is often best learnt 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.