Why WordPress (and why a child theme)

Maybe you know www.angelalau.net’s previous life, one that was powered by Nesta CMS. From May 2013 to the present day, I published a grand total of four blog posts. Fewer than a handful.

During that time I learned from many great talks, webcasts, meetups, and hackathons. I was inspired by many blog posts, articles, and books. I created a few things. I had a lot of material to blog about. But because I didn’t publish those blog posts, the only person who can benefit from that material is me.

And only so much benefit. A lot of my experiences in the past year and a half now feel muffled by dust. Some have lost their shape and color. Their meaning and worth to me have started to fade. They never had the chance to be viewed from angles and perspectives different from mine.

So let me be clear on the primary purpose of this site. It’s not a portfolio, especially not a gallery of complete and polished artifacts. It’s not one piece of a job or graduate school application. It’s a place where I can share and engage with kindred spirits (including future me), on my own terms.

So why WordPress?

My first website, created in 2004, was powered by b2, the predecessor of WordPress. Before my first website turned one year old, I switched to WordPress. Even back then I was not much of a blogger, but I was part of a community of people. We were interested in expressing ourselves through pixels on the Web. We collaborated and created artwork and resources for one another. And we were all learning as we went.

WordPress freed me from having to worry about basic functionality and configuration. I could spend more time experimenting with Photoshop and other graphics software, learning from other people’s experimentations, and translating PSDs into code. Most important of all, I had more time for making things with people who shared the same interests.

And why a child theme?

Until very recently, I was convinced that my website had to be of my own design. The younger me loved nothing more than to take a design from idea to Photoshop to the browser. But designing for the Web is not as simple as it was back when I only had to consider a few screen sizes and devices (just desktops, really). And I want to be part of a web community—sooner rather than later.

Plus I just don’t know what I want in a theme yet. Without much content to go on, I don’t know how the structure and tone of www.angelalau.net will evolve. I’m still trying to find a rhythm for blogging.

Enter Simone, a free and open-source theme designed and developed by Morten Rand-Hendriksen. It is accessibility-ready and responsive. The clean design puts the focus on the content. And it is named after French writer, philosopher, and feminist Simone de Beauvoir.

It’s a great foundation for a child theme (Morten even teaches a Lynda course on building child themes). I’ve created themes from starter themes Bones and Underscores and reviewed a theme for submission to the theme repository. After starting on my first child theme I can say with certainty that this is the best way to learn WordPress theme development at your own pace. It is also the easiest way to make a great theme your own.

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