You Get What You Pay For

3580748194_9002a9781b_oLast night I downloaded some free WordPress themes in hopes of finding one for another blog I’m starting. I drafted my first post, then started trying out some different looks.

I looked at full-size previews for each of them. Some were artistic and colorful, others were sparse and clean.

None of them worked when I loaded them up. The padding was off, there wasn’t enough contrast between the text and the background, the widgets were in awful places and couldn’t be moved without delving deep into the CSS.

I found one that works for now, but I won’t really be happy until I design my own.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nohodamon/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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First, RTFM!

Read the MANual Recently I was fumbling around with working on some WordPress settings for a friend’s website. I have a basic understanding of how WordPress works and is configured, so I thought I would be able to play a little and get the desired result.

I had an elaborate plan to run some tests on a sandbox server. It involved backups of the database, extensive use of a text editor, messing with some settings in various .php files, and seeing what happened. When I broke it, I would just restore the backup and try again.

I was about to start, then I thought, “Maybe I should search Google to see if any one else has done this.” The first two hits linked back to the extensive and detailed WordPress documentation.

Guess what? After a few setting changes and some work with my FTP client, it worked! Mostly. No text editor, no shell scripts, no extensive *NIX-style hacking skills.

“Wait,” you say, “did you just write mostly?” Yes, I did.

I even fixed the “mostly” by–GASP–searching for my new problem. It turns out the original instructions overlooked another setting change.

The whole thing took less than 15 minutes. I learned several things about WordPress, but more importantly I learned this:

When productivity is on the line, set your pride aside and Read the Fine Manual*.

* I know, there is a more colorful interpretation for RTFM, but this is a family-friendly blog.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/publicenergy/ / CC BY-NC 2.0
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