With one-click wordpress installs on a bunch of domains and a few different hosts, I started experimenting with different themes, site builders, and pre-packaged fancy stuff over the past couple of years.

What have I learned? Well ... for now it's better to just stick with a couple of simple things and one premium-ish doohickie (elegant themes: Divi).

It's unmanageable and hard to keep track of all of this stuff AND I've noticed these sites (with hardly any content on them) sometimes load REALLLLLLY SLOWLY. I don't have time to keep track of all of it and troubleshoot and add back in one at a time SO for now when I don't have time to play around with all of them, I'm just deactivating all that stuff.

A lot of the stuff has promise and I want to play around with it (AI, SEO, etc.) but honestly most of it just seems to be slowing stuff down, doesn't play well with each other, and/or are full of upsells (which I'm open to IF I were actually using them and sure that they work).

Like, I'm suspicious even of the SUPER CACHE whateverish plugin that is often pre-checked to auto-install. I'm not seeing any evidence it speeds anything up, and more often seems to be the culprit in making it nuisances from an admin and author perspective.

Playing around with different premium themes and precursors to premium themes started out sort of fun, but I can't keep track of them, nor can I afford to upgrade all of the ones I've fiddled with. Elegant Themes and Divi aren't perfect, but I already have been paying for it and am grandfathered in to an affordable yearly subscription, and I'm more familiar with its benefits and clunks. With their new-ish cloud feature it makes sense to use my own builds and customizations, and/or enjoy the things that wordpress' block editor does itself.

The theme I'm replacing on one site (ILL) with Divi is MELOS. I'm not sure if what I've been disliking is the theme, or the BoldGrid Builder that was suggested / sold to me by the host (I can't keep it all straight), or one of the other super-features.

There've been so many advancements for blogging and site-building and WordPress as CMS since I began on blogger in 2001 that it's been worth it to experiment, but I think I'm at the point now of narrowing things down and standardizing for awhile.

With 101 websites as a goal

  • simplification and standardization are essential: stick with one theme and plugins you're actually using and have mastered before trying out anything new.
  • I'm stepping back to focus FIRST on filling out sites with (written) CONTENT and posts on dozens of sites that aren't ready for visitors yet so aren't in need of fancy design or bells and whistles.
  • Putting content first has made me realize I need to amass a lot of posts FIRST before committing to a design and homepage approach; as I stack up content the thrust and focus of the site evolves, changing a lot from my initial vision, or at least clarifying what the strengths are in the beginning stages and that more work needs to be done to realize the grander goal.