Last week, I debuted the new version of my website.
In the introductory post, I mentioned leaving WordPress after two years and creating a new website here on Wix. This week, I want to break down some of my reasons for the move. It was not a decision I took lightly and one I spent deliberating over for several weeks before making the commitment.
Disclaimer | This post contains my opinions derived from my own experiences with using the platforms mentioned throughout. I cannot speak for every user of either.
Let's dive in.
Why I Started On WordPress
I started my blog in 2018 a few months after graduating from college. At the time, I had just reached the end of a seasonal retail job and was looking for something to keep myself busy while searching for the next thing. I was looking into establishing the beginnings of my platform as an author even though I was still a good ways away from setting out to publish any of my fiction, the idea inspired by a conversation with a coworker asking if I already had a website after catching me scribbling some book-related notes down on my break.
Starting in my junior year of college, I joined the student newspaper as a copy editor. In addition to the print version, we also ran a website via WordPress, which acquainted me with the platform. This familiarity was a factor in my choosing it as my platform when I decided to launch a blog because between finagling with the website's appearance and various elements, prepping articles, and life in general, having to learn a completely new system was not something I wanted to subject myself to.
However, this level of comfort would not last.
Why I Left WordPress
In the summer of 2020, WordPress rolled out its new editor system. In doing so, the Classic Editor was completely eliminated and replaced with a system of blocking. While this new system was first introduced a while before, it had been optional. Popups sometimes encouraged experimenting with the new editor, but switching back to the Classic mode was always possible.
At the time of writing this, it is the only option when starting up a new post other than coding with HTML, which seems even more intimidating.
To me, this seemed to be inspired by printing presses (something I would venture to say I'm highly familiar as a result the research I did for Bound to the Heart), as the blocks can be moved around as one would move text in the galley when setting up the press. Hence its being called the Gutenberg Editor.
However, it also seemed very convoluted and had me feeling as though I were just left to flounder after having this new system dumped on me.
I struggled to adjust to the new system, finding difficulty in accomplishing the simplest of tasks like moving segments of a sentence within a paragraph or linking to my own articles. Bullet points were beyond me. I couldn't manipulate the text as I needed to. Headers were a pain to deal with. Pasting in my signature at the end of every post was a hassle and the size was never consistent despite copying it directly from something I had published when the Classic mode was still accessible. It took me a long time to figure out how to schedule posts in advance.
So many of the formatting options I needed at my fingertips were no longer available.
For a number of posts, I resorted to writing them in the WordPress app on my tablet, but that was not ideal for instances where I needed to link sources such as my article on hirsutism where referencing medical journals and other legitimate sources was vital.
It was starting to become more trouble than it was worth, even with the help of various online tutorials.
I gave it a couple of weeks on the chance the Classic editor was reinstated or the blocking system was modified to be more beginner-friendly, but no changes came.
Between that and the expiration of my paid membership drawing near, I took that as a sign to explore other options for my blog.
Speaking of paid memberships, I did come across the plugin feature that, "restores the previous ('classic') WordPress editor and the 'Edit Post" screen,' doing away with the new Gutenberg system.
However, the glaring issue with this is the fact that in order to use this or any other plugin, a Business plan is required. While you can start your site for free, WordPress only offers a handful of features. The bare minimum to get going. Things like a custom domain name (AvrilMarieAalund.com compared to AvrilMarieAalund.wordpress.com) or premium themes require paid memberships.
Full disclosure, when I started my blog on WordPress, I was fresh out of college and my mom assisted with funding the endeavor because of the cost. After extensively looking through the features of each membership level, we settled on Premium, the second-lowest paid tier.
I'm writing this post in 2020, and the Premium membership is listed at $8/mo billed annually at $96/yr.
WordPress's Business plan is $300 annually. Therefore, having access to the Classic Editor plugin and all others comes with a price tag almost thrice as much as the Premium plan.
While having the option to switch back to the Classic Editor is still, in fact, an option, that option is not accessible to everyone. Discovering this was just another layer of frustration. As much as I love the old system, I am not at a point in my life or writing career where I can feasibly afford the upgrade.
Full disclosure, I shifted to Wix when there was a sale on paid memberships and went 50/50 with my mother in purchasing my Premium plan.
In researching alternatives, Wix was a contender for me right out of the gate, though I also considered Squarespace.
The thing that drew me to Wix was the flexibility. While Wix does have a number of templates like WordPress, they are far easier to customize. WordPress's templates are fairly rigid. Things go where they are put and that's that. There is the option of uploading custom layouts and the like, but that requires a more expensive membership plan.
Early on, this wasn't too big of a deal to me, though in retrospect it did limit me in some capacity. When I was browsing templates, I always had to switch on filters that would only show templates that allowed custom backgrounds and banners so I could have my parchment theme consistent.
When I started to dip my toes into Wix, realizing how much I could alter and adjust was honestly delightful, that feeling of opening a door I didn't even know was there. Being able to position things just so, to have more interactive elements on my homepage, and, gave me a stronger sense of being in control than I ever had with WordPress.
It finally feels like my website is my website.
I'm also making notes of features I don't have use for yet but cannot wait to include.
Also GIFs. Because who doesn't love GIFs?
More time than I want to admit was spent adding GIFs to existing posts. Because I can now.
Not that I couldn't with WordPress, but it was not nearly as easy as Wix makes it.
As I said last week, I am excited about these changes to my platform. I'll be getting back to more writing-centric posts in the coming weeks, including my revised editing system and my experiences with writing a novel nonsequentially.
In the meantime, I invite you to explore the site and stay a while!