Jargon buster: by a Content Management System (CMS) I mean software that allows creativity, simplifies getting articles or pictures online, and organises content appropriately. For example, this article has its own page but an excerpt also appeared at the top of the home page when it was written. This is so visitors see my latest article first. When I write another article the previous article excerpt disappears from the home page but the title appears in a list further down. So the home page always has a list of article titles that are linked to the full articles — so people can browse what I’ve written and read them if they wish.
I chose to do it this way for simplicity, but there are many ways to manage content from the very simple blog to the highly sophisticated and complex corporate website.
Textpattern C M S
When I first started playing around with websites over 15 years ago there weren’t many CMS around. I tried three or four and found Textpattern to be the easiest to understand and the least complicated to use. There are now scores of CMS. One of them, WordPress, started around the same time as Textpattern but I found it nerdish and complicated. I love the simple life! Someone bankrolled WP and it has gone on to be the most used CMS in the world. That doesn’t mean it’s the best — perhaps it is for some people’s needs but it certainly isn’t for mine.
Textpattern has stayed simple and easy to use throughout, is small and lightweight in storage and bandwidth terms and is very fast. That makes it great for SEO which is needed for a website to be found in search results.
There are other CMS around that are also simple but Textpattern has the advantage of a great forum of experienced users and developers who are the most responsive I’ve seen on any forum. They give great advice and often go to great lengths — they love their software so much. They aren’t in it for world domination or even for profit so will tell you if Textpattern is not right for your particular needs. It is suited to many kinds of website but doesn’t have all the fancy features or non-essential extras of WordPress, and doesn’t have all its problems either. For some beautiful examples of sites built with Textpattern by professionals, have a look here.
Good for me. Good for you too?
I tried to learn programming but failed because I just don’t have the right kind of brain for it I think. But I managed to learn the basics of HTML and CSS (which seem to me more like an extension of the English language rather than a computer language) and I use these on my websites to adjust Textpattern to my needs. Textpattern has no tight constraints that are imposed by many CMS templates and here are some websites I’ve built showing that even I can build variety into my sites:
If you just want a platform to put the world to rights or spread a little love around, Textpattern default template is ready to go straight after the easy installation. It’s designed to put writing as the priority and adapts to different devices and screen sizes (aka responsive) so your audience will have no problem reading your masterpieces. It also uses a grey colour scheme so there’s nothing to distract your audience from your words.
If you want to change the colours, you can learn the CSS you need in a few minutes, and a few more minutes to alter the Textpattern default CSS to your needs. I mean that literally — to find the CSS for all the colours and apply them takes just a few minutes.
If you want to change the order of content on the home page, just ask in the forum and you’ll soon get the hang of how to alter one or two things to get your required result.
With my allergy to programming, if I can learn basic CSS and HTML in a few days, then so can anyone in my humble opinion. You will then find Textpattern to be a very useful tool for yourself and your family. If the thought of CSS and HTML puts you off, then you may be best looking for a template elsewhere. But if you’re prepared to learn a bit or perhaps have a knack for coding, then Textpattern is ideal because you can bend it, shape it, anyway you want it. The only limit becomes your own imagination and vision.