Everything Old Is New Again – Migrating to WordPress in 2022

For someone that spends a lot of time extolling the benefits of the new, I surprised even myself by signing up for a managed WordPress host and pointing this domain to it. I wish I could tell you that there was some grand insight or revelation that spurred me to this, but I’m gonna be honest — it just felt like the time is right to go backwards.

Blogs I’ve Wrote Before

I don’t get paid to extol the benefits of the Jamstack, so I won’t. Over the past four years or so, I’ve been a fairly active Hugo user for building and running several sites (opentracing.io, opentelemetry.io, and desertedisland.club), powering them all with Netlify. I feel like the biggest complaints I have are ones of imagination, however – the separation between content and display templating does make it very easy to change themes.

What I found in practice, however, is that your content and design are somewhat inexplicably linked, especially for anything more complicated than a blog. Deserted Island DevOps is a great example of this — admittedly, I didn’t build this with the expectation that it’d be around for more than one year, but I found it very difficult to actually change the design of the site year over year or meaningfully modify the site structure. Again, this isn’t necessarily due to a failure of Hugo or Jamstack; It’s just that once I got things working, I found it generally unpleasant to change.

Everything Old Is New Again

Conversely, WordPress feels like I’m stepping back in time and not always in a good way. The backend UI has a disturbing lack of roundrects or padding, the side navigation is busy (especially with any plugins installed), and the ‘helpful’ plugins added by my host have turned it into a mid-aughts nightmare of notifications, upgrade banners, and mismatched styles.

With that said, however, it pretty much just works. Nearly any feature I can think of is available through the massive library of WordPress plugins, themes are readily available and configurable, and I actually rather like the new Gutenberg editor, even if I haven’t yet plumbed the depths of what it can do.

It’s not all sunshine and roses — porting my posts from markdown has been rather unpleasant (perhaps there’s a plugin for this?), the built-in code blocks are pretty bad (there is a plugin for that), and there’s no built-in option to disable comments (again, plugins!!) which just seems inexplicable to me.

Anyway, bear with me on this journey. Semper Posts.