Why I’m Leaving WordPress for VuePress

I really do love Wordpress. It’s been my go-to solution for more than a decade — ever since I switched from MacGyver-ing PHPBB into a website CMS. I originally switched because it was simple, fast, and reliable. But change is inevitable and I’m moving on to (hopefully) greener pastures…

VuePress is a static site generator born from the need to document VueJS, a JavaScript front-end framework similar to React or Angular. VuePress is not a Wordpress theme or competitor, it does not intend to be the king slayer. However, that doesn’t stop it from being a viable alternative for low-maintenance, static websites like a homepage or a blog.

I toiled with the idea of uprooting what’s become reflex for me, using WordPress for my personal blogging space, hosted on a variety of platforms over the year — most recently a Digital Ocean droplet. But the more I thought about changing to VuePress the more it made sense and the more it excited me.

So why am I choosing to move on? For those wanting the tl;dr…

VuePress is a cheaper solution that lets me focus on content over administration in a no-frills secure workflow where I own all the content, as well as scratching the occasional creative itch pretending to be a web designer

For everybody else, let’s dive into it.

WordPress is Bloated

If you’ve managed WordPress sites for any length of time you’ve gone back and forth like a pendulum loading up plugins and stripping them away when your site slows to a crawl or just straight up breaks. There’s a reason WordPress accounts for over 25% of the Internet. It’s flexible and scalable, but it’s also evolved tremendously since its early years.

I’m tired of the increasingly tedious configuration necessary for WordPress… Finding plugins that work with each other, needing to fill out ten different SEO sections, dealing with a quirky builder (Classic…Gutenberg…premium frameworks, I mean all of them)… Most of my time wasn’t spent on content, it was being an admin or struggling with formatting.

I don’t need any aspect of user management beyond myself. I don’t have aspirations of building a user base or having multiple authors/contributors on my site — it’s just for me to write and others to view.

Modifying VuePress is Easier than WordPress

I do still enjoy coding, but the level of knowledge to intelligently modify WordPress is high, at least for me. VuePress is modular and light-weight meaning I bite off what I can chew. Plus, what I’m modifying is my actual theme or configuration as opposed to tinkering with a WordPress builder or plugin settings.

It scratches the intellectual curiosity itch for me. I don’t particularly care about having a beautiful site anymore. Most viewing is done on mobile and it’s more important to be clean than majestic. I can template a single component as opposed to building an entire theme. I write in Markdown instead of a visual editor. All of it is a step down in complexity and a step forward in readability.

I Get to Save Money

The annual expenses for my personal site are normally around $150/year. That’s broken down into domain registration ($15), hosting ($50–$100), and premium plugins/themes ($50). The beauty of migrating to VuePress is that the only cost moving forward is the domain registration! VuePress is free to use, as is WordPress, but I won’t need hosting anymore thanks to an amazing product called Netlify and I won’t need premium plugins/themes.

Now there is a downside in that I lose some flexibility. There isn’t a booming marketplace to help me super customize the layout making my site fabulous, but I’m not trying to wow anybody with glitz and glamour. I can’t host other things easily on my personal domain, but I don’t really use it for much besides WordPress. Ultimately the majority of my spending was on nice-to-haves and not need-to-haves.

Streamlined Modern Workflow

Netlify will be taking over hosting responsibilities for my site, but that’s only part of the equation. To be more precise, Netlify will be responsible for the deployment of my site while GitHub manages the content and I update from a local code editor. So the way my new workflow goes is that I will write a new file for my blog that is a simple header followed by the actual blog content. Once completed I will push the article to GitHub and then Netlify takes over and updates my site.

If you’re used to mysite.com/wp-admin/ then the aforementioned may sound like it’s a step in the wrong direction, but rest assured it isn’t. Creating locally means no more slow Internet at the local coffee shop. No more waiting to upload media files and deal with Save Draft > Preview. Not to mention migrations… Oy vey, have you ever had to migrate posts from one site to another or worse, one post builder to another?

Now I get to write and just write. When an article is done, type in three simple commands and the rest is automagical. My content is backed up and versioned through GitHub, each piece of content is a literal file meaning I own my data, not a MySQL dB with tables upon tables, and the static files are super SEO-friendly.

It’s Shiny and New

I’m not gonna lie to you, the fact that every VuePress tutorial I’ve found so far has been published in 2018 is exciting to me. We’re in the infancy of this new static site generator and like I moved on from the status quo for WordPress I feel like it’s time I do the same away from WordPress. Do I have aspirations of being a VuePress guru? Nope. However, I do want to get in as an early adopter so it’s easier for my knowledge to grow with the platform as opposed to climbing an established mountain.

There’s also something to be said for a new product having the lessons learned from its predecessors without all the architectural baggage of a system that while having evolved over the past 15 years still has its roots in 2003.

If you’re considering using VuePress for any sort of static site I highly recommend you give it a try. It took me a day of tinkering with everything and reading some tutorials, but the maiden voyage of setting up the workflow took under an hour. I don’t have before and after picks yet…I’ll be writing a follow-up article on how I migrate my content. I don’t know if I want to do it manually via copy/paste for each article or if I can find a way to migrate the existing content programatically.

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