Interview with Marci Koski: Fish Biologist

Marci.Marci is an extraordinary women who I had the pleasure of meeting when I began doing a web project for her in Drupal last quarter. Her main site is marcilicious.com.

Marci has an interesting background from cartoonist, belly dancer, roller derby to her current job as a fish biologist. She is also madly in love with cats. Her fascination with Drupal was prominent in our discussions, so it came to my surprise that she was a WordPress user. Coming from the Drupal field I found cat fandom a common trait among WordPress users.

Marci is new to WordPress, giving us a great opportunity to talk about it from the perspective of someone familiar with blogging and web publishing on other platforms who is new to WordPress, specifically WordPress.com.

How long have you been using WordPress.com?

I’ve been using WordPress.com only this year. Previous to that, I’d been using Blogger since July 8, 2005.

What did you originally start it for? Elaborate on the what?

I originally started my personal blog on Blogger back in 2005. I just wanted to have a way to keep in touch with friends and family, and to exercise my writing chops.

What do you use WordPress for?

I gave my blog a complete makeover this past January, at which time I switched to WordPress; my blog had gotten stale, and instead of just “updates” I wanted to do more regular, creative writing – essays, memoirs, etc. and connect with the blogging community. It’s still a personal blog, but with more content and regular posts

How often do you post and what do you post about mainly?

I’ve been posting pretty regularly; 4-5 times per week. It’s mostly personal observations, random thoughts, and reflections. During the past month, I’ve been doing WordPress’ “Zero to Hero” program, which is a 30 day “course” with daily exercises. Some of the exercises require posts, others are about blog design and interacting with the rest of the blogging community. I like it – it keeps me motivated to write and interact.

I know you have used blogger and I have turned you onto Drupal. How do you compare them to WordPress.com?

Blogger was nice because it was completely free, and was run through Google, which manages almost all my other online apps. I liked that you could easily change the layout and components (widgets, etc.) of any template you chose. However, the various “looks” of the templates weren’t that great, and I wanted something entirely new. And really, Blogger is just for blogs. They look like blogs, and you can’t really make them look like a regular website.

I think WordPress.com templates look a lot more modern and clean, but the drawback is that if you want to be able to customize anything, you have to pay (it’s not very cheap, either) [Editor's Note: This applies to WordPress.com only, though many WordPress Themes on WordPress.com do allow customization without cost]. Additionally, the template layouts are not very customizable, and there’s more of a reliance of CSS to be able to changes things (which I don’t really know anything about). However, WordPress, in general, looks very clean and it’s pretty easy to use. Additionally, with WordPress, you can have a static front page, which will make your site resemble more of an actual website and less like a blog.

I have no blogging experience with Drupal, but, as you know, I’ve been using it for managing a website. I don’t find it to be all that intuitive, and basic customization and formatting changes seem to require a bit of knowledge about HTML, PHP, and CSS. So, I can do some basic editing, but I am pretty lost when it comes to stylistic changes for the Drupal website (I need to spend more time learning about the programming aspects).

What do you find hardest about it?

I wish that the WordPress Themes were a little easier to customize; for example, on some WordPress Themes, you can’t have widgets anywhere other than on the sidebar. Additionally, there are many widgets that worked with Blogger but that don’t work with WordPress, and the widget options are somewhat more limited in WordPress in general, depending upon what feature you miss from Google Blogger.

What do you find easiest about it?

Marci:WordPress is fairly intuitive in terms of writing, formatting and publishing posts, and overall site design. It is better than Blogger in that some of the formatting quirks are not a problem (spacing, photo borders, photo alignment, etc.) and you can use different post formats. With little effort, you can have a modern, clean site that is organized just the way you want it. I like that you can have multiple pages, with a static page as your front page.

Thanks for the interview, Marci. You set an example for all of us.

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