Ok so I have watched a few videos but it seams like the WordPress templates they are using are more geared to businesses, I know you can customize them a bunch but just wondering if there is one template that is better for blogging and if so what is it called?
It's not free, I believe it was about $79 when I bought it but that was a few years back.
Also this is a theme which means you load wordpress then you install the theme.
Now you already have a website. You know you could just install WP in a subdomain... www.yourdomain.com/blog
You create a folder called blog and install WP there.
If your website and domain have been there for some length of time you dont want to scrap it and break all the links that Google has already for you.
Before you tear anything down you need to plan it out.
I was going to try and make my website responsive, the program I use to build it doesn’t do that, but after thinking about it I do have a blog on blogger I think I will link to that from my web site and just try and make the website as user friendly as I can and go from there, as for google links that was the web site I used for my portrait/wedding business which is gone now so for the last few months I have been playing with it so most of the links associated with it are for that business.
I know, you mentioned that earlier, that's why i have been looking for a responsive theme to plug into WordPress that won't take a millennium to figure out. I wonder if i should just forget about the site, cut my losses for the hosting fees and just concentrate on my blogger blog site, in the long run i might be money ahead.
You're making the assumption that you have to worry about doing something different with wordpress to make it responsive.
Whether you have jetpack do it or you find a responsive theme (I prefer the latter) all you have to do is create content...
Being responsive means when someone comes to your site on either a phone, tablet, or desktop, the theme will present the device with the correctly sized presentation...
That is all there is to "responsive".
I'm busy at work so I have to be short here...
I hope that helps
I understand what responsive is, I downloaded a website builder program as a trial that was supposed to have themes that are responsive and some that are not, I guess I was thinking the same thing applies to Wordpress, but I would imagine part of the draw to wordpress is the fact that it just works.
With the program I downloaded the responsive themes weren't all that responsive so I just wanted to make sure before going to a bunch of work building a site only to find it didn't work as advertised.
So another question if I put a sub domain folder on my website and install wordpress into that, once I have it the way I want it I am guessing I just need to move it onto the root of the website and it will be seamless, is this correct?
Silly me back in the day I had several folders up that I would link to from the main site, like seniors, brides and such never knew those were called sub domains...duh!!
You don't move it from the subdomain you just link to the blog. Yes, the links will appear seamless and if you match the blog to your site or your site to the blog everything will look great. If you want the blog as your primary site landing page then you would install it in the website root directory.
You would not be able to move it from a subdomain to the root without changing some stuff.
It's tough to give a hard and fast answer to that but if you are very detailed I recreating the same file structure you might not break all of Google links... assuming that is your goal.
But there may be an issue of where you install it. Because it make assumptions on where it is loaded and you will have to edit the wp config file so wp knows where it is operating from
This will give you an idea of how a WP install is moved from a subdomain to the root if you ever wanted to do that. Not only will you need to edit wp-config you need to worry about DB entries and .htaccess as well.
Generally speaking, If you are actually thinking of trying to transfer your existing site (without breaking links and ranks) to a Wordpress site on a subdomain and then moving it to the root (without breaking ranks and links) it's not usually a task to be undertaken by WP beginner, IMO. If you are just wanting to use WP from the subdomain that is done quite easily and your current site will be unaffected.
Yeah, unless you are good with CSS making his old site responsive may be a tough task without rebuilding it (or paying someone to do it). You can find ways to add a mobile version of the existing website but making it comprehensive would be quite a bit of work depending on the size of the site.
I agree with some of the others that the Wordpress built themes can be good and are quite customizable using CSS. I have done some pretty crazy things with Twenty Fifteen and I have also used Twenty Fourteen and Twenty Seventeen. I have tried Twenty Sixteen and will try Twenty Eighteen and Twenty Nineteen soon.
I used to use all kinds of paid and free themes prior to 2014 and for many years along the way I used Photocrati...
...but lately, I have concentrated on customizing the Wordpress built themes. Not much worry about security holes, paying for updates, the theme becoming totally obsolete, or the theme being too funky to work with a lot of plugins.
The thing is you can build some absolutely stunning websites and blogs with Wordpress. The things you can do with a Wordpress blog or site are basically limitless compared to what you can do on Blogspot when it comes to functionality, SEO, beauty, etc. etc..
Wordpress powers almost 34% of the internet and holds roughly 60% of the CMS market share and those numbers are that high for a reason. Wordpress also powers 37% of Quantcast Top 10k and 35% of the Top 100K.
".....If your website and domain have been there for some length of time you dont want to scrap it and break all the links that Google has already for you.
Before you tear anything down you need to plan it out."
There is a way in the cPanel of the server(s) I'm using and probably on all servers that host WP of transfering the files without braking the links Google or other SE's have for the respective site.
I have done this successfully, and it's not difficult - the program they are using does all the work :)
* I agree with Don that most of the templates are customizable using the CSS, and I did quite a bit of those, but in some cases, you better ask the builder of the template about specific coding - they will tell you.
** Personally, I wouldn't go and mess-up with editing the wp-config or DB entries and .htaccess... the server provider's guys or the template builders, are generally nice and will do it for you if you really need it, but simple is always better - IMO :)
I have been using Drupal and Wordpress since 2003...I used to sell domains and hosting and for a long while managed two dedicated servers that ran me as much as $500 month to host the sites I built. That's not a lot, but for a dozen or so personal photo sites it was quite a bit. In the beginning, I used Drupal and Gallery 2 exclusively, but now I use Wordpress on cheap cloud servers. I have always built my own sites and have never used blogspot or wordpress.com. I have always built Wordpress sites on my own servers and on my own domains.
As far as converting a site from an HTML site to a WordPress site on a subdomain, and then back to a root domain and not breaking links and ranks, it all depends on the complexity of the site, the existing databases, and other factors and sometimes it is done using 301's or 302's. If you have quality host that provides good support or built in options it gets a bit easier. It can be done, but if you don't know how to do it you may need to be with a decent host that feels generous with their time and support. If your site is strictly HTML with no databases then it could be done more easily than a complex site with many databases. Moving an HTML site to Wordpress on a subdomain, and then back to the root domain, is not a normal everyday course of action, as far as I know.
I have migrated complex sites from server to server and it took a lot of great level 2 and level 3 tech support, DB support, and many hours of troubleshooting (all night at times) and a ton of work to bring the sites back online.
TT sometimes they will help you if they can tell you over the phone as to how to do it. But TL is a beginner and I don't think he should do that. I can think of some better alternatives such as getting a new domain and building a new WP site. Then when he is happy just get a plugin that redirects traffic from his old domain to the new Wordpress site. Leave that in place for 5 months to a year and you will have informed Google of your new domain for all the old files and directory...
But in the end, TL will have to decide how much work he wants to take on. Not one of these ideas we've thrown his way is worth a hill of beans unless he wants to try them.
As for not wanting to tear down the links google has built I think that ship has sailed I have played around with this site so much, taken it down, changed it and put it back up, switched to a godaddy site builder deal they have realized you could not hardly customize it, took that down started a completely new look to sell something different, realized that wasn’t going to work, or be popular changed that back then looked at my site on a phone and went holy .... that ain’t going to work and here I am,!!
What I was hoping to do was be able to build the site and get it all ready to go live then put it up and go, but with WP being web based I’m just not sure that is possible which is why I had the thought of a sub domain then move it to the root.
If a person looks at my site on a phone and turned the phone horizontal you can read it just fine, but I can’t count on people wanting to do that and I have actually seen people be surprised when they found out you could actually turn your phone horizontal to get a better view of things like YouTube videos so this is where I am right now.
I worked as a mechanic with my father for 30 years just as that was going away we invented a Dutch oven lifter, and I was doing weddings and portraits I never really concentrated on selling this type of photography then things changed the patent on the lifter ran out, and we weren’t smart enough to build planed obsolescence into the lifter, the are made to last many lifetimes because of that people don’t need to replace them, then I had some health issues, spine surgery which put me out of business for a few months, and an autoimmune disease which fortunately I was able to over come, but that took its toll and now both of those businesses are gone so not having a real job I have time but getting older I would like to turn this into at least some sort of supplemental income so now I am trying to get serious about promoting!
Jeff, my two server providers have "Chats" and also they have free tutorials.
I know what you are saying and yes that is an alternative, but... there is a lot to explain here. I'll try in a few words, and I'll try to remember what I have done for several sites, but a few years ago and I'm a little in a hurry to have the dinner right now:
You (with their help) make a WP site as "temporary site". You don't need another domain, because being a temporary site, it will not be public. You build your posts/pages by copy&paste your existing pages, exactly as they are (this was a method recommended by that well known Guru at Google - I forgot his name). When everything is OK, you change the server settings and go live.
* Please don't take me wrong. I can research more about what I did but basically this is what you do. It's very similar to what you said. I don't really remember exactly what I have done, but I'll think about and get back tomorrow.
It's definitely a way that you can do it if you want to replace your existing site. If you are not replacing your existing site you don't need to go this route as you can build the site on a subdomain. It's a personal preference of mine to build sites on the live web and not on localhost, but if you want to replace a site, it's a good option.
You start by installing a local server on your machine and then you install Wordpress on the local server. You can use a default WordPress theme or a different theme. Look over the process and see if it's something you want to do.
My host does not offer built-in staging or one-click staging (yes, it can be done manually) and the tech support is beyond lousy so I usually can't trust them to do much of anything right (or timely, or free) so I avoid them. Unfortunately, they are one of the big-guys in hosting (4th largest worldwide) and the live chat is as close to worthless as it gets, tickets are slow as molasses (days and weeks slow), and once in a while phone support might get something right. My host does not allow any communication with the data center, level 2, or level 3 support, and I don't think most of the peeps you communicate with are even legit level 1. That said, I knew it would be like that going in, and I stay with them because of the price/performance of the servers and my previous experience working with servers and sites. FWIW, when I paid bigger bucks to a better company I could communicate with whatever level I needed to, including the hardware builders and the data center. I received dreamy support from them for a decade. In my case, I guess I previously got and am now getting what I paid/pay for. ;)
Staging is similar to using localhost, but it's done on your web host's server instead of your machine.
Either way, you are building a new site from the ground up and both methods allow your old site to remain live so you can copy everything to the new site. The hosts with one-click/built-in options do take some of the work and some of the need for tech support assistance out of the equation.
To avoid confusion and for the noobs --> wordpress.com (wp.com) is a place where your Wordpress site is hosted by them. Wordpress.org (wp.org) is where you get the WordPress software, themes, and plugins to use with your own web host of choice. Most folks refer to Wordpress installed on your own server as self-hosted. Wordpress.org does not do any hosting, they provide the software and information.
IMO, Wordpress.com is usually not the way to go for most folks beyond basic users. While some things could be considered easier or more convenient on Wordpress.com it comes with a bunch of limitations.
With the new "Migration" packages on both of them, you may even don't need to do anything on your own, when transferring the HTML based site to the WP platform
Personally, I have never seen a host that will migrate an HTML site from another host and then convert it to a functional Wordpress site for you. Can you direct me to the migration link or screenshot a page that says they will do that for you automatically for free?
I don't need any help. I am waiting for you to post the links to where it says they will not only migrate a site for you but they will convert an existing HTML site to a functioning Wordpress site included with the hosting/migration package.
I know of several companies that will do it for you for a fee --> but I have yet to see a host that will convert many, many pages of HTML content, images, galleries, blog posts, contact form, etc. etc. to a fully functioning WordPress site for free.
I know of methods to convert a HTML site to a Wordpress theme. I know of tools you can use to convert/import HTML data to WordPress posts etc.. I know of companies that will make your existing HTML site responsive etc.. But like I said, I don't know of a host that will convert your packed with pictures HTML site to a fully functional Wordpress site for free.
I would like to read where it says that is a service that is offered with the hosting package and I would like to see some examples of the "automatic" conversions. The last HTML site I built was probably 10 years ago or more but I have built dozens of Drupal and Wordpress sites since then and several of those were more than 4-5000 pages in size.
I have not seen it, and I can't find the information that says that it's a part of the migration/hosting packages with the companies you mentioned. I am not knocking those comapnies and I know Siteground has a good reputation.
Converting a decent size HTML site to a WordPress site usually takes a considerable amount of manual work and if a host actually does that for you, and the sites look and work good, I would like to see it in writing and in practice.
Ordinarily, the procedure(s) go something like this. (Importing just the content is easier, but to recreate the galleries, sidebars, headers, footers, and other non-text stuff and/or complex stuff is not quite as easy...and then those pesky redirects you may need.)
For some of them, it means moving from static HTML to WordPress. This can be a daunting task, but this post will attempt to explain how to do it in a few simple ways.
"With the new "Migration" packages on both of them, you may even don't need to do anything on your own, when transferring the HTML based site to the WP platform"
When someone has Siteground or Web Hosting Hub (or any other host) convert a decent sized image based HTML site to a fully functioning Wordpress site for free I would like to know about it and see some examples.
That would be impressive and I would be interested in becoming an affiliate and would be happy to recommend them. SiteGround has a good reputation but I have never heard of anyone getting that level of service for free. Methinks the statement you made may be a bit of a stretch or wishful thinking. Nothing wrong with talking up a good host as I did the same with the previous host I was with for a decade...but I did not imply they may convert an HTML site to a fully functional Wordpress site for free, or that they would do it for you.
"When someone has Siteground or Web Hosting Hub (or any other host) convert a decent sized image based HTML site to a fully functioning Wordpress site for free"
They do have some free migration services from a server to another server of WP sites. (They may have more than this now, but as I said I'm not part of them and I don't go everyday to the server to check)
At Siteground you have one free transfer (it was an offer I took advantage of about 2 years ago).
They also have a tutorial on how to do it and I migrated myself the other sites by learning what they said.
Some more years ago I migrated my whole "Web design" site which was a HTML/CSS classic site, to the WP platform on Web Hosting Hub.
As I said in the beginning of this thread, I had to copy and paste all the pages to a temporary site (directory) they made for me - of course I had to upload all the images to the server too, and more other things.
Unlike with other sites where I actually wanted to change the domain name, for this one I didn't.
* Basically and very simplistically speaking, the process is what I described up the page in this thread.
However, even though there is quite a bit of work, the whole process is not that scary and difficult as it appears to be.
- I believe that even a newbie, will be able to do it with the right guidance - it may not be completely free though.
I have done all these a while ago as I said, and if anybody will want details, I will have to take my time and remember everything - it is not something I'm doing on a daily basis.
Since I know you are into music I will show you one I am working on now. It's an old-school style photoblog...no marketing or backlinks or anything of the sort yet. I have another 2000+ images to put up but you can see the basic framework. Unfortunately, I have tool tips, related posts, and a bunch of other features turned off at the moment because I need to update PHP on the server as well as do some other work. I have done a lot of customization but it should look pretty good on desktop and mobile but you may find a niggle here or there that needs fixed. As you will see the sidebar images change when you click around but both the sidebar images and background image will be replaced when I get around to it. I quickly uploaded some images but they are a bit smaller than they should be to look great at all monitor sizes.
Not a lot of words on this one...just images of major rock and metal acts I shot with pocket cameras that I paid between $50 and a $100 for. You will see it's 1000 miles from what I have uploaded to FAA (and other sites). 🤘😈🎧
I am using an older stock WordPress theme here. I am also using infinite scroll on this site so unless you feel the need you don't have to click anything to see all of the images on desktop or mobile.
Your site scores well and is much faster than Abbie's site and the site I am building now that is linked above (which I expect to test a bit slow with a poor score at this point in development and the with super image heavy infinite scroll site design with rotating sidebar backgrounds and a full page background image).
I opened the Brave browser and visited all three sites with a fresh cache and all three sites popped open fairly quickly. FWIW, I have used Pingdom for many years and I also tested all three sites on my phone using Safari and all three loaded without too much delay.
Yes, I know site speed both on mobile and desktop is a ranking factor.
When I use Google PageSpeed Insights to check the site speed your site is faster than the site I am building and is blowing Abbie's site away according to the tests. I ran the test multiple times on each domain.
The site I linked above - 42,43,44
Abbie's site - 7,6
Your site - 76,72
My AW - 34,35
My site on FAA - 52,56
A bare default site I have with only 1 very large image and 2 posts - 69,72
IMO you *may* not need to change servers as you are doing relatively well with your image-based site. You may be able to do some more optimization (and/or reduce the number of homepage images) but if you want a significant speed increase you may need to move to an expensive dedicated server or a good VPS as you are looking fairly decent where you are at now.
The tests don't always tell the whole story as I can verify on my end by seeing all of the sites load the major elements rather quickly. Yes, I have a decent internet connection here but so do a lot of people around the world. Yes, all of the sites are different and they are serving different content.
***The big caveat is you have far fewer elements on your homepage, your homepage is much smaller in weight, and it generates far fewer requests compared to both Abbie and I.
Your site: 918KB and 36 requests
My site: 6MB and 84 requests
Abbie's site 7.2 MB and a whopping 304 requests
Would your site be significantly faster with another host in the same price range? Maybe or maybe not. ;) Scroll down when using the Pingdom link and you will see a myriad of great analytics.
FWIW, I also tested Tatiana's sites which are much lighter weight than my site and Abbie's but a little heavier than yours.
TravelArtPics.com Google PageSpeed 10,10,11 Pingdom 1.4MB with 122 requests and as expected faster than Abbie's and mine but slower than yours.
TravelWays.com Google PageSpeed 29,29,31 Pingdom 1.5MB with 86 requests and as expected faster than Abbie's and mine but slower than yours.
One other thing as those test results are reflecting complete page loads which is sometimes misleading as to how fast the visitor actually starts seeing the page content.
It would be interesting to know what type of hosting each of us is using (shared, cloud, or other) and the allocated server resources if on cloud hosting or VPS.
Edit: See my post below as I made a quick change to the donp.rocks site and reduced the load time dramatically. I also did some more speed testing on the sites talked about in this post.
We've kind of left TL in the wind on his own thread. Even though all the info is very useful as far as I'm concerned.
I use gtmetrix to measure my site speed.
I think it comes down to TL either of the following:
-learning some skills to build a WP blog website to replace his html site
-just adding a wp blog as a subdomain (doesn't solve the overall responsive issue).
-Pay someone to build it for him.
-Tatiana suggests seeing if his host will do it for free or short money.
Yeah, I probably think his best option is to use localhost our a staging site to build a completely new site as he can do it at his own leisure while learning WordPress if he doesn't want to put it on a subdomain. That would make everything responsive and it could look great. The staging site method would probably be the easier method of the two since you wouldn't need to mess with installing stuff on your own machine. The other option would be to pay someone to make his current site responsive and add Wordpress to a subdomain and make it match as best he can. There are ways to make WordPress themes from existing sites.
I made a quick change to my donp.rocks site and the speed is sweeter now and the site still looks the same.
I think I will definitely stick with my server config and host as that's a decent speed for a 2MB secure homepage, and as you can see from the D grade, I have a lot of room to improve performance. ;) The change also popped my scores on Google Page Speed Insights up a bit. I could make it faster with another quick change and the posts it's loading now are quite large, so I am thinking I could probably get the page load speed down to somewhere near 1.5 seconds. According to the GTmetrix report it's the fastest site of these even though it's the second heaviest site and not yet optimized. According to the pingdom report, it's only a touch slower than bestilled even though it's more than twice as heavy.
According to these tests, bestilled.com may be a little on the slow side for as lightweight as it is with not a lot of room for improvement without changing servers (or plans if he is on cloud hosting). That said, it is testing pretty quick but the GTmetrix scores vary quite widely when tested multiple times.
Abbie may want to think about reducing the page weight and eliminating some of those requests.
Tatiana could think about securing her sites.
Both Pingdom and GTmetrix will give different results if you run the tests multiple times and if you have a secure site make sure you test https on the GTmetrix site or it will return slower results. I noticed when running GTmetrix the reports vary widely if you run it multiple times.
FWIW, I have this site on one of my cloud servers:
6 Available CPUs
6 GB Available RAM
Dedicated IP Address
Cloudflare for SSL and some CDN.
On this server I know I can get a stripped down site to load in about 1 second or less.
Thanks for starting this thread as it encouraged me to make a quick change to this new site I am building!
Moral of this story --> if you are thinking of switching hosts and/or plans it's nice to know the performance you may get before you go to the trouble of switching. Of course server traffic and the amount of dedicated resources do come into play when running these tests as well as the number of plugins and other stuff you have installed that slows down your site.
On my group's blog: TravelArtPix.com, our fellow artists uploaded huge images... I had to go (as the time allowed) and reduce some of those sizes, but not all.
On My Travelways.com, I know that many images come from external links like not only my FAA gallery but from another site (on another server) where I store all of my pictures as well.
- I know that I had to edit a little my pages, but I have too many things I want to do in the same time...
Some widgets with links to social media can affect the speed too... I found actually tutorials and solutions on the servers I'm using - only if I had the time to do everything...
About the "security" I had no idea - Thank you for pointing that out. I will have to ask the server guys about this, sometime... :)
Just a note: I was not talking about accessing the site from here when I posted those results. I was posting the test results from companies that are well known for testing website speed. A lot of that stuff in the link you posted talks about web browsers and the computer being used which has no bearing on those results.
I have been using Pingdom for probably 10 years and they monitor sites for Spotify, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Zendesk, MailChimp, and hundreds of thousands of others for uptime and availability of their websites, applications, and servers. They perform something like 22 billion tests monthly or more.
The performance results from Pingdom basically show you exactly where your site is being slowed down. In this case, the homepage. Just test your site and scroll down to the detailed analytics. The test results shown reflect the speed of your site on your server. Again, they have nothing to do with my browser or computer.
FWIW...tons of people use Cloudflare for security (SSL) and for the CDN to speed up the sites a bit.
Thanks for watching out for me Jeff!!
It is true that just adding a blog to my existing site does nothing to fix what problems it may have, not only with being reactive but SEO i think what I am going to try and do is the local Host deal where I have time to figure it out and then upload the site ready to go.
I find it interesting that if you go to blogger.com that part of the site is purely desktop friendly and that's it, Google puts so much weight on being multi platform friendly and their own site is not.
Thanks for all of the information it is appreciated!!!
PS Just added the CF Rocket Loader, down to 2.3 seconds now. Also the pop up does not show up a second time right away. So the second test went without a hitch. GTMetrix is failing the site. I know from seeing my site loaded on someone else's tablet last night, the site is very fast.
That's the thing about my site, sometimes I get fast tests, other times it seems to take ages. Finding the true bottleneck is problematic. I notice it seems to take way longer on mobile, too. No idea what that's about.
Not too worried about reducing homepage images, I'm using lazy loading on them.
Hi all, I'm new to the group and to Fine Art America :)
This is an interesting discussion with a lot of twists and turns. Sharing my experiences, I've had a few websites over the years starting off with SmugMug, SquareSpace, and winding up with WordPress. I've come to learn that WordPress is an incredible platform from which to make a website/blog that has endless possibilities. The following link has some interesting statistics related to WordPress: https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/wordpress-statistics/
Unlike other solutions out there, WordPress does have a learning curve associated with it, but it's not insurmountable. I went from an all-in-one package like SquareSpace where SquareSpace took care of the hosting, provided bulletproof themes/templates to purchasing my own (1)Hosting, deciding on (2)WordPress and then finally choosing my own (3)Theme/plugins. Breaking the learning curve into these three areas makes it easier to understand.
You’ll find that most all the themes out there are responsive, I’m not sure that’s an issue anymore. Most of the themes will also offer some type of blogging functionality as well.
In this thread, I’ve seen a lot of discussion about website performance/speed and although I agree to some degree, I think it's far more important to continually blog quality information. My website is not the fastest, but I’m on the first page of Google and Bing (depending on the day) for my keywords. By all means, get a quality hosting service, run your website through the aforementioned analysis websites and fix any glaring errors. I think one could argue that its 25% equation, the other 75% is the consistency of blogging quality information which by default improves your SEO.
Here is my website if you’re interested. www.chicagoinphotographs.com
According to the waterfall, some of the last things to load that add about 1.9 secs to the test score at GTmetrix are your favorite icons and Pinterest. Not much you can do about Pinterest load times except eliminate it. That's the problem with these tests as often they don't tell the true story of quickly a visitor sees the major elements of a page unless you drill down. Another thing you have to consider is the load on your server due to the other accounts on it (if you are on a shared server). If the server is overloaded you site may load a bit slower. Nothing one can do about that either unless you move to dedicated, VPS, or cloud server that will dedicate you some resources (if not on one of those already).
Yeah, I know what GA is --> I just meant I can not see the underlying analytics on your account other than using PageSpeed Insights from Google and other tools like Pingdom and GTmetrix.
Popups and other similar stuff will cause some funky stats at times. FWIW, I always use rocket loader. The speed test will often show a bad grade if it determines images are not optimized and/or scaled, browser caching is not fully leveraged, and CSS is not optimized. Depending on the popup some are designed to delay, some are designed to only show once per IP visit, some are designed to show again on site exit after previously being shown, and others can be set to react in all kinds of different ways.
As far as your AW goes I did a couple of tests and saw as high as 2.7 seconds and the waterfall showed a bunch of MailChimp stuff was the slowest to load.
IMO, the AW's and Joesph's site open fairly quickly on mobile and on desktop. When looking at these tests I look at the waterfall and some other stuff before the grade. The grade is somewhat useful though as it thinks it can show you where improvements can be made, but on the AW's we don't really have much control. You could upgrade to a CF business plan and try to do some things but I don't know if it's worth it and I have not considered it for my AW.
Personally, in the past, I have used Pingdom for testing and for site speed and uptime monitoring. Of course, Cloudflare does inform you when they see your site down.
Welcome! I used to live in North Chicago, Waukegan, and down I90 a short bit in Rockford. I spent roughly 24 years in the area.
Yup, content is often king. However, as I am sure you know, good SEO and great backlinks help to crown a king. Squarespace is solid and popular with photographers, no doubt. I'm with you --> as long as your site is not snail slow, and it consistently loads, focusing on things other than squeezing a tad bit more speed out of the site are much more important. I've built dozens of Drupal and Wordpress photo sites over the years and one of them was getting as high as 450K real page views a day at its peak...content (not speed) is what made that site quite popular. It was one of my dedicated servers so it was not slow unless the server was overloaded with traffic. ;)
There are a gazillion themes (actually 1 gazillion, two hundred and thirty four) for Wordpress, both free and premium. For simple blogging, you might try the default themes that come with the Wordpress installation. Beyond that, a search on Google for "best free wordpress themes for blogging" will get you more results than you need.