On Wednesday’s discussion Our Love Affair With WordPress: Part 1 - A WordPress Overview, we gave you a few essential links to visit on getting intimate with WordPress. Hope you and WordPress have bonded a bit. If you have and are already convinced that blogging with WordPress is ideal for you, contact Poles Apart Design to help you get your blog up and running. Otherwise, it’s time to take a step back and review the Essentials of Blogging on WordPress. The main thing to note is that WordPress’s self-hosted blogging platform is fast, light and extremely customizable. From a theme as basic as Kubrick to one as feature rich as Revolution, you can go from creating a personal blog that is a simple log for your thoughts to a robust community or business blog with a lot of content, advanced sociability functions and seemingly endless means of categorizing and archiving all content. Remember, a blog is just a regularly updated journal or chronicle of articles and other bits of information such as images and links, published as web pages. And with WordPress, you can create many, many ways to organize, archive and display your articles and bits of information in chronological or discontinuous order. Its up to you.
So before we get into how a WordPress blog works in particular, I’m sure you’d like to know how a typical blog works in general. Well, three main aspects of a blog are: content (and how it’s organized), comments and categorizing. Of course there is more to a blog than these three things, but these three Cs are the basis of blogging.
You write a post (a blog article) and press publish in your administration area. But before you click the publish button, typically you choose a category in which you want to place the article, you give it a title, you maybe upload an image and you can style the text as you wish depending on your blog’s administration area’s blog posting options. When your blog post’s been categorized and stylized, you can click publish. When you go to the home page of your blog, like magic, your new article is there. But where exactly? Well, the most recent blog post is at the top of the page and all the other posts you’ve written follow chronologically. But how many posts follow? Well, on any given blog platform you can typically set how many posts show up on your front page. Let’s say you make it so that only 10 show on the front page. Where are the rest? Usually, there’s a link at the bottom of the page to previous posts titled something like “previous posts”, “previous entries” or “older entries”. You click on that and, badda bing badda boom, the rest of your blog posts appear. Now there are two links at the bottom or top of your screen for previous posts (assuming you have more than 20 - cause you remember you have 10 on this second page and 10 on the home page), and next posts that leads you back to the newest posts on the front page. This can go on and on depending on how many posts you have.
Now you’re probably wondering, why the hell would anyone keep clicking previous posts and next posts to see all the posts? Suppose you want to see specific posts? Well, that’s where categorizing comes in. Typically on a given blog, or a given website in general, on the left or right is a sidebar (see image above). On a blog you’ll usually find a list of categories under which the posts are filed. Remember when you created your post, typically you also click a little check box representing a given category (after you’ve created the category of course). So, when your blog is posted on your home page, not only does the post appear, but the category appears as well on the sidebar if it’s a new category you’ve just created. One nice feature of many blogs , including WordPress, is that next to the category a number can appear to show your readers how many blog posts are currently in that category. Categories can be displayed in alphabetical (ascending or descending) order if you wish. Categories can also be displayed in tag clouds.
Again, to go back to writing a blog post. Some blog platforms like WordPress and Blogger.com allows you to install third party plugins like those for del.icio.us and Technorati or just those that use your blog’s categories (or create your own scripts) to to put a tag cloud on your blog. Tag clouds are basically a list of your category or tags (keywords you give each post) organized randomly and where the most popular category or tags (the ones with the most posts) are display with a bigger font than the least popular ones. Of course there are many ways to display a tag cloud depending on your technical skills and patience.
One more thing about categorizing. After creating many posts and categorizing over the course of a few months, good archiving becomes a priority. Archiving posts on a blog usually means you have a separate page that indexes all your blogs, usually by month. There are many ways and many plugins to use to create better archiving systems that make it easier for you and your blog readers to find certain posts. Our favorite here at Poles Apart Design is Clean Archives from Geek With a Laptop. You can view Poles Apart Design Blog archives page to see it in action. Or visit The Lone’s archive page (a Poles Apart Design project). Archiving is somethingyou should think about at the beginning design and development stages when creating your blog.
Being that blogs are for socializing and making your opinions heard, commenting is a typical feature on a blog. Basically, you write a post, someone reads and if they have some response to what you wrote, they fill out a comment form usually at the end of the post. Some blogs are set up so the comment gets posted to the site automatically, but many blogs have it set up (wisely so) so that the blog author or moderator reviews the comment first before it’s accepted. As the blog owner, usually your a notice via email is sent to you when a comment is made. Of course, sometimes you just want to write your little heart away and you don’t want no back talk from nobody (yeah, I know that ain’t no good English). Anyway, most blog administration areas give you the option of turning off commenting post by post or for the entire blog. WordPress and Blogger lets you do it post by post through its admin area. Also, you can simply delete the comments code bit from your self-hosted blog if you don’t want no stinkin’ commenting on your blog at all.
So, we learned that content, categorizing and commenting are three essentials for blogging. It’s really important that you think over these three elements before designing your self-hosted blog or even publishing your hosted blog. What content you want to have on your blog, how you categorize your content and whether you decide to allow comments should be the first thoughts when deciding to get a blog.
On Monday, we’ll continue Our Love Affair With WordPress. Part 3 - Your Blog Content, will cover content: what it could be, where to find it and how to develop and organize it.