This blog uses WordPress, which I think is a very good blogging platform. It’s not perfect, but it’s good.
Where Is Basil? also uses WordPress, and I’ve worked on a few other projects with it, so I’ve gained some experience.
Here are some tips that might help you if you’re starting out or thinking of switching to WordPress:
- Find a Good Theme. This is tricky because there are hundreds of them.
Find the best theme for you with a few suggestions. And dig into Lorelle on WordPress thoroughly.
- Edit Your Theme Carefully. Make changes slowly and carefully as you modify the look and style of your theme and ultimately your blog. We’ve all heard the advice, “Save often” when talking about Word files and the such…the same applies here. Don’t make 20 changes, then save and test. If something is broken, it becomes much harder to figure out.
- Create a List of Categories. Categories are a great way of organizing content, and many WordPress themes will list these in the sidebar. After you’ve created a list (and I’d recommend sticking with between 5-10), change the “Default post category” under Options->Writing. This way your #1 category (or at least one category!) will be pre-selected each time you write a post.
- Use Plugins Judiciously. Plugins are one of WordPress’s best features. There are tons of them. Plugins can be tricky because (a) you can go overboard tossing ’em in and (b) they can interfere with each other. When one plugin causes another to break it can be difficult to troubleshoot and figure it out. Use the ones that make the most sense for you.
- Change the Permalink Options. Go to Options->Permalinks. At minimum, I would recommend selecting the “date and name based” option (for search engine optimization or SEO), but you can also create a custom permalink structure that might be even better for SEO.
- Change the Size of the Post Box. This might seem minor, but I find when writing a new post that the box you’re writing in is too short. Go to Options->Writing and set the “size of the post box” to something else (I use 20 lines.)
Bonus Tip: This comes from Stephen Spencer over at Business Blog Consulting:
Archive Effectively — Rand highlights a tough balancing act: “For search traffic (particularly long tail terms), it can be best to offer the full content of every post in a category on the archive pages, but from a usability standpoint, just linking to each post is far better (possibly with a very short snippet).” I find the “Optional Excerpt” in WordPress to be invaluable for achieving this balance. The Optional Excerpt is one of the fields in the Write Post form that most bloggers ignore, but if you use it, you can code your non-permalink pages (like your category pages) to display the excerpt instead of the full post or instead of the paragraphs proceeding a “more” tag in your post copy…That gives you more flexibility to summarize and highlight particular sections or keywords from the full post.
Lorelle is all over excerpts, explaining them in great detail.
With the tips provided you should be able to get a very good WordPress blog up and running with minimal effort. Of course, if you want to radically modify a theme, do anything very specific, experiment with more complex plugins, etc. things will be trickier, take longer and require more expertise. But the basics are there…