Tag Archives: wordpress

Under a new blog design

A detail of my new blog theme

When I started thinking about printing some new business cards last September, it also seemed a good time to refresh the design and structure of my blog.

Coming up with business cards proved quite easy. Getting original designs created for me by freelance Wellington graphic designer Luke Kelly, and taking a file to the printers couldn’t have been simpler or more rewarding. Luke’s work has attracted a lot of clucks and gabbles of content since I’ve been handing out my new cards.

Updating my blog has taken a while longer. Mostly this is because I’ve been busy so squeezed testing, tweaking and rewriting around my paid work. It’s also because of planned and unplanned interruptions, including a holiday in December and January, and then, a second big earthquake striking in Christchurch on 22 February 2011.

The quake didn’t affect me directly, but it affected my web designer Michelle Sullivan from Web Matters Ltd. She had no power, water and faced general havoc at her home. Rather than dwelling on the destruction, Michelle borrowed a workspace elsewhere and dived back into things: she was back on board for her clients on 28 February.

Even though I’m reasonably familiar with WordPress plugins, widgets and so on, I needed Michelle’s help with coding page layouts and translating scribbled notes about structure into a working website.

One of my final touches was incorporating something so visitors could get a sense of who I am (for those of you who haven’t met me in person). I opted for a caricature, produced by Nathan at CaricatureKing. My partner Roz laughed loudly when she saw the caricature. “Perhaps it might be good if you join the spy trade and would like to disguise your identity”, she jested. I prodded her back and we had an argument about artistic interpretation.

You’ll find all my existing posts and resources on the blog but with the old clutter gone, and some new ways of staying touch added. As well as standard RSS, you can now be notified of every new update by email, and you can subscribe to an email newsletter I’ll (irregularly) send out. This volume will be slight and quarterly.

I’ve done a fair amount of testing on different browsers, operating systems, etc. A few helpers have reviewed the website too. However, try as I might, I probably haven’t found every gremlin. If the website doesn’t work for you in some way, I’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch using Contact form, or the Feedback button on the right.

With my update blog now live, I’m not short of things to do: like writing new content, monitoring visitor use patterns, trialling new or updated plugins, and more promotion. For now, I’ll pause for a moment to celebrate. A big thanks to everyone who helped with this iteration of my blog. I’m looking forward to many, many blog fueled years under my new theme.

PS You’re really welcome to comment anything I write, tell a friend about my blog, help yourself to resources, suggest an idea for topics I could cover, or get in touch about my services.

WordPress for websites?

Las Vegas WordCamp logo tattoo, from vgsgeekOver the last few weeks I’ve spent some time under the hood of WordPress. I’m making some final adjustments to the updated theme on my blog. As I dig deeper, the more convinced I become about how suitable WordPress web publishing software is for running not just blogs but websites too.

The WordPress platform is now up to the 14th release (version 3.1). The constant refinements show, particularly in terms of ease of use. For instance, the old version of WordPress I’m using requires extra plugins to handle embedded media, such as slideshows or video. Now this feature is built in.

The range plugins to alter the way WordPress can be used grows daily. Membership, ecommerce,  are just two examples. You can even use a plugin to turn any WordPress post, page or site into a fully functional wiki.

Being able to customise the layout of individual pages using widgets and templates makes it easy to include information relevant to individual pages or sections.

Usability is another big plus factor. Compared with other content management systems I’ve used, I find the WordPress administration a joy to use. It’s clean and easy to find just what you need.

I shouldn’t be in any doubt about WordPress’s suitability for websites. When I talked to Jason King at the Connecting Up Australia conference in Brisbane in 2008, he trumpeted the virtues of WordPress for nonprofit websites. (If you’re interested in his list of pros, he captures this succinctly in his presentation “Using WordPress to power your non-profit website”.)

Of course, WordPress doesn’t do everything, as Pearl Bear at Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology recently pointed out. Comparing WordPress vs. Drupal …. the fight!, she says the former is well suited for blogs, community blogs and simple brochureware websites. It’s a toss-up between the two for medium or large websites with lots of content, but relatively simple organization, and community blogs with many authors and identified, authenticated users. On the other hand Drupal is suited to large community sites content created in lots of formats, (eg blogs, wikis, media releases, etc.); complex, document-heavy library sites, or sites that need document management; sites with deep integrations to CRM platforms and web services; and sites where you need to present and reuse multiple content types.

If you’re really serious about evaluating different options, you might like to take a look at the 82 page “2010 Comparing Open Source Content Management Systems: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Plone” report from Idealware. As well as information on specific platforms there’s you’ll find useful guidance on making decisions.

Even though I’m won over by the quality and flexibility of WordPress, I’d still recommend any web project start with an organisation determining it needs and goals, and only then selecting what the technology that best fits. For my blog, I’m 100% happy with WordPress.

Photo credit: vgsgeek

New Zealand community organisations WordPress websites – a short list

At the moment I’m far more aware of community organisations in New Zealand using Drupal, rather than WordPress. I’m sure to have missed a few, but some of the ones I know about include :

Do you know of any others?