The Blog

Why you should use WordPress for your blogging platform

I first started working with WordPress about 2 years ago, when a client project I was working on required me to transfer their existing WordPress blog to a new hosting account. Which, required me to learn how easy it was to transfer the background MySQL database to the new host, change a few settings, and then test to make sure everything was working properly.

When I first started playing with that blog while testing things, I realized how much more impactful this platform was over other platforms like Blogger or Tumblr – and it all came down to the following:

1. Branding: The last thing you want when someone is at your website, is for the viewer to leave. You want to keep them there, rather than make them feel that they’ve gone “someplace else”. Sure, you can modify your template in other platforms to include your logo – but, with WordPress, you can have your web designer “reskin” the WordPress blog to look as though the viewer was actually still within your site. For example, this blog for The Design Foundry that you’re looking at is a WordPress blog, yet the rest of this website is a normal, PHP-based website.  Not to mention the issue of trying to come up with a URL name for a non-WordPress blog that matches your current URL!

2. Mobile: With the advent of the iPhone, more and more web-content, especially blogs, are now being looked at over a mobile platform. There is no guarantee of readability of your blog over mobile platforms if you’re using something like Tumblr or Blogger. Yet, with WordPress, you can download and install a free plug-in such as WP-Touch (which, allows your WordPress blog to appear in an iPhone friendly manner – but only on iPhones) – or the WordPress Mobile Edition plug in which I’ve now started using, which supports not only the iPhone, but also Android, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry platforms.

3. Plug-ins: I touched on this a moment ago under Mobile – but there are huge advantages to being able to install a plug-in for a specific need. Whether it’s to improve mobile viewing, search engine optimization, or other more specific needs – WordPress has a flexibility that other platforms are lacking in.

4. Search: First, if your current website is using Google Analytics, you can download a plug-in called Google Analyticator, that allows you to put in your Analytics code and it will track your blog under your current reporting. Second, you can download the plug-in called All-In-One-SEO – which allows you to add content for that specific blog posting making it more searchable – including Title / Description / Meta Tags. And, if your WordPress blog is part of your overall site, it may help your Google page-rank.

5. CMS: Also known as a Content Management System, a CMS is a website that you can constantly update and maintain – which is excellent for keeping things like an online calender, news & events page, or….your blog – updated easily! The WordPress platform has two parts – “Posts” (which are your regular blog entries), and “Pages” (which are basically web-pages”. If your under a tight budget constraint, or need to set up a micro-website – WordPress is a great way of doing this. With plenty of free or inexpensive “skins” (a.k.a. “Themes”) available from places like Template Monster, for around $50 – you can now have a small, inexpensive website!

6. You’re In Good Company: Sure, there are hundreds of thousands of small blogs out there using WordPress. But, some larger companies you might have heard of also use WordPress. Companies like Digg, Ford, General Electronic, Sony, People Magazine, Samsung, Playstation, New York Times,CNN, Flickr, eBay, Yahoo, and Wall Street Journal also use WordPress.

Keep in mind there are two versions of WordPress. There is the version that is like other blogs such as Blogger – that’s not what you’re looking for. You want the one where you download a file, and install it via FTP to your hosting account. You’ll also need to set up a MySQL database for WordPress on your hosting account, so you’ll want to make sure your hosting uses Linux, not Windows, and that your hosting package includes MySQL databases available. And, unless your the technical sort, you might want to have a web design company or your hosting company do your install.

Now, if you’re new to blogging, and all of this seems a bit daunting – not a problem. One of the other nice things about WordPress is it’s ability to import your content, including tags that you’ve used, when you do your first install. So, if you’re not ready to move to WordPress yet – you can either start or continue with your current platform until you’re ready, and depending on your current platform, have a very easy transition when your ready without loosing the content that you’ve already put out there.  And, feel free to contact The Design Foundry if you want to know more!

Happy Blogging!

Resources:

www.wordpress.org
www.templatemonster.com
www.semperfiwebdesign.com (All-In-One-SEO Plugin)
plugins.spiralwebconsulting.com/analyticator.html (Google Analyticator Plug-In)
crowdfavorite.com/wordpress (WordPress Mobile Edition Plug-In)

Apture – Great website plug-in

Just found this plug-in for websites & blogs – Apture. Check it out at https://www.apture.com/simplified/ – I first saw it on FlightGlobal‘s site. I like the idea of being able to quicky embed content (including Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia, etc. from within the site, and make it available without being obnoxious. And, for users who are registered Apture users, they can highight text, and have info pushed to them that’s relevant to what they just highlighted off your site’s content.

From their site’s explanation, “Automated tools or machines don’t know how to tell stories, people do. That’s why we give you the power to select the content you want from the most rich and diverse web media destinations. Express the story you want to tell with the most emotional impact.”

Gotta love modern technology!

The Design Foundry – New Fine Art Photography

One of the things I offer as part of a wide range of services with The Design Foundry, is photography services – whether for print or web.

But, I also do a bit of more “travel” oriented photography as well – stuff that is less about “business” and more about “art”.

And now, after only 10 months, I’ve finally finished putting together a small sample of photography I did last August on Maui.

So, feel free to browse the new album – and enjoy! The Design Foundry – Maui 2007 Photos

Did ya ever notice…

I was looking at a number of websites with a friend of mine this afternoon…and what amazes me is that irregardless of vertical market – how many BAD sites there are out there. Let’s face it…in today’s day & age, your website may be the first thing that people see regarding your company – and it does leave a lasting impression regarding the quality of your company, your products / services, maybe even the quality of customer service they might receive.

The sad part is – you may have the greatest stuff to offer, and you / your team would take a bullet for your customers, but that’s not how your potential customer perceives you. I blame this on a couple of things:

1. “I have a cheapo copy of this XXX version of XXX web posting software, and I can do it myself”. Brilliant. This is like buying a Ferrari, and deciding to repaint it with a spray can.

2. “I can save money by using a template I found”. OK…in this case, the graphics might be a little better. But, I find in cases like this, either the navigation throughout the site ends up being about as effective as trying to navigate the Serengeti with a map drawn by a four year old…with a crayon. And…that’s assuming that they’ve tried to match a graphical look with something relevant to what they are trying to sell.

3. “I know a guy that has built websites before”. Gee…my coworker’s kid, who is great at Nintendo, built a website, and he’ll build mine for cheap. So…you get something that looks like Napoleon Dynamite would make – between drawing “ligers”. Stop the madness before it’s too late!

I realize that these examples may seem extreme. Right up until you see sites that fit these examples. There’s a reason why you pay a little extra for a good, creative web designer. Saving a little bit of money in the short term…doesn’t pay off when it drives sales away from your business. So…how to make sure you don’t make these mistakes?

-Look at your competitors websites. Yours…has to look better, navigate better, tell the story better. Go through their sites…and make sure that you understand what works on theirs…and what doesn’t work.

-3 clicks. Remember that rule. It should take no more than 3 clicks to get to any piece of information on your site. More than that – people go away irritated. And…they don’t come back.

-Relevant content. Which goes back to the previous suggestion. If it doesn’t need to be there…don’t put it there. Think of your website like a menu. It should wet their appetite…they don’t need to know the details of how the meat was butchered. If your site visitor has to scroll down through the equivalent of “War and Peace”…they will go away…and you’ll never see them again.

-Finally – when you know what you want, know what you think it should look like, and know what content it should have – find a good web designer. Take a look at the sites they’ve created. Make sure you feel comfortable that they can bring to life, what you’ve envisioned.

And please…no sound files that scream “domination”. Yes…there is a site out there that does that. Your task…should you wish to accept it – is to find it…and leave comments here about it.