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Feedster Beta: Search for WordPress Blogs November 23, 2005

Posted by Leita in Internet, Wordpress.com, Wordpress.org.
3 comments

wordpress - the logo Similar to Technorati’s Claim Your Blog feature, Feedster now allows an easy way to search for WordPress blog feeds.

Follow the instructions to add yours to the pile.

  • Hint: WordPress feeds look like this: you.com/feed/

I’m adding mine right now (trying, actually.. WordPress isn’t publishing or editing at the moment and the link keeps disappearing):

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

WordPressing Ajax with BloxPress Theme November 6, 2005

Posted by Leita in CMS, Design, Internet, Wordpress.org.
2 comments

.. or rather, Ajaxing WordPress … with a theme no less!

I like to call it featureability, or futureability.. I can’t decide and should the “e” be there or not?

No matter, I almost missed this one. Posted in WordPress Planet and not quite ready for beta testing, I am hankering to play with bloxpress, a modular ajaxy WordPress theme. It sounds like a cms/ajax hybrid, something I’ve always wanted since (happily) switching from Mambo to WordPress.*

Think Google’s personalized option or Microsoft’s live.com; nothing makes me grin bigger than my cursor turning into one of those multi-directional crossy things.

The modules of a standard CMS should be mouse-moveable. So should side bar items. In fact, everything should be moveable if for no other reason than to save the general public from weekend “webmasters.”

Straight from the site, here are the goodies (source: bloxpress):

  • Complete Drag and Drop Front-end
  • Users can customize your Blog the way they like and save it.
  • Multi-site modular design (users can take custom layouts and settings everywhere)
  • Unlimited number of blocks and columns. Choose if you like to have 2, 3 or X column layout
  • Search-As-You-Type, Live Comments and on demand loading of Content (AJAX)
  • New and easy template tags to customize your BloxPress.
  • Create layouts and make them selectable to your visitors
  • Adding Blox is easy as coding. Just drop them into the folder and add them to your preset
  • Users without Javascript are served too! Fit-to-viewer, from LYNX to IE7
  • XHTML valid

That’s a lot of doodads for a theme.

* Reasons why I made the switch from Mambo to WordPress.org:

  • Faster setup (minutes instead of hours and hours and hoursszzzz…)
  • Better SEO – Don’t believe Google thinks WordPress sites get noticed faster than Mambo? Do what I did and try both with brand new domain names, identical content and see which one gets the most unique users and where they come from. It’s amazing.
  • A default Mambo is thick/heavy/overloaded for most sites. The only feature I really miss is front page management. I liked the option of not listing new content up front if I felt the site looked better if it was placed in a category.
  • Plugins galore – easy to install, easy to edit, just plain easier than futzing with components, mambots, modules and templates (although once the learning curve is crested, it does get easier and even enjoyable in a “Poking my eye with my finger feels good” kind of way.

CMS Matrix

Web Fads: The Future “Don’t” List October 15, 2005

Posted by Leita in Browsers, CMS, Design, Internet, Wordpress.com, Wordpress.org.
2 comments

Here is my list of current trends that will eventually be considered as stale as the half-eaten sandwich nestled between the sofa cushions. (Admit it, you know you have one, too.) Note: Inclusion in this list in no way means it is disliked, only that its popularity will fade.

Still popular, some even gaining momentum, they are not on their way out just yet but will be:

  1. Background images that look like your daddy’s necktie. Add a nice serif font and ta-daaa… instant credibility and a look that is either duller than dirt or a nauseating salute to magenta and chartreuse paisley.
  2. Miniscule fonts – already on the wane but still viewable on a few fancy “Made with Flash” design sites. Any font with the words “mini” in the name or comes with the disclaimer “only to be used at 8 px” should be ashamed of itself.
  3. Tables – Also on the wane, but until more of the big boys put away their layout hacks and delete their 1px transparent gifs once and for all, it stays in the Future list.
  4. Bloated CMS – The emperor’s new clothes told backwards. Plugins, modules, components, no matter what they’re called, these toys can turn the most mundane website into one that looks like it should be good. (“Look Mum, the emperor has no content!”)
  5. Invite-only sites – Did Google really start this or was it copied from someone else? Matters not, people love feeling in while throngs who aren’t fill up comment space with requests to be included in the party. Ning, Flock, Orkut, 30gigs, WordPress (cough), the concept will stick as long as it is human nature to need to feel part of an exclusive group. What will not survive is the guarantee any product using this method will automatically succeed. (Which reminds me, anyone wanting an invite to ImPress: Build Your Own Invite-Only Community can leave a comment below stating why you are interesting enough to deserve an invitation.)
  6. Ning and the inevitable Ning wannabes – Anyone can call themselves a developer, even when cloning someone else’s work. Of course, I am biting my nails waiting for the officail email telling me I can create my own.
  7. The blog look – I don’t like including this one. The birth of the blog almost single-handedly killed the old “Website In a Night” look and did the world a favor. Blogs may look cookie-cutter but at least they don’t cause epileptic fits. Sadly, the two-column header, footer, sidebar, content with shadows on the edges format will be outgrown. Let’s hope it’ll evolve into something just as visually attractive. I feel confident it will.
  8. The High Tech Interface Look – Futuristic, brushed metal design popular with gamers and teen boys (redundant, but true).
  9. Dreamweaver – (Front Page was never really in, so is not included here) As more people turn to content management and blog systems, they’re finding it is damn difficult creating a site from scratch with this fine product. WYSISYG editors will gather dust and text editors make a comeback, separating the hand-coders from the weekend warriors who pass themselves off as (cringe) webmasters.
  10. Podcasts – Does Every-freaking-body need a podcast? Does Aunt Polly’s Recipe Blog need a podcast? Of course not. Be gone!
  11. Flash ads – Sure, they look better than blinking animated gifs, but not much. No ad, no matter how well done should compete with the site’s content for attention. (See below.)
  12. LowerMyBills.com ads – (See above.) Unfortunately, I don’t really see these obnoxious boxes of animated hell going away, I just wish they would.
  13. iPod Video – After the initial crowd of gadget junkies get theirs (see #5 above, many are invite junkies, too) and then feel compelled to buy the next version that will be on the market within the next three months, they’ll tire of the novelty. “Oh, Nathan, look! I am watching fancy moving pictures while trying to answer my iPod-enabled cell phone and maneuver down a New York City street at lunchtime.” Steve Jobs will joke about these someday. We all will.
  14. Adsense – Blogs with sidebar ads that direct viewers to sites selling blogs. Unless Google improves the relationship between the page content and the ads few blogs will make enough money for a cup of Starbucks.

Best Path to SEO Success? WordPress.com/.org October 10, 2005

Posted by Leita in Internet, Wordpress.com, Wordpress.org.
2 comments

Less than a month has passed since my first post here (dated Sept. 26) and hits from Google and MSN searches are starting to appear regularly in my referrer log even though I didn’t do a thing but post a little.

I never submitted this blog to Dmoz, Sitemap, Technorati or the Dorky Blondes Web Ring. Nor have I sent a link to my friends, my family, my primary physician or the local newspaper. The Chamber of Commerce does not know this blog exists nor does my favorite coffee shop (Miss Lucille’s Gossip Parlor, corner of 393 and Hwy 30A in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida).

Due to the nature of wordpress.com I cannot tinker with metas, robots.txt or any of the usual suspects to increase the chances of getting listed on page 521 in some obscure search engine. All I can do is post on occasion and forget the rest.

I have another blog in addition to this one–don’t we all? Old in blog years, it’s been around for awhile and is even less coherent than this one. I switched it over to WordPress (org) a few months ago and the result was similar: unique visitors from search engine results increased substantially after a couple weeks and I didn’t do anything but add it to the Technorati blog list.

Given all that, could WordPress—rhetorically speaking–in all its manifestations be the SEO Holy Grail? I am beginning to believe it might be a combination of Word Press and Google’s blog search function.

What does this mean? For me, not much, this is pure hobby. But for those who wish to become famous–or infamous–or make a little pocket money I believe the best SEO tool is right here.

WordPress vs. the Others October 4, 2005

Posted by Leita in CMS, Internet, Wordpress.com, Wordpress.org.
9 comments

When Blogger introduced the MS Word feature, I almost went back to using them even though I prefer WordPress, both .org and .com. Call me old school, but I prefer working with word processing software or SciTE Editor over any blog’s Write Post page. So while I wish WordPress.com had the handy MS Word feature Blogger uses, I think I found a better alternative. Thanks to a Ben’s Blog post that led me to BlogJet I downloaded a free trial. The learning curve.. well, there isn’t one and once I figure out the login setup I can again save posts locally without performing a time-blowing copy/paste dance.

Over the years, I’ve tried Blogger, Mambo (not a blog, but CMS), WordPress and now WordPress.com. Some others, too, Xoops (CMS), Drupal (also CMS) and Movable Type come to mind but I didn’t stay with any of them very long. Each had their own set of handy tricks; each had their own shortcomings and in the end, WordPress won my heart. I can muck up the php with the worst of them; WordPress doesn’t seem to mind as much and has yet to dump a post before it is saved or leave me staring hypnotized watching the publishing percentage loop at 15%.

Mambo

Mambo took too long to setup even with default templates. I think I liked it because it was not intuitive. Digging through the help files and forum was indeed that, adventures in digging and I was a dog with a bone. Not one to post a question on a large forum, I spent days grazing through off-topic threads looking for answers to basic newcomer’s questions.

(This is fun: click and view the official “Using Mambo? tutorial.)

Components, modules, mambots, sections and categories.. images are stored in a ‘Stories’ directory which makes no sense, obvious or otherwise. Mambo loves its jargon and if it’s not learned right away the system is unusable. A Mambo user cannot just download and start posting without spending a lot of time creating and installing the items above. Posts were sometimes called blogs, sometimes called news or the user could make up their own section and category names and become further confused. There was a front page, which I liked since not every post written belongs on the front page; I could pick which stories (not image stories, but actual posts) would be visible on the front page and which ones would go into a category.. or is that section…?

WordPress.org

When invited to guest write for another site, I was given a login to a WordPress backend. Like a hybrid of Blogger and Mambo, the best of both greeted me and hooked me into scrapping a half-gig of Mambo files and add ons and downloading WP. Like a CMS for blogs, WordPress was faster to set up with a cleaner admin interface and barely made a dent in my hosting account space. WordPress did not automatically log me out like Mambo (even when I set the clock to 99999, it still logged me out while writing a post.. arrgh.) Finding answers in the WordPress Codex was a hoot. I could pick from forum or wikiesque information within the same search. The writing was clear and coherent, written and updated by people who know how to gently assist a newcomer.

Blogger

But Blogger was my first. I began with them in late 2000 or early 2001. Not only was it a good blogging tool, it was a great hands-on css tutorial at a time when some school instructors were still debating using css at all:

“CSS is for the future. Learn it if you must but do not use it except for colors and font sizes. Inline. Browsers cannot render it correctly and it will be troublesome.?

Blogger was great, especially for newbies. By adding it to an existing static website, clients had a place where they could post and edit their own content without screwing up the layout, or worse, bringing down the whole site. Since they didn’t mess with the source code (much), their pages didn’t look like a train wreck of centered blinking text, flying emails and bad color combinations. It saved me time, lots of time. I stopped getting as many calls from folks wanting to add a photo or change a little text. Later, Blogger’s new tool for blogging via MS Word was inspired thinking and remains one of my favorite features. When setting up a blog for a newcomer, I still point them toward Blogger. But I wanted something more for myself; hence my pilgrimage.

WordPress.com

With WordPress.com, that’ll all change, at least for me. One of the features I like best is actually a lack of.. the templates. Take that option away and a writer is left to ponder the content rather than the design. This is important. The reader can focus on the words rather than the layout. The story becomes more important than the decoration to the writer and the reader wins.

Additional Links:

Mambo

Xoops cms

Drupal

Movable Type