A Perfect WordPress

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series A More Capable Website

My wife has asked me to set her up with a new website.  As part of this process, she’d like all of the images and artwork from her old website moved over.  Since she has not used the old website in quite some time, there is quite a bit of work to be done.  So far, I’ve upgraded the Gallery1 install to Gallery2 on her old website.  Now it’s time to set up the new website and start getting ready for the move.

I am quite familiar with WordPress.  I run several blogs using WordPress and WordPressMU, ideally using one of these applications for her site would make my life much easier.  I don’t mind learning new tools, but WordPress is still being actively developed and is widely supported by many developers.  Additionally, the population of WordPress sites means that Search Engines should have no issues indexing her site.

WordPress, in a nutshell, is blogging software.  The basic functionality can be extended using plugins that are developed by WordPress themselves and/or third parties.  Many of the plugins I use are developed by a volunteer community.  These volunteers do not require you to pay for their plugins, many ask that if you use it you donate back to them .  The developers do sometimes stop development for very long periods, which can be a problem if a new version of WordPress comes out and their plugin doesn’t work.  Sometimes the volunteers have lives, lose interest or in some cases decide the time and effort they put into a plugin is not worth the return.  I personally feel that if you depend on a plugin for the operation of your site, make a donation and let the developer know how much you appreciate what they do.

So let’s get to the WordPress installation.  If you’re like me, you probably have someone else host your websites.  Most modern web hosts offer something like  “On-Click Installs” and frequently WordPress is included in the list of installations they offer.  This is, by far, the easiest way to get a clean install of WordPress up and running.  The “On-Click Installs” often allow you to automatically upgrade your installation if a new version comes out.  This makes life very easy.

If your hosting yourself, or your host doesn’t offer this feature, you will need to do the install manually.  I have done it both ways, and even the manual process is not overly complicated.  You will need to setup a few things ahead of time, like your database, PHP5 configuration as well as upload the WordPress files to your host.  The time spent learning and sorting out what you need can be worth it, but may be well above the level of detail you want.  The download and installation instructions can be found on the WordPress.org website

As you go through the process, you might decide that simplicity is better.  If so, I do highly recommend my hosting provider, DreamHost.  I have been with them for nearly 10 years now, they are always adding features, upgrading and provide the best support I’ve ever seen.  The link I am providing is a referral link, I do get a credit on my account if you sign up using it.  http://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?7036 If you do use it, THANK YOU!

Customizing WordPress

Once you have installed WordPress, it’s time to customize.  This is done via and Themes and Plugins, which are easily added via your Administration Dashboard.  Providing your installation has all the right permissions set, there is no further need for you to download and/or upload, WordPress can do it all for you.  Plugins do seem to be something of a personal preference.  When I set up a WordPress blog, I have a list of plugins that I use.  Some make site management easier, some add capabilities.  Here are the plugins that I use as a baseline.

  • Akismet – Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not.
  • Digg Digg – All-in-One social vote buttons
  • Exclude Pages from Navigation – Provides a checkbox on the editing page which you can check to exclude pages from the primary navigation.
  • Extended Comment Options – This plugin allows you to switch comments and/or pings on or off for batches of existing posts.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.
  • Organize Series – This plugin adds a number of features to wordpress that enable you to easily write and organize a series of posts and display the series dynamically in your blog.
  • Organize Series Publisher – Allows an editor to publish an “issue”, which is to say, all pending posts with a given series.
  • podPress – The podPress pluggin gives you everything you need in one easy plugin to use WordPress for Podcasting.
  • wp-cache – Very fast cache module. It’s composed of several modules, this plugin can configure and manage the whole system.
  • WP-CodeBox – WP-CodeBox provides clean syntax highlighting and AJAX advanced features for embedding source code within pages or posts.
  • WP-FLV – This plugin eases insertion of Jeroen Wijerings FLV Video Player
  • WP-Polls – Adds an AJAX poll system to your WordPress blog.

Some other plugins I have used, feel free to Goolge them if it strikes your fancy:

  • FeedWordPress
  • WP E-Mail
  • RSS Feeder

There are, quite literally thousands of pre-made Themes available for WordPress.  The layout, color and features of each Theme vary as well as the quality of the work.  If you don’t find exactly what you are looking for keep looking.  Using the Appearance settings in the Dashboard, you can search for Themes you like and install by clicking a link.  You can quickly change the look of your site by activating different Themes.  If you have content already, you can then see how your content looks with the new Theme.  If you find a Theme that is close, you can easily customize it from within WordPress as well – however this does require knowledge of HTML, PHP and WordPress functions.

I have now set up the basic framework for my wife’s new website.  Next, we’ll discuss the what to do with the Gallery.  Quite honestly, I am still trying to figure this one out.

Series NavigationGallery1 Upgrade and Migration to Gallery2Gallery in WordPress
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