Balticon 46 Wrap-up – Part 9, WordPress 101

by Doc Coleman on March 25, 2013 · 0 comments

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Time once again for another episode in the Balticon 46 wrap up. This episode is a recording from the panel WordPress 101. Terri “Flynnstress” Vernon moderates the panel featuring Chooch Schubert from the band Ditched by Kate, Gary Lester from Channel 37, and yours truly. In this panel we talk about WordPress, why we use it, and how it can help you manage your online content. WordPress is a very powerful tool, made more powerful by the many plug-ins that expand its capabilities.

Show notes below the cut.


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Show notes:

  • Welcome
  • Introductions
    • The Flynnstress, our moderator
    • Doc Coleman
    • Chooch Schubert
    • Gary Lester
  • Why do you use WordPress?
    • Doc
      • Just want an easy way to manage my content.
      • Started with iWeb on .Mac, but quickly ran into limits
      • Moved to Blogger, but still felt very restricted.
      • WordPress.com, free, but limits on plug-ins.
      • WordPress.org, you pay for your hosting, but you have full control over what you can do.
    • Chooch
      • WordPress.com is free, but you’re restricted with the plug-ins you can use.
      • Started with manual web design, updating web pages by hand.
      • Advent of RSS, and started looking at Content management features.
      • WordPress has the perfect balance of features
      • All the hosting companies offer it.
      • Support and breadth of plugins.
    • Gary
      • Started with Blogger, but it would not really grow with you.
      • WordPress accommodates changes easily.
      • Can also include graphics and video.
    • Flynstress
      • Just wanted a web page to be able to share things.
      • Like the ability to customize.
      • Wanted it to look better than some 2nd grader’s html.
      • Have learned how to do more under the surface.
  • Limitations? What do you wish it could do?
    • Doc
      • Limited page widths
        • Some templates can overcome that.
        • Need to dynamically resize to make maximum use of the page.
        • My monitor will display two or three pages, but I get a little slice of content in the middle.
      • Trying to find the right plug-in in the midst of the crowd
    • Chooch
      • Getting plugins to work together.
      • Integration of advanced services.
    • Gary
      • Hadn’t had problems so far that couldn’t be fixed by a Google search, but now I’m concerned.
  • One problem is if people are hiding things in your code.
    • Usually encrypted code.
  • Thousands of themes like thousands of plug ins.
    • Some are exactly what you see and can’t be changed.
    • Some can be customized in many ways.
      • Look for option screens.
  • Never install just one site.
    • Install a second site and use it to test new plugins without bringing down your live site.
  • Are wordpress.org plugins better tested than others?
    • Never use plugins that are not listed on WordPress.org.
    • They are well scrutinized.
      • So many people are looking at them, odds are someone else will find a problem if there is one.
    • Look at the ratings to see how well things work.
  • Favorite themes?
    • Chooch built all his own themes.
    • Gary doesn’t know the name of his theme. It just looked good.
    • Doc uses Thesis. It is a premium theme, but is very customizable.
      • Lots of options.
      • Very easy to change colors and work with multiple sidebars.
      • Has a good reputation.
      • Even has a newsletter with solutions to common problems.
    • Flynnstress uses Twenty Twelve.
    • Themes categorized by industry in the tags.
  • Favorite WordPress Blogs?
    • It can be hard to tell what people are using.
    • Randomly notice that people are using Wordpress.
  • What are issues with importing from other blogging systems?
    • Tools are already in place.
      • Compatible with most other blogging systems.
      • Assets like images and other things don’t come across automatically.
    • Doesn’t necessarily deal well with quick and dirty custom code fixes.
    • Can be very difficult to duplicate an existing look and feel.
      • Easier to do a site re-design.
  • Is there a revenue model for blogging?
    • Thinking about adding ads.
    • Lots of ad plug-ins.
      • Google Adwords
      • Other plug-ins to support selling your own ads.
    • Now that my site has grown up, I’m getting offers from companies to run ads on my site.
      • Concerns over reputation for impartiality.
      • Considering taking some kinds of ads.
      • Some people get huge cash flows from selling ads and doing paid reviews.
      • Bound to be some scams with ads.
      • Make sure that I have control of any ads.
  • How do you track your users?
    • There’s a plug-in for that!
    • Was a Stats plug-in. Now it is part of Jetpack.
    • Jetpack – a best of WordPress.com plugins. Includes very detailed stats.
    • No telling what will be a popular post.
      • When you’ve got one, put an ad on it.
  • Can you recommend an e-commerce system?
    • Most charge you a monthly fee.
    • Problem comes when you have to pay for things.
      • Paypal is easiest, but fees are high and they can be a pain with their requirements.
    • Square is great for mobile payments when using a smart phone to scan credit cards.
      • Higher rates for typed in charges.
      • No monthly fees.
    • ZenCart
  • How much does it cost to go from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?
    • Depends on your hosting company.
    • Some are really good deals. Some are cheap.
    • Dreamhost is really cheap, bu has had downtime issues.
      • Supposed to have good customer service.
    • IMHosted.com
      • Not to be confused with IMHost.com, the premier porn host on the internet.
      • Single sites as low as $4 a month, multi sites for $8 a month.
  • Dealing with comment Spam.
    • Moderate any post with more than two links.
    • First post must be moderated catches a ton of spam.
    • Akismet
    • A First Defense Against Spam
      • Keeps track of spammers.
      • Allows you to report spammers.
  • Other favorite plug-ins?
    • SEO plugin.
    • WordPress Database Backup
      • Backs up your content and e-mails it to you on a schedule.
      • Only the database contents, so it doesn’t include media files.
    • Role Scoper
      • Give control over user roles for multi-author sites.
      • Easy to use, but very granular control.
    • Jetpack
    • NextGen Photo Gallery
      • Can create really cool slide show presentations.
      • I use for my backgrounds.
        • Changes background every five minutes.
    • CForms
    • Contact Forms 7
      • Customizable forms.
      • Jetpack just added forms.
  • The fewer plug-ins you have, the better.
  • Update your themes and plug-ins!
    • Outdated plug-ins are the number one way that sites get hacked.
  • Where do you see WordPress going from here?
    • More mobile tools.
      • Cool WordPress mobile app already.
      • Mobile themes already available.
    • Mobile interface improvements.
    • Local client.
      • Let me compose and design locally and then push a button and sync things up to the server.
      • Can run a local WordPress instance at home and then import the settings to your server.
      • There are workarounds, but I want a smoother solution.
  • Tools for modifying themes?
    • I just write it by hand.
    • Thesis lets you customize via ThesisHook.
      • It won’t wipe out your changes for upgrades, but it may break them.
  • How does WordPress do for letting people access your site on mobile devices?
    • The site will look like any other web site.
    • Mobile themes will detect that you’re using a mobile device and reformat for the smaller devices. And you can still switch over to the desktop view.
  • Where can we find this info?
    • Will post the notes from the audio over on Chooch.us.
  • And we’re out of time!

Mentioned on the podcast (and borrowed from Chooch.us):

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