On Making This Blog Site

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The lowdown: This is a self-hosted, WordPress blog.

I figure for those that are curious, I would give a short run down of how and what I used to put this site together.  These days, great thing about creating simple site like these the fact that there are a lot of great do-it-yourself options.  The bad thing is that there are a LOT of options.  Even though I’m sorta in the industry, it still took me a few days in prep time to just to research all the latest options before I committed to what all I was going to use – but then again, it’s in my nature to research the hell out of everything before I make a move on stuff like this.  The way this business of technology advances and such a bewildering rate, it’s a lot of work to stay on top of every possible option for any such project.  Anyway, I’m still tweaking this thing, as I expect I will be doing so here and there until I’m satisfied (if that’s possible for someone like me).

WordPress Platform: I looked at all the various blogging options, included both hosted and self-hosted platforms.  In the past, I’ve always used hosted services because of the ease and cost (many are free), but this time around, I wanted to have a lot more power to get under the hood to allow me more options for customizations and such.  All the hosted options, including the WordPress.com hosted version, kept falling short of giving me all that I wanted to customize and use.  Additionally, I looked at all the options (WordPress, Tumblr, Drupal, etc).  For me and what all I might want to do with this thing, WordPress came out the clear choice.  It’s widely used (by just about everyone), has more options than you can shake a stick at and is supported by pretty much all major hosting providers (with regard to the hosting requirements and easy installation). The fact that it’s free ain’t bad either.

Theme by Elegant Themes: Like many other blogging and website platforms, WordPress allows for the simple implementation of themes that give the site it’s look and feel and sometimes additional bells and whistles.  Great for those that are not handy with design and programming.  Problem is, there are tons of themes, both free and for sale, and not all of them work well.  Bad for those that are not handy with design and programming.  A good rule of thumb to remember is that you tend to get what you pay for.  At the time of this posting, I’m using a pretty slick looking theme by Elegant Themes which I personally customized a little bit, but that was relatively easy.  It was only $40. It’s nice looking, but doesn’t have the greatest backend to it.  Thus, it will probably be short lived on my site simply for the fact that it doesn’t sit on a strong customization framework, such as something like DIYthemes does.  Due to my nature of wanting to tinker and tweak my stuff down to the minute details, I’ll probably end up switching.

WordPress Plugins:  Here’s the intial list of plugins and extras I threw together for thier obvious associated reasons:

  • TweetMeme Retweet Button – retweeting has really taken off recently, and this little plugin allows visitors to easily retweet your content via their Twitter accounts if they like what they read.
  • AddToAny –  one of the most popular plugins available for social media integration. By installing the plugin, anyone reading your content will easily be able to share it across their own social networks with the click of a mouse, helping to spread your content further to reach new audiences.
  • Disqus Comment System – Of the many comment systems out there such as CommentLuv, etc.,  I simply like Disqus the best.  It is easy to install, widely used across the net on some of the most popular sites such as Mashable, and provides an easy way to view where visitors have commented on other sites while also keeping track of where you comment.  It can help you build social relationships as you engage on other people’s blogs and websites.
  • All in One SEO – If you want SEO to rock with little effort, this is your plugin. At least that’s what I’m told.  We’ll see how well it works soon enough, I guess.
  • SEO Smart Links – Also great for SEO, this plugin helps engage your users by linking keywords within your site.  Google likes to see links within your site. This is a great way to drive engagement as well as SEO with little to no effort once it’s installed.  You can customize and select how many links you want to appear on each page.
  • XML Sitemap – This plugin creates an XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap for your WordPress blog.  It is supported by Ask.com, Google, Yahoo and MSN.
  • Google Analytics & Feedburner Reports – Enables easy view of Google analytics data and Feedburner reports via WordPress admin area.
  • WordPress.com Stats – This nifty plug-in provides a nice and simple view of your most critical wordpress performance stats. Google Analytics and the information it provides is nice. However, it’s nice to be able to view a simple snapshot of visitor stats, top content and more right from the WordPress admin dashboard.
  • WP-Super Cache – This plug-in will improve performance of your site by producing static html files of your dynamic WordPress blog.
  • Akismet – Anti-spam plugin that keeps those spammers out and off your precious blog
  • WPtouch – This one is pretty sweet. WPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects, when viewed from an iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Opera Mini, Palm Pre, Samsung touch and BlackBerry Storm/Torch mobile devices.
  • CKEditor – This plugin replaces the default WordPress editor with CKEditor, giving you a much bigger window to write in and a lot more WYSIWYG editing options.  So much nicer to work from.
  • Social Media Widget – Adds links to all of your social media and sharing site profiles. Icons come in 3 sizes, 4 icon styles, and 4 animations.
  • Wickett Twitter Widget  – Display the latest updates from a Twitter user inside your theme’s widgets. Customize the number of displayed Tweets, filter out replies, and include retweets.

That’s it for now.  I’m sure I’ll be making more tweaks to this site, adding and subtracting and toying with shiny new objects as they come along.  I’ll provide updates as I do.

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About Tony Kinard

Digitally Innovative, Obsessively Creative, Fearless Advertising/Marketing Exec. For 16+ years I've had the honor of working with brilliant ad agencies, digital marketing innovators and technology vanguards. It's been amazingly fun and exciting work helping clients to successfully leverage tech innovations and new ideas. From scrappy startups to some of the best known brands in the world, I love the challenges they present. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some great ideas!

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