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The practical eco system around a WordPress blog


Update: 27/09/2010:
I have added the Autocompleter plugin to the list.


So you’ve finally decided to make a blog. You’ve read all the good articles on how to write interesting posts, how to behave to rude posts and how to maintain momentum.

You dig out your dusty FTP details and decide to install WordPress, you find a suitable WordPress theme or design one yourself. Job done!

You are ready to go. You have ideas for the first 5 posts and feel you have researched enough to really make this fly… but you feel something is missing, but not sure what.

What you are missing is “the practical stuff“. All the nuts and bolts you don’t notice because they are invisible as long as they are there. However, when they are not in place the blog feels incomplete.


External support functions

The first step to fill the void is to look into the future. What will you be using to support the blog? Making decisions now will guide you as to what external profiles you need to set up.

Ofcourse this can be done when and if you need them, but I find it is far better to implement them up front so they are there when you need them.  Having to set up a Flickr account (and a Yahoo account) and finding the right plugin and deploying the plugin and check it doesn’t break anything when you just want to upload a small gallery can be really time-consuming and annoying as it will get in the way of your spur-of-the-moment writing flow.

Email

  • Will you be using your regular email?
  • Or will you need to set up a new one?
  • Should it be one attached to your blog domain name or a Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo Mail?

Galleries

  • How will you manage images and film?
  • Are you going to host them on your site?
  • Are there benefits to host them on Flickr, Picassa Web or YouTube?
  • And what about SlideShare to host and display your presentations?

Profiles

  • Do you want to maintain a current profile on your blog?
  • Can you avoid duplicating an existing profile by importing its content into your blog?
  • Do you already have a detailed FacebookLinkedIn or Google profile you want to direct users to?
  • Or do you need to set one up to support the blog?

News and Community feeds

  • Do you have a Twitter feed you want to use?
  • Or a Facebook group? Or similar?
  • Do you need to set one up to support the blog?
  • Do you need the blog to auto-post to any of these?

Practical plugins

One of the great things about WordPress is the sheer amount of plugins. Here is a list of practical plugins I use:

Search engine optimisation

We can’t all be SEO experts (I certainly am not) but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t help the optimisation of your blog on it’s way by using some of the really good automated SEO plugins.

Search

This easy plugin adds auto-complete functionality to the default WordPress search box:

Sharing

The easier it is for users to share your content, the more likely they are to do it. Here are a few nice tools to help them:

There are also a number of non-Wordpress widgets you can use if you feel digging a bit in the HTML:

  • AddThis.com – For social bookmarking and sharing
  • Tweetmeme.com – For easy tweeting and monitoring where your tweet goes

Commenting

While WordPress has a good commenting system (especially when used with the Akismet plugin) it is worth considering replacing it with the Disqus commenting system as it allows users to comment using their Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Disqus or OpenID profile.

It is fairly easy to set up. The only one that needs a bit of attention is the Facebook login but Disqus will take you through how to set it up.

Broadcasting

I only really use Twitter for broadcasting, but I am sure there are plugins for both auto-publishing to Facebook, LinkedIn as well as setting up a e-newsletter.

  • RF TwitterPost As RF TwitterPost is no longer working I am currently on the lookout for a new plugin to take its place.

I also use the official non-WordPress Twitter widget to display my Twitter feed on blogs themselves.

Other practical plugins

  • Flickr mini gallery – Great and easy-to-use plugin for creating Flickr galleries both within posts and outside in the HTML.
  • LinkedIn hResume – Imports your public LinkedIn profile into a page.
  • Evermore – Creates summaries (with a “read more” link) on the blog main page instead of displaying full posts.
  • New Tag Cloud – Gives you a traditional tag cloud.
  • Simple Section Navigation Widget – Good tool for creating sub navigation.
  • Contact Form with Captcha – Contact form with Captcha. Very easy to implement.
  • MobilePress – Very good for instantly transforming the design of your blog for handheld devices. Note, that the current version unfortunately also displays the handheld version on iPad.

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Share your thoughts


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  • I am really excited about the sharability aspects.As RObert knows (or can see me in ReTaggr), I have fairly dense profiles in SNS like Twellow, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others that offer widgets that I have never been able to install anywhere… Needless to say, once we get my site pimped our properly, the SKYPE and Facebook widgets will get many more people talking with me. (And let me inadvertedly teach my favorite Danes a little Japanese – since those I need to engage are mainly in Japan.)
    As a consultant, the #in hResume you describe herein will be a boon for my blossoming business.
    Thanks again for any and all time you can give me, Robert.

  • WordPress is a very good eco system for websites because of the sheer amount of plugins.

    I prefer it over other CMS like Drupal because of the simple admin interface.