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The Ultimate WordPress Experience

The Ultimate WordPress Experience

At BlogWorld 2011 (Manhattan) I had the chance to attend “The Ultimate WordPress Experience with Mitch Canter”. Mitch is a WordPress designer, developer, and contributor. He also has his own design company, studionashvegas.com.

Mitch Canter
Mitch began by sharing a brief history of WordPress:

2003 – WordPress was created from b2-cafelog (now defunct) by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little

2004 – Version 1.2

  • plugins released

2005 – Version 1.5

  • theme system
  • static pages
  • user roles

2007 – Version 2.0

  • new user interface
  • widgets
  • tagging
  • updates
  • taxonomy system (custom sorting system)

2008 – Version 2.5

  • new user interface
  • shortcodes

Version 2.6

  • post revisions

Version 2.7

  • new user interface
  • plugin installer
  • automatic updating
  • sticky posts (the ability to keep a post at the top of the page)
  • threaded comments

Sticky Posts2010 – Version 3.0

  • custom post types
  • custom menus
  • custom taxonomies (i.e., sort by food, city, etc.)
  • new default theme

2011 – Version 3.1

  • custom post formats
  • internal linking
  • admin bar
  • custom post type archives
  • advanced taxonomy
  • custom field queries

Mitch moved on to talking about the three major steps one must complete when making a WordPress site. Great news: the steps are the same if you’re starting from scratch or switching to a WordPress site from a different content management system.

Step One:  Find Hosting!

For site hosting, Mitch recommends Media Temple and Host Gator and advises against GoDaddy. He also advises that it’s important to look for a host with a LAMPSTACK setup (where the operating system is Linux, the web server is Apache, the database is Mysql, and the programming language is PHP). There are also some hosts that now offer 1-click WordPress installation packages, which saves you the task of having to configure WordPress yourself. If you previously used Blogger, LiveJournal, Tumblr, and Movable Type, there are plugins to transfer data from your old site to your new WordPress site.

Step Two: Finding a theme

Mitch very strongly urges that you never find themes via Google or any other search engine. Most of the hits you’ll get are full of malware, spam, and viruses. The best place to find free themes is the WordPress Repository. There are thousands of free themes available. Premium themes are available at various price points. He recommends that Graph Paper Press, Templatic, WooThemes, and Genesis  have quality, well-coded themes. A good premium theme should have special functionality, ease of use, features, quality art, and customization, and should come with support.

Woo Themes
You can design or have a custom theme designed for you. Some things to consider when choosing a theme are color scheme, number of columns, kind of content, side and footer widgets, XTML version, proper coding, free of malware, spam, hidden links, format, and post types.

Step Three: Add Plugins!

The finishing touches to your WordPress site can be added via the use of plugins. Plugins add functionality and should enhance readability, usability, and or findability. For your consideration, Mitch shared some of his favorite plugins, which are:

  • Sexy BookmarksSexy bookmarks – sharing tabs for social sites
  • WooTumblog – quick posting of different content types
  • All in one SEO – search engine optimization
  • WPmobile – modifies theme for mobile devices
  • diggdigg – social icons float while user scrolls down the page
  • Ad Manager – manage ads in sidebar
  • Tweet blender – Twitter for WordPress
  • Tweet BlenderGoogle XML Sitemap – generates sitemap so Google crawls the site faster (google.com/webmaster/sitemap)
  • Feedburner – allows readers to subscribe to posts
  • Google Analyticator – adds Google stats to WordPress dashboard

BlogWorld NYC 2011
Wordpress is a powerful blogging platform, but the sheer volume of information that’s already out there is overwhelming! This session taught me that WordPress is so much more than just a blog. With so many features, both inherent in the program and via plug-ins, WordPress can easily support full websites making it a great Content Management System (CMS). As a CMS it is particularly well-suited for small businesses and entrepreneurs, people who typically need to DIY but wish to have a professional looking website. With thousands of plug-ins, it can be hard to know what search terms to even use when searching the web to find what you’re looking for, let alone choosing the right plug-in for your needs. I found Mitch’s advice, as well as his list of top plug-ins, invaluable in navigating the options associated with building the optimal WordPress site.

Posted on September 1st, 2011 by Team CVA

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