Malleable Musings

December 6, 2009

Anti-social blogging

Filed under: Volleyball, Wordpress — Brendan @ 10:43 pm

Last weekend I did a WordPress installation. (I also finally got around to having a five minute play on Google Wave.)

Whilst doing this I was reminded that I’ve written before that tools are used differently by different people.  I was reminded of this because I didn’t start waving publicly and I had no intention of using WordPress conventionally as a blog.

Instead I’m thinking of using WordPress as a simple web back-end for a five web-page site for my volleyball club because:

  1. It can be updated easily from an iPhone which is important for updating scores from the game.  From this tweet it seems that I’m not the only person thinking in this way.
  2. I wanted to produce a better browsing experience for iPhone/smartphone users.  I could have done this by looking at writing some new CSS but it probably would have meant additional JQuery work whereas WordPress has a great WP-touch plugin that can just be turned on.  So I figured that it might just be simpler and better to move the site over to WordPress (as it also adds a great deal of flexibility e.g. the site could be easily updated by others within the club if need be).

The installation was extremely straightforward – as they claim it really is a five minute installation.  Although it was far from a five minute job to get the site up and running.  In fact although I’ve got something working well in a subfolder I’ve not replaced the current site yet.

I’ve spent a couple of hours on this little project over the course of a week (and have made a note of what I’ve done so far below for my own reference):

1) I dropped some content in to blog pages.

2) Find some way of displaying Google Maps on the blog. I tested a few different variants but settled on the Google Maps Plugin for WordPress primarily because it’s incredibly simple and allows relative scaling of the map.

3) I also needed the Exec-PHP plug-in as I use this to run a simple include lifting the league table from the Associations webpages and inserting it on the Results and Fixtures page.

4) Find a theme that I could easily modify.  I settled on Starscape.  To modify it I did the following (N.B. again I’ve listed these in full to remind myself of what I did):

  • Knock off some of the features that I didn’t want – e.g. date icons on posts, the links to home and RSS in the header, one of the sidebars and the footer.
  • Added a new favicon.
  • Moved the search below the sidebar
  • Centralised and reduced the size of the text in the header.
  • Created three PNG images for the header and footer – center and top and footer images (although I think I might need to re-look at these as I don’t think that they work in the way I’d like yet).
  • Modded a couple of the php files (Page Template – page.php) – e.g. changing words from things like “Published” to “Last updated” etc.

5) Installed and configured the WP-Touch plug-in.  This was actually far easier than modifying the theme.  All it really took was choosing what not to show, shortening the name of the site and uploading a couple of icons.  I did have a bit of difficulty with the home page redirection setting.  It claimed that there were too many redirects.  However simply changing this to the default WordPress setting made all of the difference.

This was the first time I’d played about with WordPress or looked properly at what it can do.  Having seen various  plug-ins and options I know I’ve not even scratched its surface yet.

My only difficulty so far has been finding option settings.  For example when installing the Google Maps Plugin the documentation said “install it in the plugin’s admin page under Options”.  This left me a little lost.  I couldn’t immediately see the admin page and spent some time searching around the php files before eventually realising the admin page can be found under Settings on WordPress rather than within the plugins section.

I still need to do a bit more testing before I send my little site live.  However having got this far I can see myself catching a bug and writing my own custom themes.

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4 Comments »

  1. B,

    I’ve been using WordPress for a number of years now, both as a blogging mechanism (about here runs on it) and for building commercial websites.

    I agree, it does take some getting used to and over the past few years I’ve grown with the tool. When I first started out with it, there were far less features than there now are.

    If you get stuck with it, or need any help, let me know. I keep meaning to write an article on the plugins I find most useful.

    Cheers,

    Comment by Rob — December 7, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  2. Rob, thanks for the comment and the offer of help. I may well take you up on it.

    In looking around the blogosphere I found quite a few best plug-in posts – I think this one (Top 30 WordPress plugins that are actually useful is quite good. It lists lots of good plug-ins but also remind you about the basics of thinking about your reader and thinking about what you are trying to communicate and why.

    I definitely be interested in seeing your list and also I probably need to pick your brains about something else soon. I’ll be in touch.

    Comment by Brendan — December 7, 2009 @ 7:13 pm

  3. Ooops – I must not have clicked the subscribe link in my email when I told it I wanted to be notified of follow up comments. Sorry!

    List is here:
    http://www.abouthere.co.uk/blog/useful-wordpress-plugins-for-bloggers/

    Gonna have a look at the site you linked to also.

    Comment by Rob — December 21, 2009 @ 10:32 am

  4. Just had a look at the link you gave – I wouldn’t necessarily go with the ones listed there. The article is 18 months old. I used to use many of them but have either replaced them or had to get rid of them because they aren’t supported / updated any more.

    Comment by Rob — December 21, 2009 @ 10:37 am


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