Last month, I put out a call for business submissions asking people who use WordPress or another blogging application for their company websites (not just business blogs) to submit their URLs for a new series here on BusinessLogs that showcases businesses using blogging applications in cool ways. [Read more…] about WordPress for Business Websites – Le Tutor
I’ve written before about pre-writing your posts on weekends, which works well for many professional bloggers. But the fact is that whether you blog for business or personal reasons, pre-writing and scheduling your blog posts is always a good idea.
Scheduling your blog posts is different from simply writing post drafts. The latter requires you to login and publish the posts on a certain date- which is fine if you want to make last-minute changes to your posts- but scheduling means your blog software will publish your post automatically, on whatever date you set it to. If you’d like to get started doing this, here are some quick ways to schedule your blog posts: [Read more…] about How to Schedule Your Blog Posts in Blogger, WordPress and Typepad
If you’re in charge of running your WordPress-powered business blog, you’ll love these five plug-ins. I like them because they make life easier for WordPress administrators, especially if you’re managing a blog with multiple users.
This plug-in makes it easy to add a custom menu to your blog dashboard. As you can see from the screenshot above, you can add your own links (for example, other company sites or frequently accessed resources). You can also select who sees what, according to different user roles.
A must if you’re managing a multiple-user blog, this one gives you the ability to write short notes to other editors and authors. For something a little more powerful, there’s…
WP Task Manager takes the post-it note idea a step further, allowing you to create tasks for all authors of your blog, including yourself. The plug-in comes with a special page that lists all tasks, and includes support for comments and discussions on each task.
It’s always a good idea to test new WP themes- or changes to your current WP themes- before going live with them, especially on a business blog. This plug-in makes it easy to test drive themes from within your dashboard, so only you see the changes.
Finally, this one’s more for aesthetic reasons, letting you create and change the color schemes of your WP dashboard. Its settings include options for setting site-wide schemes, forcing schemes for certain users, and the ability to import pre-made admin color schemes. It’s a nice way to personalize your company blog dashboard in a small way.
What are your favorite WordPress Admin Plug-ins?
Ah, free WordPress themes. I’m convinced they’re one of the biggest reasons WordPress is the most popular blogging platform today. From one-column minimalism to grid-based magazine layouts, photoblogging styles to made-for-Adsense themes, there are free WordPress themes for every taste- just download, install and activate!
But to set your blog apart, you’ll want to tweak that theme- and when I say tweak, I mean make small changes here and there. To make these tweaks to your theme of choice, a tool like the Firebug extension for Firefox can be very handy- but, really, any text editor will do.
- Tweak your header
Usually the first place new visitors will look, and a good place to start. Some themes include “theme options” pages that show up when you’ve activated the theme, and others include banner photos or graphics that can easily be replaced with your own. If you’re using the default WordPress theme Kubrick, the aptly named Kubrickr will automatically find photos on Flickr for you to customize your header with. To get more in-depth, I recommend reading through WordPress’ official codex page on Designing Headers.
- Play with your widgets
Most WordPress theme designers “widgetize” their themes, and for good reason: widgets are probably the quickest way to personalize a WordPress theme. Built-in widgets, available in every fresh installation of WordPress, include widgets for displaying your Archives, Calendar, Recent Comments and so forth- and And if the theme you love isn’t widgetized, you can do it yourself.
- Experiment with color
Even slight changes to the colors on your site can have a big impact. Online tools such as the Color Scheme Designer can keep you busy for hours, or you can check out pre-made color schemes at sites like colr.org and GenoPal.
- Change your fonts
We used to have just two choices when it came to web fonts: serif or sans-serif. Today, we have methods like sIFR and FLIR, which replace your fonts using Flash, the newish Cufon, which doesn’t require Flash, and CSS3’s @font-face, which works by downloading the specified fonts.
- Personalize your About page
This one, which requires no CSS tweaking at all, just might be the most important way of all. Tweaking your About page, the only page that comes pre-built with WordPress, is where you can truly let your personality shine through. A photo of yourself is always good, but you should feel free to add anything here that shows the world- or your readers, at least- who you are. You can read more about tweaking your About page in a previous post of mine.
Of course, we’ve only barely scratched the surface of the ways you can tweak your WordPress theme. For more ways, the WordPress Codex is an excellent place to start.
Odeo’s Buyback Rodeo
Yesterday the news came down that Odeo (the fun little podcast startup) is shifting gears bigtime and transitioning to greener pastures and bigger/better things. In what’s got to be the most interesting “Web 2.0” industry story of the past few weeks, Ev Williams used (I estimate) a few million dollars of his own money to buy back the shares he originally sold to VCs when the company started. Now, Odeo.com is owned by Ev’s new company Obvious Corp. and he’s psyched because he now has the control he wants to experiment and produce services that don’t have to be tied down by his investors’ wishes. Damn, if that doesn’t show Ev’s enormous conviction then I don’t know what does. I’m excited to see what Odeo morphs into and what new products they’ve got coming. It just goes to show that as soon as the investors come in, your control goes out, and Ev wanted it back.
Update: Investor Mark Evans posts his thoughts and I think he misses the point completely, saying that the reason it happened is because the VCs had little interest in Odeo and that they were low on money or about to run out. Mark, this isn’t Ev trying to save a sinking ship, it’s him using 7 figures of his own money to buy back control and do what he wants to do, not what his investors think will make the best exit strategy. My comment over there goes into a little bit more detail.
Yesterday Six Apart announced Movable Type Enterprise and v3.3 of their web publishing software, and what’s funny is that I didn’t find out until today that any announcement was made. Normally their software launches have been a big deal in the blogosphere, but for the past 6+ months the MT buzz factor has been languishing and their previously evangelic user base has been leaving them for greener pastures. I only found out about the announcement from Paul because nobody was talking about the release.
Movable Type Enterprise still doesn’t seem to be the MT Pro version we’ve been promised for a few years, so if you were hoping to be able to add new data fields or edit old ones then I don’t think this will let you do it. Some “catch up” features present on this release include the ability to easily add small pieces of functionality into your blog (widgets) and change the look and feel of your blog and admin UI without too much hassle (transformer plugins, style catcher).
To add insult to injury, Six Apart doesn’t think highly enough of its own blogs to bother writing about the news on them, instead opting for a typical press release that can’t be Trackbacked or commented on. This solidifies the direction that Six Apart is now headed in: a direction far away from their base supporters and fans.
Six Apart’s focus over the past few years has switched from catering to the professional web development and enterprise audience, to the tweens/teens MySpace crowd. After their acquisition of Live Journal in early 2005, you could tell that their focus was shifting. The world of LJ is entirely different than the blogosphere that I know about, here’s a good quote from Zephoria:
Live Journal is a culture, not simply a product or commodity that can be bought. From an outsider’s perspective, it might appear as though they are similar properties – they are both blogging tools, right? Wrong.
Jump inside LJ culture. People who use LJ talk about their LJs, not their blogs. They mock bloggers who want to be pundits, journalists, experts. In essence, they mock the culture of bloggers that use Six Apart’s tools. During interviews with LJ/Xanga folks, i’ve been told that MovableType is for people with no friends, people who just talk to be heard, people who are trying too hard.
I saw the LJ acquisition as a way to break into the 12-18 year old market segment of the population, but didn’t think much about it until I heard Project Comet (now named Vox, an awful name that I will refuse to use in this entry) was coming out soon. Comet is the new lifestyle publishing platform coming from Six Apart, which they describe as “combin[ing] the publishing power of TypePad, the community aspects of LiveJournal and the years of insight garnered from Movable Type.” I anticipated that Comet would be a way to merge the free LJ users into a TypePad-esque payment structure, but now that screenshots of Comet are out I can see that they’re taking it a few steps further… Comet will be taking on AIMPages and MySpace for a slice of the youth audience pie.
Yesterday Sherwin and Geof responded in the comments on the Socialite Life launch entry asking what I thought about WordPress vs. Movable Type. My response would have been too long for a comment so I thought I’d turn it into an entry
I’m not sure if this is big news to all of you, but for designers/developers who work on sites run with Movable Type, it’ll probably be useful. Up till now, if you used custom submit images at the bottom of a comment form the entire comment-posting process wouldn’t work the way you expected. Either a comment would get previewed, but not posted, or it would put the user at the wrong template afterwards and wouldn’t record the comment. This behavior bothered me back when I was designing this iteration of the Business Logs site, since I had custom submit images all made up, but I could never figure out the problem.