May 25, 2007

10 Minute Blog Tips: Making a Good First Impression

What do visitors see when they arrive at your blog?

You have seconds to make a good first impression. That first glance might make all the difference between a subscription and the loss of a return visitor.

Design makes a big difference, as in colours and graphics, but layout could make the biggest difference. What you put and where. Today’s tip: 10 minute blog tweaks that make a good first impression.
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May 24, 2007

Web Browser Guide: Favorites, Bookmarks, and History

Internet Explorer calls them Favorites, Firefox calls them Bookmarks. Whatever your browser calls them, these are saved links to web pages you want to return to.

Before Feeds, when you wanted to return often to a favorite website, you would save it to your Favorites or Bookmarks for easy access. With the advent of Feeds, you can return to your favorite website or blog through their feed in your feed reader.

Does this make Favorites and Bookmarks obsolete? It depends. As part of this ongoing Web Browser Guide for Bloggers series, let’s explore how we still use Favorites and Bookmarks to help us browse and blog.

If your favorite websites and blogs do not have feeds, how else can you easily revisit each one without remembering the URL address? Through your Favorites and Bookmarks.

Favorites and Bookmarks also save web page links on a list which you may want to visit in person on a frequent basis, irregardless of whether or not they have a feed.

Trying to remember a word? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary or Dictionary.com bookmarks get me to the front page to put in a word or look something up in the thesaurus.

Looking for a quote, sure, you can just type in keywords into a search engine, or head to your bookmarked Bartleby.com site for quick reference looks.

Firefox Bookmark Tab MenuAs I work on my WordPress Wednesday news for the Blog Herald, I revisit some web pages for specific information not carried in their feeds. The WordPress Theme Viewer keeps a running total of the number of WordPress Themes available and downloaded on the About Page in the sidebar. This information is not presented elsewhere on the site, so I keep a bookmark for that Page to bring you the numbers.

A feed tracks the events on a whole blog or site. Bookmarks and Favorites allow you to save a link to a specific page. If that page scrolls off your feed reader’s list, can you find it again? You can if you bookmarked it. So Bookmarks and Favorites help you to preserve links to memorable (or need to remember) blog posts and articles.

We all have our favorite online reference sites. Keeping these bookmarked makes it easy to revisit for you research.
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Irish children should be taught about blogging and social networking

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James Greenslade, Director of Information, Communication and Technology at Tipperary Institute, has said that Ireland needs to prepare second-level students (11-16s) for the changing face of the Internet, and its impact on communication.

“We teach children how to cross the road, provide sex education classes but the reaction to web based social networks has been to attempt to block them. If you look into any internet cafe across the country, at 4.05pm you’ll see teenagers participating unsupervised and uninformed in web based social networking,” he said.

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Using WordPress Page Templates

If you have ever developed a WordPress Theme for someone, you may have run into this request:
“Could you make each page have a different [insert design aspect here]?”

Well, if you’re just using the page.php file to handle the look of all your pages, the answer may be “no”. But if you use different page templates, you certainly CAN make any page look however you want.

For instance, let’s say you have a client that wants all the pages to have the sidebar except for his bio page. On his bio page, he wants the content to extend all the way over where the sidebar used to be. Here’s what you do: read more

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101 Resources for Bloggers

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Adnan of Blogtrepreneur has come up with a list of resources that bloggers might find valuable in the course of their running their online publications. Dubbed 101 Essential Blogging Resources, the list contains links to various softwares, sites and services, along with a brief description each. This includes domain registrars, hosting services, content management systems, blog design repositories, monetization programs, blogging news sites, metrics, and such other important tools you might need.

With the amount of tools and programs cropping up all over the web for every type of person imagineable, its about time that someone wrote a massive list of resources for bloggers. Fortunately, I’ve taken up that responsibility to share with you some of the tools I use in my daily blogging life.

Adnan himself says the list is not definitive, but I would say the list pretty much covers the essential blogging resources to start with (especially since it includes the Blog Herald!). What you do with these tools, and whether your blog will succeed by any measure will be up to you.

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How to use widgets with more than one sidebar on your WordPress blog

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In continuation of my last post, Enabling sidebar widgets for your WordPress theme, I am now going to show you how you can use these newfound widgets with more than one sidebar on your WordPress blog.

Most blogs have only one sidebar, but some, such as Blog Herald, have two (or more!) After reading my last post, you learned how you can use widgets on your blog’s theme, so now, I will show you how you can use widgets on two or more sidebars. This post assumes that you’ve either read my last post, or you already know how to widgetize a theme but would like to know how to widgetize more than one sidebar.

I’m also going to show you how you can customize your sidebars by choosing how you want each widget to be formatted on a per-sidebar basis, and I’ll also show you how you can name your sidebars to more easily identify each one.

This tutorial will focus on using widgets on two sidebars, but the steps can be easily reproduced to adapt to more than two sidebars.
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May 23, 2007

Bloggers: Act Your Age!

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Ia Lucero over at the Blog Tutorials blog has an interesting piece on why we bloggers should act our age on our blogs. And this doesn’t only mean we should do so on our blog posts, but also on comment threads, and perhaps other design elements of our blogs. Of course, it follows that your blog writing style should reflect your intent on your blog. If you run a serious blog, then you should at least try not to be too informal. If you run a personal blog, then it’s all right to loosen up a bit. The important thing is keeping within context.

Keep smilies, swear words, and other informal language out of serious pieces (news, essays, technical discussions). On the other hand, if you wish to get through to your audience as clearly and comfortably as possible, try loosening things up a bit. See what appeals to them and use that to your advantage. Make them comfortable enough to realize that “hey, this blog speaks my language” as opposed to “hey, this blog is full of big, pretentious words.” We don’t want pretentiousness. (And we go back to trust and truthfulness!)

Speaking of blogging styles, Freelance Switch has a list of 15 blogs that bloggers might want to check out, not just for the content, but also the writing style.

So it’s not simply acting your age, but also acting appropriately, depending on the context. When you’re at a children’s party, you would be expected to participate in parlor games. When you’re at an evening formal, you would look silly if you wore blue jeans. Same goes with your blog. Otherwise, you stand to lost the trust of your readers.

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Blogging and social networking the norm amongst young early adopters

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Continental Research has surveyed a number of technology “early adopters” in the US, Britain, Germany, and Japan, about their attitudes to and involvement with blogs and social networking sites.

They found that 19% of these early adopters have their own personally hosted blog, with Japan easily leading the way at 28%.

In addition, 30% have a blog hosted on a social site such as MySpace, Facebook, or Jaiku.

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WordPress Wednesday News: WordPress 2.2 Now Mandatory, WordPress.com to Break 1 Million Blogs, Blog to WordPress from Anywhere, and WordPress Beats Blogger

The latest release of WordPress is out and a mandatory upgrade. Before you get too excited at the awesome new features, alerts are coming in around the web that WordPress 2.2 may break some WordPress Plugins and I have the news you need to know on this. Any minute, WordPress.com will break 1 million blogs. You can now blog to your WordPress blog from WordPerfect and many other sources. WordPress now beats Blogger on Google. WordPress.com offers email for domain mapped blogs. More tips and techniques via videos and podcasts for WordPress users. And there is even more WordPress news you can use this week.

WordPress News

WordPress 2.2 is now a Mandatory Upgrade: If you are using WordPress 2.1.3, WordPress 2.2 is now a mandatory upgrade, according to WordPress developer, Mark Jaquith. He explains:

WordPress 2.2 is a mandatory security upgrade for WordPress 2.1.3 users. There will be no further releases in the 2.1.x branch. 2.2 includes security fixes that 2.1.3 lacks, so your only upgrade path is to 2.2.

WordPress 2.2 Released: WordPress 2.2 is now available for Download. You can find a list of version changes including many bug fixes and improvements such as the TinyMCE (Rich Text Editor) now works with Safari, instant update of comments after deleting comment spam, full Atom support, it’s faster, elimination of duplicate code bugs, fixing problems with PHP 5 not flushing output buffers, the Widget Plugin now included the core programming (the Plugin is not needed), and more among many other improvements and fixes. Tags have been pulled and should be in the next version of WordPress. See the WordPress Version 2.2 Features list for more information on what’s new in WordPress 2.2.

Also see Aaron Brazell’s 10 Things You Should Know About 2.2, Ilfilosofo’s WordPress 2.2: Three Things Developers Will Like, and Wired’s WordPress Update Integrates Widgets, Boosts Performance.

Things to Know About WordPress 2.2: Some older WordPress Plugins that may have kept on working without updates through previous versions of WordPress may break with WordPress 2.2. These include Plugins with rely upon old table structures and global functions. For example, the Ultimate Tag Warrior, Customizable Post Listings, More Smilies, and other Plugins which modify the_content() template tag and rely on deprecated structures and functions.
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Real-name registration for Chinese bloggers stay

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After the state media reported early this week that China is easing on its plan to require bloggers to register their real names when creating blogs, it appears that everything stays the same. The Blog Service Governance Communique, published by the Internet Society of China still maintain strict controls over the country’s bloggers, requiring them to register with their real names and identification cards.

The society’s new draft code of conduct seen on its web site says web log service providers must still get their users’ real names and contact information.

Critics say the requirement violates a blogger’s right to freedom of expression and puts them at risk of punishment or imprisonment if they post controversial opinions about politics, religion or other issues.

In October 2006, China’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII), the domestic Internet overseer, commissioned the ISC, which falls under its sway, to study the feasibility of instituting a real-name registration policy for bloggers. The study’s focus was whether or not the government could require would-be bloggers to register using their real name, and do so using official identification.

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