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August 17, 2009

5 Ogilvy Tips for Blog Design

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David Ogilvy is a legend in the advertising world, despite having first retired some 30 year ago and not having published a book in nearly 25. His works are required reading for advertising students today and his philosophy of creating ads that generate sales made millions for his clients. He had a characteristic style or writing and design that remains instantly recognizable to those who’ve studied him, even today.

Though Ogivly died in 1999, just as the Web was beginning to take off, many of his lessons and ideas remain just as valid today as they did half a century ago. Last year I wrote an article entitled “7 Blogging Tips from David Ogilvy” that focused on applying some of Ogilvy’s techniques to blog writing. Ttoday however, I’m going to focus on how his design tips can help you choose a good look for your blog.

Ogilvy had a very famous and classic layout that focused on combining visuals with easy-to-read text. It’s a simple layout that draws the reader’s eye and lures them into the content. It’s a design that at least some elements easily apply to blogs, including the ones below. read more

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June 29, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Melody, Installation, and Edit Links

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Happy Monday, folks! The big news this week is the launch of Melody, an open source fork of Movable Type. Several long-time MT developers are contributing to the project, and a 1.0 release is expected this year.

It’s unclear at this point how this project will differ from the existing open source version of MT. Certainly, a different leadership is going to have different priorities. The Melody folks seem to be bending over backward to show this is not a break from MT, but just a separate development branch. And, similarly, Six Apart has welcomed the new project. So I doubt we’ll see any of the commercial MT features rewritten as open source modules, at least in the near term. It’s more likely we’ll see features that are useful to independent developers (and, consequently, small to medium size businesses) instead of the enterprise-level development that seems to be 6A’s focus. read more

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June 15, 2009

Movable Type Monday: 4.26, Themes, Feedback Forms, and More

Happy Monday, folks! The big news from the past week is the release of Movable Type 4.26. This is a performance release — it improves search performance and reliability of the job queue. It also includes a handful of other bug fixes, and some new configuration directives that help you tweak performance.

However, you may choose to hold off on this upgrade. People on the MT mailing lists noticed that it did not seem to be performing a full upgrade. Turns out the schema version was not updated, so the intended changes to the database are not made. Six Apart has assured everyone that has already upgraded that the problem will not cause anything to break. The schema changes were only to increase performance, so they are not required for the code changes. A fix is expected this week. read more

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June 8, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Photo Gallery, Google Maps, Template Sets, and More

Happy Monday, folks! We’ve got a few new and updated plugins this week, so let’s start there.

Byrne Reese released a new version of the Photo Gallery plugin. This version includes two new options for the “front door” of your gallery. You can now choose a grid or blog layout, and you can display a featured photo. Byrne also released an updated version of the plugin’s documentation.

SetOffset, written by Shinichi Nozawa, is an enhancement to the Movable Type admin. On the Manage Entries screen, it allows you to “jump” to a specific point in the list of entries, rather than have to page through them to find the one you want. read more

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June 1, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Themes, Plugins, and an Interview with Anil Dash

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Happy Monday, folks! We’ve got lots to cover this week, including an interview with Anil Dash from Six Apart about the WordPress plugins they recently released. But let’s start off with new stuff for your Movable Type blog.

First, Byrne Reese posted a preview of a new theme he’s working on: Hybrid News. This is a port of the WordPress theme of the same name. Byrne will release the theme under an open source license when it’s ready, and promises lots of new, MT-only features when it comes out. read more

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May 4, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Notifier, TaskMaster, and RandomEntries

Happy Monday, folks! This week it’s all Movable Type plugins. We have two new ones, plus updates to an old favorite.

First up is MT-Notifier. Chad Everett has released two updates to this blog notification plugin — 3.5.2 and 4.2.1. In 3.5.2, changes include:

Updated comment notification to address send after approval.

For 4.2.1, the following changes were made:

  • Added check for blog_id to search_api table.
  • Fixed problem with base_url correctly reading.
  • Removed extraneous permissions from list actions.
  • Standardized history write routine in history module.
  • Updated write_history_records routine.

read more

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April 14, 2009

Movable Type Monday: CSS, Template Tags, and Reblogging

Happy Monday, folks! This week, we have three new plugins to talk about, so let’s get right to it.

Reblog — A few years back there was a reblogging plugin that was part of the eyebeam reBlog software. That one was never updated to work with Movable Type 4. Now, Six Apart has released a brand new Reblog plugin. This one reads Atom and RSS feeds and creates entries for each one. This is particularly useful if you post to multiple blogs and want to pull all those entries to one site.

UnrecognizedTags — This is another Six Apart plugin. This plugin adds an option to the Tools menu that allows you to check all your templates for unrecognized template tags. This is something you’ll want to run after an upgrade, or when moving old templates to a new install. That way, you’ll know if your templates reference a tag from a plugin that’s not installed.

Custom CSS — And finally, another plugin from Byrne Reese. Custom CSS gives you a simpler way to edit the CSS for your blog. With this plugin you don’t have to change any templates or change your core CSS stylesheets just to change the style of your blog. Thanks, Byrne!

What have you done with Movable Type lately? Let us know in the comments.

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February 23, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Proposals, Affiliates, Themes, and More

Happy Monday, folks! We’re going to start this week with something that’s probably a little too “under the hood” for most people, but indulge me for a moment. On the Movable Type wiki, developers are discussing a proposal to refactor the variable tags in MT. Sure, it’s not flashy stuff, but if you’re a developer interested in how improvements are made to open source projects, proposals like this are interesting to read.

Now, on to the plugins!

BlogShow — This Flash photo slideshow sports an impressive selection of features, including keyboard navigation and cross-platform support. Created by ITDR, the download available in the plugin directory is a trial version that can be used for up to five galleries.

Yandex OpenIDAndrey Serebryakov continues to make MT more useful to Russian bloggers. This time, he’s added support for logging in using a Yandex account, the largest Russian web portal.

Automatix LightBox — This plugin makes it easier than ever to add Lightbox functionality to your blog posts. Submitted by Mixel Adm, the instructions say just install, upload, and rebuild.

EchoCurrent Affiliate Product Optimizer — EchoCurrent is designed to show your readers affiliate products selected specifically for them. Created by Mike Ruggieri, this plugin will make it easy to put an “APO Zone” anywhere on your blog.

Photo Gallery — Last week, we discussed the changes Byrne Reese was making to his Photo Gallery plugin. Well now he’s got a release out. The old templates have been replaced by the new theme, and there’s even an upgrade script for people still using the 1.0 version of Photo Gallery.

Finally, the CMR Movable Type Styles Blog has a new template set: iNove. Based on a WordPress theme, this comes in both Classic Blog and Professional Blog versions.

What have you done with MT lately? Let us know in the comments.

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February 16, 2009

Movable Type Monday: A Photo Gallery Theme and an Open Thread

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Happy Monday, folks! It’s a slow news week in the Movable Type community. The one item I want to point out is the Photo Gallery Theme from Byrne Reese. Byrne maintains the Photo Gallery plugin, and now he’s building a theme for it based on the Mid-Century Template Set. Nice work, Byrne! I’m looking forward to the release of this theme.

Since I didn’t run across any other Movable Type news this week, I thought we could use this as an open thread to discuss all things MT. What do you love/hate about MT? What are your favorite plugins? What have you struggled with the most? What features do you want to see in a future release? Whatever your thoughts on MT, let’s discuss them in the comments.

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January 26, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Switching Forums, Multiple Columns, Ajax

Happy Monday, folks! Probably the biggest thing to happen for the Movable Type community this week was the shutting down of the old forums to move everyone over to the MT-based forums. The forums on MovableType.org have been up for a while in something of a beta status. It was finally decided that it didn’t make sense to have two forums, and it was better to stick with something built on the MT platform. The MT forums look great, but still have some bugs and lack some features common to forums. A wiki page was started to address some of these issues, so be sure to check it out if you run into problems on the forums. read more

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