I announced earlier in the week that I was planning a redesign….and I really, really was. Except, for now – I’m not. I’m too indecisive, can’t make up my mind, can’t concentrate on anyone thing with the end result … well, the almost end result, feeling pretty disorganized. My problem is that I don’t have enough time to devote to my own stuff right now and it was feeling too forced, without any good damn reason for the redesign to begin with – – except for the fact that I’m tiring of the lightness of it all.
I’ll just have to tolerate it for a bit longer – at least long enough to pull my thoughts together on the creative bits for this blog. In that post where I announced the redesign – I did promise to provide some of the WordPress plugin goodness that I used to make some things happen around here – I cleaned this design up a bit and updated the theme to include some of the following:
- Tagging: I was using Bunny’s Technorati Tag plugin for the longest time. Even after I upgraded to WordPress 2.3 with it’s built-in tagging features… I still used Bunny Tags. Why? Pure laziness on my part. I knew I would eventually make the switch, and when I did, I wanted to make sure I was using some great tagging plugins like the Tags Manager to manage the tags. Because WordPress gave you the great tagging functionality, but didn’t give you any built-in way to manage those tags..makes total sense, doesn’t it? I also wanted to make sure I built tag pages into this site, as well as including the Tag Cloud in the sidebar, on the tags pages and the Archives listing. All this stuff takes time – so I never imported my Bunny Tags to WordPress, until now. And I totally need to manage my tags after I imported them – – check out the full site tag cloud I have on one of my tags pages – – totally insane, isn’t it?? Managing the tags is my next thing to do when I find some time.
- Widgets: It took me forever to adopt widgets here – but I finally did in certain parts of the blog. They are easy and convenient – especially for things like pulling in the RSS Feed from my E.Webscapes Design Blog in the sidebar – – now I don’t have to use a third party plugin to handle that bit.
- Tabbed Navigation: for my archives in the sidebar — over there on the right in that big pink box (again with the pink!) you see my Recent Posts, Popular Posts, Topics (Categories) and Archives all neatly packaged in one spot, instead of taking up space all over the sidebar. Tidy is good!
- Download Manager: I installed this awhile ago and I love it. It’s not for everyone – really it’s a plugin for folks who provide downloadable stuff on their site – – whether it’s plugins, themes, software or… like I’ve done, PDF documents of my WordPress For Dummies book. I wanted to track how often those PDF files were downloaded and accessed from the day I put them up. This plugin is simple stats for your downloadable – sweet!
- All In One SEO Pack – as if WordPress isn’t SEO friendly enough – this plugin puts your SEO on steroids. I’ve installed it on all my sites and am loving the results I’m seeing in my site analytics.
- Speaking of analytics – I also installed Ultimate Google Analytics which is a plugin that automatically adds the Google Analytics code in the footer of every page of your site, and allows you more control over what pages/files are tracked, etc. Control is good.
- NextGen Gallery – this is a nice image gallery plugin for WordPress and it is currently handling my portfolio listing in my sidebar. I’m liking it – but not sure I’m going to keep it. The CSS on this site validates perfectly – –
except, once I installed NextGen, there’s this odd little statement in the CSS validator that looks like this: Lexical error at line 47, column 81. Encountered: “?” (63), after : “” – very strange, no? It goes away when I deactivate NextGen and comes back when I activate it. Anyone got any good suggestions on this?UPDATE: thanks to a suggestion by Zeke – I installed the Lightbox2 plugin and use that effect instead of the Thickbox effect – – validation problems went bye bye. Thanks Zeke! If I weren’t such a control freak on the CSS validation thing, it wouldn’t bug me so much. Maybe I can learn to love this plugin enough to learn to let go?
- Different Posts Per Page plugin – a simple plugin that allows you to set different values for the different types of pages within WordPress. For instance, if you’re just using the default posts per page under the Options/Reading tab in your WordPress administration panel – – then if you set 1 post per page, not only do you show 1 post on your front page – – but 1 post on your category, archives, tags and search pages, as well. That’s not always desirable. So, this plugins allows you to set different values per page type. This blog shows 8 posts on the front page, but 25 posts in my category, archives, tags and search pages (which only show the title of each post, not the full post, itself.) I like!
- SideBlog is a plugin I installed last summer and I use it to handle small announcements and things that are so tiny, they barely rate a full blog post. You see it in action in the big green box in the right column of this site under the header “On the Side…snippets of stuff”. It’s where I post short and sweet announcements about things, mostly book related – – interviews, reviews, etc. A Sideblog isn’t for everyone – but comes in handy for me when I don’t want to muck up the main part of my blog with short announcements.
- Cache Images is a GREAT plugin! I’m not using it on this blog – but thought I would mention it because I run into so many people making the move from Blogger to WordPress, or Typepad to WordPress or WordPress.com to a hosted WordPress blog on their own domain. What’s so great? One of the bigger problems people who migrate to a hosted WordPress blog run into is the images within their posts. For instance, on Typepad, the images are hosted on TypePad’s servers… so when you import your entries from Typepad – – the image source within the post is still pointed to Typepad. Likewise for users on Blogger or WordPress.com or any other hosted solution. What does this plugin do? It goes through all of your posts, after you’ve imported them into your WordPress blog – it finds the images that are linked to the other domains and caches them on your own server. Wala! No more image transfer problems for migraters. This one was written by the WordPress guy, Matt Mullenweg.
- I’ve gotten a few people who have emailed asking how I do my Links Page with such a comprehensive listing of links. Easy answer: the Link Harvest plugin by Alex King. What does it do? It keeps track of each and every single link you’ve added to your blog and spits them out in a cool and comprehensive listing like you see on my Links Page – – Alex also stuck in some AJAX programming goodness so you can choose to view the posts that contain certain links… or show the different links themselves. Visit my links page and give it a try.. .click the “show posts” link – – or the “show links” link and you’ll see what I’m talking about. (The top part of that page is handled just by using the wp_list_bookmarks tag).
Wow – well that got a lot longer than I expected it would be… but maybe you found some cool new plugins to use on your own WordPress blog that you didn’t know about before?
And regarding the redesign – – maybe next month. I just can’t right now.. unless someone can find me a 36..ummm….48 hour day??? Until then, we’re white and pink around here for a bit longer. I AM getting my hair cut this week, though – – try and stop me!