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Building Web Sites With WordPress

Let’s take a look at how this current version (as at March 17, 2008) of the OnLine Marketing Fundamentals web site has been put together. I’ll explain why certain things have been done so you can get a better idea of what’s needed to develop your own web site.

I’ve deliberately chosen to use WordPress as the Content Management System – i.e. the program which allows me to add/edit pages easily – for quite a few reasons:

  1. I’ve been coding web sites in raw HTML for years, and am so “over” all that now… WordPress provides me with web browser based forms where I can enter the info needed for each page or post, and simply point and click to assign categories, save/edit or delete data, create drafts of articles to work on later, to schedule items for future publication… etc. etc. etc. The flexibility that comes with this program is amazing!

    WordPress is also set up for Web 2.0 and easily allows people to add their own comments, or even write guest articles if I choose to allow it (something I want to do a little later on).

    The moment you make a new post, WordPress tells (or “pings”) a heap of update services to tell them you have new content available… and your pages will be visited very quickly by search engines to index your content! Usually within hours (not weeks or months as with a “normal” web site).

    And the variety of RSS feeds that WordPress automatically generates makes syndication of my content dead easy (this is going to become more and more important as time goes by).

  2. WordPress is free software, yet despite its low cost, is extremely powerful! If you have cPanel web hosting you will most likely have an option called Fantastico which contains a suite of free programs you can install, including WordPress. And installation takes only a couple of minutes to do. This OMF installation was into the main www (or root) directory of my web site, although you could also install into a sub-folder or directory if you wanted to.

    If you don’t have Fantastico, WordPress is available as a free download. Installation is a little trickier, but just follow the instructions and you shouldn’t go wrong!

  3. The template I’m using – that’s the “design” of the site, the stuff around the edges, fonts, colours etc – is a premium WordPress template called Revolution 2.0. I chose to use this because I wanted a more polished, professional look and more display functions than what normally comes with the thousands of free templates available. The installation of this template was dead simple. I just uploaded the files using FTP into the correct WordPress directory – wp-content-themes – on my server.

    I’ve also made many minor changes to the template to give it some of my “personality”. In particular, I changed the colours and style of the links and visited links, to go back to the default blue and purple underlined links that people are more comfortable with as I want to make this site easy for them to use!

  4. With WordPress you can add include various “plugins” to extend the flexibility of the system with additional functions. The plugins I have used so far include:
    • Akismet – a spam trapping plugin – an absolute necessity!
    • Subscribe To Comments – which allows people to receive by email new comments from items they’re interested in
    • WP-Print – displays a printable version of the page (content only, without the extras)
    • Stats – Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks
    • Popularity Contest – ranks the posts by popularity. I’ve actually turned the public reporting off for the moment until the site starts to attract some decent traffic. Then I’ll be able to display a list of “more popular posts” on each page IF I decide that list adds to your experience 🙂
    • Advanced Category Excluder – hides selected categories from public display – specifically I’ve removed the “terminology” category from showing in the RSS feeds – I see little point in inflicting lots of basic definitions on my RSS readers. I’ll also be using this plugin for some special “RSS only” promotions I have planned once the number of RSS subscribers reaches a certain level.
    • The previous plugin does NOT exclude posts from that category from the list of “recent posts” that appears on each page… so I’ve also installed the Recent Posts plugin which does that (and more, when I have time to implement those extra features).
    • I also did have the What Would Seth Godin Do plugin activated. This displays a custom welcome message to new visitors at the top or bottom of a post. But I didn’t like where it put itself, so I turned this plugin off, and modified the template to place my pale-blue email alert reminder box just above the comments heading (see below)

    That’s it for the plugins currently installed here.

  5. Speaking of email alerts… that page allows people to subscribe by email to a free update service provided by Feedburner. What happens is that Feedburner checks my RSS feed every day, looks for any changes, and then if there are any new items, it will email subscribers with those changes! If nothing changes, no emails get sent.

    What’s good about this too is that Feedburner also takes care of all the spam compliance issues! And because I don’t have direct access to the list… I won’t be blasting my subscribers with unwanted extra items. It’s very much a case of “what you see on the site, is what you’ll get with the alerts”… except for the special, occasional “RSS only” promotions mentioned above.

  6. I’ve also elected to include the full text of each post in my RSS feeds, rather than the summary option. I believe that the content in most of these posts is valuable enough for people (subscribers) to want to keep in a separate folder in their email client – rather than force them to come back to the site to “find out more”. While that means I have made it easier for more sites to “scrape” and steal my content, the advantages for my subscribers are more important. Besides, careful linking within the content will send people viewing the scraped content back to my site anyway, gaining me some extra free publicity (and I won’t even think about any linking from “bad” neighbourhoods).

  7. The hardest part of any web site design is deciding on the various “categories” you’re going to use – i.e. the structure of the site – which is reflected in the navigation options. You’ve got to make it relatively simple for people to follow, but flexible enough to allow for future expansion without breaking! And you’ve got to keep the options limited – preferably under ten – because if you provide too many choices, people find it too hard to decide what to click on, so they click OFF instead!

  8. I’ve also gone over to Technorati to “claim” this site as one of my blogs – the first step in my linking strategy to attract traffic from social bookmarking sites. Shortly I’ll be adding the site to my MyBlogLog profile and including their “recent visitors” javascript plugin in the right hand sidebar here.

  9. The in-page graphics come from my subscriptions to two sites – (approx US$160.00 for a 12 month subscription) and (photos and illustrations from US$1.00 each). Both places provide great stuff you can (and should) use to jazz up your pages… I’m aiming at including at least one relevant image on each page of this site, so I’ll be using these subscriptions quite a lot!

  10. I’m also playing around with a new advertising widget from on the left hand side of each page… I’m not too sure how long I’ll keep it there… but I’ll probably replace with a better targetted offer of my own soon.

So – from install on the 28th February to now, 17th March – around 18 days of part-time work to get a new site to the stage where it’s ready to rumble… with some 30 pages of useful content to kick off with, and great promises for the future.

Now all i have to do is make sure I can deliver on that!!!


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