Tag Archives: Blogs

Archives: Blogs’ Achilles’ Heel

Do you know what one of the hardest things to get right in a blog, and one of the most critical? (Not to mention one of the most overlooked…) Archives.

Every post you write is stored in the database permanently, and is always accessible via it’s direct link. But what if you don’t have the permalink URL and you’re trying to find a post? You use the ever-important search box. But what if you don’t know enough of the title, or what if you just want to browse through old posts? It’s in your best interests to make it easy to do both, afer all, it will increase your page views.

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Preparing Your Blog For Easy iPhone Usage

I’ve previously talked about scripts that make it easier to develop iPhone web apps, or parse blog RSS feeds into a format easily navigable format for the iPhone. But that’s a lot of work, isn’t it?

What if you just want to make your WordPress-powered blog easy to use on the iPhone? Pro Blog Design has the answer. It covers the usage of a WordPress plugin to automatically reformat your blog for iPhone users, as well as how to create custom Web-Clip icons for your site.

Reading text off a colored background isn’t always a great experience at iPhone level, and given that very few people on a small screen are going to read your ads, there is little gain in showing them.

The iWPhone plugin provides a clean, simple interface that’s easy to read from. It also has a pretty cool feature where tapping anywhere on the content of an excerpt will load the post page.

However, the iPhone web browser is great. The vast majority of sites look great on the iPhone, and yours is probably one of them. If so, keep your custom design. It’s much more unique and much more memorable than the iPhone theme will ever be.

You may or may not want to go through the trouble to do it, and it’s not necessary for a lot of blogs. But if you run a blog updated multiple times a day, with content that people want to see right when it’s added (news comes to mind), you definitely have a situation where the iWPhone plugin could be useful.

Read the full post for the rest of Michael’s info and tutorial.

Some Useful Commenting Advice

Comments are one of my favorite parts of blogging. It’s nice to be able to give some feedback on a post you enjoy, disagree with, or have something to add to. You really notice how much you like having the ability to leave a comment when you read a site like The New York Times…because they don’t allow comments on their articles.

Commenting can help promote your blog subtly and effectively, but remember that comments are first and foremost about discussion.

What are some good practices to use when commenting? Here are a few articles on that note:

Blogsessive: Obsessed With Blogging

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found quite a few interesting articles on Blogsessive.com. I haven’t subscribed quite yet, but I’m considering. They have some interesting posts, and it might be worth your while to check some of them out. Here are a few noteable posts of theirs:

Maybe I’ll subscribe once I finish weeding-out the feeds I could do without from my aggregator.

“Push-Button Publishing”: Why It’s Important

I spend so much time writing on how to move beyond Blog*Spot, and how to run a more professional blog, that I sometimes forget the importance of what Blogger.com calls “Push-Button Publishing.” And more often, I forget that I once was at a similar level to Blog*Spot users (though back then I hand-coded “GeoCities-style” HTML pages that probably looked worse than some of the Blog*Spot blogs…).

The internet is what can be called a “two-way medium.” This implies that anyone can create content and publish it online for others to consume, and they can do the same. You don’t just consume canned content provided by SuperMegaCorp, you can actually be involved in the publishing.

In contrast, TV and radio are one-way mediums. The evil supersized corporations (e.g. CBS, ClearChannel, ABC) own everything, and all you can do is consume the content they shove at you.

In the early days of radio and television, they were two-way mediums. Anyone with the expertise to build a radio transmitter and reciever could talk to other such people. (Give HAM Radio a try if you’d like to see what it’s like.) Then the FCC (or if you live outside the U.S., you probably have your own local equivalent) came along and sectioned everything off, licensing only a select few to broadcast. Then those companies merged and merged, eventually monopolizing the broadcast industry.

Free blog providers, like Blog*Spot and WordPress.com, help make the internet the two-way medium that it is. Anyone can set-up a blog and put their message online. That’s important. Very important. The ability for anyone to publish content to the internet is part of what makes it so special. Free blog providers put that ability into the hands of many more people, who wouln’t otherwise have blogs.

Yes, I know saying this sort of goes against my message that “you need a good design” and that “you should host your blog yourself.” But that message goes more toward people who want to become authoritative sources of information. If you’re not into all that, and just want a personal blog to put your thoughts out there for whoever, go ahead with Blog*Spot. I write more for people who want to write seriously and professionally, not personal bloggers. I’m not discounting personaly blogs, as I hope the above text has shown. I think they’re pretty important, since they put the power of web publishing in the hands of everyone, but I have to point out that there is a distinction between personal blogs, and blogs such as FreelanceSwitch, CNet, and this one. There’s a place for both types of blogs, and anyone can start one of either, but understand that creating a topical blog is an undertaking that requires careful planning, a bit more web experience, and a few dollars for a domain and hosting.

“Push-Button Publishing”

Anyone can have a blog, what with all of the instant blog services like Blogger and WordPress.com. But just because they can have a blog doesn’t mean they should.

I believe that it’s important that it be possible for anyone who has something to say to publish their thoughts online. However, the key part is “anyone who has something to say.” I don’t like the idea of an internet full of narcissistic personal blogs and ad-filled John Chow wannabes. If you have something real to say, or if you’re an unusually interesting person, go right ahead and launch a blog. Plan it out though. Don’t just throw something together in five minutes on a whim. (Also, I recommend getting a domain name if you want to be taken seriously.)

I like the idea of web publishing being fairly easy, but sometimes I wonder if it’s a little too easy.

My general rule of thumb is “if you have something interesting to say, and the initiative the keep the blog going for longer than a year, go right ahead.”

Blog Navigation: Archives Aren’t Good Enough

What can we do to make blogs easier to navigate? As they stand, it can be hard to find things in the archives.

Not everyone has read everyone of your posts as they came out, and people often want to return to pages they’d read before.

Date-based archives aren’t any help. They may be the least-useful of blog navigation techniques. Sure, there may be times when you want to see the posts from a specific month, but not very often.

Search forms are great, possibly the best navigation method used on blogs today, but you have to know what so search before it’s of any use.

Then you have tags and categories, which have their uses, but are just another way to sort data. You need to have tags and/or categories on your blog. They help people find what they’re looking for, though if you have 3+ years of posts in your archives, it may still take awhile to find the posts worth reading.

The posts worth reading…

Essentially, you want a place to highlight your best work, the posts that everyone should read. While you obviously still have a lot of good stuff in your archives, to be unearthed by readers when they need it, this page would have the posts you want everyone to see right away.

Thinking about this, I ended up building my Featured Posts page, which is essentially a yearly archive of a “Featured” category I use for this purpose. Here’s how to set it up.

My Featured Posts scheme helps, but it’s not the ultimate answer. It’s just one piece of the blog navigation puzzle.

Poll: Image Host or wp-content/uploads?

When you add images to your blog posts, where do you upload them? Do you store them on an image host like TinyPic.com, or do you prefer to keep them on your own server somewhere?

There are advantages to both methods, and of course, disadvantages.

As of this writing, I put most of my images on TinyPic, though I’ve lately been a little worried about that. What if TinyPic decides to delete them? What if something happens and they lose a bunch of data? I happens. It would be lot of work to re-upload images and edit all of my posts, but it would be “safer.” Though on the other hand, I’d be storing more files on my server, and transferring more bytes as well…

I’m still undecided, but what’s your preferred method?

Poll Results

7 Simple SEO Tips For Bloggers

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, most bloggers fall into three groups.

  1. SEO Maniacs – They’re obsessed with improving their PageRank, and driving up their rankings using any means possible. A.K.A. John Chow before Google caught-on.
  2. The SEO Disinclined – The sort who just blog and ignore the SEO aspect.
  3. The SEO Neutral – Serious bloggers who do a little SEO, but don’t focus on it that much.

No matter which group you fall into, consider implementing the following tips.

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BlogBuzz March 1, 2008