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I saw a nice re-tweet this week from @123LinkIt for 15 Best Plugins for 2010, and knew that it was time to make some adjustments to how things are done at WhatAboutStephen. So I’ve been going through each of these plugins, looking to see how best to use them. Here are my thoughts so far:
WP Super Cache – I don’t really think that my blog drives enough traffic to worry about caching, but it’s probably still a good practice to get into. Have you noticed a difference in how fast pages load up? I haven’t. But then again, I only just installed it. But maybe as the site continues to grow this will become more important.
HeadSpace 2: WordPress SEO Made Simple – The author of the 15 Best Plugins for 2010 starts by saying “Move over All in One SEO”. I had not heard of HeadSpace 2 until relatively recently. SEO hasn’t really been something that I’ve worried too much about on this blog. Most people come to it directly, and since I don’t sell anything (I give you my time and energy for free!) there wasn’t much of a point. It’s good to learn, but I’ve had other things on my plate. Well I installed HeadSpace 2 yesterday, and when I looked at all the different options in the settings, I felt myself start to break into a sweat, and disabled it. I’ll go back when I have more time. But for now, it’s on the backburner again. Oh, and because I’m sure that some people aren’t aware of what SEO is.. Search Engine Optimization. Essentially making the blog search engine friendly so that it appears higher on the search page for a particular keyword or phrase. Yeah, fun stuff. Now you know why I haven’t been too excited about it. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
Akismet – This one is already part of my WordPress plugin arsenal. Even though this blog is tiny compared to many, I still receive a decent amount of spam comments. Askismet manages to stop 99% of them. Honestly, I don’t know what the point of comment spam even is! “Great post! You rawk!” I mean.. c’mon.. what’s the point??? Anyway, Akismet is definitely a must-have… although I’m pretty sure that you might have to pay for it now. I added it to a new blog, and it asked for a license… so I just plopped in my old API key, and it seems to be working. There are other spam catchers, so if you don’t want to pay for Akismet, you can certainly find others.
WPtouch iPhone Theme – This is another one that I had installed already. With so many people using mobile devices to access the web, it seemed natural to add this plugin. If the blog detects a mobile browser, it will format the view to make it easier to read. You can click at the bottom to view naturally.
Backtype Tweetcount – Here is a new one for me. You may have noticed that there is a little spot beside each post that allows you to retweet the post with one click, and also shows you the number of people who have retweeted it already. Do I really expect people to be retweeting my stuff? No, not really. It’s not really that interesting. But this is a test platform for other things, and who knows.. maybe there will be something sometime that someone finds interesting, and wants to send to their followers. This little plugin makes that extremely simple!
Nofollow Case by Case – I’m still trying to figure this one out. As I understand it, this plugin will make links from comments searchable by search engines. Apparently that doesn’t happen by default? I was unaware of that. Not that I see many links within comments anyway, but there have been a few. This should help with the SEO on the blog. It’s worth a shot anyway.
WP-DBManager – A database backup manager? I think after the problems that I had recently, that a backup manager would be a welcome addition to the blog. Any blog. All blogs! I’ve installed it, but I haven’t really had any time to play with it. Still, having a daily backup probably isn’t such a bad idea. I used to have a backup sent to me weekly, but things have picked up now, and there are quite a few posts from one week to the next now. Daily it is!
Thank Me Later – Here’s one that I’m interested in trying out. I’ve installed it, but haven’t set it up yet. Thank Me Later will automatically send a “thank you” email after someone leaves a comment. Not that you’d want to do this every time, but it would be nice for new readers. Maybe. Not all the comments are happy ones 🙂
Well that’s all I’m going to go through for now. That’s half the list. I will look at the rest of it later.
Thanks for reading!
I read an article awhile ago on the common mistakes that newbie bloggers make. Most of them I’d already gotten past, but there was one that caught my eye… not creating your own personalized favicon for your blog. In case you don’t know what a favicon is (I didn’t), it’s the tiny little picture that appears at the top of your web browser page when you’re viewing a particular website. These have been around for ages, but I didn’t realize that they had their own name. Apparently they do. Favicon. (Although I continually type “flavicon” and I don’t know why!)
I knew that one of my blog themes (the Christmas one, I think) had automatically changed the little picture once upon a time, but I did’t realize that I could change it on my own. Then I read that article and thought “I should do that!”… And I promptly forgot about it until I saw a tweet come out a few days ago that mentioned changing your favicon.
So I started looking into it again. I found a few websites that told me how to do it. Choose a picture, run it through a website program that changed it to an .ico file, FTP the new file to my WordPress server, launch the site editor, open the Header.php file, past a link in there with the location of the new .ico file included… confused yet? Yeah, then at the end of the article it said “Or you could use a WordPress plug like this…”
Why hadn’t they told me that IN THE BEGINNING???
So I did a search for favicon plugins, and lookie there… there are several of them! I chose one called Favicon Rotator, which is a piece of cake to use! It takes any picture and turns it into a favicon file and uploads it to where it needs to be. It’s that easy. Not only that… but you can upload multiple favicons, and it will display them randomly whenever someone goes to the blog. I like that!
If you have a WordPress blog and are looking to customize it a little bit, I recommend installing a favicon manager. As I said, there are several to choose from, and you don’t need to use Favicon Rotator. If you do try it out (or any plugin) let me know how you make out with it!
I’ve been trading a few emails back and forth with Yasmine Mustafa, founder of 123LinkIt, trying to get the plugin to work properly on this blog. We’re not quite there yet, but I’m confident that the issue will get resolved. Actually, at the moment, I have a nagging suspicion that it might be a user-related problem, rather than a plugin one. I have to do a little more testing to do with a different browser (something that I am unable to do at this moment), and if that’s what it turns out to be… open wide… insert foot. Hell, I might as well insert both of them! It’ll be a little embarrassing, considering I posted last month that I was giving up on the plugin. But that’s fine. When I look at some of the recent posts/tweets, the fact that I’m troubleshooting with a female CEO of a startup internet company, who doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall… yeah… I cringe. Welcome to my world…
I will say this, though… when I look at what they’re doing, I’m more than a little jealous. No, that’s not a job application. I’ll gladly leave that space to 123LinkIt. But the dream… yeah… Jealous.
And anyone who knows me well should understand what I mean by that.
People have mentioned that the blog is not mobile-friendly. I never really thought much about it because I was not accessing it through a cell phone. But as more and more people use mobile browsers to access their favourite content on the go, I decided that perhaps I should look into improving the mobile experience on the blog.
And that’s where the WordPress Mobile plugin comes in. I actually tried installing it awhile ago, but I kept getting an error, so I gave up on it until tonight. Tonight I was determined to figure it out and get it working properly. Turns out that it’s not difficult to install at all, and had I actually read the readme file, I would have noticed that I needed to drop one file into a different directory than I normally do. Voila! That’s it.
In testing, I have to say that I don’t really care for what it does to the blog, but that’s probably because I have a full featured browser. If I had a more limited browser, I think that the WordPress Mobile version would actually be much better.
So I’m looking for feedback if anyone would like to check out the blog through their mobile browser and tell me whether it’s acceptable to them, or if I should just remove it. If you’re using a normal computer browser, you won’t notice any difference from what you’re used to.
You may have noticed a tiny little coffee cup icon at the bottom of this post. I read about an interesting little plug-in that I’m testing out. It’s called “Buy me a beer”, but since I don’t drink beer, there is an option to change it to a “cafe” as well. I don’t drink coffee either, but I’ll consider hot chocolate to be close enough to “cafe”. I’ve looked for a “Buy me a Coke” plug-in, but that doesn’t seem to exist. (If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know)
I’m looking at testing different things with the blog, to see what works and what doesn’t, before implementing those things on some of the other projects that are being worked on behind the scenes. You might see the plug-in replaced by something else in the future. I’m still waiting for Google to approve my AdSense application, but they seem to be quite slow. Amazon approved me within 24 hours, but Google seems to be a little more picky.