WordPress for blogging: a one week review
We’ve been using WordPress 2.0 for a little over a week now, and I feel comfortable enough to give an assessment of our experience thus far. First off, we both enjoy using it because writing a post is easy. With our previous system (Joomla), it involved logging in, clicking a button for content items, clicking a button to make a new entry, being limited to one category and clicking between a couple of other pages to do stuff like upload pictures, edit tags (to circumvent the single category action), and so forth. And the interface wasn’t very conducive to writing.
In comparison, WordPress is a breeze to use, so easy that I think we’re much more inclined to write. We can select and add categories easily and file/image upload is a piece of cake. All the options for writing are one page and we can keep the ones we don’t use that often closed until we need them. WordPress seems like it was made specifically with the user experience in mind – it just works. No wonder it’s been downloaded 1.4 million times! Let’s look at some of the specific aspects of WordPress 2.0.
I’m a geek by most definitions and I’ve been using systems like this for a couple of years now. I design and develop websites and have my own hosting. In the past 10 months, I’ved built websites on 4 different systems (Joomla, ModX, Textpattern & WordPress) and can honestly say that WordPress was the easiest install of all. The official documentation is comprehensive and well-written, and all I did was follow some detailed setup instructions. I don’t think the setup took more than 5 minutes, but depending on your familiarity with the requirements, your mileage may vary.
There’s not a whole lot to configure – once it’s installed, you can start writing immediately. After logging in, you are presented with your Dashboard, which has a synopsis of all your recent activity, article exerpts from the WordPress development blog (so you’ll always be aware of new versions) and a selection of links to WordPress news from various sources highlighting new plugins, widgets, themes and other WordPress-related topics. I could have started writing immediately, but I decided to poke around the settings. In the next few paragraphs, I’m going to skip most of the settings details and describe the more important things I configured. Check the official documentation for details on all the settings and their options.
First I went over to the Users tab and edited my Profile, creating a new password and deciding how my name would appear. In a subsection called Authors & Users I created an account for Trish. Note that users are given the role of Subscriber by default, so I had to create the Trish’s account first and then change her Role to Administrator in a second step.
Next I headed to the Options tab and checked the various site settings. In the General subsection I edited the blog title (tiny grass), the tagline (your steps are small, but you possess the earth under your tread), changed the start of the week to Sunday and allowed anyone to register and comment. Under Writing I doubled the size of the default post box (aka the box you write in) to 20 lines and, after writing some posts and creating Categories, changed the default category from ‘Uncategorized’ to ‘observations.’ I changed none of the Reading options and went over to Discussion instead. I made sure that pingbacks/trackbacks were allowed and that commenting was on by default. I also turned on the settings that comment writers must fill out their name & email to prevent anonymous flaming (and emails are not posted online), and that the first comment of an author must be approved, after which they can comment freely. I skipped the Comment Moderation and Comment Blacklist sections.
The following section is Permalinks, where for purposes of Search Engine Optimization (which I’ll discuss more in another later post) I changed the way our links appear from random numbers to a combo of date and post title. I then took a peek at the Miscellaneous options but left those alone.
Now came the fun part – writing something. I went over to the Write tab and started copying posts from the old blog (the Import tab does not have an option for our previous system, Joomla, so I copied stuff over manually). I easily added Categories, change the date & time of publication (aka Edit Timestamp), selected the correct Author (either Trish or myself) and Published the posts. The first new post I wrote was the one announcing our switch to WordPress.
Due to WordPress’ ease of use we’ve been writing much more regularly. At the rate we’re going, it will take us only one more week to exceed the number of posts we wrote with our previous system in 3 whole months. It also seems that our blog has increased traffic, thanks to WordPress’ automatic pinging as well as some research & work I did involving blog promotion. Both of those factors more than justify the switch to WordPress.
That’s it for now – in later posts I’ll talk more about some of WordPress’ other cool features: changing the appearance of your site with Themes and adding/enhancing functions via Plugins & Widgets. If you’ve got a question about setting up WordPress, feel free to give me a holler.