Setting up a blog: WordPress settings

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Overview

You can just start using a standard WordPress installation as it is – but just by making a few changes to the settings, adding and amending the layout, (theme), and adding a number of enhancements, (plugins), you can greatly improve the professional look of your website.

This post shows you the most useful changes you can make to the WordPress settings menu.

Setting the WordPress Settings

One of the first things you should be doing is to make some adjustments on the WordPress settings:


Customise Permalinks

Make your post headings easier to read by both humans and search engines.  The default WordPress heading is something like blogbasics.com/?p=13  whereas setting up the Permalinks this is automatically changed to a representation of the post title
blogbasics.com/what-is-a-blog

General Settings

Adjust the tag line of your blog.
Check default email
Set data and time format

Media Settings

This allows you to set the default sizes of images uploaded into your post and you can select whether to have your images are stored in the same place, which I recommend, or leave the default storage of images in year and month order.

Check Privacy Settings

Make sure your blog is visible to Google and other search engines.  Some WordPress installations set the default to not visible.  You may want to leave your site not visible while setting up – I advise you not to do this.

Enable Windows Live Writer

If you want to use Microsoft Live Writer, (Something I recommend), then you will need to enable the Remote Publishing facility XML-RPC or you will not be able to upload your posts.

 

 

WordPress Jetpack: Powerful Plug-in

WordPress Jetpack

WordPress Jetpack Plugin

Problem with Jetpack seems to have been resolved
There were quite a few people having problems with the plugin, myself included. In particular the Stats package stopped working and complained that it was not connected to WordPress.com.

It now seems to have sorted itself out and I reckon the problem was that the system could not handle the huge rush of users. It now seems to be working OK.

Introduction

WordPress have just released the extremely powerful JetPack plug-in.  This feature will add quite a few useful utilities that were only available as a complete package to blogs on the company’s free blogging platform, WordPress.com.

It is clear that JetPack will be used by WordPress to add other features in the future in a similar way to aps on mobile phones.  There may be charges for some of these new added features in the future.

Features of Jetpack

  • Gravatar Hovercards: Find out who’s commenting on your posts with enhanced information for Gravatars (includes full name, bio, other web profiles).
  • WordPress.com Stats: Keep on top of your traffic with powerful and simple to understand statistics for your site.
  • Twitter Widget: Keep your readers more up to date by syncing your tweets to your site via a simple widget.
  • Shortcodes: Quickly add movies, images, and more to your posts and pages with a single line of code.
  • Shortlinks: Automatically creates an easy to copy/paste mini-url for any post on your site.
  • LaTeX: Use the famous markup language to quickly create beautiful mathematical expressions and equations.
  • Sharedaddy: Your readers can easily share your posts via email or their favorite social networks.
  • After the Deadline: Your writing will improve thanks to this artificial intelligence based spell, style, and grammar checker.

Installation of Jetpack

Installation of the package is relatively straightforward.  Once installed individual features need to be configured.

Login to the WordPress Dashboard

Click on the Plugin button

Plugin

WordPress Plugin

Click  Add New

Type in the search term  jetpack and click  Search Plugins button

Click   Install Now

Confirm that you want to install the plugin by clicking the    OK button

Click   Activate Plugin

You will see a message displayed at the top of the Plugin page the above message  Your Jetpack is almost ready with a green button Connect to WordPress.com on the right.

Click the Connect to the WordPress.com button.

WordPress account signin page

WordPress account sign-in page

If you have a WordPress account sign-in.  You will need to   Authorize the connection to your blog and then you can go to the plugin’s configuration.

Getting a WordPress Account

or Click   Need an Account link on the right

Join WordPress

Join WordPress

Enter your details and then press the   Sign up button

WordPress Profile

WordPress Profile

You will be sent an email.  You will need to confirm on the link in the email to join WordPress.com

This is optional: You will asked to add your profile

If you do then press     Submit button.

Once your account has been validated it is generally easier to go back to the WordPress Dashboard and click the  green       Connect of WordPress

Connect to WordPress

WordPress is then Installed

Setting up Jetpack

Tutorial: How to install a WordPress widget

Widgets

Widgets - blogger's toys and building blocks

Overview

A WordPress widget is a piece of standalone code that can be readily slotted into the sidebar or other position on a WordPress site.  Built into WordPress is a well designed widget management system that the non-technical user can easily use to enhance the look of their blog.

Definition of a widget (Wikipedia)

A widget is a stand-alone application that can be embedded into third party sites by any user on a page where they have rights of authorship (e.g. a webpage, blog, or profile on a social media site).

WordPress Widgets were originally developed by the WordPress team to improve the look of the sidebar. The widget system in the package makes it extremely easy to install, organise or remove widgets even by someone with no real technical knowledge.

About widgets

Widgets are an extremely useful enhancement to a WordPress site. Originally widgets were a very easy way for the non-technical blog owner to add code, text and images to a blog’s sidebar.

Now developers have produced a fantastic range of widgets to increased possibilities of your blog and the same time many themes now  incorporate areas for widgets in all sections of their blog design, including the header, footer and even in a post layout .

Note: Many older WordPress themes are not enabled for widgets.

Installing a widget

Log into the WordPress dashboard.

Click Appearance on the left hand column

Locate appearance section

Locate Appearance section

 

Click Widgets  on the Appearance Menu

 

 

WordPress Appearance Menu

Click Widgets

Note: The Appearance Menu will change dependant on the installed theme.

This menu is the current default theme of WordPress: Twenty Ten.

The WordPress widget management system

WordPress Widget Page

WordPress Widget Page

The WordPress standard widgets

WordPress offers a number of standard widgets.  The below screen shows them all below.  As stated there could be additional widgets from the theme developer or the user can add additional widgets with one of the numerous plug-ins available to WordPress.  These will be briefly described at the end of the article.

Available Widgets for the WordPress theme Twenty Ten

Available Widgets

 

The widget areas

The third column displays the widget areas available on the theme. Each widget enhanced theme will have a different set of widgets. This set is from the default theme: Twenty Ten.

Available Widgets for the WordPress theme Twenty Ten

Available Widgets

The Primary and Secondary Widget Areas are in fact the top and the bottom of the sidebar.  The other four are to do with the footer.

To install a widget

As an example I plan to install a Text Widget into the Secondary Widget Area.

Click on the widget area to open it.

WordPress widget area opened

Theme widget area opened

The Secondary Widget Area is opened

Drag widget with mouse to widget area

 

 

WordPress Text Widget

WordPress Text Widget

 

Usually WordPress opens a widget to enable the user to manage the settings.  In this case to enter a title and in the body to enter text, code for an image or code, usually to change the colour, the size or appearance of of text.

Manage the settings

In this case adding text to the header and the body.

Filled in WordPress Text Widget demonstrating the Automatically add paragraphs box.

Filled in WordPress Text Widget

I have entered a heading and some text.  I have also clicked the Automatically add paragraphs box to make sure the text is displayed in the sidebar exactly as I have written it.  See below.

WordPress Text Widget Save and Close section

Text Widget Save and Close

When you have finished entering text press the Save button and then the Close button and you have then installed your first widget.

View Blog

Hopefully you will see that the widget has been installed correctly.

Text Widget demonstrated enlarged

Enlarged version of widget's text

 

Text widget - without paragraph formatting

Paragraph box not ticked

If  ’Automatically add paragraphs’ box is not ticked the text gets pushed together.  If you forget just re-open the Text Widget, correct and Save.

My Links

Blog Basics:  Overview of the standard WordPress widgets.

Coming soon

Within the next couple of weeks I will be writing tutorials on managing widgets, the use of the standard widgets, installing plug-ins that will add to the number of available widgets and much more.

Tutorial: Logging on to WordPress

Logging on to a blog

Logging on to my WordPress blog

Logging on to WordPress

Type in the blog name, followed by a forward slash and then type ‘wp-admin’. So on this blog I would type in – blog basics.com/wp-admin

The WordPress login form will be displayed.

WordPress login screen

Your blog's WordPress login screen

Enter your username and password.

Remember Me Box

DO: If the computer you’re working on is safe then click ‘Remember Me’.  You will then be automatically logged in whenever you are using this computer.

DON’T: If lots of people have access to the computer don’t tick this box as anyone could login to your blog and could write posts, delete posts, change the user permissions and lock you out, play around with the layout and do lots of other damage. .

Click the ‘Log In’ and you should be in WordPress and see a screen similar to the one below.  You can then add and edit posts and pages, change the layout, add new plug-ins or change the theme.

WordPress dashboard

Blogbasic's WordPress dashboard

My Links

Coming soon tutorials on writing a post, writing a page, working with the widgets, working with plug-ins, developing a contact page, changing the theme and much, much more.

Blogging: Sidebar and Widgets

Clicking into place

Setting up your money making sidebar

The sidebar, the column that runs, beside the content area of most blogs has become increasing useful to bloggers. In early blogs the sidebar will probably only contain a list of blog entries and a search box.

Programmers quickly developed other features such as a display of important posts, a blogroll, (useful links outside the blog), a link to the login page and increasingly important the display of small advertisements.

Nowadays a new feature has been added to most blogging systems which is the development of widgets.  These are are effectively small  add-ons that can be quickly added, removed or have their position changed by the non-technical user.

There are now widgets allow you to sign up to an e-mail letter, use Twitter, Facebook, display video, automatically list the most popular posts and allow advertising systems, such as Google Adsense, display advertisements will link to to content.

Sidebars today

It used to be that the sidebar was displayed on the left-hand side of the content. This sidebar will contain an important navigation aid listing sections, topics and categories. However, most blogs nowadays display their sidebars on the right-hand side of the screen. I believe that scientists have demonstrated that this is the best way of getting the visitors to interact with the website. In particular the top of the right-hand sidebar is the best place to put a sign-up form for newsletters.

 

Widgets in WordPress

Widgets in WordPress

Widgets today

On a blogging pack each, such as WordPress, there are more like a few built in widgets for the sidebar. Recent posts, a search form, a list of categories, the archives of the blog,list of blog pages, calendar and a tag cloud, (a box that displays the popularity of tags used on the blog).

In addition there is the standard text widget that allows the blog owner to add writing, images, links, video and even add quite clever coding to enhance the site.

There are several hundred free WordPress plug-ins, that  provide new widgets, for the blog writer to use. In addition there are a number of developers that provide premium, paid for, widgets.

My Sidebar

As I have only set this blog up a couple days ago my sidebar is quite boring. I have a simple search box, a video, (in a text widget), a list of my recent posts at my archives, which only have entries for this month.

Once I have written, or re-written, around 30 posts on this website will then concentrate on the look of the blog. the navigation particular is important and I will be adding quite a few internal links to the sidebar. There was a plan to make some money so I will be adding links to social media  as well, of course, a few advertisements. I will write an article on these developments some time next month.

Conclusion

Your content is the most important factor in your blog’s development. Learning to use widgets to improve navigation around your blog, build up e-mailing list and encouraging your visitors to recommend you on social media sites is an important part of promoting your blog.

I will be exploring widgets and plug-ins in the future. Managing widgets is a simple, but vital, skill that you should be able to pick up fairly quickly. There will be quite a few articles on this in the very near future.

Our links

Blog Basics: WordPress standard widgets

Blog Basics:  How to install a widget

Blog Basics:  What is a blog?

Blog Basics:  Components of a Blog

Other links

Vandelay Design:  The effective use of sidebars

Google.co.uk:  Images of blog sidebars

Shout Me Loud: 5 WordPress plug-in that enhance a blog’s sidebar

Over to you

Browse the net. Look at how different websites used their sidebar. Do they improve navigation? Do they encourage you to stay longer on the site? Do you see any interesting gizmos or features on a blog’s sidebar.