On the Road to a Better Blog

I’m not talking about appearances, I’m talking about structure. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know the look of PaMdora’s box hasn’t changed much over the last couple of years. But I’ve been writing here about four years total, and there have been a variety of looks. PaMdorasBox-2008-2009

Yesterday I played around with a few different WordPress themes, to find one that I could PaMdorasBox-2007work within. This one is pretty vanilla, but in a pleasant sort of way, so I think I’ll work with it for a little while while I’m in the structural re-building mode.

Categories and Tags

My old theme didn’t utilize Categories or Tags, both of which help people (including me, and I’m always having to search my blog to find something I’ve forgotten) to find their way around to find topics of interest in the past articles. So now I’m going back through 500+ entries to properly tag and categorize things.

New Thumbnails in Preview

Also you’ll notice the little thumbnail that accompany some of the teasers when you click on a category or tag topic.  These are being generated automatically by a java script called TimThumb that’s part of this theme. I say “automatically” except that I have to go back into each article to fill in a custom field that will tell WordPress where to look for the artwork from which to generate the thumbnail. So another 500+ edits.

Yet Another Related Post

The good news, is after all that work, there will be some added benefits. If you look at the bottom of each individual article, there’s a list of related posts. These are being generated by YARPP for WordPress. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin by mitcho uses Tags and Categories to suggest these – another reason I’m working on adding them to my old posts.

Nested Comments

Another benefit I’m really looking forward to is the ability to have nested comments. I used to go back and manually edit my responses so they would appear right after the comment I was responding to. Now there is a small “reply” button by each comment. So you (and I) can have the choice to scroll down to the bottom and leave a general comment, or use one of the new reply buttons to respond to something directly. Try it and let’s see how this works  – I’m really excited about this new feature!

Lightbox effects

Here’s a little history of images to show you the lightbox effect.  This is done using the WP-slimbox2 plugin for WordPress by by Greg Yingling. Click on any of the images on this page, and you should get the effect. I tried out several different lightbox plugins before I found this one, so there are a lot of options for plugins in this area.





So please bear with me as I work to get all this organizational stuff done. Then I hope to get back to the fun stuff of getting a good-looking header designed for the top of the blog.

16 thoughts on “On the Road to a Better Blog”

  1. Hi Pam
    I use Squarespace to host my blog because when I started out, I found it the easiest to get a really cool template from, and now I am not sure that many of these features are available on that site. So it may be decision time: switch or stay with a less popular platform with other good features — and do some more tinkering with it, since I know they’ve added some features I don’t even know about! I love this techno stuff and am now also using posterous for a secondary blog — It might be just the thing for those of your readers who want absolutely the easiest interface with a blog (all by email) with good features like categories and tags, and the ability to do “instant” posts from websites (I’m finding I use it like a super detailed bookmarking site for myself). Love this world where you can have good friends and colleagues and sometimes never even meet in person!

    1. Thanks for posting this Susie. I really only know what’s happening to upgrades to WordPress and am not current on some of the other blogging software. I know your blog looks great – like the clean layout and type, so Squarespace might be a good option for bloggers.

      I know for myself, having too many options can be confusing and at time overwhelming! So it’s good not to let the technology get in the way of what you want to say or the art that you want to share (note to self, haha!)

  2. *sigh* i just redid my own blog; now i’m wondering if i like this word press thing better. this is what is frustrating to me; as you know, it takes h.o.u.r.s. to reconfigure all the entries; put labels or tags on it all. only to finish it & realize there was something better. urg. for now; i’m sticking w/my new blog cos my daughter would kill me after she did all the html code to get three columns. 🙂
    yours is lovely though. clean & very easy on the eyes.

    1. Hi Stacy, I know it can be huge amount of work to redo a blog (I moved mine from Blogger to WordPress a few years ago). So hurray for you for getting all the work done. Your new site looks really mod, so it matches you! Maybe you can tinker around with it, I just do a little each day, and sometimes at night too while watching t.v.
      Thanks for reading and your comments.

  3. Pam, Thanks for posting about this. I have a blog w/ WP.com now and, needing to revamp my blog, I’ve been torn btwn WP.org and Typepad. Thanks for giving us a heads up on WP.org’s benefits.

    Like how your new settings looks.

  4. Thanks for sharing this! I’m just beginning to get this blog stuff figured out. Maybe I can learn from you, and get it organized before I have 500 entries.
    Hmmm. Did I say organized? Okay, maybe I’m hoping in vain….

  5. A) Ugh! All that tagging and categorizing! Good luck!

    B) That light box thing is so COOL!

    C) Thanks for blogging about all this. I’ve had a wordpress.com blog for over a year now, but see self-hosting with wp.org in the very near future, so all of this info is very useful to me! Keep blazing that trail, art quilt style!

    1. Thanks Candy. I was wondering if anyone was interested in all this technical stuff I’ve been studying lately, but I figured it might help someone out. Glad you’re interested, and good luck with the blog.

      1. Plus, even if people reading your info may not need it NOW, it’ll lay in their heads until they do, at which point they’ll exclaim “Pam has already done that, bless her, lemme go see what she had to say about it!” Thus, the need for tags and categories!

        Thanks – Candy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *