The Coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of disruption and chaos to businesses and people’s way of life in 2020. Seeing friends, family and work colleagues in person has been replaced with Zoom and WhatsApp calls. Normally, WordPress meetups take-place in a set room, but as with meetings of late, this one took place via Zoom.
I have to admit, this was my first Cambridge meetup, mainly because travelling to Cambridge is a bit of a trek for me, especially during a weeknight.
This months presentation was discussed images for WordPress, and it was presented by Chris Cox.
The main points from the presentation that I found were:
The image format WebP. This is a modern image format, developed by Google. It uses a far superior lossy and lossless file compression technique compared to both PNG and JPEG, meaning smaller file sizes and potentially faster web page load speeds. Learn more here https://developers.google.com/speed/webp
There are many image hosting sites that offer free downloadable images such as Unsplash, Pexels, Rijks Museum, LottieFiles, Canva, UnDraw, The Noun Project -Some of these are new to me, some aren’t
For those unaware, there are a few good image editing applications – great for resizing, compressing and creating logos etc with – Canva, PhotoShop and PhotoShop Element, Gimp, Paint and Paint.Net
There are plugins that can aid image compression and file size. One that was discussed a lot was Short Pixel – https://shortpixel.com/
Today, thanks to the internet, anyone can create a blog and share their thoughts, research and interests to the world. There are many very good blogging platforms that exist, but today I will be discussing two of the big boys, and by the end of this article you should have decided whether to choose WordPress or Blogger as your go-to blogging platform.
Let’s start with WordPress
As mentioned in previous articles, WordPress is the most popular CMS. Getting started is easy with WordPress.com. Just create your account and site name. For new-starters, you can use the free WordPress.com hosting. The means that your site’s URL will look something like this: myblog.wordpress.com
If you want to host your blog on another server, or to use another domain then you can pay for a domain name and hosting from services such as GoDaddy or BlueHost. You can also purchase a premium domain name from WordPress.com too. I would recommend purchasing a domain if you are serious about your site, mainly because it makes your site appear more credible and professional. Depending on which domain type you choose, i.e..Com, Org, Rocks, Live etc… Will determine how much you will pay.
Once you have selected you domain, you will then be given a choice of payment options – click the free one if you prefer.
Using WordPress is rather easy, however, the Gutenberg layout builder on the Post and Pages screens might take some time getting used to.
The main menu screens that you will probably be most concerned with are: Posts, Media, Pages and Plugins. There is, of course, the Settings menu too as with all good systems. Within the Settings menu, you can change the date-time format, add your site’s logo, change the URL slug format etc.
The Posts menu is where you create your blog posts. To create a new post, highlight the menu and select Add New from the menu. Media is where all of your images and videos are stored. Pages is where you create your pages – home page, blog page, contact page, etc… Plugins is where you can see the list of plugins that you have installed and also where you can download plugins for your site. A plugin is essentially an extension for your site. A widget or an additional bit of code that helps your site.
On your new create post page aka blog post, you can use the block editor to start writing. The Add Title section will be the title of your blog and everything below it will be your text. Notice the plus icon. That is where you can add blocks. You might want to a heading tag (H1, H2, H3), a paragraph tag (p) or an image or a video block. Either way, be sure to check that out. On the right-hand side, be sure to upload a cover image too. This will act as the blog post’s main image or thumbnail image.
When you are happy with your post you just hit the Publish button. Alternatively you can save and come back to it later, or preview the post before hitting the publish button.
Blogger is owned by Google and therefore if you have a Google account (Android users should do) then you can sign-up/register and log-in using your Google account.
To get started with Blogger click the New Blog link. Create a name and description, and boom! You’re on your way. The Posts menu is where your blog posts are stored. To create a new one, press the big plus icon on the bottom-right of your screen. A blog post screen will look a lot different from WordPress. If anything it resembles a Word document. The layout is perhaps a lot cleaner and easier to understand. When you are happy with your blog post, hit the save icon (floppy disk) or the arrow icon to publish
Both WordPress and Blogger allow you to add a theme to your site, both of which have a large selection to choose from. You can then also change the layout of the site too. In Blogger this is in the Layout menu. In WordPress – Appearance > Customise.
The Good and the Bad
Blogger is definitely the easiest to create blogs with, however, that isn’t to say that WordPress is difficult, there is is just a bit more learning when it comes to the block editor. Both WordPress and Blogger have really good design layouts. When adding a design or redesigning your site, you might find that Blogger is easier than WordPress too. And also, analytical information is much easier to obtain in Blogger too. Whereas with WordPress you might need to install a plugin to obtain page view information, but with Blogger that isn’t the case. But, with both, you can link your site your Google Analytics account. As Blogger is a Google product it much easier to do this too.
For me, WordPress is the better platform as it allows developers to do more with a site. Blogger is great for just having a blog website, but if you require a site with a bit more information such as an about us page, contact form and possibly even a shop, then I would WordPress. But if simple is your thing then Blogger might be your system, but that’s not to say WordPress is difficult to use. Not at all. So, when choosing WordPress or Blogger the choice is up to you regarding the plans for your site.
WordPress is the most popular content management system on the world-wide-web today, and it is built upon the open-source language, PHP. Typically, WordPress is users update their blog, or their site using the online editor. This is totally fine. But, what if you want to make some serious amendments to the site? Could you run WordPress locally? And can WordPress run on Windows? The answer to these questions is yes, you can run WordPress on Windows. Let’s see how…
What you need
Firstly, you will need to download a local PHP server. I would recommend either the following:
I will talk about the differences between the aforementioned local servers (plus others) in another post, but if you want something simple, the FlyWheel’s development package might be suitable for you, as it does not require you to download a version of WordPress from WordPress.org; and the setup wizard is fairly simple. But, for those that like things a bit more technical, choosing WampServer to run WordPress on Windows is also a very good, and popular decision.
Unlike Local by FlyWheel, you will need to manually download a version of WordPress onto your local machine.
To make your sites active, you will need to start the web service.
And, basically, that is that:
Install a local server
setup the local server
download the latest version of WordPress
Here is a guide on how to install Wamp and WordPress
And for those wishing to use FlyWheel…
Getting your files
Okay, so lastly, you will probably want to get your files that you’ve been working on your live site to your local environment. A good way to do this is to download the plugin, Duplicator. This plugin easily creates a copy of your files and your database with very little hassle. You will also need an FTP application too, I would recommend. FileZilla.
March 2020 – a strange, unique and somewhat scary time for every human today. With the outbreak of COVID-19, most of the world’s leaders have declared ‘lockdowns’ in their respected nations. Here in the UK, most workers have been told to work from home if they can. Some, unfortunately, cannot do so. And not only that, but visiting friends and going to bars and cinemas are a complete no-no. But, what are we going to do now with all of our spare time at home?
Well, now is the time to get more stuff done. Now is the time to work on those projects that you need or have wanted to get done.
Distractions and procrastination are the main things that are holding us back from completing our goals, or targets. Apparently, according to a recent statistical survey, only approximately 15% of UK citizens say that they never procrastinate. And the search volumes on Google for people wanting to ‘rid’ themselves of procrastinating is also alarmingly high.
But what solutions are there? Is there a magic wand that will help us improve our focus?
Almost…I have compiled a list of 8 productivity apps that you should try. Whether it is writing that book that you have been putting off doing so for years or just simply concentrating on getting more stuff done without looking at social media every 10 minutes. Because for every 5 minutes that we waste on surfing the web for irrelevant things, it takes us and another 15 minutes to get back into the mode of working hard again.
Microsoft To Do
To get the 8 best productivity apps list start is something from Microsoft. Originally known as Wunderlist until it was acquired by Microsoft. It is a simple list application that essentially replaces oneself from creating hundreds of post-it notes. You can create multiple lists, for example, you could create ‘project to-do list’, and then create a ‘shopping list’, and then perhaps a ‘music schedule list’. To complete a task, simply tick the box. You can create an objective date, so if you wanted to complete a task for the upcoming Friday you can do so. You can also share your list with work colleagues too.
This app is available on Windows 10 PCs, Android and IOS mobile devices.
MeisterTask is what is known as kanban task system. Translated as signboard/billboard from Japanese; a kanban system is part of the lean methodology. It is essentially a board with a list of tasks that are separated into different columns or swimlanes. For example, you might have a ‘to-do’ column, and then ‘doing’ column, and then lastly a ‘done’ column. Depending on the status of the created task will determine which column it will fall into.
It is ideal for scheduling tasks and project work and it can also help teams track the progress of a project and also set deadlines.
What I like about MeisterTask is that you can do so much within the free plan. If you would require in-depth reporting, then I would consider looking at the premium plans available.
There are many Pomodoro timer/tracker apps. But, what is a Pomodoro timer? I hear you ask. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato. It originates from a university student using a tomato timer to work for a set period of time – 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, one can then have a 5-minute break. It is a great way to focus on tasks by tricking your mind that you have to beat the clock. A little bit like the show Countdown, except that you have 25 minutes, not 30 seconds to complete an objective.
Available on Android; this app is ideal for those that get easily distracted by the flashing lights and alert noises that our phones emit during the day. We as humans crave attention and being liked. Such emotions cause an increase in endorphins which is why we are ‘addicted’ to our phones. AppBlock easily allows you to block certain apps from being used within user-created time-slots. For example, if you wanted to block yourself from using WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Messenger between the hours of 9-12 am, then AppBlock is perfect for you. It creates a screen overlay that prevents you from using the app – unless of course you are very sneaky and you disable it.
A similar concept to AppBlock, but I use Block Site’s Chrome browser extension to set the times and sites that I want blocking. It is great for blocking news sites, social media and shopping sites – for whenever your mind starts to wonder about those bizarre questions that randomly pop into your head during the day.
Both Block Site and AppBlock are great productivity apps because they stop you using apps and websites that prevent you from doing what you need to do. Sometimes just sheer will and dedication won’t work.
An app that allows you to create tasks, but with a difference. Habit Bull lets you assign tasks to a calendar as well as alerting you about your tasks. It is ideal for those wanting to start tracking their progress such as guitar playing, quitting smoking or tracking time spent on social media or event tracking money spent.
There are widgets and also the ability to export your data to the cloud or to a spreadsheet. Plus it also has motivational images.
One of the most popular productivity apps; Trello might not have as many features as MeisterTask and you are limited to the number of boards you are allowed to create in the freemium version, but it is simple to use and is perfect task creating and tracking. You can edit your boards to include the perfect colour or image and you can also share your boards with colleagues.
No, I don’t mean the video-sharing platform TikTok. TicTok is an app that allows you to create projects and then input the time that you spent working a particular task as well as the potential earnings. You will be alerted during the day to log times, see detailed stats on your projects and much more.
TicTok is ideal for those that are self-employed as it allows you to track your time and performance as well as your earning potential.
WordPress is a platform that was originally built to be a blogging platform, but over-time as been developed into much more than a place for words and imagery. Professional looking sites can be created, including e-commerce ones. But, has the blogging side of this wonderful PHP-based platform been overlooked in-order to become the website creating a platform that it needs to be?
Personally, I still think that WordPress is a great place to create a blog. Many of users worldwide would also agree such as Rolling Stone, Bloomberg and PlayStation. According to the WordPress.org; 35% of the web uses WordPress. So, they must be doing something right, right?
Why you should still use WordPress for blogging
Ease-of-use is one main reason for choosing WordPress as your blogging platform. Creating a blog using WordPress.com can take 5-10 minutes, and it doesn’t require any technical knowledge. Simply sign-up and create your blog. Hosting is also free, but this does mean that your site will use a WordPress.com domain. To add extra professionalism and credibility it’s recommended that you purchase a ‘proper’ domain.
Not only is it easy to set up, but there are hundreds and thousands of themes to choose from. There are loads of freemium themes, or if you want something that has more features, then there are premium paid-for themes as well; these can vary in price.
The plugin store is home to thousands (50,000 approximately) of plugins too. A plugin is a piece of software that helps improve your site in whatever way it has been designed to do. There are SEO plugins that count words and checks your SEO compatibility on pages and posts. There are also plugins that help improve your site’s security and much, much more.
Of course, like anything amazing, there are disadvantages too. I guess the main for me would be that although it is easy-to-setup a WordPress blog, there are actually other sites that make it even easier. It might sound like I am being contradictive, but I’m not. Services/sites such as Blogger, for example, are blogging only platforms and require less setup and maintenance time. Since 2003, Blogger has been owned for Google, and thus creating an account (assuming you have an Android phone or GMAIL) takes seconds. Creating content takes a matter of seconds to get started.
Not only is it slightly quicker to get started, but the writing interface is probably more user-friendly. Recently, WordPress updated their writing interface to use the Gutenberg text editor. This change hasn’t gone down particularly well with the WordPress user community with many opting to continue using the classic editor. Not only that, but the plugin has a 2 out 5-star rating. Yikes!
Basically this new type of editor is used to quickly add different text types, such as headings and paragraphs, as well as blocks and embed codes. It has the front-end in-mind, however, it does look confusing to a beginner, and for those just wanting to write, it could perhaps be off-putting. Never the less, you can switch back the classic mode if you wish.
For me, I love using WordPress for blogging. It is easy-to-get started, easy-to-share content, easy-to-optimise for search engines and it is much more customisable than other platforms. Not only that, but there are tones of support online for creating a WordPress blog.
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