Things change rapidly in the WordPress world. The content in this post is more than a year old and may no longer represent best practices.
Q: How do you use WordPress, when do you use it, and why use WP instead of something like Dreamweaver?
- It automatically updates and changes things, so if the client wants to add a page about something, you just add the page and all the menus update. I don’t have to go in there and change every single page so that it has the new menu item on it. It saves time amazingly.
- It’s very robust across browsers. Doing a straight HTML/XHTML website, it will look gorgeous in Firefox, wonderful in Safari—and then you open it up in IE and you have to do another whole set of conditions just to make sure it looks good in Internet Explorer. WordPress cuts your development time.
- You can take this very easily and hand it over to the content producers. You don’t have to make all the changes because you know the secret code: they can go and do it themselves.
- You can manage your content and your website through a web interface, so if someone steals your laptop, they’re not taking your website.
- The fact that you keep your design and your content and your function separate means that if you want to give your website a new look, you can do that without ever changing any of the text. You just pick a new theme, activate it, and presto!
Q: What are the limitations of WordPress compared to other programs?
A: One of the limitations is that it’s not so easy to assign different sidebars to each page. (Sallie interrupts to say “There’s a plugin for that—it’s called Display Widgets and it lets you choose exactly which page to show a widget on. It’s a lifesaver because it saves you from having to make six different sidebar.php files.”)
Q: I love the idea of sending my clients off to make their own edits, but have you had trouble teaching your clients to use WordPress? How do you train them?
- They can use an offline editor (e.g. Windows Live Writer or Ecto) that works just like a word processor.
- You can do a webinar or in-person tutorial.
- Tell them it will save them money.
Q: What’s the best strategy for managing images?
- We did a meetup on gallery and slideshow plugins in October 2009.
- Sallie is the only person on the planet who hates NextGEN, and just uses Cleaner Gallery plus Lightbox2.
- If you just want post thumbnails, WordPress has that built in. (See http://markjaquith.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/new-in-wordpress-2-9-post-thumbnail-images/)
Q: Is there a plugin that will display multiple full-screen slideshows in one post/page?
A: Try SlidePress. It’s the WordPress plugin for SlideShow Pro. The plugin is free, but SlideShow Pro costs $29-$34.
Q: What’s a widget? Is there anything specific to the sidebar?
A: A widget is a little piece of code that runs in your sidebar that you can rearrange without having to hard-code your sidebar. Some people put widgets in their footers or other parts of their themes, but they have to define those areas as sidebars.
Q: Do you know of a plugin that would put a text box in my dashboard so I could update my clients/they could update me?
A: It’s hard to hear the precise wording of the question on the recording, but one of these might do what you want:
Q: How many people are using theme frameworks or premium themes versus building their own?
A: A handful of people are using Thesis. Diana recommends Thematic.
Q: Is Thesis as good as people say? How does it differ from other themes?
A: Ann says she found it early on, likes it, and stuck with it. She’ll show you the differences in her presentation. Anca points out that there’s a very long discussion on the value of Thesis on the WordPress LinkedIn Group.
These days more and more themes have theme options panels that let you customize some aspect of the appearance, but premium themes usually have more options.
After Ann’s presentation we took a look at the back end of Thematic and a child theme Diana had created based on it. (We’ll talk a bit about what child themes are at the April meetup.)
We then held our drawing for the two books. The winners were Diane Sangster and (I think) Anet Dunne.
Let me know of any corrections!