Hands-On WordPress Beginners Meet-Up —Oct 11, 2011— Hosted by Cospace
In this month’s Austin WordPress Beginners meet-up, a few of our community members graciously agreed to show off their websites and tell us a little about them.
We discussed some good themes for blogs and some that did not work as well as originally planned. Some of the featured sites used plugins that addressed some common problems our members had to deal with along the way. WPATX is grateful to our members for sharing not only their sites but their journey.
This meet-up was a great opportunity to be inspired by how other people use WordPress for their own businesses and blogs and I think everyone came away with new ideas and information for their own sites.
Debra Schmidt,our WPATX photographer lead off with her blog, Cousins Count
Debra started this blog four and a half years ago, and it currently runs on the Thesis theme. Her audience is a few hundred people in her family; Debra is one of 67 first cousins. One of her challenges was that she had to sell her mom on the site and ensure everyone’s privacy. She has to be careful of which photos get posted because her audience is “fussy.” According to Debra, even the cousins that were luke-warm to the idea of a family blog, are now grateful for the repository of family stories and images that would have been other-wise lost to the “younger-set” of the wider family.
Every family member has a category – all cousins “count”.
Debra is the only blogger – she’s the family chronicler. She’s written about 1200 blog posts. Her goal is to keep her family connected and find each other. Although people are also on Facebook, this is a more centralized way to find things. She posts memorials, weddings, photos… and writes whatever she wants about them. Fortunately she’s only had to take down a few things! Cousins Count used to be on WordPress.com but switched to a self-hosted site so that she could have ads and a few other features that aren’t allowed using the free WordPress hosted option.
Some of us know Eric Weiss though is association with Blogathon. He also publishes Skeptics on the .Net
Eric found that there was a lot of skeptical information on the web but not any centralized source of information. He organizes information by media type, subject matter, location. He has several volunteers who help contribute to the site, from several countries. He links to blogs, podcasts and other media.
In category views, the Alphabetical List plugin allows the posts to show in alpha order rather than in chronological order. Display Scheduled Posts gives you a shortcode to display all scheduled posts with the date that they’re scheduled to be posted. If you put it on a private page, you can see all the posts outside of the dashboard posts view.
Runs a separate blog which is an internal conversation among his volunteers running the P2 theme. It’s great if you’re working on a collaborative post. I personally was interested about Eric’s P2 experience as the WPATX organizers have talked about using it as internal communication tool to help organize our Meetup schedule.
Lori was kind enough to provide a summary of her talk, including details of the plugins she likes on her personal blog on loriluza.com.
AustinChildFree.org runs on the Twenty Eleven (WordPress default) theme; AustinCanes.com runs on Weaver 2.2.4. Lori uses these themes because these are non-profit organizations, and she wanted the sites to be easy to maintain and easy to change their basic look and feel even by someone who may not be very technically-inclined.
Lori recommended doing a Creative Commons search on Flickr for free photos for your blogs. For backgrounds, she suggests bgpatterns.com as a fun toy to play with.
She uses AdRotate to manage her little ads on the site; they change monthly and the plugin sends a notification letting her know the ad is about to expire (in case she needed to bill someone). Lori also recommended Events Manager for her calendars. It’s easy for people to book an event, but noted that she’s not happy with how it displays the calendar.
During the discussion both Nick Batik and Pat Ramsey expressed their current preferences for events calendars. They both liked amr events list and calendars. Nick suggested we should plan a meet up to review the various Calendar / Event plugins that have recently been added to the WordPress Plugin Repository.
We ended the evening talking about themes and development tools. One of our members talked about Builder, a WordPress theme framework. Nick Batik discussed his preference for the Genesis Framework and the value the StudioPress Themes Pro-Pack offer had for WordPress Developers. Based on the interest in Themes, I’m pretty sure we will be devoting a whole meet-up to WordPress Theming very soon.