I’ve had a request via Skribit to share tips on how I’ve customized this blog using WordPress plugins and themes. Your wish is my command, as they say! In fact, I did something similar over at teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk here. I still consider this blog a work in progress, but here’s how I’ve customized it so far…
First of all, I use the K2 theme for WordPress. In fact, K2 is more than a theme: it makes it into more of a Content Management System. It also means that instead of having to delve into code you can use a drag-and-drop interface. It’s much cleaner, simpler and easier-to-use. Of course, there have been times when I’ve had to do a bit of tweaking of the CSS, etc. but on the whole and for most users it’s the best solution.
Once you’ve got K2 installed you can look for a distinctive style. There a fair few to choose from, including those listed on this site (if it’s not working try here). Try a Google Search. I’m using Headless for this site.
Most of the rest of what I’ve done is widgets in the sidebar. These can be obtained from many different sites of your choosing. Simply copy and paste code into K2 Sidebar Manager which can be found under Presentation in the Admin interface.
- Akismet – Does a marvellous job of preventing spam appearing on your blog. You need a WordPress.com account to get an API key for it.
- Auto Hyperlink – Turns any links that you put in posts or visitors put in comments into hyperlinks. Saves time and effort.
- Feed Count – Provides the raw figure of the number of people subscribed to your Feedburner-powered RSS feed. This means you can style it how you want it instead of using their ugly chicklet.
- FlickrRSS – Allows thumbnails of recent Flickr pictures to appear on your blog. See the top of the home page for implementation on this blog.
- Full Text Feed – Means you can use a <more> tag to allow post previews on your blog whilst providing the full text to RSS subscribers.
- Google XML Sitemaps – Makes your blog more accessible to search engine robots (and therefore more visible generally).
- Maintenance Mode – Presents a message to visitors to say you are updating the site when you are making updates. If you are logged in as an administrator you can still view it as usual.
- PodPress – Allows easy podcasting via your blog.
- Popularity Contest – Means you can view the most popular posts on your blog. Allows you to include lists of these for public or private consumption, or both!
- Post Count – Outputs the total number of blog posts.
- Post Word Count – Outputs the total number of words on your blog.
- Random Posts – Outputs a (configurable) list of random posts from your blog.
- Related Posts – Outputs a list of related posts to the current one (based on keywords).
- Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form – A very configurable and secure method of creating a contact form for visitors to be able to contact you without revealing your email address.
- SimpleTwitter – Displays the most recent ‘tweet’ from a specific Twitter account.
- Sociable – Provides (configurable) links to popular social bookmarking sites at the bottom of your blog posts.
- Translator – Translates your blog posts into a range of languages.
- What Would Seth Godin Do? – Provides a custom welcome message (based on cookies) for new visitors.
- WordPress Database Backup – Configure automatic backups of the contents (not the style) of your blog.
- WP Firefox Referral – Inserts an advert for Mozilla Firefox if Internet Explorer is detected as the browser being used to access your blog. You can use Google Adsense to monetize this!
- WP UserOnline – Counts (and displays) how many people are currently reading your blog.
- Yahoo/MSN Style Smileys – Improves the look of the smileys you use on your blog like this.
I have created a page to list the plugins used on this site here. I shall keep that page updated.