WordPress 2.9 and a switch to Thesis 1.6 theme

If there are actually any readers out there (I know we have some) you might have noticed that BS had a bit of a bumpy road over the past week. What happened? To put it bluntly, I blew the shit up!

To be more technical, I upgraded from WP 2.8.6 to 2.9. While trying out the new update all plugins function, the whole deal froze up. After about 4 hours, I pulled the plug. Actually, I closed the tab, but you get the idea.

I spoke with WordPress Matt, who took the time to look into my concern from the WP side of things. The absolutely awesome support team at Bluefur, the Canadian server that BS is hosted on, finally figured things out and showed me the error of my ways.

I have a bunch of projects on the go these days and have been thinking about switching them all to DIY themes, Thesis theme. There are a bunch of reasons, ranging from a solid reputation within the WP world to user friendly design features, SEO framework and plugin friendliness. All of these things combine to make a theme that is more than just a skin that I can manage myself, eliminating some of my reliance on my IT guru. This will give me the flexibility to test different advertising models on my own time frame, rather than waiting until someone else has the time to get to it.

For now, I have loaded the Thesis theme and activated it. Right now, things look pretty plain but I’m just killing time on Christmas Eve afternoon as we are actually ready for a change. Over the coming days, I’ll report on the ease with which I turn BS into something a bit more attractive. First up, I’ll have to do something with those stock images at top right. The basic layout seems to be a 3 into 4 column view. It looks a bit messy to me right now, but has given me some ideas. I’m not sure if I like the Fidgetr plugin stuck in the middle like that, but it does add a splash of colour.

See you in a few days as I start fiddling!

Testing: WordPress e-commerce plugin

e-commerce-large

Since I’ve begun publishing full time, I’ve had all sorts of unusual requests for my time. Usually they revolve around some sort of marketing or PR type need the person or their company have. I guess now that I’ve built a bit of a reputation as an online publisher, folks have come to the conclusion that I know everything about the web. Some even seem to think that I miraculously became a developer.

Right!

Most of these inquiries actually tend to be fairly simple stuff and I do have the answer. Thanks to the more recent changes to WordPress, I actually am able to do a bunch of stuff myself and even make it look pretty good. I’m about to upgrade all of my blogs to the Thesis template so I really can do some groovy stuff on my own and maybe even for the odd client here & there.

Most recently I was approached by a friend whose company won a fairly important award at the SEMA show this year. They have the North American rights to an incredible new automotive product and are looking for some help with their web presence and on PR. They thought I was a natural choice to augment their team. It occurred to me that I could probably fulfill their needs by creating a WP site with the e-commerce plugin so I started playing around with the free version.

The freebie plugin is actually a teaser unit. Easy to install, one can be up and running quite literally in 5 minutes. If you have a peek down the right sidebar, you’ll see the heading Test Cart. Below it is a link to Visit The Shop which will take you to a simple page of fictitious products, complete with photos, prices, sale prices and complete descriptions. You will notice the ads are arranged vertically. This is part of the catch of the teaser. The Gold Cart version is needed to create a more visually pleasing grid format or I gather pretty much any other format you can dream up. Even the freebie is so easy to use that it stands to reason that the Gold Cart version would be awesome.

The individual blogger version is only $40 and they have a number of other plugin options to make your store more Web 2.0 friendly. If you need to create more than 1 site, the developer version is $195. Really a good value when you consider that when combined with a template like Thesis or Atahualpa (the one currently in use here) an educated WP user like me can look like a pro.

So here lies my conundrum.

Once these auto industry leaders have discovered that I actually want to be paid for my time, they admit that they actually have a site that has been almost completed by a developer. They were actually looking for a full time IT guy but thought I might have the solutions to some of their web marketing problems.

As Curt Cobain said: Rape me!!!!

Oh look – an e-mail from them asking if I would be interested in guiding their web presence.

More Plugin stuff

Well, I couldn’t seem to get the FlickrRSS plugin to work so I went hunting for another way to bring my Flickr photostream into the sidebar. I came across Fidgetr. The install went smoothly but I couldn’t figure out how to get it working. A comment on the plugin page brought a quick response from developer Paul Kehrer who said: Look in the widgets section in your WP admin pages. You can add it to the sidebar and configure the options there. It was as simple as he said and now we have images!

Great plugin and Paul pays attention to his peeps!

NextGEN Gallery: a basic users guide

Readers love lots of pictures and because of this, so do search engines. Of course we love taking pictures and showing them off too, but the basic image functionality of WordPress is limited at best not to mention it doesn’t allow for actual galleries. To solve this, we went looking for a simple solution for loading galleries into The Garage. Everything I read pointed towards Alex Rabe’s NextGEN Gallery plugin, so Jaimie our tech guru installed it. Then of course I discovered that it was absolutely impossibly tough to figure out for a techno turd like me. I followed link after link and found lots of tutorials written in geekspeak for the developers, but nothing for the simple but experienced WP user.

Now that I have another writer working on TG who is fairly comfortable with WP, it is time to create a simple tutorial on how to create a NextGEN gallery, upload photos to it and add it to a post.

Step 1: Create a gallery

Once your techie has installed the NextGEN plugin to your WP, you will notice a new list on your left sidebar that looks like this:
ng-sidebar

Continue reading NextGEN Gallery: a basic users guide