The One Month Mark

My blog is one month old today, so I’m having a quiet little celebration tonight. I might even upgrade the site to the new WordPress 2.5 release to mark the occasion.

It’s been unsurprisingly quiet on the site during its maiden month. A couple people have poked around, but I’ve been mostly talking to myself. That’s OK – I’m still trying to figure this out. I did the WordPress install on my development server on January 23rd, and I went live on the production site on March 1st, so I took just over five weeks of “spare time” to learn the basics of WordPress, craft the site’s look in CSS, modify or create template files, choose and configure plugins, etc.

I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. I’ve learned not to run WordPress on Windows – my development server is Windows 2003, and every step along the way with it has been painful (and it still doesn’t work right). I’m trying to figure out how I can shuffle some things around so I can rebuild that box with Fedora. Having a dev environment for my website might be overkill, but I think I’ll be glad I have it someday.

I’ve learned that using wp widgets in my sidebars is not an option for me, since you can’t use any non-widget code once you insert a widget. I’ve learned why web folks hate IE6. I’ve learned that plugins not infrequently come with faulty code (or at least incorrect setup instructions), but I’ve also learned that there are a lot of really decent folks out there who are willing to help a stranger who bangs on their door.

Since going live, I’ve discovered the stand-alone post editor w.bloggar, which is a huge improvement from working in the WordPress admin module. I also discovered HTML-Kit, which would have been a lot more help in February, but better late than never. I haven’t had to change much on the site itself – so far. I moved the Site Page Navigation list on the homepage from the bottom of the left sidebar to the top of the right one (making it more consistent with the rest of the site). I added classes in the style sheet to support displaying thumbnail pictures within posts, and made a couple other minor tweaks, but that’s about it.

There are some other changes in the works, though. I need to change the post metadata display to clean up the look of post footers. I need to expand my classes for displaying pictures in posts – establishing a few standard display sizes. I need to replace the nav bar menu with something that works right with all browsers. I need to start writing shorter posts, and start using the More function to break up the long ones so the home page doesn’t grow so long. And, of course, I need to get more content written.

One big change I’m suddenly considering is replacing Now Reading with LibraryThing. Now Reading is a pretty cool plugin, and I spent several days just before go-live getting it set up the way I want it (not counting the night I wasted trying to get it working on the Windows server). I haven’t really started using it yet, but it was definitely in my plans. However, I stumbled across LibrayThing today, and it seems to do much of what Now Reading does, plus providing social networking functionality that puts it in a completely different league.

I’ll have to check it out further, and see if it will provide enough flexibility in terms of managing content display on the site. I’m hearing WordPress 2.5 breaks Now Reading anyway, so it might be a good time to rethink before I start populating it.