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So, What’s the Big Deal with WordPress?

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Session Title: The Ultimate WordPress Experience
Speaker: Mitch Canter
Date: Wednesday, May 25
Time: 11:30a – 12:30p
Room: 1A16

If you’re the least bit into blogging (and if you’re reading this, chances are you are), then you haven’t been able to get away with the news of Blogger’s outage last week (week ending May 13, 2011). The server problems left lots of bloggers scratching their heads and asking lots of questions. “Where did my content go?” “What happens if it goes down again, for even longer?” “What’s going to happen to my content?”

WordPress, a History
Call me obsessed, call me passionate, or call me a nutjob, but I fully believe that there is no blog problem that can’t be solved with WordPress. If you’ve never heard of it, then allow me the honor of a brief history lesson. In 2003, two guys (named Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little) created a fork (a variety of a software program) of b2cafelog (a then defunct blogging platform). Over the years Matt, Mike, and a team of dedicated individuals finessed it, added to it, and modified it to give users an easy, friendly to use blog platform that would let people log in, add content, and get back to living life or running their business. And isn’t that the goal in the first place; to be able to have experiences to blog about?

Features and Strengths
WordPress has, over the years, simplified the process of creating a killer blog by adding functionality that would make any blogging fanatic swoon. They perfected the modular approach to functionality (modules, plugins, etc.) and made it easy to get started with just the core code, but even easier to add new functionality on the fly. Want to put in your twitter account’s latest updates? Find a plugin, install, fill in the information, and you’re good to go.

WordPress made template (the design of a website) easy to modify and operate. Blog designs became more and more elegant and stylized. Gone were the days of everyone’s blog looking reminiscent of one another; the more work and style you put in, the more you reaped in rewards.

WordPress also made adding “aside” content (like ads, widgets, and social profiles) easy with a widgetized sidebar. Now, a simple drag-and-drop gets your latest social badge onto every page of your site. Navigation menus were streamlined and made completely customizable. Photos could be formatted differently from video and audio and text posts. Content pieces of every kind could be configured, queried, and served up however you want; the possibilities became (and are still becoming even more so) endless as new features are added in.

Switching to WordPress
Typically, people in today’s blogging culture that aren’t on WordPress use one of two services: Blogger and Tumblr; both known recently for notorious downtime. So, if you want to switch, what’s the best place to start? Find a good host, purchase some cheap hosting for less than a few cups of coffee per month, and nine times out of 10 they’ll have a “Fast WordPress install option”. All you have to do is click a few buttons and let the software do the work for you.

If you’re on Blogger, you’re in luck. Even bloggers with unique domain names can import their content quickly to their WordPress site using the official Blogger import plugin. Once that’s done, a few changes in the DNS (your domain name, if you have a custom one) can get your new site up and running one the internet is notified of the changes. As a bonus, you can set your permalink structure (the structure of your URLs) to match your old site, saving most, if not all, of that hard earned SEO.

Tumblr blogs have their own importer too, and there are plenty of themes that cater not only to the seasoned Tumblr user, but allow them to keep their current post formats as well. Plus, WooThemes (a seasoned WordPress theme development shop, has an app in the iPhone store that makes posting to a “WordPress tumblog” a snap.

What’s Next for WordPress
Just to give you an idea of what’s in store for the WordPress team, the new version of the software (3.2beta1) dropped earlier this week, and it simplifies the process even further by getting rid of unnecessary elements in the WordPress dashboard. Their goal is to revolutionize how people are creating content, and with 8 years behind them (and no signs of stopping) it’s safe to say now that a better goal is to revolutionize it repeatedly. With over 10% of the Internet being powered by WordPress, it’s not a far fetched one.

If you’re curious, or want to know why I’m so passionate about WordPress, then please feel free to drop into Room 1A16 on Wednesday at 11:30am. I’d love to tell you more.

Mitch Canter is a WordPress designer / developer from Franklin, TN (near Nashville). He is the chief creative mercenary of ‘studionashvegas’ and specializes in taking WordPress blogs (and websites) to new and exciting places. He also works as a “special projects” contractor with Bridgestone of Americas. You can find him on his blog, or drop him a line on Twitter – he doesn’t mind a bit!

Mitch will be speaking on “The Ultimate WordPress Experience”, where he will speak on switching to, customizing, and getting the most out of a WordPress blog. If you’re frustrated with your blogging service (and chances are if you’re not on WordPress these days, you might be), then come with plenty of questions.

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Feedback

5
  • studionashvegas

     And because i’m a grammar stickler, and should have read my own work again…

    “get away with…” -> “get away from”
    “WordPress made template” -> “WordPress made templates”
    “what’s the best place to start” -> “where’s the best place to start”
    “WordPress Development Shop,” -> “WordPress Developent Shop),”
    That’s what happens when I write at 1 in the morning…

  • Jason Keath

    Great writeup for those thinking about using WordPress. I am curious where the “10% of the internet is powered by WordPress” stat came from? I don’t doubt the stat, just curious of the source for future use of it…

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