Oh, I’ve been wanting to ask a WordPress user some blogging questions, so thank you for inviting your readers to do so. 1) How do you like the Thesis template? Is it easy to make changes and personalize? 2) Is the Featured Content thingy a part of the template or did you add that yourself? It’s lovely. 3) How long did it take you to set up your blog with WordPress and what is the learning curve? Thank you!
Thanks for your question! I love helping people learn all the secrets of WordPress blogging.
Let’s start with your last question. To get a basic blog going with self-hosted WordPress can require as little as 30-60 minutes. I would recommend looking for a host (like Dreamhost) that offers one click installation of WordPress. You press a few buttons and your MySQL database is set up and WordPress is installed and attached to it. Minimal technical knowledge required!
Once your blog is set up, it’s time to customize the look and feel. This part can take some time – I’m still tweaking my design – but there are a lot of resources to help you every step of the way. Every time I want to add a feature, usually a quick Google search will reveal some CSS or PHP code or a plugin that will help.
Your first question, regarding Thesis, makes the design phase even easier. Thesis includes several options panels that let you determine the number and size of columns as well as their placement. You have maximum control over a lot of customization that would have you fidgeting with the PHP code in most other themes. While using Thesis isn’t completely plug-and-play, I’ve found it incredibly easy to learn.
My biggest secret for making a blog design look a certain way is to view the source code of a blog that has a feature you like. To do this, you right click anywhere on the page and select “View Source”. Within this file, you’re looking for the main stylesheet of the blog. This is usually called style.css or something similar. A good stylesheet will be well-annotated, helping you find the right line of code to copy and paste.
Finally, you asked about the Featured Content Gallery, located in my Thesis Media Box. This is one of many free third-party WordPress plugins that can help take your blog to the next level. Installation was fairly straightforward, but it took about 3 hours for me to install and activate the plugin, customize it within the control panel and then add each post and image I wanted to feature. However, now that it is set up, I can easily add new posts to feature. The main secret is to associate images of the same size with your gallery.
While you could use Photoshop to create these images, another plugin can expedite the process. WP Post Thumbnail is a super simple tool that is embedded within your “create new post” area. In addition to including images within your post, using this plugin, you can easily create thumbnail-sized or feature-box-sized images to also associate with your post.
Certainly, there is a learning curve to blogging with WordPress, Thesis and a variety of plugins. However, the user community is so large, I’ve never had any problems finding resources and assistance for any issue at hand. Choosing the right tools for the job can help you create a user-friendly and dynamic site that will keep your readers coming back!
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