Over the past few months I have come across an enormous amount of resources and tools for every aspect of working with WordPress. This is another one of the benefits of Open Source (a large number of contributors), however the down side can be that there’s no central ‘management’ or quality control over these. It is my hope to offer some direction to the novice and journeyman (journeyperson?) alike.
“…but the plugins author will provide instructions. If not, go poop on their lawn…”
I’m going to start with a list of tools I use, and feel confident recommending:
- FileZilla (FTP Client)
- Notepad2 (Text Editor w/ line numbers and syntax hi-lighting)
- Firefox 220.127.116.11
- Web Developer extension for Firefox
- FireBug extension for Firefox
- Measure It extension for Firefox
- Colorzilla extension for Firefox
And here are a few recommendations for the Mac from Yvonne:
- Bare Bones Software’s Text Wrangler – “Priceless. Couldn’t survive without it…“
- Cyberduck / RBrowser for Mac: “Although Cyberduck is a lot more preferred by OSX users, I find the rBrowser demo faster and cleaner…“
Yvonne has also written a companion piece from the perspective of, well, someone who demands we all bow to her PowerBook ;’) Here it is: A fangirl and her requisite Mac App list.
Resources for before you install WordPress:
- Server/host requirements for WordPress
- Famous 5 minute install instructions
- Seriously consider this free WordPress Installation service
Resources for problems during or right after the installation:
- Podz’ guides(dead) – Where you will find guides to using CPanel X, Plesk, Ensim and vDeck as well as several guides for using phpMyAdmin to fix MySQL db password problems, bad URI entries (site_uri), table repair and admin role recovery.
- WordPress Installation Support Forum
- My WordPress Troubleshooting: Finished installation and it doesn’t work! article
If you’re up and running then here’s some more stuph that might be timely:
As soon as possible:
- Delete the default/automatic ‘first post’. It’s a neon sign for spam-bots (“LOOK! NooB Blog!”)
Now we’re ready to address some day-to-day issues. First is uploading/posting images, so this is a good time to understand a little bit about WordPress and uploading:
- The codex’s Using Image and File Attachments
- WordPress Troubleshooting: Permissions, CHMOD and paths, OH MY!
About now, and several times in the future, you will need to check paths, directories, files and using FTP is the preferred method. That’s where FileZilla comes in, so here’s some guides (with cute pictures too!):
- Using FileZilla at the codex
- Podz’ Using FileZilla (for chmod, permissions)
In FileZilla, don’t forget to setup your text editor as the default by going to Edit:Settings:Interfaces Settings:File Viewing/Editing and enter
C:\WINDOWS\Notepad2.exe or browse to your ascii text editor.
Now is a good time to check your permissions. We will start with the ideal settings of 755 (
drwxr-xr-x) for all directories, and 644 (
-rw-r--r--) for all files. The only exception to these will be your
wp-content/uploads/ directory, as noted above. There are other exceptions for certain plugins, but the plugins author will provide instructions. If not, go poop on their lawn. Once done with this and the deletion of install.php and upgrade.php you have ‘hardened’ your WordPress install.
But what about SPAM? Whether your popular or not, all it takes is one post and you will, eventually have attempts at sending your site ping/trackback spam. There is a two-fold approach for WordPress that will effectively stop 99% of SPAM dead in it’s tracks. Here it is:
- Bad Behavior stops spam and suspicious looking bots before WordPress is even ‘touched’, saving precious CPU cycles and db queries.
- Akismet catches anything that makes it past Bad Behavior, and holds it in moderation if it is suspect. At that point, you can mark it as NOT spam, delete it or let it decay naturally (auto-deleted after 2 weeks).
Now we have a good foundation for your future work/production. Now, before you write a bunch of articles, setup your permalinks (Apache-style servers only). Pick a flavor you’re comfortable with (I recommend /%category%/%postname%/). And now would be a good idea to setup some tagging. I use Ultimate Tag Warrior and have found it to be robust and adaptable.
To avoid timeouts, blank pages and long waits when posting, install No Ping Wait, which will ‘offload’ the ping/notification services (Note: author’s site bit the dust, but you can download it here.
For more SEO ‘friendliness’ I found myself using Optimal Title so my article title is featured prominently. For Social Bookmarking I installed Sociable (if you have validation problems, there is a copy here that also includes the Technorati link missing in the distribution).
Now you should be ready for posting and not regretting having set something up “earlier”!
The next step is beautification, prettifying and making your theme/layout/interface the way you like it. Take a look at this theme collection and browse around, try a few flavors. Some great themes with a low-overhead, professional appearance can be found here as well. I love widgets, so now I’ll take the time to mention: Try to get a widget-enabled theme.
Here are some handy color/theme/css/position resources and information:
- The W3C validator (A good habit to get into is to validate whenever changes are made to your site)
- Another reason for validating: Better support from those more ‘expert’.
- Some handy codex articles: CSS, CSS Troubleshooting and Validating a Website.
- WordPress theme ‘anatomy’: Theme Development, Blog Design and Layout, Anatomy of a WordPress Theme and Visual Anatomy of a WP 1.5 theme (still good info). Last, but not least, the Urban Giraffe’s: Dissection of a WordPress theme: Part 1.
I do consider this a ‘living’ document and will be making corrections and additions as needed.
As usual, feedback and corrections are welcome!