Tag: WordPress

Mint

Webmasters undeniably rely on web site statistics to give them a clue as to how their respective sites are doing. Statistics become important in evaluating site changes and even adding new content. For the do-it-yourself webmaster, clear and easy to use stat packages become a necessity, so obviously you want to pick the right web stats program for your site. Your choices range from web services like Google Analytics, to programs that analyse your webserver logs, such as AWStats, or you can choose a script that concentrates on what your web site activity is at the moment. Mint concentrates on just the essential statistics you need, in this way it is a good stats program for webmasters who are not interested in long term analysis. Bloggers in particular will find Mint to be a good alternative to AWStats or Google Analytics, since it can be integrated with most major web blogging scripts like WordPress. If however you are in the need of more in depth reports or eCommerce tracking, then Mint is not for you.

Unwrapped Mint

There are two ways to setup Mint. You can simply add a single line of javascript code to the head tag of your html, or in the case of WordPress, to the header.php template file. The advanced method requires that you have PHP installed as an Apache module and is harder to implement if you are not an experienced webmaster. Since Mint requires javascript, it is unable to track any visits if javascript is disabled. This is usually not a problem for most people, since javascript is now a pretty common requirement. At the time of this writing, Mint also requires Apache, PHP, and MySQL in order to run properly. Most Linux and UNIX based web servers will satisfy these requirements, but Windows servers will not work. Even with all these stipulations, I still found Mint to be an interesting and worthwhile investment.

For $30 per domain, Mint can provide real time stats and unlike other stat packages, it totally ignores bots and spammer scripts. This gives you a more accurate picture of actual hits on your site. Compared to other stats packages, I would say Mint is actually more conservative about hits. On the other side, the standard Mint stats are not very spectacular, fortunately, Mint is expandable. Its plugin architecture allows for new search panes to be added to the standard Mint stats view. These plugins are referred to as peppers. I highly recommend XXX Strong Mint, Sparks!, and Fresh View. You can find more peppers on the Peppermint Tea page.

WordPress & Mint

If you run WordPress and use ShortStat, you might be wondering if Mint is worth the price of admission. The advantage of Mint is that you can track static html pages as well as your WordPress blog. Other than that, the other big difference is that ShortStat registers way too many hits from search engines and bots as regular hits. Mint is more accurate or you might say conservative in its hit tracking. In my opinion, if you receive moderate traffic above fifty actual hits from actual visitors you probably could benefit from Mint. Technically, thirty dollars is not a lot of money these days, so Mint is a pretty good value considering how much commercial web site tracking software costs.

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WordPress 2.0 Upgrade

After battling through constant comment spam day after day, I finally gave in and upgraded WebKeyDesign to latest WordPress 2.0 version. Initially I had forestalled this for months due to the bad experience I had with one of my other sites, but I figured the 2.0.2 version looked stable enough and I was down to just one incompatible plugin.

The installation went quite well. Since I did not change any of the current theme setup, there really was not much to fix after the upgrade, except for entries that had highlighted html code boxes, which relied on the incompatible plugin. Instead of using CodeHighLight, I had to come up with a more complicated solution. I ended up keeping some of the CSS that CodeHightLight uses and then translating the actual code snippets with SimpleCode. This plugin just takes regular code and translates it so the browser will display the code symbols. I then had to take the translated snippets and add DIV tags to them and put them back into each posting. Needless to say, this took some time, but it looks almost as good as what I had before.

As for WordPress 2.0, the performance seems to be better than the older 1.5.2 version, and in the time that upgraded the site and fixed my postings, Askismet caught something like 213 comment spams!

Filed under: WebKeyDesignTagged with: , , , ,

Your First Web Site

A while back I covered the subject of how to choose the right weblog CMS, but what I forgot to mention is that many people who start their first website do not even think about using a weblog or a content management system to begin with. They usually put together some sort of site using either a basic web site creator tool which usually relies on frames for navigation or use template that they found. The results usually are not very eye pleasing and barely functional. This is why for many first time web sites I recommend WordPress, because it does two things very well, the first being that it is feature loaded with almost everything a beginning site author needs to create content easily, and secondly because it adds structure to help make your site more pleasing to search engines and site visitors. For a long time I thought the Kurbick template which many blog systems use now, was boring, but then I realized that blogs do something which no Dreamweaver template does. It takes care of the layout and structure for you, so you can get on with writing your content. This has allowed the Personal Web Page to flourish with new content almost daily. The personal publishing revolution is in sense only possible because of tools like WordPress and Textpattern. So if you are considering your first web site, consider a blogging or content management system to drive your site.

How To Define Content

When it comes to new websites, less is really more. What that means is that you need to cater to your audience and you need to add content and less features. Many first time web site owners feel the urge to visit sites like HotScripts.com, and install every script and web application they can find for their site. The result is usually a site that has multiple areas, many of these areas go unused and are seldom updated. The gallery, the forum, the chat area, guestbooks which are so 1990-ish, are all examples of additional areas that you see on many personal sites. The more options you add to to your site, the more confusing your site will be to your visitors. The idea is to focus on two or three main areas of your site, typically your blog and one more area is enough. This is especially important if you will be the only person updating the site with content. Eventually you might find a forum to be very popular with visitors, that this area will eventually take care of itself, but this is not always the case. What matters most is content, not content areas. The number of pages, blog entries, forum posts are what matter most, and not how many different directions site visitors can take on your site. So if you are thinking of adding a forum, a gallery, a second blog, think about how often these additional areas can be maintained and if you really need them at all.

Color Schemes

Another topic which is hard to understand for first time webmasters is color scheme. Although a good CMS or blog script can give you layout, most of the time you will want to change the color scheme and this is where perhaps not taking art in school really does become a weakness. Color schemes are not exactly easy to come by for many people, and after so many hours of watching Trading Places, you can still not know much about picking the right ones. This when looking at other sites and asking for opinions help. What I mean by color scheme is your overall design colors, graphics, and of course your link colors. For me personally, computer operating systems tend to use shades of gray and blue on purpose, mostly because gray is neutral, and blue is the one color which is pleasing and not harsh on the eyes. Even Apple’s Mac OS X, which started out as white with pinstripes, has started to change back to a more subdued gray white and forget some of its original white and rainbow gel colors. Windows98 is an even better example of gray and blue design. Choosing something besides white or gray is really very hard to do, but some web design actually manages to pull it off, usually its a white and red or a green nowadays. However for me, blue and red are still the defaults for links and it is hard to choose anything else.

The Web Is Not Suppose To Be Boring

One of the more annoying things that I find nowadays with web sites is the growing number of garbage sites, many of which are nothing more than just random collections of RSS feeds or scrapper sites, which copy their content from other sites via scripts. It is not that I have strong feelings on republishing content, it is that these sites are in fact pretty boring and really not useful at all. If you can’t entertain or have a legitimate use, then yes, I would say your site is boring. The harsh reality is that many of these sites are being indexed more and more, and end up coming up on most search engines as being relevant, but in fact are not even close. If you really are going to do a web site, make it either useful (informative in some manner) or at least interesting by making it personal (adding your opinion or views). Scrapper sites really do suck and they really serve no purpose to real web surfers. Perhaps I am being harsh, but after doing so many searches on Google and ending up at so many scrapper sites, its bound to dawn on anyone that scrapper sites are boring.

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