WordPress is the open source blogging platform of choice. I’ve been using it since 2004 and I’ve learnt lots of tricks along the way.
There are 5 learnings I wanted to share as they had a significant impact on my experience of the platform and can reduce the frustration of being a wordpress beginner.
1. Get a good hosting service
Dreamhost (affiliate link) is my choice. I have been with them for two years now and I always get immediate support as well as little downtime. I’ve recommended it to clients and friends and never received complaints. Alternatives are GoDaddy, Rackspace and Bluehost as well as Page.ly, a dedicated WordPress hosting service.
2. FTP Client is good but…
A good hosting service will have one-click install systems for WordPress (or at least most of the above have). Nonetheless you may encounter the need of having a good FTP client to handle your WordPress files remotely. I use FileZilla and I am very happy with it. Remember though that if you are looking at deleting or uploading folders with lots of items, the Webftp platformof your hosting service (Dreamhost has a very good one) may be your best option. It is usually 10x faster than any client.
3. What link structure should you use?
Link structure is quite an important bit of your Google indexing. Default WordPress is’ p=1′. Not very juicy SEOwise. Once you install you will need to head immediately to the Permalink section and change it.
Change it to what though? There are different theories on what is the best structure according to your objective. Make sure you do your research. Here’s a good start
4. What Plugins?
Plugins are to WordPress what Extensions are to Firefox. They make WordPress the best. WordPress withouth plugins would be like an iPhone without Apps. If you head to the Plugin section on WordPress you’ll notice there are more than 11,000 plugins. So what should you use? If you want to run a blog, my plugin survival toolkit includes:
All in one SEO. To optimize the blog for SEO
Disqus. To manage comments
Ultimate Google Analytics. To integrate Google Analytics
FD Feedburner. To redirect feed subscription to Feedburner and enable subscription via email.
Facebook Like. To integrate with Facebook
ShareDaddy. To enable a slick sharing experience
PSX Mailform. To enable a Contact Me section
WP-FLV. To show Youtube videos by simply pasting the embed code.
5. How to increase the speed of WordPress
Speed will be a major issue you will need to deal with almost immediately. Lots of plugins and images do reduce speed so make sure you get rid of all the inactive plugins. What about the images though.
There are several plugins to improve image loading. My favourite one is jQuery lazy load plugin, but also look at W3 Total Cache and WP Database Optimizer to increase loading speed. Make sure that your theme is well designed. In this sense frameworks and premium themes may be a better choice.