Blogging 101: Keep Personalising

Today I present my findings from this assignment, which covers: header images; featured images; format styles; my quest for images within search results (no joy); and the vexed issue of categories or tags.

Header Images

I’d already worked out the header images.  You simply upload an image and then you can select it as the header image for your site.  When you do this WordPress presents a nice cropping window that allows you to select a part of the photo that precisely matches the size required for the header image.  All very nice, and you can even declare several different images and allow WordPress to select one randomly for each page.

Feature Images

WordPress provides the capability to identify, for each page, a single featured image and each theme present these images in differing ways and situations.  I was hoping to find that these featured imaged would appear next to the post summary in the home page or in the search results.  But, my hopes were dashed.  I’m using the, “Twenty Ten”, theme, which will presents the feature image instead of the default header image.  But this could prove useful and so I changed the header on my home page  an image of my eyes; and then declared featured images for the Bishop Libby Lane to sit in LordsDo they  trouble you? and Popular Science or Dumbing Down? posts.

Creating these images and reviewing them alongside the text provides a good opportunity to assess whether or not the image accurately reflects the thins that troubles me, and how the image works with the text placed before the, “Continue Reading”, prompt to draw the reader in.  It took a couple of iterations for each image; and it’s not easy getting the images uploaded and cropped to the correct size; but I’m pleased with the results.

Special styles for formatted posts

When editing a post the format options, in the right hand column, provides a choice of ways in which a post can be displayed on, say, your home page, or on a list of posts from a particular month).  Again, I was hoping to find that one of the options would show a thumbnail of some kind.  But no.  In fact, on the Twenty Ten theme I’m using, there seems to be very little difference between the seven options (Standard, Aside, Image, Video, Quote, Link and Gallery) apart from the font.  So dashed on this front, too.

Images appearing in Search Results

For some time I’ve been able to get images representing each post onto the home page; and I’ve done this by inserting an image into the top of the post (before the Read More tag); but have not found any way of getting images onto the search results of any other list of posts and/or pages.  Today I had hoped to find salvation either in Featured Images or Special styles for formatted posts, but as you can see from the above, the answer did not lie therein.

So I still need to keep looking.  Perhaps I need to look at some other themes or upgrade to provide more configuration options.  Failing that I’ll have to build my own theme!

Categories vs Tags

My first impressions was that categories and tags were extremely similar in nature – the difference being that with a Tag you simply have to type it in and with categories you have to actually create a new category within a taxonomy of categories before you can use it.  There is a cloud widget for both categories and tags that presents them as a single string of terms, separated by commas, word wrapping over several lines.  For categories there is a widget that presents terms as a structured list (rather than word-wrap) format.

Before today I had indexed only by categories.  I preferred the structured list that came with categories to the cloud format that I would be forced to use with tags; and I feared the lack of control that would come with the ability to create tags on-the-fly.

Today, with this assignment, I have the opportunity to reconsider the recommendation to operate both Categories and Tags, with categories providing high level indexing and more detail being added by tags.

I have decided to go with the WordPress recommendations, for the following reasons:

  1. Even with only eight posts, my list of categories has become surprisingly long; and it’s clear that my category menu will quickly become unusable if I don’t change my ways.
  2. The WordPress Reader provides each of us with the ability to search by Tag across all WordPress blogs (but not by category).  So if you’ve written an post on, say, Jellyfish then adding a Jellyfish Tag will help people find it, but a Jellyfish Category will not.

I would define the purpose of the Categories and Tags as follows:

  • Tags draw people to your web site.
  • Categories help your readers navigate their way around the posts in your blog.