Story Bible Website Development Project: 2

Last week, I wrote about a project I’m working on for myself. Since then, I got answers back to some of my questions, so I eliminated the USP plugin. The $40 pro version would let me submit multiple posts from the same form, but it would not reload the form without completely reloading the full page. That’d be annoying for what I’m working on.

While doing my research, I got a tip about Caldera Form. It would give me these abilities:

  • Create a custom form with ease
  • Submit the new content as the content type (page, post, custom) that I wanted
  • Would reload the form without reloading the entire page
  • Accepts multiple submissions from the same form

I’m happily testing it out though I did find some limitations:

  • Has limited support for taxonomies and categories (which is important so the post goes to the right place)
  • Support is going to cost you 
  • When I hit submit, the success message comes back with some odd gibberish and the form’s fields still have the content in them. When I checked, I can see that the post did in fact publish

Now it’s back to submitting a ticket to their WordPress.org forum and hoping for a response. Other forms I considered but avoided are Ninja Forms and Gravity Forms.  I chose not to go down that road since it cost money.  Things I read while evaluating Caldera Forms: 

Final thing I started looking into last week: using Encyclopedia/Glossary/Wiki plugin instead of Knowledge Base CPT. I’m checking out this plugin since it will auto-link text in other pages/posts/custom which include a word in the lexicon to the lexicon page.

This is where I’m leaving off this week. I hope you find some value in learning this background knowledge of how I’m developing this WordPress site.

Story Bible Website Development Project

For my WordPress eCourse students, I’m giving them a bonus behind-the-scenes look at how I evaluate plugins and try to find solutions for a personal website project. Since I’ve already got the text written up, I thought I’d share what I’m posting for them.

Site Purpose: Story Bible to keep track of all the details for this narrative.

Requirements:

Link pages to each other like a Wiki and show those relationships
Be nice if it was easy to link pages to each other using Wiki markup
Add paragraph-level annotations
Easy to create new posts without going to the backend

Plugins Currently Installed: (Not all of these are being used at the moment. I may have them installed to test later)

Advanced Custom Fields
Aesop Story Engine — for more of a Medium/longform writing experience. I like the timeline navigation abilities
Chat for Aesop Story Engine — don’t like this much
Contact Form 7 — theme wanted this plugin
Contextual Related Posts
Contextual Related Posts Taxonomy Tools so the above plugin is restricted to showing related posts of the same category or tag
Digress.it — love the idea of this plugin, but it no longer works with the latest versions of WP. It adds paragraph-level annotations
Featured Image Widget — so I can get the image in the sidebar as you see in the screenshot. This particular theme doesn’t allow it, so I lazily used a plugin for this feature instead of coding it myself.
Knowledge Base CPT — this is part of the wiki setup
Olympus Shortcodes — makes it easier to add features/functions. Part of the requirements for the theme
Paragraph Commenting — not visually attractive, but gives me the paragraph-level annotations
User Submitted Posts — allows me to put “create a new post” from the sidebar which works for my purposes. I need more features, but those are in a premium version. I’ll need to make that decision before deciding to invest in that.
WP What Links Here — need for the Wiki like function I wanted to add. I don’t have much control over it out of the box. It doesn’t recognize/see annotations which link to a certain page. I’d like to add this feature.
Theme: Apollo — not free, but I got it as a freebie

Anyways, this site isn’t complete yet and I’ve done a lot of experimentation so far with dozens of different plugins, Google searches, posting on the WP forums, and reviewing plugins in my pursuit of this project.

Setting Up a Staff Blog

I was given the task to set up an internal staff blog. I choose WordPress, of course. The constraints:

  • easy to use
  • easy to update
  • easy to navigate

Plugins:
Advanced Comment Form: to remove unnecessary fields like website address
Subscribe to Comments Reloaded: so commenters get notifications when someone replies
USP Pro: Creates front-end post submissions without an account. This was something I choose since people complain when they have to create and remember even more accounts. So I eliminated that. They’ll just have to put their email address in every time. We went with pro since we wanted to be able to upload various file formats. There may have been a free solution, but it wasn’t worth me spending even more time researching a new plugin and then configuring it to work with the setup.

Organization:
Use categories to organize the site + tags.
Created a video to show people how to use the site.
Use custom menu for “Write Post” link option.

Design:
Twenty Fifteen theme
Very minor tweaks to correct the appearance of lists

My additional requirements that I put on myself:

  • easy to comment
  • get notifications on your posts
  • get notifications on new comments to posts you replied to
  • email all staff when a new post is submitted

I am in the process of fixing two bugs:

Our all-staff email address is limited to only forwarding emails from our own domain address to stop outside spam. My colleague and I are working on a solution to this. It’ll probably deal with emails being sent to me and an Outlook rule that will auto forward that email to all staff from my inbox.

The person who wrote a post gets two comment notification emails whenever someone replies to what they wrote. Still trying to track that down…!

An annoying WordPress bug is that it’s not sending me native notifications of new post submissions, thus why I had to look into an outside plugin.

WordPress for Lifestyle Bloggers & Online Readings

Lately I’ve been fortunate enough to work with patrons interested in lifestyle/interior design/creative WordPress blogs. While my own blog here is not very action-packed or set up to be a lifestyle blog, in the past I was obsessed with them. So this new movement of one-on-one appointments has been very enjoyable to me. I get to rack my brains to think about my impressions of what a lifestyle blog should look like, how you build an audience, and describe the different ways to stay in touch with your readers (e.g. email, RSS, social media). What’s difficult is remembering the name of any of those blogs I used to follow!

On that note, I have mostly given up on following blogs via RSS. This happened long before Google killed Google Reader. After the devastating losses of three years ago, I found myself to no longer reading my RSS feeds. So I dropped my lifestyle/crafts/interior decorating blogs. Now I use RSS to keep up with webcomics and to skim librarian related blogs. I don’t think I’m alone in this — I’ve noticed that the quantity of library related blogs has gone down substantially in the past few years. So, where do I spend most of my free online time? Twitter, Tumblr, and news websites. I favorite hundreds of tweets a month which I mostly don’t look at — but it’s nice to have for the days when I’m looking for something new to read. I also have shifted a lot of my online reading away from librarians and to web coders/developers. These people are intense and way beyond where I am (hey, their job is to be web people while I’m responsible for dozens of things at work), but I enjoy seeing what others are doing.

Content Strategy for WordPress

Found this excellent keynote speech by Stephanie Leary about controlling content strategy in WordPress. The accompanying slides. Watch Stephanie’s presentation to learn a lot of what you need to know about content strategy with WordPress.

I’m very pleased that there is no overall strategy here that I was unaware of. In fact, most of the discussion here about chunking content is something I figured out innately when I began to use Drupal in 2010. With that in mind, I’ve began to discuss the work involved for my next freelance project. The site may not be built in WordPress but LibGuides. How exciting it is that something I had to learn for work is something I can now use in my freelance time!

Pre-order book & designing the book’s website

It's really, truly, real.

My book!

You can find the official details on my book’s product page.

In the meantime, I am working on pushing and prodding AmandaGoodman.com (or AmandaLGoodman.com) into a promotional book website. My current design inspirations for the site are:

Since I also want a side of hectic, I’m moving this weekend. Thus when I get home, I’m busy packing all our worldly belongings (AKA why do I own so many physical books?!) into boxes generously sought out and acquired by my coworkers. They’re so excited when they procure a new one to hand off to me! I’m also participating in the #hyperlibMOOC.

Have you built a website for a book before? If so, please share your experience with me!

Advanced WordPress Topics Librarians Want to Know

I asked on Twitter the other day what advanced WordPress topics librarians would be interested in learning. These are the responses and my quick attempts to answer:

Answer: Create a Network. However, your web server needs to support multisite functionality otherwise you cannot set up the proper URL subdomains.

Weak-answer: OpenBook Book Data plugin

Answer: Too many to name! Custom post type creation plugins, and I’ve used the User Role Editor plugin before. I have some ideas for niche websites as well — but that’s a secret at the moment!

Answer: A large chunk of my forthcoming book deals with the topic of plugins libraries use!

Answer: Nowadays there are TONS of responsive WordPress themes if you don’t have the time to learn responsive web design yourself. In fact, this blog uses the Responsive theme. I’m waiting to hear back on the variable part.

Answer: I ran into a few FAQ and LibAnswers style WordPress sites in research for my book, but the one by Bates stuck out for me. Unfortunately they did not respond to my request for comments on how they build their site. I can clearly see how their WordPress website works. I’m guessing their search interface is custom built though.

Answer: This is build right into WordPress. When you write a post or a page, just click on the Edit button next to “Publish immediately” under the Publish top right box. You can then set the date and time for the post to go live.

Planning a Class via Google Docs

The ALA Techsource class that I am teaching with Polly-Alida Farrington starts next month. Polly and I are using Google Docs to write the class content. An overview of the process so far:

  • Polly created a folder in Google Docs to hold all the documents for our class.
  • For each section that we write, we start a new document and give it a name corresponding to the week of class.
  • I am using headers (h2 and h4 respectively) to organize a document’s structure.
  • When a section is finished, I add to the end of the document title to indicate that the document is for review.
  • To control who is over which section, Polly has created a document about the class outline. I’m adding notes here and there in bold with my initials to ask for clarification.
  • I also created a document to keep track of stylization, major section titles which may be used repeatedly (e.g. More Information, Advanced Skills) and the timeline.

We ran into each other on one document and had a short “hello!” “hello!” moment of commentary across the topic of the document. Otherwise, it is strange writing out the class text since I am more familiar with screencasts and in-person teaching.