Blogger v WordPress

I am not, nor do I claim to be, any sort of web development/design expert. Even after having spent the better part of a year building this new blog I still consider myself a reasonably clueless amateur equipped with just enough foolhardy stubbornness to avoid defeat. As such, although I did consider writing a detailed post about my experience, unfortunately I feel in no way qualified to offer in-depth advice to anyone on the intricacies of website crafting or blog migration. There are already numerous on-line articles about the subject written by much more competent folk than I. That said, I do feel somewhat obligated to share my acquired knowledge (scarce as it may be) with any of my readers seeking straight-forward information about DIY’ing a WordPress site from someone who has had the experience. So if you do have a specific question please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

So although I may not have an expert opinion to offer on the matter, I do feel reasonably confident expressing a personal one…

When I first mentioned my proposed move from Blogger to WordPress, and since the launch of this new site, the most asked question by far has been “Why WordPress?”. Again, there are already numerous on-line articles about the subject, though if you’re keen to hear some points from the perspective of someone you can perhaps relate to then please read on.

Note that the following views expressed are based solely on my personal experience having used both WordPress self-hosted and Blogger blogs. If you are seriously considering changing or choosing a blog platform I recommend seeking information from various sources first.

:: I initially switched from Blogger to WordPress for cosmetic reasons (no, not the make-up kind). Don’t get me wrong though, I could have created an aesthetically lovely site in Blogger though for whatever reason I had quite a specific design in mind and whilst Blogger is customisable to some extent it just doesn’t offer the flexibility of WordPress. Blogger guards many of its files whereas WordPress grants almost unlimited access. This allows for total freedom in the modification and addition of content. If you’re planing to work with a designer then file access may be reasonably inconsequential to you, if you’re planning to self-design then some knowledge of coding is necessary (HTMLCSS and for WordPress, probably PHP also – note, even if you’re not planning to design your own site I believe some knowledge of HTML and CSS is still beneficial). If you’re not too fussed about a totally customised site then both platforms offer numerous ready-to-use, well-designed templates which can be personalised. There are just more options (in terms of features and functionality) with WordPress.

:: WordPress is supported by a vast community of generous and passionate volunteers who offer amazing free content, services and advice. Most noteably, Plugins. Plugins are software components which can be easily used to extend WordPress to do just about anything. There are thousands of awesome free Plugins though also some powerful paid ones. I use them mainly for cosmetic reasons, such as creating dynamic slideshows or galleries. My little Shop was also created using a fantastic free Plugin.

:: In most cases having a Blogger blog is completely free. Having a self-hosted WordPress site means paying for hosting. This can vary from as little as $10  to as much as $500 per month! Choosing the right host is one of the most crucial steps in establishing a new website – it took me a few weeks to make my decision. The cost involved in hosting is generally reflected by the amount of traffic you receive. Most hosts offer plans based on average daily page hits (for example, if you regularly have around 5,000 daily page hits then monthly hosting might cost you $20/if you’re closer to around 50,000 daily page hits hosting might cost $200). It’s a tricky balance – you don’t want to pay more than necessary though if you choose the wrong host/plan you risk having a slow-loading site and even crashes!

:: WordPress offers unlimited static pages (static pages are stand-alone pages such as that used for About, Contact, etc). When I  first looked into redesigning my blog on Blogger the amount of static pages you could have was limited to 20. For me this was frustrating. I’m not certain whether Blogger has now lifted this cap.

:: Maintaining a WordPress site comes with a greater level of personal responsibility. Blogger handles pretty much everything on your behalf – storage, backups, hosting, security, etc – so all you need do is concentrate on writing awesome posts. Because WordPress sites are self-hosted, you (or your trusted designer) are responsible for ensuring these finer details are properly managed.

:: There is more choice with WordPress though just remember that isn’t necessarily always a good thing! If you’re indecisive by nature or daunted by options WordPress can be overwhelming. In this instance the simplicity of Blogger is its strength.

In summary, the shuffle to WordPress was the right move for me. I’ve really enjoyed both the challenges and avenues it’s presented. Both platforms have their pros and cons. There is nothing definitive which makes one clearly better than the other. The right platform is the one which best suits you. Remember, you can always establish a trial blog to sample a platform before making a final decision. If I had to make recommendations; for casual or hobby bloggers – Blogger, for serious or fastidious bloggers (or those with an interested in web development/design) – WordPress.

I hope this little summary of Blogger v WordPress (in my humble opinion) has been somewhat helpful. Like I mentioned, if you’re seriously considering changing or choosing a platform do some research first. There are loads of really thorough on-line articles about the subject. If you’d like further clarification or information about anything I’ve mentioned please feel free to ask – I’m more than happy to try and help.

SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Hello WordPress!

Welcome

I almost can’t believe it!

After what feels like for-ev-er (though was actually more like the better part of a year – yes people, a whole year!) my newly designed blog is finally live!

If Charlotte wasn’t asleep right now I would literally scream…very loudly! Though in the interest of napping infants (and perhaps more importantly; mother ‘alone’ time) instead I’ll simply exhale with added exuberance.

The journey to this finished site did at times seem fraught with more obstacles than a hobbit’s road to Mordor, though, like Frodo, I got there…eventually – and am clearly so elated I’m not adverse to throwing in nerdy Lord of the Rings references.

For those of you who are interested, in the coming days I’ll publish a more thorough post outlining some of my blog’s new features and detailing the development adventure (this might be particularly appealing to fellow crazy bloggers who, like me, feel the need to try and DIY absolutely everything!), though for the purpose of this initial welcome I’ll keep things short and sweet. That said, there are a few things I do gotta say…

THANK YOU for being here! Without visitors this little on-line home of mine would be a lonesome place indeed so I’m truly grateful for every virtual knock on the door. And now that the new site is finally complete I’m looking forward to redirecting all that time into producing awesome fresh content I hope you’ll enjoy.

This blog would not exist without the generous help of our awesome friend Richard who aided with the ‘how-the-heck-do-you-do-that’ techie side of stuff. My husband figures I owe him a kidney.

Please make yourself at home and feel free to have a good peek around! I spent much of my time polishing the basic design and general content to create a pleasing aesthetic and optimise user experience. I’ve included lots of new features (such as a Resource Directory, Project Gallery, Guest Book, Image Archives and even a little Shop) and clean navigation. Also, let me know if you notice anything looking or acting a little strangely. I did some cross-browser and multi-device testing though as I’m only a part-time perfectionist am pretty sure there are probably still a few kinks.

Given the long anticipated launch of this blog, I feel I need to offer some kind of explanation to those of you who may feel underwhelmed by the apparent banality of the site. This blog took so long to complete, not because I was aiming to produce some kind of innovative masterpiece, though because I custom-built it myself and had to self-learn every step of the way. The design is not breathtaking, though to me, at least, it is a breath of fresh air.

Although I did use the words ‘finished’ and ‘complete’, I prefer to think this blog will be in constant evolution. In fact, there are already some changes to be made and new features to be added – and there is always tweaking to be done. So don’t forget to revisit some pages and look for fresh inclusions every now and then.

Got a question? Please feel free to ask when you leave a comment below. I don’t profess to be an expert though will do my best to address as many as possible in my upcoming post.

Oh, and one last thing; if you haven’t already, don’t forget to get connected and stay in touch…

 

 

 

Please note, if you followed my previous Blogger blog solely through Google Friends Connect it’s probably a good idea to subscribe to this new site via a different means to ensure you continue to receive post updates (the truth is, I’m not really certain how Google Friends Connect works to translate feeds from a redirected site though subscribing via an alternate method will cover any possible gaps). There are numerous ways to receive new post updates though I recommend subscribing via RSS or email. I’ll highlight some of the alternatives in my upcoming post.

SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Home Office Cabinet Progress

I know I originally said I wasn’t going to refer to my new computer area as a ‘home office’ though it’s just the most self-explanatory title, so home office it is.

You may remember I was in a bit of a pickle over finding some appropriate cabinetry. The restrictive proportions of the space teamed with our hulking great computer (and other paraphernalia) plus the need to store ALL of our books was making my search really tricky.

Though as you may or may not know, I’m not a millionaire, so I couldn’t quite stomach the idea of forking out big bikkies on a bespoke build.

Well….we were at a family birthday recently when a builder friend of ours mentioned, without even a word about my home office dilemma – promise – that he was interested in some extra little ‘backyard’ jobs.
Could his timing have been more perfect?
So I brought up my conundrum and after some discussion we decided it was a great win-win solution.

A few weeks on I now have this….

Granted, it is hard to decipher from that photo, and I’m not trying to be elusive, it’s just the best ‘before’ shot I could muster. Basically it’s a simple free standing modular-type cabinet. There will be a long spanning desk sandwiched between two deep lower cabinets and two tall upper bookcases. It’s a pretty conventional solution, kinda like this (minus the mini guitar and green tractor)….

As much as I covet built-in cabinetry, we have eventual plans to remodel some of our internal rooms so I wasn’t ready to go down that long road yet. Having a free-standing unit gives us the flexibility to reposition it if needed plus there is no installation required.

To keep costs down our friend built the cabinet out of pine ply and, of course, I’m finishing it off myself. In the above ‘before’ shot it is waiting in my parent’s driveway for a nice refreshing white paint shower courtesy of one of these bad boys….

I paint with an air compressor and spray gun quite a bit. It’s especially awesome for large or intricate pieces. There are pros and cons to forgoing the brush, though for a big project like this the spray gun is simply faster and less monotonous – which basically means at the end of the day hopefully I’ll still have some hair left (albeit paint-caked)!

I’m sorry that I don’t yet have an ‘after’ shot to share, though it’s coming….
one day….
soon….
hopefully :-)

 

SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

A New Room Redo

Suffice to say it was a fair exchange, though for us, gaining Charlotte meant losing our “computer room”.

I know calling it a “home office” or “study” would sound more official, though with the majority of time spent in there going toward online shopping, e-stalking and maybe shooting the occasional virtual bad guy (hubby, not me) a title implicit of actual ‘work’ just seemed like blatant glorification.

So once Charlotte moved in we had two re-location candidates for our new “computer room”; the tiny guest bedroom or the little weird nothing space off our kitchen.

Here’s a deceptively spacious looking floor plan which illustrates our options – trust me, all our rooms are actually really incy.

The guest room seemed like an obvious choice though the little weird nothing space was being used for, well nothing. You see, it’s a through-way due to the external sliding door (which is suppose to be a side entrance though is more often used as the main one) and two hallway openings. There is also a large vertical heater on one wall which, at this stage, has to stay. So, although looking at the floor plan many configurations seem possible, in reality, flow-wise, nothing much really worked. The only functional space is the narrow area spanning the guest room’s divisional wall which didn’t seem good for much….though, I thought, might be just perfect for a thoughtfully considered computer area.

So, here’s the room before….

Nice enough, though nothing special and lacking functionality.

And here it is after Charlotte displaced our computer cabinet….

If I’m honest, pretty darn crappy looking. Though that’s okay, it’s only ‘make-do’.

As I suspected, our hideaway computer cabinet didn’t work in its new home. If I was going to make this computer room gel I needed a fresh concept.

So I gathered my thoughts. We needed….something to use as a desk, something to house our books (because there was no where else for them to live) and something to hide all the ugly hulking technological thingamabobs plus it needed to be pretty and practical, perfectly proportioned and penny-wise. Easy, right?

Ah, apparently not.

I spent hours searching for something that just didn’t exist. Even with my ‘open-minded-out-of-the-box-creative-vision’ hat on, I couldn’t find anything adaptable to fit my criteria.

The main issues were the ridiculous depth of our ginormous computer tower and the modest width of the wall. I wanted something built-in-esque without the permanence, work or cost. Was I going to have to build this thing myself?

In all honesty, I did seriously consider it, and I know I could have done it though at my current rate of productivity it would have been finished just in time to present Charlotte for her own house warming, so instead I did something that I’ve never done before….I walked into a furniture store (a cheapo, budget one, mind you) and asked the nice man behind the counter how much it would cost to have something custom built.

Now, I’m not certain exactly what happened next, though the first thing I remember was a hazy salesman coming slowly into focus. “Oh”, I said, “I’m sorry, I thought you said $2,000”.
“I did”, came the reply.
I promptly passed out again.

‘Course I didn’t really pass out though I definitely did pass (on the custom build offer that is). I’m well aware that to many, okay most, people, paying $2,000 for a piece of furniture (let alone a custom built one) isn’t particularly outlandish, though to me it’s simply a no-no.
So now, enter plan B….

Oh, and THANK YOU for bearing with me through this period of sporadic posting!
At the moment I’m mum and wife first, though I have a tonne of exciting projects and room makeovers on the go (and in my head!) which I can’t wait to share once my new superwoman pills arrive (seriously, I don’t know how other bloggers do it!).
In the meantime, my intention is, as it has always been, to blog whenever I can so please know that your readership is truly cherished.

SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

IKEA Card File Drawers Hack

At the moment, amongst other things, I’m working on a totally new room makeover at my hive.

It’s a little space I’ve not shared previously. I can’t wait for the final reveal though with a little pair of hands constantly clutching at my pant legs (with an accompanying unresistable “pick-me-up” whine), let’s just say progress hasn’t exactly been fast, so as with pretty much everything else nowadays, I’m not holding my breath ’til it’s done.

Anyhoo, part of the makeover involves some new shelving and to pretty them up, whilst adding some handy knick-knack storage, I wanted some cute old mini card file drawers. They are relatively plentiful (if you have patience and know where to look – eBay, oldware stores, etc.) though in many cases buying some requires a deep pocket reach and, if you know me, you’d know I’m just a bit adverse to that kinda thing. So, rather than cash, I thought I’d spend some creative energy instead and concoct my own.

I started with this cute set of Moppe drawers from IKEA (for whatever reason I could only find them easily on the UK website so excuse the link).

I’m sure you’ve all seen them before – they’ve been the victim of many a good (and maybe a few unfortunate) hacks.

And these brass plated card holder pulls I found on eBay, plus some timber stain and sealer.

I did consider painting or ageing the brass though I’m planning on using some gold accents in the room so decided to leave it as is. I’m glad I did ’cause I do really like the end result.

Because I was planning on using the pulls to open the drawers, I no longer wanted the visible finger cut-outs.

Easy solution….just turn the drawers around. I know, duh right?

I began by giving the corners of the drawers themselves a reasonably heavy sand to round them off a bit. It’s just a small detail and by no means necessary though as you can see in the ‘after’ pics it does soften the perfection of the unit and imparts the illusion of some wear.

Next I applied two coats of timber stain (I used dark teak because that’s what I found in the shed :-)

To add a soft lustre and enhance the richness of the stain I then applied three coats of danish oil. If you’ve not used danish oil before, I highly recommend it. As mentioned, it imparts a soft sheen, enriches colour and nourishes the timber. It goes on like water and, in my experience, dries perfectly every time – unlike some sealers it is virtually fool-proof.

Once the oil was dry, I attached my pulls, banging in the nails with my customary the-kitchen-meat-mallet-is-closer-than-the-real-hammer hammer (which turned out to be convenient in more ways than one thanks to its you-can’t-possibly-miss-a-nail-with massive head). For something a bit different, I aligned the pulls towards the top of each drawer. Do I like it? I’m not really sure though I think it’s growing on me. Besides, it’s a pretty easy task to relocate them if I ever feel compelled – which I probably wont.

The nails which affix the pulls will inevitably poke through the rear of the drawer fronts so if this bothers you simply file them flush or trim them down prior.

The visible dove-tails are perfect for helping enhance the illusion of a true vintage piece.

To finish I designed some simple antique style tabs for the card holders.

Sure, I coulda just hand written them and tea-stained the paper, though I decided to exercise my current love of digital graphics and instead Photoshoped ’em up using a handwritten script font and a distressed background texture.

I was pleasantly surprised with how authentic they actually look.

For your convenience I have included my graphics as free printables (see the bottom of the post)! They will fit perfectly inside the 9cm x 4.5cm (3 1/4″ x 1 11/16″) pull slots.

I was a bit sceptical at how this project would turn out though it’s a heap better than I thought…so yay!

AT A GLANCE
SOURCES
Small Drawers (IKEA Moppe $16.00)
Card Holder Pull Handles (eBay $2.95)
Timber Stain (Feast Watson Dark Teak)
Timber Sealer (Cabots Danish Oil)
CREDITS
Dreamer Script Font
Stained Paper Texture
FREE PRINTABLE!
Four aged index tabs with calligraphic font. View and download here.
SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone