By Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in Minding Our Business, November 2008 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]
The Internet has had a profound effect on our lives. It has enriched our vocabulary as well: I Google, you Google, I blog, do you blog? “Blog” is one such word where a tool has turned into a verb. Blog is short for “web log”, and it is often used as a sort of online journal or diary. The entries, called posts, are usually ordered in reverse-chronological order, so with the most recent entries shown first. The home page of a blog is often a collection of the most recent 3-10 blog posts. The number of blogs has exploded over the past few years; one of the appeals to its users is the ease of use, freely accessible software and the fact that search engines love blogs – frequently updated websites are deemed relevant, especially by Google.
There are several types of blog software available, both free and paid. Blogger.com and WordPress.com both have a huge number of users. These blogging platforms are hosted solutions with preinstalled software: you just have to register, choose a template and optionally change a few other settings and you are ready to go! URLs look something like yourname.wordpress.com or yourname.blogger.com. Serious bloggers want to have more flexibility, though, and want to have a blog on their own hosting package. Well-known software that provides this flexibility includes WordPress.org and Movable Type. You can have an ordinary domain name like yourname.com, and can make many adjustments to the software as it is Open Source. Another benefit of the Open Source character of the software is that all kinds of free and paid templates can be found all over the web, as well as so called plug-ins: pages or programs that can add specific functionality to your blog. Adding a contact form or YouTube videos becomes child’s play with these plug-ins enabled.
One aspect that not everybody realizes is that blogging software can also be an effective Content Management System (CMS) for your website. It can even be employed as a hybrid (ah, such a contemporary word ;o), by using both “pages” and “posts”. You can have a “page” as your home page (instead of your most recent blog posts, in reverse-chronological order), complemented with other “pages” using standard hierarchical navigation, while still writing “posts” in reverse-chronological order, for more “off the cuff” type of content or articles. The nice thing about “posts” complementing “pages” is that posts do not have to be ordered in a certain navigational hierarchy; posts can be categorized using tags (or: labels) (these are sort of keywords) and categories (higher level of grouping). The structure of your site can grow organically.
So is a blog something to consider for everyone? Not necessarily. If you use the blog as a blog (journal, diary) then your readers expect frequent updates. You will have to commit to a regular writing schedule. But using the blogging software as an effective and easy to use CMS (did I mention: free?) can be done by anyone – anytime!
Nardo Kuitert is an Internet Consultant with Fergus Website Development and Optimization firm U-C WEBS (www.u-cwebs.com). U-C WEBS also offers Internet advertising opportunities on www.ferguspages.com. (link opens in a new window)
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