with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

My Daily Tasks With WordPress

I thought that I’d diary my day-to-day tasks managing my WordPress website. It’s very easy to manage, but there are a few steps that few people talk about.

In the morning, after the crunch of work is done, I check the various RSS Feeds that I monitor to see what is going on. I particularly check the ones listed below because they feature information about WordPress news, tools, plugins, and related information. I’m still learning so I want to keep up with what is going on. I can see many of these through the new Dashboard in the Administration area of WordPress, but I have added them to my feed reader and that keeps all the information in one place.

If there is a piece of information that is really important, using the Press It bookmarklet, a bit of javascript code found at the bottom of every Write Post screen. Just click and drag the Press It link to your links button bar or wherever you want it in your browser toolbar and it sits there waiting for you to use it. While viewing the page I want to make a note of or report on, I click “Press It” and a window pops up with the link to the current page in it. I can type whatever I want, choose the category, and mark to publish it instantly to my site or save as a draft to work on later. I usually save it as a draft to clean up later because I want to concentrate on the news.

I also check in on the WordPress Forums to see if there is a couple of questions I can answer or information that I need to know.

Here are a list of the sites I have in my feeder for keeping up with what is going on with WordPress:

Check Comments

I then go to my site and login to the Administration Screens. I go to Manage > Comments and take a look to see if anyone has left a note or comment on my site.

I like a clean house, and I like to really know what is going on with my site, so I use the Paged Comment Editing Plugin by Coldforged. This plugin replaces the normal screen with an enhanced view adding several features such as viewing the caught spam. I click on the “Include Spam” link and the screen reloads and any spam left by those disgusting online casino spammers which have been caught by WordPress’ new built-in spam catching tools show up in pink, clearly distinguishable from the good comments.

If there are a couple of these, I delete them from that screen. Why delete them? The comment spam has been caught by WordPress’ comment spam filters, but they still sit in my database. I want them OUT OUT OUT, so I delete them. It keeps the database size down a little as these quickly add up.

Coldforged Comment Page Plugin screen shotIf there are a lot of these, I click “Mass Edit Mode” and go down the list checking off all the pink colored comments. It’s fast and easy. I click DELETE ALL SELECTED and they are GONE! Bye bye crap!

I can then spent a moment or two checking for new legit comments, blasting out any horrid commentaries that got in (the big spam gets caught but once in a while you will get the nasty individual who wants to waste your time), and answering any comments that require a response. Two minutes later, I’m on to the next thing.

Now it’s time to check those drafts that I made from my morning foray into the RSS Feeds and see if I still want to release any of them with short notes or turn the link into an article. These are usually quickie things and within twenty minutes at the most (I sometimes take my time over these), they are posted. Then it is on to major work.

Writing Articles

I always have notes going on as I work on a project, hoping to turn those notes into help articles in addition to the project article that I’m working on. I do all my writing exclusively in WordPerfect, a powerhouse program for anyone into serious writing or desktop publishing of written material. I keep all my notes in one document and the actual article in another and I can quickly move between the two, helping me to stay on track.

When an article is ready to post on my site, a little work needs to be done to prepare it for WordPress. So let me tell you a little more about how I use WordPress so you will understand the steps better.

For quick, mostly text only entries on my site, I write it up in WordPerfect, spell check it, make sure there is a double line between each paragraph, and copy and paste it into the WordPress Write a Post screen, give it a title, mark the categories, and save it. Done. No HTML, no fuss. WordPress converts my double lines into <p> HTML tags and I’m good to go.

For longer, more intensive articles which feature graphics, boxes of information, and greater formatting control needs, I need to turn that article into an HTML/XHMTL document with all the appropriate XHTML tags.

To control these two choices I make, I use the TextControl Plugin. This plugin adds the power to choose how I want WordPress to style (or not style) my posts when generated on a per-post basis.

To use the plugin, I paste in my text and hit SAVE AND CONTINUE EDITING instead of Publish or Save. The screen saves the data to the database and reloads the page. Now, below the Edit text area box, I have a new list that asks me how I want the page to be generated. For simple text, I set it to Default: wpautop and WordPress Texturize so it will automatically generate the paragraph tags and other minor tags for the post. For HTML/XHTML, I set these to be NO FORMATTING and NO CHARACTER CODING. WordPress will now leave the post alone when it is posted.

screenshot of TextControl plugin in use on WordPress Write Post screen

So if my article needs to be turned into XHTML in order to keep the layout for formatting, I have a little work to do.

I copy the article into a clean new document, saving the original. I run spell check on it one more time to be sure that the obvious misspellings are caught. I then do a series of search and replaces to add the XHTML code.

All double spaces are turned into </p>[Hrt]<p> so each paragraph is wrapped in a code. All headings are wrapped with their appropriate h3 or h4 tags and all lists and special boxes are checked to make sure the tags are right around them. I then go through and check every image and self-closing tag to make sure that the self-closing slash is there (for images: <img src="ball.gif" alt="red ball" />) in place as required for XHMTL validation. I then go through and make sure that all empty lines are gone with a quick double hard-return search and replace with a single hard-return code. WordPerfect makes this so easy with its Reveal Codes and ability to search and replace embedded codes.

A last look through and it’s ready to go. I copy the text and paste it into WordPress’ Write Post screen. I type in the title, check off if I want or don’t want comments and pings, then mark the appropriate categories and fill in the explicit Excerpt text area. Sometimes this is something I custom write up to introduce the article, other times I copy the first paragraph or two and paste it in. If I include a graphic in the Excerpt, I will put it in with no float or style references since its style is controlled in the style sheet.

I then move down and mark the page to be a draft or publish and click SAVE AND CONTINUE EDITING. When the screen reloads, I can set the TextControl elements to NO FORMATTING and NO CHARACTER CODING. I also use Jerome’s WordPress Keywords Plugin which allows me to add keywords on a per-post basis. I take a moment and type in the keywords for the article, which will appear in the meta tags in the head of the generated document.

If my article is part of a series, I check the date order to make sure I have the date set to keep the article within the series of dates. The first article in the series must have the most recent date and the most recent article in the series must have the oldest date. Kind of backwards thinking, but that’s the compromise I make running WordPress as a CMS.

When I’ve checked all the little bits, with a quick glance at the bottom of the Write Post screen to the Post Preview to see if there are any obvious boo boos to the text and simple formatting, I click PUBLISH and off it goes to the public.

To make sure that everything looks okay, and I haven’t forgotten anything, I go to the Manage > Posts screen and click VIEW on the new article. I check it out, look for obvious errors in the formatting and styles, and if there are any, I click BACK and then EDIT and fix them, or go on to the next project.

If there are any new photographs or graphics that go with the article, I upload them to my site using a free FTP program called SmartFTP or I use two Windows Explorer windows. One is set to my hard drive copy of my website files and the other is set as an FTP to my site on the Internet. I just typed in ftp://www.example.com/ (obviously fake name) and entered in my username and password. I don’t recommend this method for everyone, as it is slow and sometimes Windows doesn’t copy the entire file, but this is rare. For fast single file uploads and downloads on your site, it’s quick and easy. For large uploads and downloads, use an FTP program.

I check the post to make sure the pictures are there, and I’m onto the next project, seriously.

Less Frequent Tasks

There is a lot of work to maintaining a large website. Links have to be checked to see if they are valid, articles need updating, material is added all the time, and…well, the list is long.

I’ve outlined a few of the basic maintenance tasks any normal website requires, but let’s look at the more frequent tasks I do associated with WordPress.

WordPress is evolving fast, so every two months or so, I check in to see if there is a new version available. Same with Plugins, which change and improve all the time, so I check those, too, to see if there have been any upgrades or fixes.

My site statistics aren’t of incredible importance to me on a daily or weekly basis, I check it every other month or so, but with the change to WordPress, I have a LOT of changes in my links to articles within my site. I check the statistics on my server and with StatTraq, an add-on for monitoring WordPress site activity. I have spent a lot of hours tracking down my own dead links and changing them to the new WordPress format. But this is housekeeping that is temporary. Soon I’ll have them all fixed and the task will slow down.

Other than that, WordPress is fairly self contained once it is up and running and the design element has been tweaked to death. Sure, I still tweak with it, a little to the left, a little to the right, and I freak out when a new browser enters the market, trying to test my site and see if it will work in it, but these are the occasional tasks. With so much of the HTML out of my hands, I can concentrate on the content and making my site’s information the best it can be, and leave all the piddly bits to WordPress. About time.

One Comment

  • Posted May 11, 2005 at 12:09 | Permalink

    Don’t forget to mention the time spent working on the WordPress Codex each day!

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