9 things that happen to you when you join a “shareable” content website; and You can’t imagine what the end of the list looks like!

  1. You start thinking in lists.
  2. You are obsessed with SEO-friendly titles.
  3. You insist that you have collected all possible wisdom related to any topic in 15-20 points.
  4. You insist that this wisdom is not peculiar to your personal experience, but universal for everyone who has been bombarded with the link to your list on Facebook.
  5. You get bored with photographs that aren’t looped animations.
  6. Every thing from the 90s becomes a subject of a potential article.
  7. You spend days on YouTube looking for videos you can pass on in an article to be shared. Who cares about original content?
  8. When you come across animal pictures, you start counting if you’ve collected 10 of them already.
  9. One web page doesn’t seem large enough to contain 10 points at once.

My 6 Basic WordPress Plugins

I make a living working on WordPress. And this blog is on WordPress. And at the risk of sounding repetitive, I’ve been on WordPress for 4-5 years now. One of the most important things in the install workflow is selecting and installing the plugins you’d need. While the exact set of plugins varies from project to project, and depends on the intended functionality of the site, there are a few basic ones that I make sure to install on every site I deploy. The exhaustive list is too big, but here’s my top six, which you may find useful.

  1. Akismet: Automattic’s own plugin which saves me a lot of time & energy in filtering out the comment spam, done by SEO bots mainly.
  2. Google Analytics: Any GA plugin will do. But most loved by us is the one by Joost de Valk. Why do you need this? You do want to know the details of the traffic you get, don’t you? And then you can export that data, import it into your spreadsheet software, and soar into the dreamy world of pivot-tables.
  3. YARPP: Remember how you forgot to leave Amazon the last time you went there, because you kept clicking on the “the people who bought this also saw this” products? Well, why not use the same tactic for your blog? Increase the stickiness. Increase the meaningful interlinks. Increase SEO juice. There are plenty of related posts plugin, but I favour Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. Why? Is the name not enough?
  4. BWP Google XML Sitemaps: Sitemaps are important. Sitemaps let crawlers know where all your content is. It’s like the related posts for robots. Must for improved search rankings, and findability. Preferred plugin: BWP’s.
  5. Regenerate Thumbnails: How many times during development have you realised you need a new size of an image, and found that WordPress is either giving you too small or too big an image? And then after registering a new thumbnail size, how many times have you wondered if you need to delete and reupload the images already in the library, so that the thumbnails in the new size are created for these images? If you have come across such questions, you need to install this plugin, which regenerates thumbnails for all the images already in the library.
  6. Smushit: Have lots of images making your blog heavy to load? Install this plugin, so that every image you upload is passed through Yahoo!’s smush.it service and losslessly compressed.

Which plugins do you recommend as the bare necessities when installing a fresh WordPress setup? And do you have alternatives to the ones mentioned above?

Share them in the comments.

Webcomics and Community

If you are geeky enough and it is either Monday, Wednesday or Friday, the moment your Firefox window opens (yes Firefox!) your fingers move to type in the letters “x-k-c…” to see what new idea the awesome Randall Munroe has dreamt up.

And of course you know that Munroe has been going through an illness in the family since the beginning of the week gone past. When I saw the comic that informed us of this development (this one), I was worried, of course. About the person concerned, and as a reader of that blog, about what would happen to the comic.

Knowing the fate most webcomics go through, and especially what happened to one of my favourite webcomics, Cectic, which had to be abandoned by the original artist owing to paucity of time, I was worried. I don’t think XKCD has ever missed a scheduled update, and it would have been unfortunate to see arguably the world’s most loved webcomic having to break that record.

But no. Randall posted collections of sketches he had made earlier, which kept us entertained. And then, one day, I find a new comic, which looked like a XKCD comic, but had a different style about it. And then I noticed – it wasn’t Munroe’s work. It was Jeph Jacques (of Questionable Content)! Munroe was running a guest week on XKCD! The web’s most famous comic artists were contributing on XKCD while Munroe couldn’t devote time to creating new content for us. Jeph was soon joined by David Troupes (of Buttercup Festival), Bill Amend (of FoxTrot), Jeffrey Rowland (of Overcompensating), thus giving us probably the richest comic content ever! Each of these comics are made in the trademark XKCD style, but are very clearly representative of the artists’ own styles. And the stories are both in the styles of the respective artists and of XKCD.

And when I opened XKCD today, I was elated to see Zach Weiner (of SMBC!)’s comic. Two of my most favourite comics together! And in style! Why don’t you have a look?

Munroe’s crisis seems to be nearing its end as indicated in the page today. Let’s hope he’s back soon, but thanks to him and all the artists for giving us probably the best webcomic week ever and turning a crisis into a basket of delight for us readers!