Explain WordPress as a house to a beginner

Today I met with a non-technical person who just started to use WordPress. I used a metaphor to explain to her what WordPress is and I felt that it is pretty good and I’m going to share here.

Imagine all the domain names out there are real estate land. The website we are building for the domain name is going to be the house on the land. You can build it from scratch by write HTML manually but just like if you build a house starting with cutting down some trees for wood, it will be very slow and ugly. WordPress is like a mobile house that is already built, you just need to tow it onto the land.

After the house is in place, you need to pick an existing overall look and feel of the house. This is picking the themes of the site. Unlike the style of the house, the theme can be changed pretty easily from one to another. Just like you can paint one side of the house in a different color, you can tweak specific things by customize the theme, but requires some coding skill.

The house comes with a kitchen. By kitchen I mean the blog functionality. Using that you can create dishes (blogs) and share with the world. However, if you want more rooms (static pages), you can create them. Again, you can create manually by write html of the page but a better way to do it is use some visual editor, like just order the carpet, curtain, furnitures and put them in the room.

Tools like visual editor or other ones that helps you create blogs, or help you SEO (make your house easy to find in a crowed city) are called plugins.

Got a better analogy? Leave a comment below.

I’m back for another try

So I totally stopped posting here for 5 months. A lot has happened in the past 5 months. But I should not give any excuses.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. –Harlan Hogan

So I blew it the first time. I’ll just try again.

Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall. – Oliver Goldsmith

Wish me luck.

BTW, the site is no longer running on Heroku but a docker on Azure through Tutum. That would be the topic of my next post.

SEO Part 1: This post url has its name in it

Today is the first day I start to improve the SEO for my blog. Right now, this blog is not doing very well on Google. If I search “Gordon Sun blog”, I show up on second page and it is a link to the Reddit entry I posted for one of my blog post. I guess Reddit did a better SEO for me than what I’m doing here. But why that post is very strange. That post was not even popular.

Anyway, the first thing I noticed is that the Reddit post has a better url than my blog here. It has the title of the post in the url. So that is what I’m going to fix first. And WordPress made it easy. A simple setting change using the UI worked.

WordPress Url Change

Also when I test search in Google, “Gordon Sun personal blog” returns my page as the first result because I have “personal” in my site description in the <title> tag: <title>Gordon Sun | My personal blog about everything</title>

I have changed the tagline a little bit and hopefully in the future search “Gordon Sun blog” will return my result as #1. But it feels like Google takes some time to change. My Google webmaster tool is still showing nothing for this blog right now.

Image in this blog post. Cautious if you are using 56k modem.

My blog now can post image. And an image worth a thousand words so I’m a big writer now. Joking aside, when I think about that idiom as a programmer, it also makes a lot of sense. The size of an image can be much bigger than a thousand words. It presents us quite a few technical challenges such as compression, transformation, render, storage and serving them on the internet. I have a little experience on the last one so I’ll talk about it just a little bit. There are basically 2 types of content on a website — dynamic and static.

  • Dynamic: For example when you request this post, WordPress worked hard to build it for you. If you notice the url you are viewing, it has a query parameter p=151 , basically means you are asking for post 151. WordPress will do couple things but most importantly go to the database and fetch the content that you are reading right now, apply templates and rules to build the html page and give it back to you. This is dynamic content. WordPress does it every time for each request dynamically. At least for now before this blog get too popular and I have to turned on the memcached. I dare you to make this blog popular by share it everywhere using the buttons all over on this page that I talked about in my previous post .
  • Static: After your browser get the html WordPress returns, it is not going to display it directly to you. If you want to see it directly you can right click on a white space of this page and select “View Source”. The source html will not be candy for your eye. What the browser will do is fetch all the required static resources this html page need and then render them together with the html and display it to you. These include CSS, JavaScript, Fonts and most importantly — images. These things does not change from request to request and are static.

You should have some sense of the difference between dynamic and static content now. Static content tends to be larger in size and changes much less frequently. Large in size slows things down but change less give the web server an opportunity to optimize. So a lot of modern web server architecture suggest and supports separate the dynamic and static content serving. Just Google “separating static and dynamic web content”. For this site, we are using Amazon S3. I have another blog post about how I set it up here. You can think of it as a static content server for everyone. It is much more than just that of course. It charges by traffic so does not cost much unless your site is really popular. Again I dare you to make this blog popular by share it everywhere using the buttons all over on this page that I talked about in my previous post . Have a good static day!   AcousticModem

My first blog post. (again)

Hello everyone!

This is my personal blog. And this is my first blog post. If you don’t count my blogs posts at blog.dograzzi.com. And if you do not count the automatically generated “Hello World!” post by word press.

So you ask why I don’t delete that post? Because I’m a programmer — duh! “Hello World!” means something very special for programmers. It’s on Wikipedia so you know it’s legit.

Now you ask why start a blog now in 2014? It is so last decade. Well, one reason is WordPress. I’ve known it for a long time, but only recently start to play with it. Why didn’t I start earlier? I don’t know. Maybe it is because I used to build everything from scratch. Maybe because I thought PHP is too old for me. But after play with it a little bit for host a blog for www.dograzzi.com, I’m really into it. I can easily build a blog site with such amazing speed and beauty. The WordPress community is amazing and going stronger and stronger day by day. If you need anything, there is probably a plugin for that.

Another reason is I suddenly find myself with a lot of things I want to say to the world, even a lot of them are just tech stuff that I rant about maybe nobody cares. I was not like this when I was young. I recall having a lot of trouble to meet the homework essays’ word count requirements when I was a student. I guess I’m getting old. See, I’ve typed 255 words already according to WordPress and I feel I did not even say much.

So I’ll try to post a blog post everyday. I hope I can keep the promise. Well, it should not be hard for the beginning at least.