Building a WordPress Web Site

If you’re interested in the tools used to create this site, read on.

All aspects of the site other than the hosting provider are completely free and/or open source components. Look for a hosting service that provides PHP and MySQL (most do). I prefer a Linux based hosting service as some plugins require a Linux server.

The Framework

The first piece was the choice of a framework. The goal was to find a framework that allowed easy posting of content. Regular text pages as well as the ability to easily host photo and video galleries was required.

Many CMS (Content Management System) frameworks were tried. Some like Coppermine were excellent for photo galleries, others were great at video content.

The final choice was WordPress. The basis of WordPress is a blogging format, however, with its great number of addons (plugins), the needs of photo and video galleries were also satisfied.

WordPress also has a number of available themes. After looking a number of them for both appearance and functionality, I chose Flexibilty3. Out of the box this theme provides a functional, visually appealing theme with easy customization.

Photo Albums

The Nextgen set of plugins provide  good management of photos on your site, but I found using Google’s Picasa and a WordPress Picasa plugin to provide the best interfaces for managing albums. Picasa provides an excellent desktop interface to manage photos and albums. The Cooleye plugin provides the best WordPress interface to Picasa I’ve found. I also like the Cooliris framework it uses to display the albums and photos. For the widget on the right showing recent photo albums, I chose Picasa Widget.

Video Albums

For self hosting videos, a flexible player Hana FLV Player was good, but I wanted the ability to provide video albums much the same as photos.

Kaltura provides a free service limited by bandwidth and storage. The service encodes your videos and hosts them. Player options include playing a single video, creating playlists and even playing multiple playlists. The also provide a WordPress plugin  All in one Video Pack.

  1. There is no limit on the hosting – you can host as much as you like.
  2. There is no actual limit on the number of uploads you can do, though it’s worth mentioning that uploading many files concurrently may be slooooww and cause the browser to slow down (this is general to video, regardless of the technology behind it).
  3. There is a limit on the maximum file size you can upload per-file, it’s 200MB per file.
  4. There is a bandwidth per month limit of 10GB. (currently we monitor it internally, but soon the new CMS will provide this information).

Live Streaming

If you’d like to embed a live feed from a webcam or similar device, Netromedia provides a free, limited service. You’ll need to sign up, create a service and download the Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder (free as well).  You are limited to two streams and a limit on bandwdith.

Speeding up Your Site

There are a number of excellent caching plugins available. Which one you choose really depends on your site’s usage. The particular one I used is W3 Total Cache.

Desktop Client

The WordPress online WYSIWG editor (tinyMCE) is good, but a desktop client makes posting much easier. The one I use is Windows Live Editor. Its part of the Windows Live set, if you don’t want all the pieces, choose a custom install and pick Live Writer.

An excellent browser based plugin Scribefire provides a platform independent editor.

You’ll need to enable XML-RPC in your WordPress Settings –> Writing.

Backing Up Your Work

Keeping a recent backup of your site will save you hours of rebuilding. There are a number of great plugins that will backup your database portion but leave your plugins, themes etc. I found a free backup plugin that not only does backup your database but file areas as well. Check out XCloner.

Another excellent backup tool if you would like your backups stored on their servers, is Online Backup. They offer 100MB of backup space for free. The current version backups both the database and the filesystem providing you with a full backup of your site.

Online Editor

The WordPress supplied editor is a basic version of TinyMCE. The Ultimate TinyMCE plugin expands on this to provide a larger set of editting options.