Twitter Updates for 2011-04-29

April 29th, 2011
  • #CLSWest meeting of Community Managers – people who maintain relationships with communities of interest. #

Speedy WordPress

April 28th, 2011

I’ve been building WordPress sites for a long time – over 5 years, anyway. I’ve learned more and more about all the nifty ways to leverage what WordPress does well, and work around what it doesn’t do well. It has been a moving target… What’s recommended in 2007 is no longer true in 2011.

Also, since virtually all of my clients from back then are still clients, their sites have grown! Following my advice of posting twice per week would generate over 100 posts per year! Sites like, which started out pretty big, now have enormous databases.

Time to speed things up: WP Super Cache is a plugin that basically takes unchanged posts out of the database and puts them in cached HTML, ready to serve much more quickly… no database query means lots of saved server processes, and a snappier response.

Also, the old advice of making URLs pretty by using /%category%/%postname%/ turns out to work the database pretty hard, too. Although the cache program reduces the number of trips to the database, it still would be nice if it were quicker… and recent details from the Google guys about search performance suggest that dropping the /%category%/ part will actually improve your search results on the basis that the shortest distance between the base url (like and the keyword-laden post name (like ‘/10-reasons-to-blog’) is the best policy from Google’s point of view. Even though the category is a generally going to be a significant keyword, I guess the extra ‘/’ tells Google it’s of lesser importance than the info after the final ‘/’… i.e. the postname.

So we now are dropping the /%category%/ from new blogs. If you want to remove them from old blogs, be sure to use a tool like ‘Redirect’, or .htaccess to be sure old links still find the same posts they always did. For a big site this is a nontrivial task!

Twitter Updates for 2011-04-27

April 27th, 2011

Twitter Updates for 2011-04-21

April 21st, 2011
  • Two ways to cut the deficit: eliminate medicare or end the Bush tax cuts. Same results, but one doesn't kill your mother. #

Bad Idea for Your Blog – Make it harder to Read

April 18th, 2011

A recent study has been making the rounds, and has now made the New York Times. If you only read the first couple paragraphs, as we are all prone to do, you might get the wrong message:

Trick question: Is it easier to remember a new fact if it appears in normal type, like this, or in big, bold letters, like this?

The answer is neither. Font size has no effect on memory, even though most people assume that bigger is better. But font style does.

New research finds that people retain significantly more material — whether science, history or language — when they study it in a font that is not only unfamiliar but also hard to read.”

Well, keep reading, it’s an interesting study, but don’t apply this logic to your blog. Because people won’t start reading it, or keep reading it, if it’s hard to read; surrounded by distractions, or poorly formatted. The point of the study is that the mental effort that goes into acquiring information is directly related to how much of it is retained. But only material that is required reading can benefit, since voluntary reading is, well, voluntary.

Another study, coincidentally commissioned by the New York Times in the 50’s, showed that line-length, font choice, white space and other factors determined how far their readers worked through an article, as well as how fast, and page designers (who study good design) have been following that advice ever since. It’s worth noting that if no one reads the material at all, it won’t be retained, either. Making people struggle to read your blog simply means it won’t be read. Good design is good practice. Clear, clean formatting is still the best way to get your message across.