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The Anatomy of a Blog Post

A blog post is a short article posted on a blog site. What you are reading now is a post on the Live Writer Basics blog. In this article I want to take my newer blogger friends a little bit behind the scenes to help them learn the details and mechanisms of a blog post.

First a bit about blog sites and services

A vast number of blogs are hosted by WordPress, as is this blog. There are other blogging services and they differ in many respects from WordPress, but I will quickly go over how a blog functions on WordPress. A blogger sets up an account by clicking the “Get started here” button on WordPress.com. With the account comes a blog site. In setting up the blog, the blogger selects the site address and name. imageThis blog has the address “https://livewriterbasics.wordpress.com” the name of the blog is Live Writer Basics as you can see at the top of this page. The blog consists of one or more pages. Typically the “landing page”, the one you get to with the blog’s URL or web address, shows the posts, the short articles, with the most recent one at the top.

The formatting, layout and style, of the blog is defined by a “theme” provided by the blogging service. WordPress has hundreds of themes to choose from. There may be a header image in addition to the blog name and byline. Most blogs have “sidebars” with various items of information. Typical items in the sidebar are links to prior posts, a search box, archive, links to other blogs, and other items that are automatically updated so the blogger does not need to worry about accessibility to information on the blog.

There may be other pages, reached with links on a menu bar, very much like any typical website. The pages in a blog contain more permanent information such as the About page here. There may be some advertising. This post may be followed below by an ad that WordPress places. This is how WordPress can make blogging free or very inexpensive. The blogger using a WordPress.com blog may not place any ads in the blog.

The “front” page may be quite long, showing a number of the recent-most posts. One such page is illustrated at the right. Posts and pages can be created in Windows Live Writer.

The blogging service, in this case WordPress, provides summary pages reached by the category and tag links.

Possible the most important part of a blog is the ability for readers to leave comments at the end of each post. This provides two-way communication between the blogger and the audience.

What does a post consist of?

Each post has a title. This is followed by the text or the article, maybe photos or other content. There is a post date showing the date, and often, the time the post was “published” or placed on the blog site. Typically a post is also marked with a topic, called “category” at WordPress, and “tags” that describe the topic details in more detail. Such categories and tags link to similar content in the blog and, more importantly, to other blogs. WordPress provides for such tagging. In addition there may be tags using another service. This blog also contains “Technorati” tags – you can see them illustrated below and real ones at the end of this article.

Here is an illustration of a typical post title, post date, and all-important first paragraph.

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The end of that post looks like this:

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The article ends with an “end of Ludwig’s story” mark, a copyright notice, links to the author’s website and social sites. This is followed by a group of Technorati tags. Each tag links to a Technorati page showing blogs on that topic.

There are a group of links to allow the reader to share the post and to indicate a “Like” to the author.

The gray links are the WordPress categories, marked “Posted in” that link to pages showing posts of that category, and tags introduced with “Tagged”. These also link to pages showing posts on those topics.

The last item in the gray WordPress items is a link to the comments on this post.

The skeleton of a blog post

In spite of the complex and and well-manicured look, the actual post consists of just HTML code. It is the reader’s browser that puts it all together and makes it look the way it was intended.

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This is the code produced by Live Writer. Of course, when writing the blogger uses the “Edit” mode which shows the post pretty much as it will appear to the reader. Note that there are no images in this code, the pictures are defined by hyperlinks and are not stored with the post code. Live Writer takes care of those details and a novice blogger can be unconcerned – it just works.

When writing the text the author has “HTML styles” available to define the elements of the text and a limited set of font and positioning commands.

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Normal text is called “Paragraph”, there are six “heading” styles. The actual appearance is defined by the blog theme and, once selected for the blog, is not further controllable. There are, however, additional controls for font, type size, and text placement. These are also limited. In Live Writer fonts can be set to any available on the bloggers computer. They will work just fine if the reader has that same font available on the computer used to view the blog. That last sentence contains the reason why a blogger must be very careful about setting the font. There is no assurance that it is available to the reader.

This is a quick look at the mechanics, the anatomy, of a blog post. A blogger is assisted by Live Writer in putting it all together so it works. It is easy to prepare a blog post, writing a captivating, informative, helpful, and timely article, well, that is another story.

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© 2012 Ludwig Keck

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Creating a Static Page on your Blog

Static pages can be quite useful beyond the “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages that are so common. This blog has a “Resources” page and there are many ways to enhance a blog with pages. Creating in page in Windows Live Writer is just as easy as preparing a blog post – if your blog is hosted by WordPress. Just click the File imagetab, move the pointer down to New post and over to the right to Page page. Hovering on New page brings up the screen tip balloon. It show the keystroke for initiating a new page, Ctrl+G, and also a disclaimer: “Not supported by all blog service providers”.

For a WordPress blog page, just create the page as easily you would a regular post, then publish it as you would a post. You may want to arrange the menu location in your WordPress Dashboard. That’s all there is to it.

If your blog service provider does not support creating a page in Live Writer you can still use it for the detail work. Blogger is one of the services that does not support creating a page in Live Writer. To get a page started, proceed as follows:

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In your Blogger Dashboard click the Posting tab, then Edit Pages. Click the NEW PAGE button. Give the page a title, then click SAVED to save the page as a draft. The actual page composition can now be done in Live Writer. Instead of creating a page as you would for a WordPress blog, just prepare a post draft with all the information you want on the page. When the page is done, copy the HTML source code and paste it into the Blogger editor – I will come to the details shortly.

There is one very important “gotcha”: Any images must be sourced “From the web…”. The reason is, Live Writer will not be used to publish the page and so it can’t upload your images. Upload the images manually. I like to upload images to my SkyDrive and source them from there. Since SkyDrive provides a generous amount of storage this is an efficient place even though getting the image URL is a bit of a hassle. See my post “Sourcing content for your WordPress gallery page” for the details of getting the image URL for a picture on your SkyDrive.

imageWhen you have finished the page in Live Writer, click on the Source tab in the lower left of the window. In the source window, select all the imagecode, use Ctrl+A. Then copy the code onto the clipboard with Ctrl+C. Now go back to your Blogger Dashboard and edit your page draft. Be sure the Edit HTLM tab is selected. Just paste the code from Live Writer into the main window, use Ctrl+V. You can inspect the looks of the page with the Compose tab. Then publish it with PUBLISH PAGE.

These steps don’t really add any extra work as you would have had to do most of the steps anyway if you used the Blogger online editor. Using Live Writer makes the preparation of a page as easy as preparing a post, the publishing steps are not much of a chore.

Of course, you can keep the draft copy of the page so you can come back in the future to add to it or modify it.

The illustration here shows part of the HTLM code (the right portion is cut off in the image) of my page  “Ludwig’s Galleries” of my Blogger blog Café Ludwig.

 

© 2011 Ludwig Keck

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