WordPress Tip: Using WordPress to Build Websites Instead of Blogs

One of the things I like about WordPress is its versatility. WordPress isn't just blogging software. With the right theme, you can build a website that doesn't resemble a blog at all. Essentially, writers who become familiar with WordPress become empowered as web designers as well. A few weeks ago, I made a website for a client who was launching a green building business (see or click the image below). It's a predesigned theme that I pur...

WordPress Tip: My WordPress Quick Start Guide — Now Available on the WordPress Codex

I wrote a WordPress Quick Start Guide in wiki format and posted it on the WordPress Codex. Check it out here: http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Quick_Start_Guide. This guide gives you a quick introduction to the most important tasks and concepts in WordPress. It divides these tasks and concepts into five sections, outlined below: Get Set Up 1.1 Advantages of Self-Hosted WordPress Blogs 1.2 Become Familiar with FTP 1.3 Install Wor...

WordPress for Beginners Course

WordPress, the most widely used open-source blogging software, gives you complete control over the design and display of your content. In addition to writing blog posts, WordPress allows you to create pages, add categories, customize your site design, define how posts appear, and more. This two-hour course is designed for people unfamiliar with WordPress and interested in starting their own blogs, or for people ready for more control than...

The Broken STC Model -- and What's Replacing It

I attended an STC chapter meeting tonight, and while the presenter had some excellent information, only 6 people showed up -- the presenter, the program manager, a new guy, two regulars, and me. I thought this was okay because we were recording the event anyway, but I'm sorry to report that I botched the recording. The mic jack wasn't snug in its socket, so you can't hear anything. I walked away tonight convinced that the STC model is br...

Updated Date and Time for WordPress Course -- Wednesday Evening, April 30

I updated the date and time for the WordPress course. Instead of this Saturday, I've moved it to next Wednesday evening. Here are the updated details: Date: Wednesday, April 30 Time: 7:30 p.m. CST Location: Web Cost: $99 Course Size: Limited to 15 participants I hope this can better accommodate all of you who emailed me to say that you have previous engagements this Saturday. If not, I'm sure I'll do some more training in the future. For ...

Madcap Blaze's Topic Review Feature: A First-of-a Kind Feature with an Interesting Workflow

Blaze is a new Framemaker alternative that Madcap Software has just released into beta. With Blaze, you can create printed documentation and publish it to Word, Framemaker, PDF, XPS, and an XHTML book (but not webhelp). When I first heard of Blaze, my immediate question was — Doesn't Flare already publish to Word and FrameMaker? If so, why would I need Blaze? The short answer is, you don't need Blaze if you already have Flare. But if for ...

Podcast -- DITA: From the Perspective of Someone Actually Using It

Listen here: DITA is a topic I've wanted to do a podcast on for a long time. When I heard a local technical writer express her enthusiasm about how she was using DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) at her company, I knew I found the right person. In this podcast, Marlene Martineau of New Dawn Technologies explains why they adopted DITA, how they adopted it, the benefits they're experiencing, and the reasons why...

WordPress for Beginners Course -- Wednesday Evening, April 30

I'm giving a training course on WordPress this Wednesday. If you've been thinking about getting a blog or switching from Blogger to WordPress, this course will help you get up and running with WordPress in a quick, efficient way. The short details are below. Date: Wednesday, April 30 Time: 7:30 - 9:30 p.m. CST Location: Web Cost: $99 Course Size: Limited to 15 participants For the full course description, see WordPress for Beginners Cours...

Why Software Applications Need Product Blogs, and Why They Don't Get Them

Even though I'm an advocate of blogging and think it's critical to tech comm, I've always been assigned technical documentation projects for internally used, confidential, or classified software. Documenting products promoted on the web has never been an option for me. However, I'm convinced that even internal software, which never sees the light of WWW, still needs a blog as much or more than products sold online. Even so, numerous corpo...

How Much Time Do You Spend in Web 2.0 -- Interesting Article from the Read/Write Web

The Read/Write web has a fascinating post about the amount of time people spend in Web 2.0 activities. Here's a graph from their post that sums it up. In short, content creators, such as those who publish blogs and podcasts, spend 5-10 hrs a week. To be a community directory, you can spend 10-20 hrs. I distinctly remember a question Thom Haller asked me after my presentation last year at Doc Train West. He threw up his hands and said, "...

Find a Way to Have Fun in Your Writing

Find a way to have fun with what you're writing. If you don't, not only will it be a miserable experience, the product will lack the energy, playfulness, and good feeling it needs to be successful. Change your point of view, experiment, try something different -- until the routine becomes an exploration, and the monotonous becomes your musing. If that doesn't work, try reading a few lolcats to lighten things up.

Looking for Corporate Examples of Web 2.0 Engagement

I'm trying to gather as many examples as possible about how companies are engaging in web 2.0 activities. Do you know any companies that are using blogs, wikis, social networks, forums, podcasts/videocasts, or interactive online help? If so, let me know by either adding a comment below or by contacting me. (It doesn't have to be restricted to tech comm examples.) In May I'm giving a virtual presentation to STC-Phoenix and I hope to use so...

Podcast -- Social Networking and the Value of User Communities for Technical Communicators

Listen here: In this podcast, I talk with Scott Abel about social networking, in particular The Content Wrangler community he started at TheContentWrangler.ning.com. Scott talks about this new social network specifically for technical communicators. But he also explains the value of social networks for your help deliverables. Social networks can help users connect with one another and also help technical communicators be...

Guest Post -- From Blogging Veterans: Three Keys to Successful Blogging

The following is a guest post by Ben Minson, one of my technical writing colleagues. Ben's blog, which also focuses on technical communication, is called Gryphon Mountain Journals. Check it out. (You can subscribe to his RSS feed here.) My wife recently bought a book for me entitled Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World's Top Bloggers. Blogging has been around for about ten years now, but one blogger said in this book that he t...

The Right Way and Wrong Way to Teach People WordPress: Notes from a Wordcamp Utah Planning Meeting at Applebees

Tonight I attended a WordCamp Utah planning meeting at Applebees with a group of blogging enthusiasts. Joseph Scott, one of the WordPress developers employed by Automattic, organized the event and is taking charge of the upcoming Wordcamp, which looks like it will be in September to avoid competition with other conferences (Blog World, Open Source, and New Media Expo). Wordcamp Dallas a Success By the way, Charles Stricklin of the WordPr...