This resource will be updated from time to time, depending on reader feedback
Those of you who are new to this publishing format may be wondering what all this blog stuff is about. A blog is a website that has a number of features that distinguish it from 'traditional' forms of publishing. Key is the notion that information should be freely shared. This is achieved by linking between articles on sites of mutual interest. Blogs are usually written in the first person - it is your point of view on a specific topic. Some corporates employ blog specialists to ensure their 'voice' is both heard yet personalised.
- Commenting - people can leave comments on your blog. Some systems allow moderation. This site uses that system to prevent profanity, abuse and spamming. It is usual to turn comments off for older posts to prevent spamming
- Trackback - a way of notifying another blog site that you are referring to a story they have posted. Trackback spam is becoming an issue and a number of sites have turned it off. However, it remains a useful way to provide a notified link and can be moderated.
- Archiving - like content management only fairly basic. You can usually archive by day, week or month. Your choice of archive method depends on the number of posts you make in a period.
- Categories - another form of content management. You can create any number of categories on any topic of your choice. It allows you to group related posts. Some systems allow the creation of subsidiary categories. So for example you could have 'Taxation' as a main category and 'Corporation Tax' as a sub-category. This becomes useful when your site is indexed by blog search engines like Google or Technorati because you can undertake 'richer' searches. So, rather than search Google for 'Corporation tax' you might search for 'UK corporation tax rates.'
- RSS - Really Simple Syndication. This allows your content to be available to those who use 'news aggregators.' An aggregator is not really for news but for any site that is RSS enabled. This is useful for aggregating content from sites covering topics of interest, allows you to quickly skim read headlines and click on individual posts. Since those posts usually contain links to other material, it is not unusual to find that before long, you are discovering information you didn't know existed.
Setup is much easier than using traditonal website development tools like FrontPage or ColdFusion. There are a number of packages out there. The best known are TypePad, Movable Type, WordPress, Blogger and ExpressionEngine. TypePad and Blogger are fully hosted solutions so you can be up and running in a matter of minutes. The others are website development tools but with a lot of the intial pain taken out. All include the basic features that distinguish a blog from a website. We do not recommend the use of Blogger because it is too basic for commercial purposes. Many Blogger sites omit commenting and trackback and overall, it does not provide a good showcase for your content. It is fine for personal use.
If you are adventurous you can take the blog 'engines' like MovableType and customise them to your heart's content. Although there are plenty of plug-ins to provide additional functionality (e.g. fine grained comment control) you really need a working knowledge of CSS and, in the case of WordPress, PHP. In the initial stages, I'd recommend getting used to the basics through a hosted service. If the site becomes popular and you want to add-in functionality not provided by the hosting company then you have to go to an 'engine' solution. You can of course outsource site design and creation. Given the fact that most of the functionality (unless you're being VERY picky) is available out of the box, I'd be wary of design companies wanting you to pony up large wads of cash. If you cna't get it done for less than £250 then you're being ripped off - unless of course you're talking funky stuff or a ground up build.