The decision to create a blog can leave your mind racing. There are a lot of concepts that go into building a blog, such as selecting a visual theme, developing a narrative voice and growing an audience. Along the way, however, it’s easy to forget that a blog is, at its base, a code project. Whether you elect to code it from scratch or build it on top of a framework, a blog is run by code. Even if you don’t see your blog as a coding project, it’s important that it is well coded. Here are several things for you to keep in mind as your develop the code base for your blog.
If you never build an audience, there isn’t going to be much point in starting a blog anyhow. One of the core elements of your project has to be search engine optimization. This is the process of making your content friendly to search bots run by companies such as Google.
If you plan to create a blog using a framework or a platform, such as WordPress, a lot of the SEO will be done for you. Your biggest concerns will be picking SEO plugins that don’t bog down your site. If you elect to code your blog from scratch, you should still take a look at the best practices, like URL formatting and meta tag implementation, that those frameworks use in order to get the most out of your own system.
Blogging means posting, and posting means having to live with some type of backend. The backend of your blog is where all the input goes. This is the side of your site that the audience never sees.
A backend for a blog pulls a lot of duties. If you have comments enabled, this is where you’ll moderate them. All images and videos will be uploaded on the backend too. If your blog is going to support multiple authors on it, it will need permissions and an admin system that accommodates their needs.
If you’re looking at using a platform to code your blog, the backend is the part you’re going to get stuck living with. That’s important to keep in mind. If you’re not sure about the backend, you’ll want to use a platform that allows you to easily export your blog posts to another format. For example, if you’re using WordPress, you want to have the ability to quickly export to format that’s supported by another platform, such as Joomla.
Using a platform almost always means using plugins. The biggest mistake people who are unfamiliar with the development process make when they create a blog is grabbing plugins left and right. The biggest thing to remember with plugins is that they always come at cost, even if they’re free. Every plugin is slowing down load time. Every plugin is changing the end user’s experience. Every plugin is a potential attack vector.
For that reason, you want to be serious about the plugins you add to your site. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, get it out of there. For example, if you’re not going to enable comments on your blog, then strip out the comment plugins. Over time, it’s also important to audit the plugins you have installed. You’ll likely have some experiments in the pile. Some of those will fail, and others you will just plain forget about. Make a point every six months or so to audit your plugins. Remove the ones you don’t need, and update the ones you require.
It’s very difficult to grow an audience if the folks using your website don’t have a way to interact. In the old days, there were only two ways to do audience interaction. That was to have a comments section or a forum. These days, you can also use social media integration.
Adding comments or a forum means adding administrative overhead. If you leave comments un-moderated and allow them to self-approve, your blog will become a spammers’ paradise in no time. If you moderate comments, you then take on that additional burden.
A lot of website owners are now opting for a social media presence. If you’re averse to moderation on your site, one approach is to eliminate the comments section and point all potential commenters to your social media account. Doing this means integrating buttons and links that allow people to quickly figure out this is the plan and follow it.
Every website on the planet is a target. It’s a simple fact of running a blog. No matter what method you use, whether it’s running on a bespoke system or a platform, security is critical. The more information you gather from your audience, the more important security becomes.
Major platforms are always popular targets. If you choose to run one, you have to make a nearly religious commitment to staying current with security updates for your blog’s code. If you’re building from scratch, you still need to keep in mind the common attack vectors against whatever languages you’re using. This means knowing what a SQL injection attack or cross-site scripting is and coding against the possibility of it being used against your site.
Theming and Compatibility
You want your blog to look as good as possible. Likewise, you want it to look as good as possible on as many different platforms as possible. This means finding a visual theme for your site and implementing in a responsive fashion. Responsive design is a method for making sure that a site displays well on a variety of devices, including everything from tiny smartphone screens to big desktop monitors.
Getting this right begins at the code level. The theme for most sites is heavy with code anyhow. It’s important that the theme includes elements of responsive design in order to reduce the amount of difficulty users have displaying your site.
In a lot of ways, growing your audience begins with good code. A site with poor SEO never attracts visitors. A site that isn’t responsive drives off people using devices that can’t display it. A site with no audience interaction discourages interest. The first priority when you decide to develop a blog is to grow the audience, and that ultimately means making sure that your code base is helping your cause.