For the second time, we’ve become aware of performance issues on the unimelb blog site traceable to the Firestats plugin. When we first installed Firestats two years ago it was indicated that it would only remain available as long as it didn’t interfere with the rest of the site, unfortunately, this time, we’ve decided to remove the plugin in the next week or so. An email will be sent out to all blog users when we know more precisely.
We don’t expect this to cause any major problems – the reports generated by Firestats were not terribly useful, but we do recognise that they were at least something. However, as many users who run blogs also run websites that have Google Analytics, we’re going to recommend from now on, that this is the preferred method for gathering stats.
But how to install Google Analytics?
Easy! Whether you already have an account/profile that you want to use, or are planning to start a new account, all you need is the tracking code from your Analytics account, then:
- Get into your blog admin interface and head for Appearance -> Widgets.
- Create a new text widget by dragging the button to the bottom of one of your sidebars.
- Leave the title blank, paste the code into the widget and save.
- That’s it!
If you already have a text widget in one of your sidebars, then, of course you can add the google code to that, it’s entirely up to you.
I suggest you use the new ‘Asynchronous’ code. Sure, the widget isn’t in the head, or the foot of the page, so there’s a likelihood that you might miss a tiny percentage of hits because people move on before the page loads fully, but this is likely to be negligible.
We hope in the near future to be making more plugins available, opening the door to tighter google analytics integration. Fingers crossed!
The student.unimelb.edu.au subdomain has now been added as a valid email address for blog users. Enjoy!
Just a quick note to let everybody know that overnight we successfully upgraded to version 3.0.1 of WordPress. At the same time there were a few other tweaks made, so users should see some performance improvements as well as the new features of 3.0.1.
For reasons of support and maintenance, we have kept the choice of themes pretty small – well, two to be exact. Sometimes, those default blog designs aren’t enough. For reasons of branding and consistency with other sites and materials you may want a customised design.
Well, it’s not completely straightforward, but we can design and install custom themes on your blog. It’s an extra cost, but depending on the required design, it’s not a big cost.
Two we’ve just done can be found on the ARTiculation blog and the Graduate Arts News blog. Both these were built to fit with other branding styles already in use elsewhere.
If you’re keen, you can even roll your own CSS for us to install, however it MUST be based on the sandbox theme. Sticking with just one theme file will help us keep maintenance costs (and your costs) down to a minimum. The Sandbox theme is designed to be as flexible for design as possible, so all the work goes into CSS and any images you need.
Posted in news
Tagged design, theme
If you’re a blog user, you’ll see that we’ve updated to the latest version. Quite a change of interface, but hopefully a good thing for all.
If you want to know more about the latest version and how to use it, try this post, introducing the ‘Coltrane’ upgrade’ on the wordpress site.
Not that we really recommend printing web pages, but we’ve just updated the CSS for the unimelb-sandbox template, adding some print friendly styles. It really did look pretty awful in IE!
One of the nice things about a blog is that you can change the way it looks very easily.
We’ve just added a new theme, imaginatively called ‘uniblogs’, which site admins can activate in the ‘Appearance -> Themes’ section of their site’s admin interface. This new theme also uses the Sandbox theme as it’s basis, but this time almost nothing has been changed, so upgrades to new versions of Sandbox should be a snip.
If you’d like to see this theme in action before applying it to your blog, you can check it out on the search engine blog. It’s a lot less formal and more ‘blog-like’ than the main ‘unimelb sandbox’ theme, so hopefully people will enjoy using it. Any issues people have with it – let us know!
What are widgets?
Not only can you change the theme of your blog, but you can rearrange the way things appear in the sidebar. The little chunks of information in the sidebar of your blog are called ‘widgets’ and you can manage them in the same ‘presentation’ tab as the themes. It’s dead simple, just drag and drop. On most widgets, you can click on the little options button to change the title or content of the widget.
We all like to know who’s been reading our stuff, so here are a couple of methods that you can use to view your web statistics.
Yes, even though you don’t have control over the template in our wordpress MU installation, you can still insert your own google analytics code.
In the ‘Presentation’ tab of the admin interface, select the ‘Widgets’ sub-tab and use a text widget to contain your GA code. Of course, the GA code is invisible, so you can put other stuff in the text widget too.
Firestats is a plugin which we’re experimenting with. There is NO guarantee that we will continue to make it available if it causes problems, but for now, it’s a convenient tool for gathering and viewing stats.
In your wp-admin, under the Plugins tab, activate Firestats. Then, in the Dashboard tab, you’ll find a sub-tab that allows you to view and configure Firestats. Mostly, you don’t have to change anything.
If you want to advertise your stats, there’s a neat little widget you can use to display stats and popular posts.
WordPress is great for words, but not brilliant for pictures. There are ways of integrating with gallery software and other tools, but they’re not very robust in a big multi user blog like ours. Instead, we’ve implemented a simple tool called ‘Slimbox’ which should give everyone access to eye-popping slideshows. It’s easy to use…
We’re pleased to offer locally installed WordPress blogs as an alternative publishing method for University of Melbourne users.
Our blogging tool, WordPress MU, lets us centrally handle a lot of the management tasks like upgrades, stats, themes, spam control and plugins, leaving you to get on with writing your content.
With simplicity come constraints, but if you find that WordPress MU doesn’t do everything you need, we can upgrade you to a stand-alone WordPress install, or even migrate you into the CMS.
In most cases though, we’d recommend just getting started this way and seeing where it takes you in the longer run.
Posted in general