Changes Coming to Runblogger
Posted on September 25 2013
Things have been a bit quiet here on the blog for the past few weeks. Despite the seeming lack of activity, I’ve been hammering away in the background at a furious rate on a few projects that have been nagging me.
For the past week or so I’ve been working almost non-stop on an academic journal article on foot strike patterns from the 2011 New York City Barefoot Run – I didn’t think I’d be writing an academic paper so soon after leaving my professorship, but I was invited to submit to a special edition of a journal and finally got my act together and got it done. I submitted the initial draft yesterday – I won’t reveal the results yet, but it’s a pretty interesting dataset.
In addition to the research article, I also spent some time last week developing a website for a local nonprofit that I belong to (the Concord Area Wellness Coalition). It’s still a work in progress, but in a nutshell it required that I learn how to use WordPress to a much greater extent than I have in the past so that I could recreate a site that was previously built on the Joomla platform (which none of the current coalition members, including myself, knew how to use). I’ve been meaning to play with WordPress for a long time, and this gave me the motivation to dig in. I’m building the site using the Genesis framework and the Dynamik Website Builder and so far have had a blast – although I’m far from a pro, tinkering with websites is something that I really enjoy doing.
In the process of building the CAWC site, I found that WordPress offers functionality that is sorely missing in Blogger. I created Runblogger back in early 2009 on the Blogger platform, and have used it continuously since then. One of the benefits of using Blogger is that it has forced me to learn basic HTML and CSS coding in order to modify the site template to suit my needs. Blogger has served me well, but I’ve come to realize that if I want to grow the site, I need to make the jump to WordPress.
In particular, the following needs have precipitated this move:
1. I need flexibility to create pages with different templates. Blogger allows you to create static pages (pages are different than posts and don’t show up in the blog feed), but you can’t alter page layouts without some cumbersome modification of the site template.
2. I wanted to be able to create sub-blogs for off-topic posts and gear deal announcements. I don’t want these to show up in my main site feed so that people can opt in or out of viewing/subscribing to them. Some people really appreciate getting notified of shoe sales, others consider it spam, so I wanted this to be isolated in its own spot. Similarly, I’d like to add more non-running content so having a more personal sub-blog is appealing (e.g., I’d like to post more often about the business/practice of blogging). I got this idea from DC Rainmaker’s Paris Blog.
3. I want to bring my forum under the Runblogger domain, can’t do this in Blogger.
4. The blogger post editor is awful, and I haven’t used it in a long time (I use Windows Live Writer). Working in WordPress is much easier.
5. WordPress plugins offer an incredible variety of functionality not available in Blogger.
6. I wanted to move my commenting system from Disqus to something else. I get a lot of complaints about Disqus eating comments before they are posted, and it seems to really slow down site load times. It’s time for a change.
7. Greater flexibility in mobile site design. I really want a usable site for smartphones that allows more functionality than the Blogger mobile options. The move should allow this.
There are more reasons, but these are the big ones. My biggest hesitation in moving the site was that I was afraid I might screw things up and lose my existing links if I tried to do it myself (since this blog is my main source of income now, I couldn’t risk losing my Google juice). Given this, I contracted with a web design firm to handle the job for me. Foliovision is a company based in Slovakia, and they migrated DC Rainmaker’s site from Blogger to WordPress without a hitch. Foliovision began the migration process for me within 24 hours of paying my deposit and have been incredibly professional and efficient so far. I’m very impressed.
Foliovision is rebuilding my site in WordPress, and I’ve asked them to use Genesis + the Dynamik child theme since I used them to build the site mentioned above. This should allow me to modify the site as needed once it is up and running. Apparently migrating Disqus comments is a bit of a pain, but they are going to handle that as well for an additional fee. I’m hoping that all will be settled within the next three weeks. Fingers crossed!