Blogs User Guide

Blogs User Guide

Blogs (short for “web logs”) are revolutionizing the worlds of journalism, communications, and publishing. Popular blogging platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr, and TypePad allow users to freely categorize, tag, and share their blog posts. Furthermore, blogs can automatically create an RSS feed that readers may subscribe to.


Getting Started

  1. Decide which blogging site or software will work best for you and your situation. Read more about Blogging Services and Software.
  2. All blogging sites will require three key pieces of information: an e-mail address, password, and a custom URL where your blog can be accessed (e.g.: http://uchicagoblog.wordpress.com). Some other sites will require you to create a username.
  3. The blogging site will send you an e-mail. Click the link in the e-mail to confirm and activate your blog.
  4. At some point, you may be given a selection of “themes” or “templates” to choose from. Pick whichever one you think best compliments the subject matter of your content.
  5. Create your first post.
  6. (optional) Most blogging platforms will allow you to create a static page, similar to a post. Create one that features some basic information about yourself and a way for you to be contacted.

Best Practices

  • Check your blog’s settings or preferences. Most sites will give you the option to hide your blog from search engines, such as Google and Bing. (not recommended)
  • Most blogging platforms allow the ability to set specific posts as “private” or “password-protected.”
  • There is by no means a “right” or “wrong” way to blog. The majority of bloggers tend to create shorter posts (less than 500 words) that include a photo(s) or video.
  • Make sure you understand how your RSS subscription feed works. Readers that use an RSS reader, such as NetVibes or Google Reader, can use this to stay up to date on your blog posts without ever having to visit your site.
  • If available, enable comment moderation if commenting is allowed on your blog. Some sites will automatically hold comments for approval before they can be seen publicly. This helps guard against spam and unwanted content.

Blogging Services and Software

  • Wordpresshttp://wordpress.com
    One of the most popular blogging platforms on the web, sign up for a free blog at Wordpress.com or download the open source software from Wordpress.org and install on a private web hosting space. Wordpress can easily be used as a Content Management System to build websites that are more complex than the typical blog.
  • LiveJournalhttp://livejournal.com
    Easily the most informal of free blogging platforms, LiveJournal is engineered towards young people and those who may be new to blogging.
  • Drupal http://drupal.org
    While Drupal may be too advanced for some users, this Content Management System features more flexibility to build exactly the kind of website or blog you need. To use Drupal, the software must be downloaded and installed to a private web hosting space.
  • Blogger http://blogger.com
    Owned and operated by Google, Blogger (a.k.a.: BlogSpot) is another very popular, free blogging platform. Although very similar in form and function to WordPress, Blogger is more “bare bones” and caters more specifically to blogs and news sites.
  • TypePadhttp://typepad.com
    TypePad operates using the Movable Type publishing software and is available at three different subscription levels (in the United States). Advantages of the TypePad platform include complete design customization, photo albums, and domain mapping.
  • Tumblr http://tumblr.com
    Tumblr has become known for its emphasis on attractive blog designs, photoblogging, and compatibility with sites such as Twitter, Google Analytics, and Feedburner. While Tumblr may be one of the most popular blogging sites, many use it more as a community where blogs are “Followed” rather than subscribed to, and posts can be “re-blogged” by other users.

Tools & Resources

  • If you’re looking to do some blogging on-the-go, BlogPress is a great mobile blogging app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Includes support for most major blogging platforms, such as Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, LiveJournal, Drupal, Tumblr, Movable Type, and more.
  • Need to share a PDF document with your readers? Rather than make them download the file (and potentially divert their attention from your website), use a service such a Docstoc or Scribd that will let you embed the PDF right in your blog post, just as you would a YouTube video.
  • For those who want only a quick, easy, and no-frills way to blog, consider Posterous. Blog posts are created by simply sending an email to post@posterous.com; embed media in your posts by attaching photos, videos, or mp3s to your email message.

Analytics

Many bloggers consider Google Analytics to be the most comprehensive and easy-to-use Analytics platform on the web. Information can be broken down in an extensive variety of ways, and users may create goals and benchmarks for their blog’s performance. However, many blogging platforms—see “Blogging software” above—feature their own, pre-installed Analytics software, or can be easily synced with a Google Analytics account. If your blog is part of the University network (i.e.: resides on the uchicago.edu domain), there is a chance that Analytics tracking may already be in place for your blog. If this applies to your site, please first check with your supervisor or contact your website developer.

You may also use your CNetID and password to log in to Web Traffic, the University's metrics website. It's not as robust as Google Analytics, but it can allow you to pull general analytics from most websites hosted by IT Services.


Examples on Campus

The following are a few examples of blogs at the university. Contact us and let us know of some good examples of YouTube on campus.


Help and Feedback

Contact us if you have any questions about blogging, or if you have recommendations for this page.

Connect and collaborate with communicators across the University.

Join the Campus Communicators to share updates and announcements with University colleagues via listhost, Facebook, and at workshops and biannual gatherings.

Find an array of UChicago new media sites, as well as contact information for their owners, in the Social Media Directory.

Create targeted communications campaigns and digital platforms.

Work with UChicago Creative’s team of designers, writers, and producers to develop compelling materials and comprehensive multimedia campaigns.

Enlist University experts to build, design, and support your web applications by partnering with Web Services.

Discover resources to enhance your communications platforms and outreach.

Follow social media and multimedia from across the University at UChicago Social.

Collect and disseminate our latest stories with print-on-demand news.

Capture the images and ideas of the University community.

Enlist UChicago Creative to produce expert videography.

Book the TV studio for broadcast interviews.

Book the sound booth for remote radio interviews.

Align the look and language of your communications with those of the University.

Find best practices for the use of our logo, typeface, color palette, and editorial style within our visual identity.

Build and refine social media sites using our social media guide, and find web writing tips in Web Services’ multimedia content guidelines.

Order print materials created for your audience and customized for your office.

Present a uniform look with University of Chicago business cards and stationery for your department, office, or position.

Purchase maps, calendars, and brochures to welcome your guests and visitors to the University.