Venturing into WordPress, I helped Antoinette Miranda put together her new website that serves as a reference to her campaign for District 6 representative to the Ohio State Board of Education.
It's called Antoinette For Educationat https://antoinetteforeducation.com.
The site uses a political WordPress theme with some custom colors, headers and layouts, nothing too fancy, mind you. But it also facilitates PayPal contributions -- or contributions from a credit card, if you've linked your credit card and PayPal accounts.
In addition to her candidacy for the state board, Dr. Miranda is a longtime professor at The Ohio State University, specializing in school psychology.
If you're in her district -- all of Delaware and Knox counties and much of Franklin County, too -- please take a look at her materials and support her.
She has a whole child philosophy of education, and she has pledged to work for accountability for all schools and equitable resources for all schools and all students.
Plugins from the premium theme, Frontrunner, by Parallelus, make it pretty easy to collect subscription emails, comments and volunteers, but you really need some coding or a plugin like Seamless Donations to accept campaign contributions like this site's Donate page.
Although I'm a big fan of the Ghost blog platform and use it on my own website right now, the WordPress platform made it easier for me to deliver the site as a turnkey project for the campaign.
Thanks, Dr. Miranda!
Venturing into WordPress, I helped Antoinette Miranda put together her new website that serves as a reference to her campaign for District 6 representative to the Ohio State Board of Education. It's called Antoinette For Educationat https://antoinetteforeducation.com. The site uses a political WordPress theme with some custom colors, headers and layouts, nothing too fancy, mind you. But it
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It's responsive right out of the box!
If you've alread read Part 1 of my Ghost journey, you might suspect I've just scratched the surface of blogging and website content with Ghost.
You're right! But the folks at Ghost.org have enhanced the product without overcomplicating it.
Did I say responsive? Yes!
Right out of the gate, Ghost works well on monitors, tablets and phones, and most of the themes and templates work well on all platforms, too, thanks to the 12-column Twitter-Bootstrap environment for creating responsive sites. It looks great without a ton of work.
Of course, you need to choose a Ghost theme that really hums in a responsive way. You can find Ghost themes at Envato Theme Forest, and the Ghost.org website has its own listing of themes, which it calls Marketplace.
Once you find a theme you like, you should test it out on your tablet and phone. Use the responsive view tools provided by Firefox or Google Chrome, and don't forget to test the theme for all the major browsers.
You can test before buying a theme, but of course you need to test responsiveness all over again after you've customized things. The size of your images, logo, color choices, typeface and headings can all look different on mobile phones, which is how most of your viewers typically look at the web these days.
Here are some more major features:
- Add a simple menu - In the past month or so, Ghost added in an automated menu builder. It's so simple, I wish it would have been available for my theme when they developed it. By the way, that update and any new versions of Ghost are just like the original version -- open source, free and auto-installed on your site if you use Ghost.org hosting. Download the code free for your test site(s) any time.
- Easy testing on your own turf - You don't have to be a genius to get Ghost up and running on your home computer or laptop. Do all your testing and formatting privately. Demonstrate the content in the conference room. Then easily upload all theme, content and supporting files when you're really ready.
- Easy prototyping - With the easy-to-use test environment, there's another benefit. You can try several themes with the same basic content to find out which works best for you.
- Multi-media and social media - It's easy to use video files, picture galleries or sound files. You can link readers to your own social media and help them easily share your content with others.
- Interactivity - You can allow/monitor comments on your posts and easily set up subscription forms. If I can do this, almost anyone can.
- Easy customizing - Most Ghost themes offer at least three home page layouts, including video, parallax, full-screen slide shows or custom color schemes to fit your brand. Pluto, my theme, comes in basic black, but I re-made it blue with minor-league CSS tweaks. Look for different page and section layouts in each theme. It's just copy, paste and tweak.
- Fast client turnaround - If you've got a fast deadline for a client who needs a promotional website or event site, you can be up and running on a prototype fast. It'll be responsive, reliable, friendly to your social media and fast-loading.
It's easy on so many levels - Between the ease of use of the Markdown writing language, the hundreds of themes available, there just isn't much I wanted to do that was beyond my simple grasp.
It's a great learning tool - If you're new to blogging, have some social media going and want your first (or second or third) website to look and feel expensive without being expensive, using Ghost will not only work, it will also teach you some of the design, style sheets and behind-the-scenes file structures of contemporary websites and blogs.
It's responsive right out of the box! If you've alread read Part 1 of my Ghost journey, you might suspect I've just scratched the surface of blogging and website content with Ghost. You're right! But the folks at Ghost.org have enhanced the product without overcomplicating it. Did I say responsive? Yes! Right out of the gate, Ghost works well
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Blogging on the Ghost platform reminds me of the spirit of "Weaving the Web," by Tim Berners-Lee, the CERN-based pioneer of the early World Wide Web. Berners-Lee envisioned the web as a convenient place to read, write and share documents, with lots of collaboration.
Ghost revives that tradition, but Ghost blogs seldom appear geeky or dull. Developers have produced lots of easy templates for customizing Ghost, providing a jump start toward the sophistication, design and structure most viewers expect.
Low-cost hosting and themes
This website appears via the Ghost.org's hosting service for $5 a month. It's $10 a month now, but I was an early adopter, and they've continued to honor that low price.
Earlier this year, I bought a relatively new Ghost-compatible theme called Pluto. It's $24, but on the WordPress platform the theme costs $58. That illustrates how WordPress themes -- while more commonly used than Ghost by far -- are generally more expensive.
If you're like me, you might buy several themes before you find one that really provides all the functionality you need, so trying two themes for the price of one gives you a sense of economic freedom.
It's all about usability
But I wouldn't have stayed with Ghost just based on price. I already was fairly used to WordPress, but usability features like these made Ghost irresistible:
Ghost.org hosting - The Ghost hosting arrangement provides free updates, a simple dashboard and the ability to switch themes by uploading zip files. That minimizes worry and maximizes creative time. You can write and test content on your own computer or preview posts on the Ghost Pro servers before publishing.
Markdown - Ghost integrates John Gruber's Markdown language into a browser-based text editor, which I'm using right now.
You write on the left half of the screen and see a preview on the right. When you're ready, the Markdown tool translates your writing to html and publishes the page. By the way, I've tried a half-dozen Markdown editors for Mac and iPad, but Ghost's version of Markdown is pretty hard to beat. And since it's integrated with the Ghost web content environment, it eliminates lots of extra steps in workflow.
Html whenever you want it - You could go for a long while without coding in Ghost, but any time you want to fine-tune something or just pick up a piece of your old html code -- or a nice code snippet that catches your fancy -- just drop it into the Ghost Markdown editor. Most html works just fine. For example, I dropped in bold type into the first words in this series of bullets using
Images - Type Command-Shift-I on your Mac (or Control-Shift-I for Windows users) and the Markdown code appears for inserting an image or photo. Click the graphic area in the preview half of the screen and a window pops up to help you pick your graphic out of your file system. After you pick the file, the graphic appears in preview mode, and the coding's done. Ghost automatically uploads the image to the server. Sweet!
Minimal housekeeping - Ghost and Ghost themes take care of many detailed tasks for you. You'll get the author's name for each post, the post date and tags, all the way to big things like the jquery, CSS and Bootstrap files that keep a Ghost website humming. For each post on your blog, Ghost will let you easily:
- Add a graphic to your post that will appear on your home page or index of posts.
- Mark certain entries as featured posts.
- Turn the post into a static page linked to your menu or another page.
Okay, I like Ghost. It works for me. It's a quick-and-easy path to a blog or website.
Yes, there's a learning curve, and your mileage may vary. But I suspect for many bloggers and website managers the results will far outweigh the time and effort.
Blogging on the Ghost platform reminds me of the spirit of "Weaving the Web," by Tim Berners-Lee, the CERN-based pioneer of the early World Wide Web. Berners-Lee envisioned the web as a convenient place to read, write and share documents, with lots of collaboration. Ghost revives that tradition, but Ghost blogs seldom appear geeky or dull. Developers have produced lots
Continue reading →