Look- it’s a blog! No, it’s a website! Pondering the differences

October 17, 2010
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blog it Look  its a blog! No, its a website! Pondering the differencesOriginally published 01/02/08: I’ve been in the midst of a total overhaul of my various websites.  We’ve finished our discovery process, and are moving more into design and functionality.

The question of the day: where does the blog end and the website begin?

There’s many a time when I’m writing a blog post where I think how I really want that post to have a longer lifespan, that it belongs on my website.  My posts about neighborhoods, for instance.  If I were to group all of those neighborhood posts together, slap a pretty front end on it, then I’d have something fabulous that really deserves to not be hidden beneath some text category on the sidebar of a blog.

And then there’s the now infamous Chick-fil-a type posts where they’re fine for a week and then they need to go away – a natural fit for a blog.

To appease the SEO gods, we don’t want to duplicate content across my own sites, so I don’t want posts from the blog copied and pasted as content on the site.  We’ll certainly do a good amount of interlinking and cross-referencing, but I don’t feel it appropriate to send someone surfing my traditional site over to the blog to read an article – placing them in an unfamiliar environment with different navigation and lots of distractions along the side – unless that’s really what they intend to do.  That they understand a change is coming and they click anyway.



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Pages seem to last longer than posts in search engine results, but if I throw up 50 neighborhood pages, I’m going to have to add some custom coding to the blog template so my tabs and page list on the sidebar don’t get all funky for those neighborhood pages, but function as intended for the rest of the normal pages.  Do-able, certainly, but a kludge at best.

Also – We ran the ‘have lots of pages’ theory to it’s limit and exploded WordPress.  Having found those limits, pages are out.

So what now?  Well, Drupal, for us.  Coming soon to a Housechick near you.

I’ve also refined a bit what I want to live where.  For me, I like telling stories on the blog.  Slice of life, this is what happened, here’s what’s going on type stuff.  Neighborhoods, soon, are heading over to the Housechick main website area, where we’ll build a large repository of local information and are more able to feature it as a cohesive body of knowledge.

It’s an interesting line to walk, and it’s taken a bit of doing to stop thinking about the blog like it’s a blog, because it isn’t a blog, it’s a framework (can I get that printed on a t-shirt?).  Having started originally with AR and Blogger, it was a difficult mindset to break – two blog services where blogs really ARE just blogs.  But for WordPress and Drupal, they aren’t blogs, they’re just platforms, a framework.

In the end, it’s not about what is website and what is blog, it’s about where in the framework some piece of information should live.  And that’s a liberating place to be, conceptually, while in the midst of designing a new web presence.

Kelley Koehler, aka the Housechick, is usually found focused on her Tucson, Arizona, real estate business. You may also find her on Twitter, where she doubles as a super hero, at Social Media Training Camp, where she trains and coaches people on how to integrate social media into successful business practices, or at KelleyKoehler.com, a collection of all things housechick-ish. Despite her engineering background, Kelley enjoys translating complex technical concepts into understandable and clear ideas that are practical and useful to the striving real estate agent.


33 Comments

  1. Good luck trying to figure out how to get Drupal to work.

    You could just create a page called “Neighborhoods” or something like that on WordPress and then create 50 other individual pages (one for each neighborhood) and have the “Neighborhoods” page itself to act more or less like a directory where people can go and click on the neighborhood that they are interested in reading about.

    The only page that would show up at the top would be the “Neighborhoods” page itself while the 50 other pages would be hidden.

    PS: Does anyone know what 2 +6 is equal to? I hate these required math questions that I got to fill in to post a comment!

  2. We’ve been futzing with drupal for a while. If two software engineers can’t figure it out, then I’d say drupal is in trouble!

    The problem with pages in my current blog setup is that I have navigation for subpages under my tabs, so I can’t create a main neighborhood header page and place 50 under it – I’d have 50 subtabs. It’s a feature I love, but doesn’t work for that example. Also, we exploded WordPress trying to use pages – the platform won’t support where we eventually want to go.

  3. Kelley, I use a WP plugin called Flexi-Pages to manage pages on my blogs. It gives me the ability to hide sub pages in the side bar unless a parent or sibling page is called up. You can see it in action on lenderama. Just click “My other web efforts” at the top of the center column. My google site map still finds the sub-pages.

  4. The one thing I do is try and make the blog pages and the statis pages look at similar as possible on my blogsite. The static pages tend to be aimed as more of the sales pitch and the blog just me showing off and bathering on.

  5. Kelley – why Drupal over Joomla?

  6. I just set up a Drupal site for a Real Estate FAQ site. It’s not that difficult.

    I have another site on Joomla — I just wanted to try Drupal. Joomla is a little more friendly and has more themes and whatnot to chose from. Drupal has better collaboration capabilities. Learning the terminology used in either is the tricky part.

    My Drupal site isn’t close to as involved as your project, but it should work well. Very scalable, nice platform.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

  7. John – we’re more familiar with drupal. we may go joomla, but are leaning towards drupal. either way, wordpress can’t support the number of pages we need, so we need a new platform.

  8. >either way, wordpress can’t support the number of pages we need, so we need a new platform.

    Unless you are talking in the 1000s of pages, WP can handle it. It just needs to be tweaked.

  9. I’ve been knee-deep in Joomla for about a year now, mostly because I love the component expansions. It was tough to get the structure down – sections, categories, and content items vs modules, components, and mambots. It can be powerful..

    But wordpress can handle a massive number of pages using sub-pages… and good posts can be put in a featured category and placed in a prominent area with some of the new themes coming out….

    I am getting back into wordpress with my newest creation (coming soon) and I must say it’s a LOT more user-friendly than Joomla or Drupal when it comes to simple, day-to-day use.

    All of the standards come out-of-box with wordpress such as SEO urls (not on AG btw), comments, trackbacks, and all that. I had to install about 5 components in realestateremix.com to get it working like a real blog, and there are still issues.

    I’ll be looking forward to how things go with your drupal efforts.

  10. Kelley, I had a very specific idea of how I wanted neighborhoods and my blog to flow when I started it in June of 07. Although it’s not perfect, and the kinks are being worked on as we speak, I think my website designer came up with a clever idea of a scrolling neighborhood bar at the top.

    (if you go visit now….there are some things missing that will be fixed hopefully yesterday, but you can get an idea).

    It’s not easy and there’s always room for improvement….I personally like hybrid sites.

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  12. I really like how areas are cleanly organized on Miamism. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration (i.e. plagiarized ideas) from this design.

    I think that well-organized neighborhood content is a huge value-add to consumers on a real estate website. For me, coming-up with an intuitive navigation strategy has been the hardest nut to crack when presenting neighborhoods. I believe that simple map-based graphics are the best way to help visitors discover and explore neighborhoods. I tried this with google maps (mocorealestate.com/northpotomac/map-of-north-potomac/), but this falls flat. The neighborhood names need to be visible and clickable — can’t figure out how to do this in Google maps. My ‘plan B’ is to create an area map showing all neighborhoods.

    I also setup each of my neighborhoods as follow-on pages with a neighborhood category, allowing for posts to be organized with each neighborhood (mocorealestate.com/potomacchase/). This has proved to be too ambitious. I simply can’t create enough content (and do my day job of selling homes), so I’m going to simply these by removing the categories, and just maintaining pages as needed.

    I definitely look at my site as a website framework, and not a blog. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

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  18. WordPress 3 menu management has made it easier to organize pages within a menu. To organize the “permanent” content, just use pages and include/exclude them on the menubar.

    For extra long page lists, you may want to consider creating a custom menu filled with pages, then use a plugin called “widget logic” to have it display only on the pages/posts you choose.

    templatic.com/news/wordpress-3-0-menu-management

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  24. Aloha Kelley, I really enjoyed your post. I can’t say that I’ve tried much by way of different platforms, as I’ve been happy (happy enough) with my WP blog to not want to go elsewhere. But I’m certainly looking forward to yours. Best of luck.

  25. you know, i’ve struggled with this topic a lot (blog or website not the issue on the platform) and i’m glad to find out i’m not the only one. i’ve redesigned my site a couple of times due to this reason. after interviewing a couple of clients and potential clients i found out that they when they go to a real estate site they’re not really looking to read, they just want to search (most of the time). So, i took a page from the most popular site and incorporated it into my home page. I figured, if it works for them why not for me. let them spend the money on the research. let’s see if my theory holds true.

  26. We too are trying to figure out how we get around the pages vs. posts dilema. Great suggestion about Drupal. Will have to check them out. Thanks!

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  32. Kelley,

    A year or more ago, I switched from full-manual (htlm+css+php) to WP. The former had to go, though the end results were super configurable and fast as lightening.

    I currently have around 80 neighborhood pages and manage their navigation with the feature at the top right of my sidebar.

    WP has been great but now I’ve run into a different roadblock. I want to create city pages, like Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Duluth, etc.

    Each of these I want to be like a full featured mini site with blog.

    If I simply set these up under my main URL, then I have a common sidebar and common blog entry problem. I.e., every city section will share the same sidebar as the overall site as well as blog entries.

    The other thing I’m considering is each city site is it’s own domain and individual WP site. This makes it a lot easier to manage, however, does not help create a master site with lots of authority, etc.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks,

    Rob

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