3 new WordPress themes for Blogs @ MIIS

I have been doing some housekeeping on Blogs @ MIIS today. I went through and deleted any themes that weren’t being used by any of the blogs in our community (that means they’re lame, right?). I have added 3 new themes that you can now apply to your blogs hosted on the Blogs @ MIIS site. If you take these new themes for a spin on your blog, please let me know what you think!

Notepad

The Notepad theme is inspired by the iPhone’s Notes app. It’s a modern WordPress theme with a subtle touch of the sketchy effect. Key features include multi-level dropdown menus, threaded & paged comments, and widget support.

Clean Home


Clean Home is a minimalistic theme with lots of the space at the top to introduce your blog and what it’s all about. It also has giant numbers next to the comments that look pretty slick. This theme can display subpages in the navigation menu and also has a widget-ready sidebar.

Cleanr


At first glance, the Cleanr theme looks very similar to Clean Home, but don’t be fooled, there are definitely some differences. My favorite part about this theme is the BIG typography; no more squinting at the screen trying to read your post categories or image captions. A few other cool features:

  • Dropdown menu for Categories and Pages
  • Current menu highlights itself
  • Threaded Comments

What else are we missing?

Let me know what other types of themes you would like to see available on the blogging community in the future. More minimalistic themes? Slicker themes for hosting your portfolio? More pink? Comment and tell me!

Making the most of the Blogs @ MIIS front page

Changes to the Blogging Homepage

  1. A feed for the official campus blogs, with an excerpt from the most recent post featured.
  2. A site-wide posts feed.
  3. Tweets from the MIIS community list.

Two categories to be featured prominently on the homepage

Note that these are categories, not tags.

News: General news and announcements or reporting on past events.

Events: Posts related to upcoming events.

Please don’t categorize posts as both news and events.

Events are events, and articles about past events are news.

What is the difference between categories and tags?

Categories tend to be broad. For example, my personal blog uses the following categories: Middle School, High School, College, Real World. Tags are specific topics that fall under the categories (driver’s ed, job searching, marching band, etc.). This is just one example and the categories and tags for each blog will vary, but I encourage you to include both “News” and “Events” as categories.

Other best practices

  • Title posts appropriately. Remember that not all viewers are reading the post directly on your blog, so more context is better when titling posts.
    • Example: Lynn blogged about searching for student speakers for TEDx Monterey and titled it “TEDx Student Speakers.” But what does that mean? The post should have been titled “TEDx Call for Student Speakers” or “TEDx Student Speaker Contest.”
  • Avoid the caps lock (THIS IS NOT VERY EASY TO READ AND SORT OF LOOKS LIKE I’M SHOUTING AT YOU)
  • If you’re posting an event, include the day/time in the title. Also use the first few sentences to communicate the most relevant information about your event so that it appears in the excerpt on the homepage and under the “Events” navigation. GSIPM has a great format for this:Blogging Events
  • If your post content consists mainly of a large image (a flyer advertising an event, for example), make sure you also write the event details out using text since RSS feeds do not always display images and readers may miss out on your event information
  • It is possible to be strategic about writing and publishing your blog posts. You can write 3-4 blog posts at one time and set them up to publish at different times.
  • Talk to me about adding Google Analytics or FeedBurner to your blog.
  • Use the Knowledge Base to find answers to FAQs about the blogging community.

As always, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email if you have any questions or concerns! I look forward to working with you to improve the front page of Blogs @ MIIS.

Announcing the 2009 B@Mmy Award Winners

The Teaching & Learning Collaborative recently hosted the first annual B@Mmy awards for blogging and tweeting excellence. We are pleased to announce the winners, who are welcome to post these ribbons to their respective blogs.

Best Group Blog: GSIPM

The Graduate School of International Policy & Management blog is one of the most active organizational blogs on campus delivering relevant information to an audience of 500+. Topics include campus events, course information, fellowships, and scholarships.

Best Class Blog: Art of Sunzi

Many of you probably noticed the sheer volume of activity in Chinese by the students in Chinese 460. The use of the P2 WordPress theme seemed to really promote interaction and certainly encouraged a great deal of output from students.

Best Student Blogger: Molly Ammons

Molly Ammons has displayed an incredible energy and enthusiasm for blogging this semester. Through creating her own blogs, posting on the DMC blog, and constantly being active on Blogs @ MIIS through sharing new ideas and reflecting, she helped foster the online blogging community here at MIIS.

Best Faculty Blog: Nuket Kardam

Nuket Kardam is the first faculty member to venture into the blogging community.  She is using her blog as a professional portfolio documenting her teaching, travels, and research activities.  We look forward to more updates as Nuket continues to explore the possibilities!

Best Staff Blog: Coleman Library

The William Tell Coleman Library blog draws people into a community of researchers and provides a great deal of useful information.

Best Use of Twitter: @MIIS_GSIPM

The MIIS_GSIPM Twitter account not only posts all new announcements from the GSIPM blog but also actively follows other international organizations that have relevance to the interests of GSIPM students. The latest current affairs information is collected and shared with the GSIPM student body.

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Other B@Mmy Awards nominees included the following members of the Blogs @ MIIS community:

Preparing for the New Media Buffet

WordPress is extremely extensible due to the wide variety of plugins available

A few useful plugins:

  • Feed WordPress allows you to incorporate other articles into your own blog using RSS
  • WPTouch transforms your existing WordPress theme into a web-application experience when viewed from an iPhone, iPod touch or Android touch mobile device.
  • Daggone Sitemap Generator
  • Simple Tags
  • FAQ-Tastic
  • Theme Test Drive allows you to test out new themes without activating it and showing it to all of your blog visitors