Maximize your blogging experience on developerWorks using the Minimal Theme blog template
bobleah 270000CN12 Comments (30) Visits (38402)
Having developed a
First, a quick overview of the Minimal Theme: In addition to a number of new widgets that our bloggers and their readers may find useful, this template provides full support for smart phone and tablet views. The goal of the theme is to provide an exceptional experience that your blog followers will find intuitive, in addition to making your blog easier to read, find, and follow, regardless of platform.
The Minimal theme template does not require any customization or updating, and is completely functional once applied, with no additional editing required. However, there are a number of best practices that will maximize the new features of this theme. Additionally, the theme can be further customized for bloggers who desire unique visual treatments or require more fidelity and control over the widgets provided within the theme.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your blog home page
SEO for each blog post you author
Tagging blog posts
As covered above in SEO, tagging is a critical factor in the find-ability of your blog posts. Sit down and create a tagging strategy for your blog. Carefully and consistently choose your post's tags, as tags form the relationship between the currently displayed blog post and posts displayed in the Related Posts widget. Use short meaningful tags. If you must use a tag that consists of more than a single word, then you will need to bridge the words to form a complete keyword. To do this, use a hyphen or underscore to bridge multiple words into a single tag keyword, for example: smart_device or smart-device. Don't use your name as a tag, or a common term, such as IBM or developerworks, unless these keywords are truly meaningful to the post itself. Try not to saturate a tag by repeatably using it, as it will no longer be meaningful or useful to form relationships between your blog posts.
Featuring blog posts
The Minimal theme supports a design treatment to feature blog posts. You must have a minimum of 2 or more blog posts tagged with the featured tag keyword for the widget to display. You can alternatively choose any tag keyword to feature, by updating the $tem
Using video and images in your blog posts
Images and video are popular ways to share content with readers of your blog. The Minimal theme will automatically size both images and video embedded into a blog post to fit devices from phones up to desktop browsers. When embedding an image, take a moment to reduce the picture size (and weight) to keep the total page weight as low as possible. For video, please use the embed option of <iFrame> or <embed>, in lieu of <object>. At this time, there is no way to scale a video that has been embedded as an object.
Use the Links dialog to configure and display related or meaningful links on your blog. You can add links to other social networks that you are a member of, or possibly display links to other areas within developerWorks, such as software downloads that are related to your blogs topic. Links can be an image, text, or both. The links dialog can be found by navigating to your Blog -> New Entry -> Links page.
About this blog
The text displayed in the About this blog (BIO widget) is authored from your blogs Settings dialog. This is also your blogs search META description. The total amount of text in this field is limited to 250 characters. You can also add an image to your BIO, by setting the $tem
Number of entries to display on blog home
Set the number of entries to be displayed on your blog home page from the blog Settings dialog. Take into consideration blog readers accessing your blog from a phone or tablet. I limit the number on my blog to 10.
Blog lead space image
The Minimal theme template offers the blogger the ability to brand their blog via a lead space image (hero image). You configure your lead space image by setting the $tem
Many bloggers also use a twitter account from which they promote their blog posts. This is an excellent practice, and I highly recommend it. To associate your blog with your twitter account, configure the $tem
Facebook and Youtube widget
If you have a Facebook account, and want to associate your Facebook profile with your blog, you can configure the $tem
Facebook Fan widget
If your blog has an associated Facebook Fan page, you can display a Fan widget directly on your blog by setting $tem
The trending topics widget uses popular and recurring tags on your blog posts to display a simple and easy graph for your users to explore your blog by topic. This widgets fidelity is fully customizable by setting the following properties found in the _options template:
Displaying tags in a cloud widget is a popular means to allow your readers to navigate your blog by tag topic. While I personally think the experience offered by the trending topics widget is superior, the Minimal theme does offer both a popular tags widget (for blog post view) and a full tag cloud widget (home page view). The fidelity of these widgets are fully customizable by setting the following properties found in the _options template:
Tag cloud in the Hero area
You can optionally set $tag
Pinning a post to the top of your blog home page
Optionally pin one of your blog posts to the top of your blog's home page. This is a great way to introduce the general subject matter of your blog. by creating a special blog post, or simply pin a post that contains a video or photo slide show. You create this sticky post the same as any other blog post, then simply give it a unique tag. Then set $template-home-tag within the _options template to this unique tag.
Syntax highlighting code sniplets
If you include code sniplets in you blog posts, simply go into <h> mode in the blog editor, and surround your sniplet with HTML code elements: <code>YOUR CODE SNIPLET</code>. The minimal theme will automatically apply highlighting to the code syntax.
Adding a poll
To add a poll to your blog, first go to http
Advanced Settings and Post thumbnails
Found directly under your blog editor, you can toggle open the Advanced Settings dialog to specify a custom URL for your blog entry, or correct a blog entry URL, in the case where you edited the title of a blog post and you now want the URL to match up again. This is also where you can specify an image to be used as the thumbnail to represent a blog post. You do this by setting the URL of the thumbnail image in the External media URL field. After I create a thumbnail image for my blog, I typically store it within my blog by using my blogs File uploads dialog, located on the blog editor page. The thumbnail image will display on your blogs home page if you have configured the $tem
Using Google Analytics is a popular choice with our bloggers who are interested in investigating traffic, trends, keywords, or other patterns related to their blog posts. Once you have signed up for Google Analytics, you can update the META goog