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Glitter Blog Bling

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cc licensed flickr photo shared by FatMandy

The other half of this week’s ds106 assignment is to experiment with amping up the Campbellian locker decor of your blog– this is fitting for the participants new to blogging, and probably something others revisit every now and them (unless some mad tyrant tries to tell you what template to use on your blog).

There are only about 12,749 plugins to check out ;-) Add to that the almost infinite number of widget codes you can slap into your sidenbar widgets (just use the Text widget, it can accomodate javascript and other goodies).

While this is a good thing for blog crafters to explore; I’d add a bit of caution not to go zany nuts (like installing 12, 749 plugins). There is a performance overhead on plugins and sidebar cruft- especially anything that has to connect to a third party site. Each plugin adds processing steps to render a page. So after playing around with one, two, three, 12, 749 of these, go back and critically ask yourself- is that just shiny neat, or is it essential? Take a shave with Occam’s Blog, and shave off stuff not really critical.

I’ve not blinged in a while, but here are a few assorted tips (wordpress specific, sorry, it is what I love).

I have 17 active plugins, most of them are more in the back end vein of things, database tools, system monitoring ones, plus others for code formatting. One thing worth doing, is creating a static page in your blog as a “behind the scenes” overview of the blog; its kind fo like an “About” page, but more on the details that power your site. It has one of those fancy names like Colo— Colo– oh heck. Mine is at

Jim mentioned google analytics, which is hard to bit, but for some reason I know forget, I began using Clicky which works the same-you put some javascript in your blog footer’s template, and it records data about each visitor.

I used to have a manul list of plugins I use on the site, and it was never up to date. But like apps, there is a plugin for that! Plugins List is a plugin that lists all the other plugins on your site. All i had to do to get a dynamic list is in my page, add this code:


That thing in brackets is a shortcode, a wordpress construct that tells it to render something when the page is displayed.

And I am never without the indispensable Hello Dolly plugin, which like a moth, no matter how often you swat it, it returns.

If you would like to have your blog translated on the fly into 50+ languages, you can easily add that by either using a widghet to add this code, or insert it into your sidebar.php template:

<div id="google_translate_element"></div><script>
function googleTranslateElementInit() {
  new google.translate.TranslateElement({
    pageLanguage: 'en'
  }, 'google_translate_element');
<script src="">

I use this on our NMC main web site ( and all of our Horizon Project wikis, e.g. (neither of these are wordpress sites just to show you it works in any web page). It’s not perfect, but isn’t it cool to see your blog in Icelandic, Serbian, or Yiddish? You can offer this to your readers in Reyjkavik to generate on the fly:

Lastly, I just learned last week (via D’Arcy in twitter I think) that WordPress has built in tools to embed media easily w/o mucking around with embed code- all you need to do is put the URL of a Youtube video or flickr photo page on a blank line, and WP does the rest. I cannot believe I missed this memo!

It’s like magic- learn more at

Hey it’s your space, bling it all ya like!

cc licensed flickr photo shared by mistercorn

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