Publishing with Wordpress iPhone App

Wordpress for iOS iPhone and iPad Screenshot

Writing and blogging via the WordPress App for iPhone (iOS) and iPad has evolved tremendously.

Saying that the early versions of this app were "clunky" would be a nice way of putting it. I would argue that using the WordPress iPhone App to publish or author content was a nightmare.

I, like many urban lifestylers, spend a good part of my day on some form of public transportation.  That used to be a time that I would spend writing blog content on my old Blackberry.  I would at least have time to get a good post started or nearly completed.  Often, I could have an entire post done by the time I got to work.

The dark ages.

At the time, I was using a post-by-email plugin that allowed me to email posts to a secret email account.  Any email sent to that address would automatically be converted to a blog post.

The email subject line became the post subject line, etc.

It worked well enough but the formatting was always a little wonky.  There was no way to insert links or other basic HTML markup.  At the time, there was no such thing as a Blackberry with a camera in it.  That meant no embedded photos in my mobile posts either.

Eventually, Wordpress made post-by-email part of the core platform.  During that change over, formatting continued to get even more difficult to manage.  Also, if you changed devices from one phone to whatever was next, there was a good chance that there would be some extra markup in the email that would cause formatting to be a disaster.

Fast forward a few years to the debut of the iPhone.  I immediately could not wait.  Once I saw the potential of apps on this device, I knew that the Wordpress community would build a Wordpress CMS App for iPhone.

And they did.

Sadly, it sucked.

The first few times I attempted to use the iOS app, I was very disappointed.  Publishing, including links, adding images, tags, content categories, etc. were all difficult to manage or completely impossible.  

Time to suck less.

Fastforward one more time to today, and I think they've finally figured it out.  I hope that the project continues to evolve (there's lots of work left to do).

Once I had honed my iPhone typing skills, I was exited to at least us my commute time to write the plain text copy.  I suppose I could have used any other notepad app or even an email to accomplish the same thing. But there was something about the promise of being able to do it from right within the Wordpress "platform" that was appealing, if only in concept.

Until more recently, the app did not perform well if there was not a strong 3G or WiFi connection.  First it seemed that the app wanted to sync all of my old posts down to the handheld client.  That took forever.

The app also failed me a few times when I went to save a post without a good wireless signal.  The app did not really know what to do if it wasnt able to communicate with the cloud.  The app crashed a few times on me, and my post was gone.

Today, pretty much all of my major concerns have been solved.  The app works great if you are in some sort of "offline" mode.  The post content will simply save locally until it can be pushed up to your server.  Now I can continue to work while on the train, underground.

There's also basic HTML formatting available including Bold, Italics, etc.

The most convenient factor is the overhauled photo publishing feature.  You can finally take a raw iPhone image and embed it appropriately into your content right from your phone.  The app will upload the photo to the cloud where it will get crunched and resized.

Complete post via iPhone app.

This entire post was written on the Wordpress App for iPhone.

I find myself publishing directly from the app about half the time.  The other half, I end up saving as a draft and simply giving it a little final polish later on, once I am able to get in front of my laptop.

However, by then, the hard part is done.  Just do some last edits, maybe add a couple of links, and hit publish.

If you've got a 20+ minute public transit commute, you have no excuse (nor do I) for not having enough time in your day to write your blog.

Top 10: Web Analytics Platforms You Should Know

I was invited to speak at the College Media Association conference in New York City by my good friend Colin Donohue.  The CMA is similar to any other professional media consortium, but focuses exclusively on college and university media organizations. This year, I was asked to speak about the importance of web analytics platforms.  One of my sessions featured my Top 10 web analytics platforms that I believe everyone should know.

The Top 10 Web Analytics Platforms are in no particular order.  Also, it is important to note that I do not think that you should use all of them.  Instead, you should pick your favorites, and go with it.  But make sure you know a little about all of them.

#1 - Google Analytics

google.com/analytics

Shockingly obvious, yes.  However, the analytics beginner may not fully appreciate the power of this platform since it is ubiquitous to the industry.  This fall, we saw GA release realtime analytics (finally!).  Realtime analysis makes the platform more appealing to "newsroom" style publishers.

#2 - GetClicky

getclicky.com

Still my favorite all around analytics platform.  I've used it for years, and it has never let me down.  GetClicky has offered realtime analytics since virtually day one.  The platform has continued to evolve including rich extensions such as an app for iPhone and iPad.  For "newsroom" applications, they have released a big screen mode that basically takes over the full screen of your machine with realtime site traffic.  Also has a robust solution for advertising and marketing tracking with no-fuss reporting.  

#3 - Chartbeat

chartbeat.com

The undisputed leader in realtime traffic analytics.  Since its debut, Chartbeat showed the power of understanding how your content was being consumed at the very moment it is consumed.  With the release of Newsbeat (for newsrooms), Chartbeat positions itself squarely as the homepage of digital news directors everywhere.  No other platform will help you to make data driven changes to your group of lead stories like Chartbeat can.  A must for news, gossip, and "immediacy" focused content publishers.

#4 - Klout

klout.com

Today's digital ninjas need to go beyond the data provided by their owned and operated domains.  Understanding you and your brands social influence is critical for successful digital professionals.  Klout will help you understand, track, and grow your digital influence in any number of categories.  Anyone with a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Four Square account has a Klout Score.  At the time of this posting, mine is a healthy 48 (of 100). One of the most impressive social media products launched to date.

#5 - Quantcast

quantcast.com

In keeping with the natural evolution of digital data geeks everywhere, you want to know how your site ranks compared to its peers.  Quantcast acts as one of the Internet's premier "freemium" ratings and ranking services.  All sites with statistically significant traffic find their way into the Quantcast database.  Proactive webmasters can place a free Quantcast script on their site to allow direct measurement.  In addition to tracking and publicly reporting your site's overall reach, Quantcast breaks your traffic down demographically and geographically.  Publishers can quickly and easily see what mix of gender, race, incomes, and education levels visit their sites.  And so can potential advertisers.

#6 - Compete

Compete.com

At its core, Compete is similar to Quantcast in its tracking and audience aggregation methodology.  However, it focuses more on being a resource for advertisers to looking to target specific audiences with their ads.  Compete offers a suite of advertising planning tools to its customers that help evaluate overall campaign efficiency.  The focus is no surprise since it is owned by Kantar Media, the data geek nerve center for worldwide advertising conglomerate WPP.  Both Quantcast and Compete are important reference points for publishers because these are the tools that your advertisers (aka the ones keeping the lights on) use to evaluate your site.

#7 - Sitemeter

Sitemeter.com

Ahhh Sitemeter.  Ohh how those of us that have been in the industry since the dawn of blogging love you.  You were there for us when there was nothing else [free] available.  Sitemeter is one of the older free analytics services.  It offers a standard but thorough analytics dashboard that provides everything the startup publisher would ever need.  They also aggregate and rank publishers that use the service.  Your Sitemeter ranking used to be something that bloggers bragged about.  Those were the days...

#8 - Sprout Social

sproutsocial.com

As mentioned earlier, social media now finds its home in the wheelhouse of every serious publisher.  When publishing content, you must now understand how to market it in the social graph, and analyze what comes back.  In addition to providing a truly comprehensive suite of social publishing tools, Sprout Social also analyzes every aspect of every tweet and status update.  Keep track of every new follower, every retweet, and Facebook share with Sprout.  You'll quickly be able to track what content you publish gets shared the most.  Before long, you'll be a viral publishing machine.

#9 - SEO Moz

SEOMoz.org

Arguably the best one-stop-shop for every SEO tool you could ever need.  In addition to understanding visitor site traffic and social media, great publishers understand how the Google overlords view their content.  Publishing great content is the most important thing you will ever do in this game.  Sadly, that does not always bring the eyeballs.  SEO Moz will give you actionable advice on how to structure your site overall as well as analyze the Google-mojo of every content post.

#10 - comScore

comscore.com

It is with mixed emotions that we place comScore on this list.  For most publishers, comScore will never factor into their day-to-day activities directly.  However, it will be the bane of your career every time your advertising sales managers come down to your office to discuss this month's comScore ranking.  comScore is the default advertising rating service that the vast majority of online marketers utilize.  With billions of dollars being spent advertising online, the industry needs a common set of benchmark evaluations.  comScore will rank your site's traffic, reach, page views, and demographic makeup in order to provide a rating".  Your site's comScore profile will often mean the difference between gaining or losing advertisers.  Again, it will not factor into the day-to-day activities of publishing your content.  However, a positive comScore story can mean serious revenue wins.

That's not all...

There are dozens of other great services that did not make this list.  By no means would I consider this list to mean anything other a grouping of services I have grown to respect, and in some cases, cannot live without.

If you feel I've made an egregious mistake by leaving a certain platform off of this list, please post it in the comments below.  Let's start a discussion!

Wordpress Backups: What's your disaster plan?

What is your backup plan for your Wordpress site? You do have one, right? Anyone that has experienced a personal computer crashing or a web server disaster will tell you the same thing...they wish they had been better about backing up their files.

I don't care how often you think you will end up backing your systems up, it is never enough if you are doing it manually. Take it from someone who has gone down that road before.

I used to tell myself that I would be regular about backing up both my Mac and my websites. Hoe hard could it be? All that has to be done is setting aside a fee minutes on a regular basis to save some files to secondary storage. Not hard at all. It always seems to work for the a first few days or weeks too.

Inevitably, daily backups become weekly. Then weekly become monthly. Then monthly becomes never.

Then disaster strikes.

Your site gets hacked. An error occurs in your code. Your database becomes corrupted.

FML.

Luckily for Wordpress based sites, there is now a dead simple, bulletproof solution. Introducing VaultPress by Automattic.

The whiz kids behind Wordpress.com, Gravatar, Akismet, etc. have created a service that automatically backes up your entire Wordpress site, including database and static files without any manual intervention.

You simply install the ValutPress plugin into your site and never touch it again. From that point forward, VaultPress saves copies of file on your site and eve database entry onto the Wordpress.com enterprise infrastructure.

Within seconds of making a new post or template change, a backup copy is saved to VaultPress.

Multiple times a day, the system makes entire backups if your site.

If the unthinkable should ever happen to you, there is a full site backup sitting for you just waiting to be restored. Crisis averted.

There is also an additional service that checks your site for dangerous or malicious code. You are alerted to it's presence right away. There is even a function that pushes instant updates to your core files when new security fixes are released.

The $15 per month cost is NOTHING compared to losing years of work.

VaultPress is still in private beta, but you can sign up for an invite.

UPDATE: VaultPress is open to everyone now!