C3 website: the tech stuff part 1 – Movable Type blogs

[Earlier today,](http://www.momathome.com/viewfromhome/2005/11/work_stuff.php) I talked about how I was using blogs and forums to grow the [C3: Colorectal Cancer Coalition](http://www.c-three.org) website. How’s it going? Pretty well. We’re the #1 search result for [colorectal advocacy](http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGGL,GGGL:2005-09,GGGL:en&q=colorectal+advocacy) and our traffic has increased by over 200% each month since the blogs were added. For the month of October, 70% of our traffic came from other websites or search engines, compared to 46% in September. That’s good. Not where I want it to be yet in pageviews or unique visitor counts, (page rank is only 3) but getting there.

What have I been doing? Read on to find out.

Tags: , , ,

Well, first step is to find the folks to deliver good content. We have bloggers. The technical catch for me is that the folks blogging have A, never blogged before (and they don’t know much HTML) and B, they’re doing it from Windows and there isn’t a 3rd party blogging client that I can comfortably recommend to them. Sorry, [ecto for Windows](http://ecto.kung-foo.tv) you’re not there yet. Way too buggy. So they’re blogging from within the [Movable Type](http://www.movabletype.org) interface as I’ve advised them.

Here are the [Movable Type](http://www.movabletype.org) plug-ins I’ve been using on the site (and why):

* [Markdown](http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/): The folks don’t know HTML (one does, but not extensively). I want them to concentrate on the content of their entries, not formatting tags. There’s some learning in Markdown too, but it’s not nearly as steep a curve as HTML. Markdown produces really clean, valid HTML without thinking about it. It’s the first thing I install on any blog I install whether I’m the blogger or not. If you mess up in the Markdown syntax, the worst you get is a * [ or _ where you don’t want it. If you mess up HTML in your entry, you may very well break the page.

* [Better Entry Preview](http://www.eatdrinksleepmovabletype.com/plugins/plugin_better_entry_preview/): By default, previewing entries in the MT interface is a bit tough on the eyes in the smallish sans-serif font it displays. This plug-in makes reading what you wrote all nicely formatted a lot easier, and you can fiddle with the entry stylesheet to your liking, if necessary.

* [BigPAPI](http://www.staggernation.com/mtplugins/BigPAPI/): *Better Entry Preview* requires this plug-in to work. This is how a plug-in can modify the Movable Type interface. It’s quite useful. One of these days, I should probably play with some of the other plug-ins that this plug-in makes possible.

* [MultiBlog](http://wiki.rayners.org/plugins/MultiBlog): The front page of the [C3 website](http://www.c-three.org) is actually an index template off the [advocacy](http://www.c-three.org/advocacy) blog. I used MultiBlog to pull info from the last few entries from both blogs and I set the dependencies so when either blog updates, that page updates as well. Fresh content on the front of the site at all times. Gotta love it.

* [TechnoratiTags](http://george.hotelling.net/90percent/projects/technoratitags.php): I’m not entirely in love with this plug-in, but until I find a better option it will do. Adding [Technorati](http://www.technorati.com) tags to an entry increases blog exposure. Proven fact. The blog editor [ecto](http://ecto.kung-foo.tv) does this very well and easily, but how do you insert the tags in an entry composed in a browser without using HTML? Easiest thing to do was install this plug and instruct bloggers to add the tags in the keyword field. It’s not ideal because it only links to single words, but until I find another solution it’s better than nothing.

* [Workflow](http://www.rayners.org/2004/12/workflow_05_1.php): This plug-in allows me to transfer ownership of an entry. If we add more bloggers, those folks can write and then have their content reviewed before posting. We don’t need that now. Our immediate need is that Nancy (C3’s President) can email me some copy, I can log in under my own ID, post and then transfer the entry to her for publishing. We want the entry to appear to come from her, not me. Crude, but it works.

[*Next: Starting a forum in phpBB*](http://www.momathome.com/viewfromhome/2005/11/c3_website_the_tech_stuff_part_1.php)