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Fundamental Website Setup Links

Even The Mouse Uses WordPress

According to a report on hwork.org, Disney is now a proud supporter of the WordPress blogging platform at their new blog site. It’s not just for webcomics and cranks anymore kids! Seriously though, it’s good to see that even the largest companies out there are realizing the power of the WordPress platform.

Now if only I can get them to see the power of the AWSOM set of plugins life would be perfect. And yes guys, I’ll consider trading some work for some free park tickets :)

The Creative Comfort Zone

The success of free sites like Deviant Art shows how many artists don’t want to be bothered with making their own site. Sure, some of them do have their own site in addition to Deviant Art, but most don’t and many of the ones that do rarely update their own sites.

I am not saying that Deviant Art “sucks”. Deviant Art is awesome. For no investment, anyone of any skill level can experiment with online publishing. This is a great way for someone new to the field to figure out if this is something that they would like to do. Probably every artist should have some sort of presence there – just like MySpace and Facebook – simply because you can. More exposure is always better.

However, Deviant Art should NOT be your main website.

I say this because:

1. Their interface is quite confusing for the end user. You cannot customize it to make your work easier to view by someone who is not familiar with the Deviant Art culture. The first 20 times someone linked me to their Deviant Art page I left without seeing their art because I couldn’t figure out where the gallery was. It can be very annoying.

2. When Deviant Art is down…it’s down. You can’t fix it. If your work is unavailable for weeks you have no recourse because you don’t control it.

3. Your URL is YourName.deviantart.com. This might be good for networking with others on the site, but it is not so professional for people who aren’t.

4. Passive ad revenue is one of the the largest and easiest source of income – and you can’t do that on Deviant Art. You actually are making them rich – not yourself. Of course since the cost to host your stuff is free, it’s a balance–but still, eventually you’ll want to make money (I assume) off your work.

You might say, “Hey, Oni! I get a lot of people buying commissions from me on Deviant Art. Why do I need ad revenue?”

There are two ways of thinking about it:

1. Working yourself to carpal tunnel cranking out as many commissions as you can for a small amount of dollars. Generally you will probably find that this leaves you too busy to augment your brand. Oompa loompa doopity doo…

2. Do commissions for x amount of dollars when you feel like it and collect far more than x dollars for doing nothing but getting people looking at your work. Have tine to build your brand and a social life.

For my purposes, I choose 2.

If jumping right into working with something like WordPress is daunting, a good thing to do is to at least buy your own URL/domain name that redirects to your Deviant Art. This way, when you finally take the plunge you won’t lose your hard-earned fans out of confusion. They’ll go to where you direct them.

I am a big advocate of controlling where and how my work is presented on the web because it is just that important. Nobody else cares if your work is represented well. You need to care.

They say that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. This is very true. It is also very true for how you “dress” your work.

I urge you to try out free sites like Deviant Art and to even maintain a presence there. Just remember that the end game is about making money for you by developing a healthy career. If you hope to achieve that, you need to take control of your work. Too many artists are concerned about the immediate future and don’t invest in a holistic approach to career development that will give them strength 30 years from now. A balance needs to be understood if one hopes to thrive.

Display A Random Sidebar Image From Your Gallery

I’ve been asked a few times if Pixgallery will eventually get some sidebar widgets to display images on your index page from your galleries. The answer is yes, but I’m not sure exactly when. However, for the moment, I’ve discovered a sidebar widget Plugin which might help out for some cases. The Display Random Images plugin here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/random-image-widget/ seems pretty straight forward and only requires that you give the folder path for the selection of images you want it to pick from. I may even ask the developer about a specific Pixgallery mod for it to make it even easier to use. If anyone tries this out please let me know how you like it.

Slow Verus Fast Access For your Visitors

A recent article about site access speed posted over at Lorelle on WordPress started me thinking about my own path of site development over the last 7 years. The article talks about how up until recently most people were using dial up phone connections to reach the internet, and most sites needed to be optimized for this slow speed in order to be successful. This is true with sites I’ve developed, especially the first generation version of the Stupid and Insane Defenders Against Chaos webcomic site. The new version of the site is based now on WordPress and has many new features, but it’s also much larger and “slower” to load if you were to use a dial up connection. I think I subconsciously resisted moving to a new platform for a long time based on my thought that we’d be dropping support for slower connections, but as times change you do need to move on eventually. I’ve tried to keep the new site to a loading time that makes sense and isn’t really too bloated–I still find no need for unneeded flashy AJAX stuff or flash movie embeds, but I think most new site developers really have no desire to be restrained at all. And while cell phones and wireless systems are getting faster, mobile devices, and many libraries and school computer rooms will still feel like dial up in some ways when loading sites, a key thing many new developers forget about. It’s a balancing act and you need to think about your audience and what things are really needed for your site. I’d definitely suggest checking out Lorelle’s post to read more about the subject.

Internal Server error 500 issue in WordPress 2.5

Anyone who is getting an internal server error 500 when trying to activate or use plugins in WordPress 2.5: This is likely due to a memory issue in PHP. I’m not sure why, but I’ve noticed that the new version of WordPress seems to push much harder on the memory of a server, especially during plugin activation. It appears that this internal error 500 situation may be related to a PHP setting that by default limits PHP to using only 8MB per instance. The way to resolve this issue is to up the amount of memory usable by PHP to 16MB in the php.ini config file. In most cases you won’t be able to do this yourself but will need to request your server admin do this for you.

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