Help Me Organize my Blog?

I need some help making my site easier to use, and I hope you have some ideas that will help.

You may have noticed that there have been a lot of changes to UltimatePaperMache.com lately. It started when I changed the theme to spruce things up a bit. Now I’m going through every single post on this site to add featured images. (The old theme used “post images” instead of “featured images,” and for reasons known only to computer programmers, that meant all the initial images on every post disappeared. Now I’m trying to put them all back. With over 300 posts, you would not believe how long it’s taking!)

But enough whining. The important thing is that the category system I set up, way back when, really doesn’t help much when it comes to finding specific tutorials. It is a little better than when the blog first started – in the beginning, the only category was “cheap art.” Then I just started adding categories, and sticking things here and there on whim . . .

For instance, while taking care of the image problem, I’ve noticed that there are posts on the site that I totally forgot about, even though I wrote most of them myself. I actually made a shrunken head? Why? And how could I forget? And, more importantly, if someone were looking for slightly weird Halloween projects, but didn’t type “shrunken head” into the search bar, how would they know it was there? (OK, maybe in that case it doesn’t matter – but there are really cool posts that are getting totally lost).

So, if you have half a minute, please put your cursor over the Paper Mache Projects (and other stuff) link at the top of the blog. You’ll see a long list of categories, but you’ll probably notice they aren’t very helpful. If you can think of a better way to more precisely organize the various categories of tutorials and posts on the site, please let me know. Should posts be organized by project type (animals, masks, misc.) or by season (Halloween comes to mind). Easy, medium, difficult? Traditional paper strips and paste, paper mache clay, air dry clay, other? What do you think? Ideas, anyone?

I’ve actually thought of some more things I’d like you to help me with, but let’s keep it simple and just tackle one problem at a time. . . 🙂

 

 

20 thoughts on “Help Me Organize my Blog?”

  1. Me again! 🙂

    So, this doesn’t have to do with your menus but I noticed your Daily Sculptor page and how you are currently using a post for community posts and uploads. This could also be streamlined for you if you use a forum.

    This free plugin has had great reviews and is actually made by the creators of WordPress:
    http://bbpress.org/

    Agin, I am more than happy to help with setup. it is the least I can do in thanks for all the great content you post! :0)

    • Hi Emily. I did try a forum several years ago, and it didn’t work well. Most of my readers seem to prefer the blog, for some reason, although I know forums do have some great features. We also ended up with a lot of spam, but that was probably because I didn’t know how to set it up correctly. anyway, I think I’ll keep it simpler, for now. Thanks for your offer to help!

  2. Hi Jonni!

    You mentioned wanting to add a an “empty menu item” for sub categories in your menu. I think you would need a nested dropdown menu for this and it will need to be responsive since your site is mobile friendly now.

    I wasn’t able to find a responsive free plugin in the WordPress plugins site.

    BUT I found two great plugins that are under $20 that could really help here. If you do decide to purchase that price also includes customer support. Here they are:

    #1 – http://codecanyon.net/item/ubermenu-wordpress-mega-menu-plugin/154703?ref=sevenspark&utm_source=wpmegamenu_organic&utm_medium=demo&utm_content=default&utm_campaign=demo

    #2 – http://codecanyon.net/item/kodda-responsive-wordpress-mega-menu-/4718440

    I could also help as I do this for my day job 😉 All the best!

    • I actually figured that one out already. I’m rather proud of myself, in fact. Try the menu links at the top of the page, and you’ll see they’re working just fine. What would we do without Google? 😉

  3. Jonni, I went to sleep last night with your question hovering around the edges of my thoughts (where it has been for a day or two) and woke up eager to compose a reply.

    If you create a gallery, or several galleries, that make sense to you (monthly, annual, animal, large, guest — whatever works for you) and link each image to its specific post, then whatever system you use to organize your posts, the galleries can be the complete repository of all of the work present on the site.

    What do you think? Or have you thought of that already and disposed of the notion for a thoroughly logical reason? If so, please let me know — I have several places where that application solves the same issue for me.

    • Hi Lynn. I’m not quite sure what you mean, but there are thousands of image on the site. I’m not sure that would work for me. I have made some big changes to the organization on the site in the last month or so, and it seems to be working ok so far. I did have to remove the FAQ page I put up, since it was only getting spam, but other than that it seems to be OK>

  4. Yes Jonni,
    I think that article sounds like good advice and the direction to go. I also followed the trail to this related article which was helpful too: https://managewp.com/how-to-tag-effectively
    I like the idea of thinking of categories as a “table of contents” and the tags as an “index”. The trick is working out what to use as a cat, and what as a tag. But the articles imply some overlap is OK.
    I think your current categories on the main menu seem pretty well right. They work like a TOC for me. Rather than expanding categories to other things like seasons, level of difficulty etc, I would use tags for this on each post.
    For example, the Santa post from last year could be filed in the “PM Faces and figures” category, and also tagged with words like “Christmas” or “Holidays”, aswell as “clay” and “easy”. That way it can be classified in a main category but still indexed and discovered by other means. I wondered if you should also have tags for “projects” and “video” but as most posts include these I think they could be redundant.
    It still involves a bit of work to maintain tags and to retag old posts if necessary, but this strategy seems to tackle the problem of a long list of overlapping categories. If the articles are correct, it enhances searchability by search engines also.

    • Hi Rob – Thanks for checking back. I did go through every post on the site yesterday, assigning them the new categories and giving all of them new tags. The tag cloud is at the bottom of the sidebar, if you’d like to check it out. And, of course, every word in every post is searchable, so if someone is interested in “cougar” or “dog” or “tree,” they can find those posts most easily with the search bar at the top.

      What I wasn’t quite sure about was how many tags to use. I’ll read that article you linked to, and see if I need to expand the list.

      Since the number of categories was greatly reduced, and posts no longer sit in more than one category, (usually) I was also able to rearrange the main section of the home page so people can actually see the kinds of posts inside the categories, before they click around – although clicking around is fun, too . . .

      Thanks for all your help!

  5. OK – I’ve been working all day, and I think things have improved. I’m hoping the new menu bar at the top, the new categories, and the new tags will help people find the tutorials they’re looking for. If you can think of anything I should have done, but forgot to do, please let me know. And thank you, everyone who took time out from these last few days of summer to help me get myself organized a little better! 😉

  6. My 2 cents- The current setup is quite followable. I would go more by project types(animals, masks, etc.) than to separate them by types of clay or season.
    One difference I noticed on the new format is that when you type something in the search bar, it takes you out to google. Before, you could type in something and you would get all the areas on your site where it was mentioned. I liked that feature. I just tried typing in “pantalone mask” and it took me to google sites. I wanted to see if I could get to your tutorial on the masks that way instead of finding it in the header. The old format was more user friendly in that way. I don’t know if you have any control over that though. Otherwise, I think you are being hard on yourself- your categories do make sense as is.

    • Thanks, Eileen. As for the search function, it’s a service provided by Google (and I’ve used this service for several years now). The results at the top of the page are ads from Google, and below that are the results from this site. The ads have a light yellow background. Just scroll down below the ads and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

  7. Nerd-alert: excuse the somewhat analytical data comment that follows…

    I have some experience with this sort of thing at work – in particular changing a hotch-potch of resource files from a historic hierarchical folder system (that noone could find anything in) into a “flatter and wider structure” where each file (or blog post in this case) is effectively in one big folder but each file/post is “tagged” with meaningful metadata.
    From your description above it seems that metadata “categories” with valid values could work here. Now I’ve no experience doing this on a blog but I understand that blogs are often set up this very way.

    I’ll explain and this is the nerdy bit…
    Using your ideas above, each post could require a value for the following metadata categories (in CAPS) and possible values:
    OBJECT – animals, masks, people, …
    SEASON- Halloween, Christmas, …
    LEVEL – easy, medium, difficult
    METHOD – strips and paste, pm clay, air dry clay, etc…
    ARTIST – guest, Jonni
    SUBJECT – tutorial, books, non-mache meanderings

    The categories and values need to be set up when setting up the system, so they need a bit of thought to allow for the future. My fields and values are just an idea, some of these like ‘artist’ might be considered redundant since you, Jonni, do the posts but I thought this could help specifically ‘tag’ the guest posts.
    Once done, then it is fairly straightforward to search for things by single or combo tags; for eg you might search for guest posts, or guest posts about animals that are easy and involve animals. Well, you get the idea.
    If this idea has legs I’m hoping someone else can maybe pick up this thread and provide more specific info as to how to set this up for a blog as I clearly dont have this knowledge. Whatever system you devise needs to be flexible enough to allow for new fields to be added as they arise and maybe even new categories in the future. I think you’d need a system that allowed for optional fields too, ie: no value if the category simply didnt apply.

    Hope that’s of some value. And btw, I’m loving the new look site. It looks and works great on the iPad and desktop!

    • Hi Rob. Yes, I can see that this would be really helpful, and I really appreciate the time you put in to your suggestions. The blog structure allows each post to have one or more categories assigned to it, and to be “tagged” as well. I have assigned tags to a few of the posts, but only in a rather random way. If you click on the term “tags” in the strip right under the images of my books, on the right-hand sidebar, you’ll see what I mean.

      I really do like your ideas, but I’m still not quite sure how to implement it. If I assign too many categories to each post, all the posts end up in almost every list, which isn’t very helpful. If I go back and more carefully assign tags to the posts, but keep the category system really simple, that could work. I’ll keep thinking about it. . .

  8. Hi Jonni, I probably won’t be much help as far as organizing goes – I’m STILL trying to just get me workspace organized so everything is not all over my dining room table! But I just HAD to let you know how happy I am that someone else doesn’t remember stuff she’s done in the past! I find stuff on my computer all the time that I saved for a great idea to try and have forgotten all about it!! I just LOVE getting older! 😛
    Good luck with the organizing – it must be a huge job! Thank you so much for all you do to keep us all updated and informed! I just love your work!

  9. Jonni, here are my thoughts:
    1. I don’t think you need to include the words “paper mache” in each subcategory. I have come to your blog for paper mache so it seems a little redundant.
    2. I think you should keep it simple so that it is user friendly, don’t over think it. Every reader should be able to get to their project with only 3 links. For example, your category “Paper Mache Projects and Other Stuff” is a little confusing. Have you considered major categories like “Gallery”, “Challenges”, “Guest Posts”, “Publications”, “Videos” and “Projects” with subcategories? For example under “Projects” a reader would find:
    a. Sculpture
    i. Air dry clay
    ii. Paper Strips
    iii. Armatures
    iv. Concrete
    b. Animals
    c. Children’s Projects
    d. Holidays
    i. Halloween
    ii. Christmas
    e. Masks
    f. Humans
    g. Tips & Suggestions
    3. Additional examples of major categories with subcategories:
    a. Publications
    i. Make Animal Sculptures
    ii. Make Masks
    iii. Make Adorable Baby Animal Dolls
    iv. Color and Learn Book
    b. Videos
    i. Animals
    ii. Masks
    iii. Wall Sculpture
    iv. Human
    4. I think each project may have a rating from Beginner to Advanced which could be added to the text of the blog. The rating could be keywords that may be searched.
    I hope this helps and is clear. I enjoy your blog and videos very much. I have made projects with my grandchildren which has enabled us to make great memories. Thanks so much for your diligence in keeping your blog and videos going.

    • Excellent suggestions, Heather. You and Rob think very much alike. The hierarchy of categories is a great idea – now I have to figure out how to make the technology work. If you notice when you mouse over the menu bar at the very top, the “paper mache projects and other stuff” is a category of it’s own, which will bring up a list of posts if you click it. But all the items in the dropdown box below it are also categories. It doesn’t seem to be possible to make an “empty” menu item that only shows the separate subcategories below it. That would work really nice, but I don’t know how to do it. Anyone?

      • Oh – and I forgot to address your first suggestion, about leaving the “paper mache” off the categories. I added that for Google and Bing, so the computer programs would know what the blog is about. I’m not sure it’s needed, and it would certainly save space if I left it off – but I’d hate to lose traffic while experimenting. Any SEO experts out there who know whether it would matter or not?

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