Have You a Great Way to House Your Blog and E-Learning Samples?

I'm in the process of making over my web approach and could use the advice of anyone who has found a set-up and host they like for both a blog (WordPress, if possible), and their e-learning examples.

My blog is currently hosted by wordpress.com and my e-learning samples are on my own hosted site. Love wordpress.com, but I'd rather self host so my blog/website is under the same domain as all of my e-learning samples. I hate the back-and forth the user experiences going between the blog and the samples.

I just installed wordpress.org and started running a parallel blog on my current host to test it, and it's both ridiculously buggy and slow as molasses - unlike all my other stuff on that site. Support can't seem to figure it out, and I find endless complaints online about self-hosted WordPress sites that are ALL slow as molasses at many different hosting companies.

Have you found a host and set-up that gives you a way to house your e-learning samples online AND gives you a great blog space that's fast and responsive? I'd really appreciate any advice you may have!

80 Replies
Jackie Van Nice

@Elizabeth - I'm with you! There's gold in this post.

What you could do is add it to your Favorites. If you go up to where I started this thread and click on the red heart that says Add to Favorites right under my question, you'll be able to keep it in your own Favorites.

To see your Favorites after you've selected them, look in the upper right of this screen. Just to the left of your picture, you'll see Favorites.

Simon Perkins

+1 Elizabeth. Plenty of valuable resource in here.

Managed to finally complete the main shell of my WP site a couple of weeks ago http://www.e-volv.co.uk/. Took a while to decide on the design/styling as I wanted it to be contemporary (flat UI), responsive, allow for One Page navigation AND be as backwardly compatible with IE as much as possible.

ThemeForest is still the best place for WP themes IMO so I ended up with about 50 on my shortlist. Settled on X in the end, as it really is probably the most powerful/capable/expansive theme available. The support is excellent too. A simple site is possible to knock up pretty quickly if you have only limited WP exposure, but if you have the time to really get stuck in then almost anything is possible. Plenty of other excellent plugins available too, re portfolios, social feeds, contact forms, etc - CodeCanyon is an excellent place for sourcing these,

Now need to add some more portfolio items along with some demos ... and of course commit to blog updates!

Re IE (and older versions of Chrome and FF), I have a custom popup that makes it clear that the site is optimised for newer browsers. The site remains viewable but naturally it won't be anything like as clean as it should be. Soon I'll build a backwardly compatible single page overview, hang it off the back of the site and link to it via the popup.

As for hosting, I chose TSO as they're UK-based, have an excellent WP reputation and provide telephone support etc.

If anyone would like any pointers re WP then I'll do my best to help.

Simon Perkins

Thanks Phil.

I know exactly what you mean as mine took me several weeks longer than expected. I think the trickiest part was brainstorming the design as it's so easy to suddenly stumble across a new site for inspiration and want to change a whole load of stuff. With so many ideas out there, I think it's important to commit to a design that you're happy with, draw a line under it and just build it. Research can sometimes be the easy path to procrastination.

Andrew Winner

I just wanted to jump in and suggest an additional approach to building/hosting a portfolio website.

This afternoon, I built a really basic portfolio website on wordpress.com. Instead of hosting myself, I just uploaded the course files to a public Dropbox folder and pointed to the story.html file. The samples load in a new tab, but they seem to work just fine through the browser with no noticeable performance issues.

Like many people have mentioned, this approach is super-limited in terms of customization (you can't install plugins on a wordpress.com site), but it suits my purposes for the time being and it only took an hour. Something to consider if you need to get something up quickly!

Simon Perkins

BTW, Jackie, I've just noticed from your latest blog post http://www.jackievannice.com/?p=175065182 that you've not set up permalinks for your posts or pages. Another example: your About page is http://www.jackievannice.com/?page_id=175061188 instead of http://www.jackievannice.com/about

Google and humans prefer descriptive permalinks.

Jackie Van Nice

Hi Simon - Yup. Used to have descriptive permalinks rather than the default ones, but had to go to the default. I hate it, too, but it's the way I have to go for the foreseeable future - even though it means loss of SEO and all that.

But believe me, Simon - I appreciate your helpful suggestion and agree with you completely! Thank you so much.

Jackie Van Nice

@Andrew - Congratulations on getting your portfolio site going! I started this thread asking for advice about getting away from having my blog on WP.com and samples on a separate site and going to a WP.org site so my samples could be housed in the same location - so I think you've just taken us full circle.

This week's challenge is about promoting your online portfolio and the first step is to post a link to it. If you'd like to play along and start promoting your new portfolio, you can share it here: http://community.articulate.com/blogs/david/archive/2014/08/08/show-your-elearning-portfolio.aspx

Simon Perkins

Jackie Van Nice said:

Hi Simon - Yup. Used to have descriptive permalinks rather than the default ones, but had to go to the default. I hate it, too, but it's the way I have to go for the foreseeable future - even though it means loss of SEO and all that.

But believe me, Simon - I appreciate your helpful suggestion and agree with you completely! Thank you so much.

Really? What is the cause of that if you don't mind me asking?

Jackie Van Nice

@Andrew - I won't - but if you look at some of this week's challenge entries you'll see that some are even linking to their in-progress portfolio page(s) and using an image capture as a placeholder for each sample until their live sample/link is ready. Not trying to rush you at all - I understand completely how much time all of this takes! - but I didn't want you to feel it had to be 100% perfect or complete before you shared.

Heaven knows we're all just works in progress around here, and sharing that less-than-finished phase can actually help encourage others who are trying to figure all of this out too.

Just a thought - no pressure!

Jeff Kortenbosch

Moving a little off-topic but still within the Wordpress 'theme' are... well themes and plugins.

Luckily I'm hosting a wordpress site without any of the hassle I've just read about. But the functionality of Wordpress is a bit overwhelming to me. Especially when it comes to all those themes and plugins. I want something that is future proof, has it's own unique look and can be extended from general pages to blog, shop, portfolio, commenting and there's a million themes and plugins to choose from.

I know Jackie has got this nice feature in her commenting section that allows me to login with twitter or other social media sites so my avatar appears in the comments. Love it! Want it! But what is it? a plugin? Part of a theme?

And how the heck do people actually get an avatar in Wordpress and in other peoples comments when they are not using such a feature... It's beyond me.

So my main question is: What is your top3 favorite plugins and why?

Simon Perkins

Jackie, I had a play with W3 Total Cache but it messed up a couple of things so I deactivated it. I'll take another look when I have more time.

Other performance options include Gzip Compression, Cloudflare (Content Delivery Network), optimised webspace and image compression.

Re Gzip Compression, you can use a plugin or try the following > edit .htcaccess file (in WP root dir) > add the text as per attached file.

I've not done the above so I would suggest having a look online and/ormaintaining a copy of your .htaccess file (for rolling back. I make my edits locally using Notepad+, then rename the current live file by appending _ORIG from within FileZilla, before finally uploading the revised local file. This way I have a copy of both old and new files on the server - if the new one messes things up, I delete it and then remove the _ORIG from the original, thus making it live again.

Also, WP have some articles on optimisation that are worth looking at.

If I learn anything more I'll post here.