I have lost count of the number of iterations this site has been through since it was started in 1996. During that time, it has undergone several complete redesigns to meet the changing needs of my students and me. For those of you who are wondering, here’s how this website is currently set up.
Professor Benson-Slaughter’s website, along with the remaining websites in the Art of the Firebird network, is hosted (as of November 2013) by A Small Orange. They are my fourth web hosting company. I chose them when it became necessary to switch hosting companies because they have one of the better reputations among hosting companies, plus they are relatively small and WordPress-friendly.
Content Management System
The main infrastructure for this website is the current stable release of WordPress. I started using it for my blog somewhere around 2006, and eventually migrated all of my websites over.
I’ve designed and/or modified a number of WordPress themes, but currently this website is using the Tempera theme from Cryout Creations. I previously used another of their themes, Mantra, but it wasn’t responsive or adaptive, so I found a similar theme of theirs that is responsive and switched.
Of course this site runs with the help of plugins to give me the full functionality I need! The trick is to add features while compromising performance as little as possible. The list changes every so often as a new plugin comes out that either a) does what a current one does, but better, or b) adds a really awesome new functionality. Currently installed and activated we have:
- WordFence replaces several plugins I was using previously to provide multiple levels of security, including antivirus and firewall security.
- GM Block Bots keeps several of the nastiest botnets out of my network.
- Contact Form 7 Honeypot keeps spambots from abusing the contact form without causing problems for real people.
- WP Spam Shield does an excellent job of stopping spam comments.
- Swifty Page Manager provides a way to locate one page or post to edit without going through five? six? pages of listings.
- WordPress MU Domain Mapping maps any blog (or website) on a WordPress installation to another domain. It’s essential because I’m using multiple domain names for my different websites.
- Yoast SEO handles my search engine optimization, as least as much of it as I do.
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP handles, you guessed it, the Google analytics for the sites.
- WP-Optimize is useful for cleaning up a cluttered database on occasion.
- Multisite Enhancements adds features essential when you run multiple web sites on a single WordPress install.
- Cryout Serious Theme Settings allows fine-tuned configuration of the Tempera theme.
- Contact Form 7 makes setting up a contact form super-easy.
- Print Friendly & PDF allows easy printing if needed of just the page content without all the other stuff (critical for students who just MUST have a hard copy of everything).
- Add Shortcodes, Actions, & Filters allows executing of PHP code in pages/posts, which lets me have the rotating LOLCat on the front page.
- ImageInject makes finding Creative Commons-licensed photos for use on the site much easier.
- WP Smush keeps uploaded image sizes reasonable.
- Pinterest RSS Widget lets me share the pins from my Geeky Stuff Pinterest board on this site.
- No Page Comment turns off the comments where I don’t want them, in other words on the Pages.
Maintenance and Upkeep
- Broken Link Checker is not always on because of its overhead, but runs periodically to clean up those pesky broken links.
My Other Sites
Of course, this is not my only web site. That’s why this is a Multisite setup, so that a single WordPress installation can manage everything in one place. This especially comes in handy when plugins or WordPress itself needs an update. Each site uses its own theme and plugins. Themes used on my other sites include Catch Responsive, Leather Diary, & Weaver Extreme. Additional plugins used on various other sites of mine include: