Bob Versus Building a Website

Ever wanted to make a website?

Not me. Not really. I mean, it always struck me as instantly boring and unforgivingly tedious. Who cool builds websites? No one. But the idea of having a dedicated platform for your own thoughts, creativity and adventure is fascinating and inspiring! Until you meet html code. Here’s how I went about it.


Today is my 25th Birthday. A quarter of a century on earth. Jesus, how scary is that (for anyone not over 25)? You’re supposed to have done stuff by now.

The average 25 year old male has read 22 books, earns 23k and has had 10 sexual partners. Ha! I’ve read about 5 books, don’t earn that much and am somewhat massively behind on the sexual partner statistic. What have I got show for it?

Memorised Simpsons quotes, holey pants, brief CV of failed romances and… hang about, what’s this? A website? Hello! Yes please. Welcome to my quarter life crisis!

Time for a challenge, I thought and I knew taking on building a website/blog would be difficult but altogether seminal rite of passage for my young self.

I’m perhaps more studious than most with a history of building computers as a teenager (before realising how uncool it is to do that), and so if I found it tricky so might you.

But I wanted to do it and more than that, do a good job… eventually. Right now, as you can see it’s a bit basic. Consider everything you see a WORK IN PROGRESS. So how did I get here?

How can I make my blog different? After seeing that everyone writes either meandering self-indulgent pointless blogs or marketing/advertising blogs it struck me I had to attack this in a new way. Attack? Yes attack. BOBVERSUS.COM, the website where I take on stuff, competing, arguing, duelling to learn, discover and win. I talk about it about more here. Thinking this was a neat and original theme I sat back and had some biscuits and tea to celebrate. This would be an excuse for mischief, to try new experiences, to entertain and educate even! Me, educate?!

Then came research. LOTS of research.

Looking at sites like stumbleupon and digg give you a great idea of what people are after as well as a real sense of internet community.

Blog Carnival is another which I think does a similar thing, but in a more basic notice board style. All three sites provide internet users with the opportunity to vote and promote websites they deem interesting in one way or another. Fun. It is fun! It’s like there’s a party going on. A party which I’m forcing my way into, uninvited, ready to guzzle all the communal booze and snaffle all those frazzles and twiglets. I don’t even like twiglets.

People I Know

Another thing I found were hundreds and thousands of people who have made blogs JUST to tell other people how to make them. How mad is that? That’s like someone learning to milk a cow then proceeding to bring a cow with them where ever they go.

Lauding the poor thing at dinner parties, the park, their work place; just to lecture and spray their friends with milk using their newly found honed technique. Cows. Always the victim. Well, that’s not what I’m doing. OK it is, a bit. But this is just a post not the whole website!

Here Henrik Edberg of The Positivity Blog outlines some vital tips on what you need to create your blogs which I thought was really excellent, ditto this guy Brian Clarke talks about how to open posts well. This fella Darren Rowse at Problogger is highly regarded and makes some good points about making sure you engage blog readers, mainly to ask questions a lot. Am I asking enough questions? Do you feel needed yet? Are we getting on like a house engorged in some horrible fire?

After careful research I decided that to build a website from html is too much of a massive ball ache.

Finding a few publishing sites that do half the work for you, I settled on wordpress which though similar to blogger seemed to allow more customization and had more positive feedback. I’d also used it before when writing articles for footballingworld like my one about poor Scott Sinclair which has had few thousand hits or my first one referring to Claude Makelele having a massive dong. It has some similaries to wikipedia too, so that felt comfy.

Saying that, my old beeb chum Peter Howell’s blogspot built site about his brilliant comic People I Know is a great demonstration of a simple but charming little site, don’t  you reck? Check that reck.

Now to look at the potential website. I surfed around like a pup on a brand new carpet and found some sites which all used WordPress that I really liked. BeSuperCharged is a great example of making things professional with a fat header, whilst I love the sprawling art work of webdesignerwall but my favourite is Red Velvet Art for it’s simple white backgrounds with hand drawn artwork.

Bob’s 5 Steps to Building a Simple Blog with Word Press
1. Search wordpress in google and click ‘get a free blog on’
2. Register and name your blog
3. Add widgets like twitter and plugins like Askimet and google XML sitemap
4. Create pages and categories
5. Write, post and publish!

Next up comes buying the stuff. I went with freeola, which i’m already thinking was a mistake as godaddy offers much more support for thing’s like adsense, which is used to create revenue AKA moolah, AKA wonga. I bought the domain name and signed up to use a SQL database, which simply means I pay for thin air from where my site will run.

Afterwards came picking a theme. I will definitley build my own from scratch using photoshop and there are plenty of guides out there but for the time being, I’ve settled on this after downloading and testing a dozen or so from various different sites. I’m not in love with this one at the moment, so I’ll be changing and chopping around a lot.

So, as you can see, i’ve got various different elements – a twitter updater, categories to show my win/lose/draw outcomes aswell as archives. Thanks to “plugins” offered by wordpress I’m able to put in loads of crafty little items around the site like the ‘give bob a beer’ thing which means you can donate money to me via paypal, OR the google site map – which adds me to the google search engine and SEO which does the same… I think.

Chris Abraham of Abraham and Harrison made this ace but extremely long youtube video about using WordPress which I’ve found dead helpful. If you’re thinking of building a site with word press, defo check this nasal voiced yank out:

From using twitter and really becoming imbedded in this rather intriuging and scarily vast world of blogging I have found it’s crucially all about linking. In a social sense. You link to other blogs, the respectful thing to do is link back.

This can be recorded through ‘trackbacks’ and ‘pingbacks’. Linking creates “traffic” and brings you more and more hits. In terms of social networking Peter Cashmore AKA Mashable sets the benchmark. He has a gigantic following on twitter.

As you can see, his website is pretty standard, but it’s the quality of the posts and craft at which they’re publicised.  He’s said to be one of the most listened to people on the planet. Incredible. Just some bloke. Probably sitting around eating cereal with his laptop, posting links with catchy headlines. That’s his actual job. Sounds easy, is it?

So there’s my aim. At the moment I’ve probably got about 8 people from facebook to bother looking as well as family members. Admittedly, this is perhaps one of less exciting posts I’ll do and getting people to stick will be tricky. But arse – it’s my Birthday.

Coming up, Bob Versus Christmas. You will not want to miss this! It’s a beaut!

I’m in it for the long haul folks so stay tuned. The blogging begins….

So, who wins? Do you think I’ve built a good website? Or is it clearly lacking? Or do you need time to decide? Vote in the poll below!

[polldaddy poll=2498763]

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