I’m almost done moving this site from Google Sites to WordPress. This post describes some of the some things I’ve learned about WordPress.com.
By default, WordPress.com makes your site look like a blog. I preferred it look like a web site that contains a blog.You can change that in Site Admin under Settings> Reading. The Front Page Displays box determines what people will see when the arrive. By default, that’s your latest blog entry. You can change that to any page you like.
WordPress allows a vary limited set of files to download. My book support files are in R, SAS, SPSS, Stata, sas7bdat, etc. so I zip them up into a single file. Since WordPress.com does not allow you to distribute zip files, I had to put them in my DropBox public folder and link to them from WordPress.com.
You can organize your menus by either parent/child relationships among pages, or by using custom menus. Custom menus have the advantage of allowing all pages to be at the root of your site, keeping nice short URLs like “http://r4stats.com/popularity”. However, many site templates do not support custom menus so you are very constrained in your choice of templates. Using the “popularity” article as an example, I created a page called “Articles” and let it be the parent. So now the URL is “http://r4stats.com/articles/popularity”. That’s too bad since there are old links out there that use the short version. I’ll put notes on them to redirect people. I could use “redirects” but I would prefer people see the links and note the changes. That will address the many links that used “https://sites.google.com/site/r4statistics/” rather than the shorter equivalent, “http:r4stats.com”.
One of the most frustrating problems I saw resulted from WordPress.com not letting you change the URL to the one you wanted. For example, I wanted my Miscellaneous page to have the URL http://r4stats.wordpress.com/misc, but it was insisting on adding a “-2″ to the end of it as in http://r4stats.wordpress.com/misc-2. I looked all over for a page that already used the “misc” link but found none. Then it occurred to me that it might be in the trash. It was. When I deleted it, then it would allow me to reuse the simpler link.
I spent a crazy amount of time trying to figure out how to get my program code examples to display in Courier or any similar monospaced font. I paid the $30 fee to edit my cascading style sheet (CSS) only to find that allowed me to change the whole page to Courier. I finally found that you click the upper-right-most button on the toolbar labeled Show/Hide Kitchen Sink. That made a style menu appear. It contains a style named “Preformatted”, which is monospaced. Tal Galili helpfully pointed me to a wonderful article he had written on how to make R code look nice on WordPress.
So that’s the sum of my lessons so far. On the whole I preferred the web site tool at Google Sites, but I do like having WordPress blogs built right into the site. That makes it easy to hook the blogs into R-Bloggers.com and PROC-X.com.