WideRange Gallery-based Blogging

February 2018
Blogging without the B
Blogging without the B.

WideRange Galleries websites come equipped with a fully integrated, gallery-based blogging system. Utilizing the blog to post frequent photo journals, trip reports, and/or articles is a fantastic way to add relevant and interesting content to your site, which is important to build a following and keep them coming back to your website. This in turn builds traffic and boosts your website's SEO juice.

The WideRange blog is managed much like all the other galleries in your admin, with one main parent gallery that acts as the main blog page, then its sub-galleries act as the individual “posts”. You can quickly upload or include photos in each gallery post, rearrange the photos, then add text between the photos. This integrated system is much easier and faster to manage than a separate WordPress blog. The WideRange Blog also features standard blogging components including post categories and tags, related posts, commenting, and an RSS feed.

Each gallery post – just like the normal galleries – can have a variety of layouts to choose from, but the most important for the blog is the “Large Photos” gallery format which displays all the photos at full size on a single page interspersed with text, much like a normal blog or article page.

Photos can be inserted or uploaded one by one into the gallery post’s text area, similar to how you’d do it WordPress. Or you can simply upload or include a batch of photos into the gallery, rearrange them, then add additional text in between the photos. These tools enable you to quickly build out a photo journal post much more quickly and efficiently than in WordPress.

How to set up and use the Blog

These screencasts will guide you through the process of setting up and adding blog posts. Note that you can speed up or slow down the playback speed at the bottom right; you can also expand the videos to full screen to see better.

Introduction to the Blogging Platform:

Initial Blog Setup:

Adding Blog Posts:

Polishing some Blog Options:

Why a WideRange Blog?

Like many features of the WideRange Galleries admin software, I developed the WideRange Blog system to address some needs I had in my own photography business. For me it’s important to maintain a blog to share with my followers my latest photos and trip reports. But frankly I have become tired of managing my WordPress blog, with its tedious process of manually inserting each photo one by one using its cumbersome media panel. It would be so much easier to be able to just upload the photos to the WideRange Admin (which I do anyways), rearrange them, add some text, then that’s it! The WideRange Blog does this.

The other problem with managing a photo-based blog in WordPress is that the images are embedded into the code of each post and therefore remain static for that post’s future. So for example when I look at my older WordPress posts the images are smaller, non-responsive, and in some cases out of date compared to newer revisions of the photos. Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of being statically embedded into the posts forever, the images were dynamically included via a database lookup so that they’d always be the latest and fully responsive image versions? The WideRange Blog does this too.

Pros and Cons Compared to WordPress?

For managing photo-heavy blog posts like photo journals or trip reports, the WideRange Blog is certainly my favorite to use – it’s much faster and easier to manage, and the photos are responsive and always up-to-date image versions. WordPress feels clunky and tedious in comparison.

Another advantage of the WideRange Blog system is that each “post” is actually a gallery so you can choose from a variety of gallery formats, just like the normal galleries in the WideRange Admin. So, you can use the “Large Photos” format for a traditional blog post that has photos interspersed with text (or vice versa), or you can have a gallery post that shows a photo thumbnail grid like a normal gallery. This type of gallery thumbnail format is far more difficult to achieve in WordPress, but it’s a breeze with the WideRange Blog.

One other difference you'll notice is that WordPress blogs usually have a scrolling "stream" type of page format where each post (or the first part of a post) is shown one after another going down the page. WideRange blogs, on the other hand, have a tiled thumbnail menu format for the main blog page, which (in my opinion) looks better and more accessible for exploring all of the posts, including older ones (the WordPress stream format tends to leave older posts to gather dust on archived pages).

From a platform perspective, the WideRange Blog is a closed system with no open source plugins like WordPress has. With WordPress you can typically find and install third-party plugins that perform all kinds of special or obscure additional functionalities, which can be very useful in certain cases. However, I will say that many of the commonly used plugins have more to do with optimizing the WordPress system itself (such as improving SEO performance, security, caching, inserting contact forms, preventing comment spam, etc.). Since the WideRange system already offers many of these features already, there’s little need for extra plugins for those types of things.

Also, in WordPress you have to regularly update the core software and plugins to their latest versions in order to ensure that your site is safe from security vulnerabilities; with WideRange there’s none of that hassle.

In short, if the WideRange Blog suits your needs for a basic but efficient photo-centric blogging platform, it is much easier and quicker to manage than WordPress and therefore the superior choice. However, if you have special use cases that require specific plugins to extend functionality, then the WordPress platform would be the necessary solution.

But I already have a WordPress blog! Should I use the WideRange Blog instead?

I and many of my clients already have a WordPress blog alongside the gallery site. So, what to do? Should we use the WideRange Blog instead?

In my case, I’ve had my WordPress blog up for over a decade now, so I’m reluctant to completely shut it down — mainly because over the years I’ve gained a lot of followers who see my latest blog posts in their RSS feeds, so I don’t want to lose that audience. On the other hand, as mentioned above, I enjoy the ease and speed of the WideRange Blog so much that I’ve lost almost all interest in continuing to use WordPress.

Although it took me a while, eventually I decided to retire my WordPress blog and I no longer add new posts there (it's still live as an archive of older posts, though). I use my WideRange Blog 100% now. I have gone back and migrated many of my most important and highly trafficked WordPress posts to my WideRange Blog, then set up redirects to send the WordPress post traffic direct to the corresponding WideRange Blog pages (I use a WP plugin called "Redirection" for this). I also set up an RSS redirect so that all my old WordPress blog feed followers are automatically connected to the new WideRange RSS feed.

Generally speaking if you have a WordPress blog already but haven’t used it very much, or if you have a new gallery site and are considering adding a WordPress blog, I would suggest to try out the WideRange Blog and consider using it instead since it’s so much easier to work with. If you have an established WordPress blog but want to start using the WideRange Blog more, personally I would recommend making the switch like I did, or you could try a hybrid approach where you still post on WordPress but you build your larger photo posts on WideRange and use WordPress to link back and funnel traffic toward the WideRange Blog.

How to get started using the WideRange Blog

Please watch the screencast video above for an introductory overview of the WideRange Blog and how to start using it. Once you start using it, if you notice any design details that you’d like me to adjust on your front-end website please let me know and in most cases I can make those adjustments quickly with minimal fee. And finally, I welcome all your feedback and suggestions for improvement.

I hope you enjoy WideRange logging... I mean, Blogging!

Posted in Features and tagged Blogging.

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