Today I’m happy to usher in a new post series on WPCandy called Behind the Site. It’s not much of a series right now since we’re at post number one, but we’ll get there.
Behind the Site is a series for sharing more about the inner workings of a WordPress site, almost the way you would an interview with a person. We want to get to know the site, find out what makes it tick, and see how we might emulate what it does. If our WordPress Workspaces series offers a bit of insight into the workspaces WordPress professionals work in, Behind the Site should offer some insight into what those professionals have built.
As I did to open up the WordPress Workspaces series, I’ll be offering up a site of my own for Behind the Site’s first round: this one. We’ll look at what makes up WPCandy, what drives it, and hopefully touch on what makes it a unique site.
WPCandy is likely not a brand new site to many of you—at least I hope not! For the handful of you that it might be, though, we’ll run through it quick.
WPCandy is an entirely unofficial WordPress news and community site. We post quite a bit. We host discussions with some of the smartest people in the WordPress community. We podcast and broadcast and stream. We maintain a directory of WordPress professionals. We interview some of those same professionals.
WPCandy does many things, with more to come. We’re also entirely funded by our community to do more awesome things, so don’t forget about that.
Plugins on WPCandy
I’ll be the first to say we have a fair bunch of plugins running on WPCandy, though many of them are very small plugins. For that reason I’m going to split them up into a few lists, to show their various purposes.
First we have the plugins that either tweak or slightly augment the WordPress Dashboard. These are the plugins I’m most likely to have active on nearly all of my WordPress sites, actually:
- After the Deadline – This one’s likely not used often enough.
- All in One Favicon – I use this to add our favicon to the WordPress Dashboard, and to tweak the active favicon real easily.
- Dashboard: Scheduled Posts – When I do schedule posts, this is a handy Dashboard overview. See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- Dashboard Forum Activity – This one I created not long ago to get a bird’s eye view of activity in the WPCandy forums. If you use bbPress you might find it useful too.
- Expandable Dashboard Recent Comments – I prefer to see all of my recent comments in full from the Dashboard home, rather than heading over to the comment screen every time someone leaves a long one. See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- HTML in Category Descriptions – This one’s a stopgap until we relate a couple of our taxonomies with a new custom post type I’m working on.
- Login LockDown – This one adds a level of security that I like. See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- Login Logo – Adds our logo to the WordPress login screen. See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- Menu Humility – Simply puts plugin menus in their place.
- No Self Pings – We link to ourselves a lot.
- Search Meter – I only started using this one after trying it out on The Daily Plugin. It’s a handy way to view search activity from the Dashboard.
- TentBlogger Add RSS Footer – Started using this one to combat (somewhat) all of the blogs that regularly republish our content.
- Unfiltered MU – Takes the limit off of admins.
- Widget Logic – See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- Widgets Reloaded – See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- WordTwit Pro – This is a super handy way to tweet out posts when they’re published, as well as additional times throughout that day.
- WPCandy Dashboard Feed – How could I not have WPCandy’s own plugin running? See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
Next are the plugins that are intimately tied to site content in one form or another. If these plugins went away it would pretty drastically change what you see in posts on WPCandy.
- Akismet – Duh.
- Audio Player – I like this audio player for our podcast and audio only interviews on the site.
- bbPress – The recent plugin version, of course, for the WPCandy forum.
- Blackbird Pie – See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- Blubrry PowerPress – This plugin powers our podcasting, and works well enough.
- Live Blogging – Each liveblog that we run is done via this plugin.
- Polldaddy Polls & Ratings – Every now and then we embed a poll into a post, and this plugin makes that easy.
- Post Revision Display – See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- Redirection – A few odd redirects that have stuck around since older versions of the site.
- Simply Exclude – Allows the removal of certain posts from our RSS feeds, which can be useful.
- SlideShare – Makes adding SlideShare presentations to posts easy.
- Tabbed Widgets – Used in the sidebar to show off a few ways to follow WPCandy.
- VideoPress – Makes embedding VideoPress videos easy.
- Viper’s Video Quicktags – For a few odd video services, this makes embedding them simple.
- WP-OGP – Makes WPCandy look prettier when shared on Facebook. See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- WP-Table Reloaded – It’s my preferred method for managing tables within WordPress. See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
I should also mention our Pros section, of course, and how that is built. It really deserves its own post or two to detail its creation (that will come soon), but these are the plugins that are required for the Pros section of the site:
- Gravity Forms – This runs every form on the site, highly recommended.
- Gravity Forms + Custom Post Types – Unofficial add-on that allows custom post types and taxonomies to be linked to a created post via a submitted form.
- Gravity Forms PayPal Add-On – Official add-on from rocketgenius that links up a form to PayPal.
- Gravity Forms User Registration Add-On – Another official one that creates users from a form.
- Members – See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
Finally we have a handful of what I consider community-focused plugins. These are active to improve the WPCandy user experience and to make it a better place to be.
- Breadcrumb NavXT – See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- Comment Form Quicktags – See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- Comment Rating – See it featured on The Daily Plugin.
- FeedBurner FeedSmith – Redirects our various RSS feeds to FeedBurner for tracking.
- Subscribe to Comments – It notifies commenters by email when followup comments are added.
- WP-PageNavi – Makes the post and page navigation more full featured.
There’s also a short list that I would label “performance”:
- VaultPress – VaultPress backs up WPCandy, and I’ve been pretty happy with it.
- W3 Total Cache – There are a few caching plugins ou there, but I’ve landed on W3 Total Cache for now.
I should also mention that there’s the WPCandy Functionality plugin, which holds a number of functions necessary to the WPCandy theme. To better understand what is in our functionality plugin, see my earlier post on the topic.
So that’s what we have running on WPCandy.
The WPCandy theme
There was a period of time where I became pretty invested in the parent/child approach to theme development. Heck, I presented on the topic once.
But since that time I’ve come to differentiate, for myself, between developing child themes for primary themes, and developing them for subsidiary themes. The difference is worth getting into in more detail, but in short: my site’s primary theme should be a standalone theme, from which children could be created.
That distinction has affected my decisions regarding theme frameworks since then. There are plenty of solid theme frameworks out there; nearly too many to even count and label. I ended up choosing Ptah Dunbar’s WP Framework for this site because his theme philosophies seemed to line up with my own.
The theme itself exists for the display and styling of content, as it should, so there’s not too much else to say about this site’s theme. It can be changed in the future without any concern for loss of functionality due to my judicious use of plugins.
Traffic on WPCandy
WPCandy can still be considered a small to medium site; only a few months ago the site crossed 100,000 uniques in a month for the first time. I try to stay pretty open regarding site traffic via our In Review posts, but it’s easy to fall behind on them too.
About nine months ago, in late 2010, I moved the site to a virtual private server (it first launched on shared) and have been pretty happy with that so far.
Be featured on “Behind the Site”
Your site doesn’t have to be big (ours isn’t enormous) to deserve a feature in our Behind the Site series. If you have a WordPress site with an interesting story, using a clever mix of plugins and a theme to pull off its beauty, let us know and it just might be the next site we take a peak behind.
In the meantime, what do you think? Did you find this look behind WPCandy.com to be an interesting one?