The Web Development blog was originally created to share ideas, tips, and advice with the Case Western Reserve University Web community and others involved in creating, maintaining or developing content for Web sites and blogs.
When I started this blog, my intention was to use it as customer service tool that would provide how-to resources to the the various Web developers at the university. As the content accumulated this has worked out rather well. Regular readers knew they could peruse the blog in search of answers to many frequently asked questions, and if they couldn't find the answer they could send me the question for consideration in a future entry. This saved time for me in that I didn't have to answer questions one by one, and made it easier for readers to find solutions to many of their Web problems.
At first the blog was a great place to post announcements, policies and procedures and basic tutorials on topics ranging from how to crop images to uploading files with WebDav. Overtime I found it was also a useful way to educate clients so that we could work together more effectively. For example, when discussing a prospective Web site with a potential client I usually direct them to my Planning Your Web site Tutorial. By reading this they can formulate their goals, determine their target audience and put together a rough site outline that we can then use as a guide for planning the site. Before I'd wrote the tutorial it would have taken several meetings to get to that same point in the development process.
As time went by I found I was getting more and more readers from outside the university. In response to their comments and queries I started to write about a broader range of Web related topics, covering everything from coding and graphics to writing, marketing and social media. Writing the blog also helps my learning process. As I research new trends and best practices in the field, I come up with new topics to write about, and the act of writing helps me to process and test the ideas.
Work on the blog also prepared me to create several other sites on the Case blog system including:
When I decided to build http://www.heidicool.com I wanted to create a site that centralized my thoughts on Web development. Since so many of those thoughts are on my blog, I chose to copy the original and post it here. I did this by exporting the entries from the original site (which uses Movable Type) and import it here, where I'm using WordPress. The version featured here at http://www.heidicool.com/blog/ includes all of the original entries from the http://blog.case.edu/webdev/.
I've been using Movable Type for 5 years and have been quite happy with it. But WordPress is very popular (and works quite differently) so I've needed a project that would let me explore it more thoroughly. In the past year I've installed WordPress for 5 other blogs, but only one required a full template redesign. Customizing this blog to match the rest of the site and to include features specific to my needs has given me the opportunity to explore WordPress in far greater detail.
Copying the blog does bring up some marketing issues. The current site already has an established following while the new site may bring in new and different readers. If I try to transition readers from the old to the new location it may take some time to rebuild the subscriber base. If I continue to run both concurrently then I may split the subscriber base, or risk Google thinking I'm trying to cheat the system by posting duplicate content. In the end I want to do whatever works best for my readers, but the experiment should also give me some new marketing insights that I can blog about in future entries.