How to host your WordPress site on Amazon Web Services

One of our readers asked us a great question on Twitter, “could they host their site on a CDN (Content Delivery Network)?” Our answer: yes and no, a CDN’s main purpose is deliver static content (images, CSS, Javascript, and ZIP files) from the closest geographically based server to a particular user on your website. A traditional WordPress by definition is going to be non-static (unless you’re using WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache).

If you really want the fastest WordPress site out there, putting your WordPress site on Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud platform would probably be the way to go. Now you ask, how do you do that?

We found some good answers (and questions) on this particular WordPress Answers thread from Stack Exchange. Read more…

Our friend at Freelance CTO, John Shiple sent us three other sets of guides:

Before you run out and do this, we think setting up your WordPress site on Amazon Web Services is overkill for 98% of the WordPress users out there. We recommend starting with a fast web host with a toll-free support number, activate the WP Super Cache and Autoptimize plugins, and sign up for WP CDN. We’d be willing to bet good money that’s going to work be plenty fast enough for most WordPress sites.

PadPressed grows up – Raises $1 million

Remember our PadPressed usage update from last week? It’s a good product but we were slightly surprised to hear  through WooTheme’s Adii on Twitter, that they have raised $1 million dollars and have transformed themselves onto a new company called “OnSwipe.” With the new onslaught of tablets coming out this year, they have a solid chance to capture some tablet publishing market-share. There’s also a good article on TechCrunch with more details on the $1 million investment.

It’s encouraging to hear that a company based around the WP platform could raise a decent amount of capital.

Time Saver: use Pixelpipe to push to 100+ networks

How would you like to have the ability to push (simple) content into WordPress, Tumblr, TypePad, etc. with one click? Or how about sending out a status update to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Buzz with a single little click. Check out Pixelpipe.  It’s a free web app service where you can setup all your social network accounts and use one interface to write content and publish it to multiple networks.

One of my favorite features? The ability to send an update through your IM client, just open up an IM window and select their “bot” contact/buddy, then type your message and hit enter. Voilà, done!

Expect a slight delay (1-2 minutes) for your content to show up at each network but ultimately it saves a lot of time doing each one manually. Get it: Pixelpipe

DIY CDN (or load balancing) for WordPress

Here’s sort of a part 2 to our previous “Speed up your WordPress site” post. Admittedly, it’s not quite your own CDN (Content Delivery Network) but the idea is similar: automatically copy data to other virtual server URLs so your page data can load in parallel. How could one do this? There’s a plugin for that – it’s called WP Parallel Loading System. According to the plugin author, your browser will only allow 2 concurrent connections from the same URL on a page. This plugin will off load data to a new URL that you’ve setup and should re-code your pages to automatically pull the content from there.

You’ll need to be versed in your web host company’s control panel (like cPanel or Plesk) to setup virtual sub-domains but other than that it seems pretty straight forward. Theoretically if you have accounts at other web hosting provider, you could have sub-domains setup there too. Anyone tried this and any good (or bad) results?

Get it: WP Parallel Loading System

When Pigs Fly – Microsoft switches its blogging users to WordPress

You know this is not an April Fool’s Joke because we’re in the next to last month of the year. Microsoft has admited defeat in the blogging applications war by switching over users of Windows Live Spaces to the mostly free hosted site. Who would have ever thought that Microsoft with their billions in R&D would be moving their users over to a company (and platform) which has a fraction of their revenues. So now has 900k blog sites versus 400k from last month. Read the article at TechCrunch for the full details.

Innovative uses for WordPress

While most of us love using WordPress as general purpose content management tool or blog, others have adapted for internal communication or as a knowledge base. Let’s take a quick look at three free WP themes that transform it into something a little different.

P2 – “Twitter-lite”
Want something like a private Twitter system for your company or group without the rest of the world seeing your messages? Check out P2, made by the WordPress peeps (Automattic) themselves. You can use this theme to quickly communicate with people on your team about your status or ask questions.

Quality Control – Case Management
The QC theme turns your WP install into a simple ticketing system to create tickets, assign status, and milestones. Use categories and tags to filter tickets. You can use this as a customer facing system for customer service or an internal bug tracking system. The theme seems to be well supported and maintained.

How about a WordPress theme that lets you create a Wikipedia-like encyclopedia? WikiWP has a very similar look to a real Wiki application with a left thin navigation column and main content area. And yes, there’s a commercial WP theme called WordPressWiki, but why not give WikiWP a try first?

WordPress theme of the week: Vision

This week’s theme of the week is Vision sold at ThemeForest. What’s so different about this theme? Well this is the first one we ran across that has a WYSIYG type home page editor. Instead of posts or an admin panel based forms, it shows you a visual representation of the home page from which you click on areas you want to edit.

While the idea is neat, the execution is not polished as it could be. The lightbox-like dialog boxes lack a “save” button, instead you click on “X” to close the windows and hit “Save Options” to publish the changes. Also the default home page visual preview is a little gaudy (see the screnshot), so if you’re going to give your clients access to it, you’ll need to replace the mockup. We’re going to actually use this theme for a client so we’ll give more feedback on this theme in the next few weeks. Get it: Vision theme

WordPress theme/tools Bundle

The concept of “bundles” have been quite popular in the Mac community for the past 2 years, now we’re seeing it in the WordPress world. A website called “AppSumo” is offering $926 worth of WP themes and tools for just $32 (not a typo).  Luckily it’s not just a bunch of no-name companies participating. We have two of favorite WP theme design companies, WooThemes and Graphpaper Press offering at least 2-3 select themes each as part of the package. There’s also a theme designed as an iPad native app called “CoverPad” that actually is acceleraometer aware. I think I’ll spring for this and review it in the next few days. Get it: AppSumo bundle

WordPress consulting is red hot

You know being a WordPress designer or consultant is red hot when you run across a page like this at Wow, $100 bucks an hour sound good? Yikes, the starter package called “Silver” is $550/month for 4 hours of support (2 incidents x 2 hours each). Yes, that includes backups of your themes, plugins, and database but that’s still pricey in my humble opinion. If you really need help quickly, jump up to the “Gold” plan for $1,050/month and you can get a response from them in 9 hours (!). I am curious to see what the market thinks!