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April 3rd, 2008

PlayStation.Blog – A Closer Look at the WordPress Customizations

In January of 2007 we were asked by the guys over at Voce if we’d like to work on the development of the official PlayStation Blog. We had to check our calendar, but it just so happened that we had a place where we could squeeze the project in.

Customizing WordPress

The PlayStation Blog is a design by Josh that pulls influences directly from the main Sony PlayStation website.

PlayStation.Blog

Customizations on the theme include:

  • The home page pulls in the two most recent posts in their entirety (or until the MORE tag is used) and then the next five entries as headline and excerpt.
  • The PS Blog requires users to have an account in order to comment on posts. The wp-login.php page was completely re-skinned from the traditional WordPress login to match the site.
  • The registration process was customized to include an age gate. In order to comment on the site you must be at least a certain age so we check for that (I can’t tell you what age, then you’ll just cheat the system).

Plugins We Used

The great thing about WordPress and the community behind it is that in most instances if you want to do something, someone has already created a plugin for that. In our case we have quite a few plugins at work on the PS Blog including:

Plugins We Developed

Sometimes you need something and there isn’t a plugin for it. No problem, you develop a plugin to fill that need. What’s really great is when you have a group like the guys at Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) who want to contribute back to the WordPress community and then release these plugins back for others:

  • Image Rotator – Adds the ability to insert a random image rotation panel into a WordPress blog.
  • Author Comment Replies – Gives authors the ability to reply directly to a posted comment. Unlike threaded comments only authors can respond, not all visitors.

Maximizing Performance

No matter the amount of traffic every blog can benefit from a caching plugin such as WP Cache or 1 Blog Cacher. A site like the PlayStation Blog receives a constant high volume of traffic and the difference between using one of these caching plugins and not is incredible.

If you manage your own servers and are running WordPress then a session on performance at last year’s WordCamp is a worthwhile watch. Barry Abrahamson and Matt Mullenweg give great tips on topics such as opcode caching, WP Cache and HyperDB. Watch it, learn it, and increase your blog’s performance.

My WordPress Wish

In my perfect WordPress world, plugin developers will get together with developers of plugins that complement what they’ve created and make them play nice together. This may be happening out there more than I realize, so excuse me if this is, even better, let me know which plugins you’re developing that work together. I only bring this up because of two plugins we use on this blog that just don’t play well together. One would be a recent comments plugin, the other would be the comment paging plugin. I’ve already written an extensive post about this once before, so read more on my frustrations there.

Just the Surface

This really just scratches the surface of customizations on this blog. If there’s something specific that you’d like to know more about let me know and I’ll do my best to answer. I hope to do more in-depth looks at some of our other projects here soon… time permitting.

About the Author
Nick Gernert leads the Platform Services team that's part of Voce Connect and oversees all web development efforts as well as making sure all those efforts are strategically sound. He is on Twitter as @nickgernert.

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Add Your Comment2 Responses to “PlayStation.Blog – A Closer Look at the WordPress Customizations”

Ken Av on May 5th, 2008 at 5:25 pm

I think the soundtrack player is a great idea! I love PS games and think the music is under-exposed. Thanks and good luck with the project!