SelfAssemblySites Relaunch

Hi folks,

You may have noticed that we've recently made all of SelfAssemblySites video training library and bonus downloads available to anyone who signs up for a free account.

Back in 2011 we launched the site with high hopes, but over the next 18 months we failed to achieve the traction we were looking for, and both Al and I eventually moved on to other projects.

Recently I was setting up a new server and decided to see if we could breath some new life into the old site. We had over 100 videos here and neither of us wanted to see them go to waste.

What we've done is remove some of the more powerful but complex systems we were using like our forum software and membership software - we've replaced them with simpler solutions like a private Facebook group and a free WordPress plugin respectively.

While making these changes it also highlighted for me just how much some technology has moved on.

We performed a content audit rating our videos as Evergreen, Note or Warn

Our 100+ videos were recorded 3-4 years ago and the appearance and functionality of some of the featured tools and websites has changed since then. Because of that we've done a content audit of our entire training library.


We show a note like this on 43% of videos

The content audit revealed that 39% of our video content is "evergreen", i.e. needs no update, 43% of the video content "appears dated but no major changes in functionality", and 18% we classified as "out of date, principle or visuals have changed". (Even for these out of date videos, for the most part the general principles involved have not changed, so they're still useful.)


On 18% of videos we show this strong warning

Now that we've done the audit and marked content appropriately, for a limited time we're making everything available to anyone who registers a free account.

Over time we're planning to update the more crucial video content and then put everything behind a paywall for an amount tbd.

If you'd like to guarantee free lifetime access to the content, sign up for a free account now.

Thanks for checking out SelfAssemblySites, I hope you find it useful.

- Alastair.

Fire Phoenix by Sid Raphael on DeviantArt (CC)

How to Build a Website for Free

Done by Dinner Time!

Want to know how you can build a website for free and in no time at all? Well, if you concentrate you can be done by dinner time! Most people can do this method in about 90 mins to 2 hours. You can follow the steps here, or signup for our free QuickStart Guide and be brought through each stage with our easy to follow video tutorials. It's quite a visual thing and most people find it easier to understand the steps and detail on the videos. But it's up to you. Right, let's get going.

Facebook Privacy: Users vs Customers

Tech Crunch recently published 5 Design Tricks Facebook Uses to Affect Your Privacy Decisions, a very enlightening artlicle by Avi Charkham of MyPermissions personal cloud security service.

Do you know how many apps access your personal information on Facebook? Check your Facebook apps permissions and get ready for a surprise.

Click that button! I keep my Facebook activity relatively low. I thought very low, but seemingly not. I thought I'd have four or five apps engaged at most, but no, I've fifteen. Where did they come from, half of them I can't even remember.

In a Nutshell

A Nutshell

In a nutshell Facebook have changed from the old "Allow" or "Don't Allow" warning to a new friendlier and nothing to fear message of "Play Game" or similar app appropriate message. The new buttons really do just completely ignore that there are any concerns or issues at all. As Charkham points out, Facebook still give you an outline of what's going to happen with your permissions but it's in the light grey text under all the action or more specifics are only linked by a tiny questions mark. Tests show we've been trained to completely ignore this whole area anyway and few ever read it.

The psychology of the change is quite intriguing. The old style was binary; make a choice, go or no go with stated risk involved. It's a question of trust, do you trust these people? This turned it into a risk versus reward scenario, do I want what they have enough to risk my information in their hands? Often for me the answer was no. This was obviously a problem for Facebook and those willing to create apps on their platform, you need massive adoption and opt-in rates when you get to that stage. Scaring people away from opting in just wasn't working so they made it lighter and fluffier.

Users vs Customers

WordPress Gallery Plugin Review: NextGen Gallery & 3 Other Plugins

As of this month - August 2012 - the NextGEN Gallery plugin appears to be the best gallery plugin for WordPress. It has an astonishing 5.5 million downloads and over 2,000 positive ratings. But I wanted to discover if there were drawbacks to this impressive plugin and in what situations would other plugins suit users better. So along with NextGEN Gallery I'll be looking at DM Albums and WP J Query Lightbox plugins.

The other two plugins aren't slackers and boast pretty fine download figures too, with over 90,000 and 180,000 respectively. With a wealth of choice on WordPress for gallery plugin options, this blog post and accompanying video will help you get a clearer idea what's important to you as a WordPress user and so what suits your situation.

With lots of plugins available, it makes it hard to choose. Hopefully this will help!

Click to View the Video, click bottom right button to view full screen, or to the left of that to view on Youtube with Chaptering

Clarification: In this post and video we're going to concentrate on gallery plugins that showcase photographs and images. There are a wealth of other plugins which have some overlap, but do slightly or very different functions. For example Thumbnails for Excerpts displays thumbnails of your actual posts to entice people to click on them, similar to WordPress Content Slide which creates fading image slide shows, again of your content. Or Awesome Flickr Gallery which displays your photos on flickr in gallery form on your WordPress site. But for this review we'll exclude those and keep the brief tight, and concentrate on plugins that simply display galleries of images on your website.

Review: Top 3 Facebook Like Button WordPress Plugins

Like (Flickr: owenwbrown)

The WordPress plugins directory yields 443 results when you search for a Facebook Like Button for your website or blog. When there's so many available it's always difficult to know which are good quality, or more to the point, which one best suits your needs. What could be perfect for one user would be completely out of place and of little use to another.

So we're going to examine 3 Facebook Like Button plugins that seemed to come recommended by various other blogs, reports and info around the web, including the ever eminent  Mashable. Very few of these reports or suggestions listed video, so it's hard to get a good idea of how the plugin will look and what are it's features and drawbacks. Hopefully we'll have gone some way to solve that problem.

Click to View the Video, click bottom right button to view full screen, or to the left of that to view on Youtube with Chaptering.

Generating Like Button Code Directly from Facebook

The Big Work & Little Work of Seth Godin

Seth Godin (Flickr: Joi)

The now legendary Seth Godin probably blogs more than any other blogger I know or follow. Sometimes they're the standard blog length of between 400 and 1000 words. But more often than not they're a short few brief sentences, almost like a thought of the day. Most people couldn't get away with one line blog posts. There'd be moans and a huge unsubscribe rate.

But Godin's proven himself time again with books as manifestos for his arena-shaping ideas. When people use the words 'thought-leader' for a field, Seth Godin might be a prime example in the area of modern marketing and work, with paradigm shifts such as The Purple Cow, Lynchpin, Tribes and The Dip to name but a few. We even directly refer to The Dip in our own Website Planning Course, as it's so helpful. He's taken the publishing industry in another experimental direction with the Domino Project.

But always there is his blog. When you blog at his rate you're going to inevitably have hits and misses.

Review: Top 4 Google Maps Plugins

In the video below we look at and review four Google Map WordPress plugins. There are 358 results when you search for a map plugin in the WordPress plugins directory, and that many of anything can be a little daunting in trying to choose the right one for you. As there are so many I've selected several that made a positive impression, but it's likely there are many more perfectly adequate map plugins available.

Click to View the Video, click bottom right button to view full screen, or to the left of that to view on Youtube with Chaptering.


Wp Google Maps

Adding Custom Menu Items

We were asked the question of how to link from the navigation bar to a page that's not on your website. You basically need to create a custom menu item to link out to your intended destination. As long as it has a url, a page address, you can put a link to it on your menu bar.

View the video:

Why you might need to do this:

  • to link directly to your facebook, linkedin or Pinterest profiles
  • to link directly to a highly relevant pdf embedded on someone else's site
  • to save people having to go through several steps to get to the desired link
  • to link to another very relevant site you own
  • the galleries on some themes have a url but will not display as optimally on it's own page

The navigation bar is for your most relevant and important pages and links. If you're deciding if you should put a link on the navigation bar or not, 'less is more',  is usually a good rule of thumb. If it falls neatly under another more relevant category you can always just make it a child page of the more important parent page.


5 Quick Things to Improve Your Blog Posts

This is about readability. Content is king and relevancy is queen, but the easier you make it for people to manoeuvre through your posts the more readers will stick with you and get to all that great content you've created. Often people overlook the simplest of things. They plough ahead with more complex enhancements without first taking care of the easiest steps to implement, those small things that will make the greatest difference for the time you give to your blog posts.

1. Use the More Tag

So simple and yet so many still don't do it. It allows people to scan through your blog roll easily to find articles of interest. If they have to scroll through each entire article many will get fed up and leave. If you give them an opening paragraph or two and maybe an image, it's a teaser and can entice them in. It also just looks neater and more manageable to the eye.

You can change the wording to 'continue reading' or other variations if you prefer. Newspapers and magazines list their articles with a paragraph blurb about them on the content page to whet the browser's appetite. So should you.

Image: Keepcalm-o-matic

2. Add Images

A good image can transform your text into something that bit more approachable. It breaks up what would otherwise be quite dull blocks of text. Regardless of how good your prose might be, an occasional image can make it look more accessible and appealing. Just make sure they are copyright free, you attribute where they came from or you're legally allowed use the images. You can pay a small fee per image at places like iStockPhoto but there are free alternatives.

You can search on Creative Commons on Wikipedia or search on other photo sharing sites such as the free Or click here on Flickr and tick the box for "Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content". It depends on what you're looking for, but there are a wealth of usable images available to you.

3. Put In Plenty of Sub-Headings