The process of creating Site Table of Contents

Yesterday I achieved my massive Site Table of Contents in this post, My Site Table of Contents – I did it! Today, I’m going to share with you how I created it, and the benefits of spending a weekend organising my site.

The Working Process

Below is my process. Some steps may be slightly different from how Lorelle did it.

My URL links to my posts in a plain text

URL links to my posts are in a plain text

      • Step 5: Create a rough list of Categories. Move the above URL links under each category accordingly.

        Move files under categories in my Site Table of Contents

        Move files under categories

      • Step 6: Turn the above links into perfectly formed HTML anchor links with CoLT.
Using CoLT to form html link

Using CoLT to form html link

The outcome of an example of a perfectly formed HTML anchor link will be:

Properly formed html link

perfectly formed html anchor link

It took me a while to even consider attempting the task. Once the technical parts were sorted, the mental activity of sorting the posts under each category was like a game, and it involved drinking many cups of tea.

From the process, I’ve gained both technical and non-technical knowledge.


Try out new things

Be brave to try out new technology — even the programs that you’ve never heard of. Before the exercise, I didn’t know anything about Firefox and CoLT. I was so scared. I thought my computer was going to blow up. The thought of ‘downloading’ programs was scary enough. Now I’ve used both, I’m amazed at their brilliance. I’ve also learnt a few html tags and tried using them logically. The html tags look scary, but once I’ve learnt them, they speed up my organisation process and boost my confidence.

Post titles and post slugs

      • I realised some of my posts had numbers as Permalink, not post title.
        Post title with numbers

        Post slug with numbers

        I’m not sure why WordPress use numbers as Permalink in some of my posts. I think these are re-blogged posts and posts sent via emails.

      • I sometimes use short phrases in my post slug to replace long post titles. While organising my posts on this task, I realised such a short post slug could pose a problem – because I forgot what the original post was from the name of the shorter post slug. For example, I have a post slug ending with Just Tilly, but the post title is actually called How many ways can you view Tilly? and this is a post about using WordPress’s Speaker Deck Slideshows.  This makes me wonder whether a prettier, shorter post slug is a good idea, and whether I should make each blog post title more self explanatory. For example, perhaps I should have changed the post title How many ways can you view Tilly? to Using Speaker Deck Slideshows to enhance your post.


See at a glance

Once my posts had been moved under different categories and sub-categories, I could see at a glance what I had written in the past 15 months. I’m still trying to digest the 195 posts I’ve written, the topics, the depth of my posts, and their relevance. I’ll also try to analyse my strength and weakness in my writing, and the scope of my topics, based on this list.

My Site Table of Contents is not static, and I’ll keep moving the files regularly. I think I’ll go back to some posts (especially earlier posts) to edit them, to link them to my future posts, and polish the language. There are a lot of stylistic issues to deal with too. I’m also considering deleting some old, badly written posts.

Would you delete your old posts if you’re not happy with them?

Lorelle said it brilliantly in Connecting All the Pieces of Your Site Together:

It’s perfectly fine to edit past posts to link to posts in the future of the chronological order, part of the space and time, timey whimey Doctor Who relativity. Intrasite links link to the future as well as the past on all your published posts.

Airing my blog posts  (Image by Glaciertim via Flickr)

Airing my blog posts
(Image by Glaciertim via Flickr)

Where should I go forward from now?

I’m not in a rush to have a ‘perfect’ site, as this site is a process of my learning and it is never going to be perfect. And I love learning from my mistakes, and seek advice and support from this wonderful WordPress community.

I feel like a ‘naked’ blogger, showing all my posts in the Site Table of Contents. And, it definitely feels like airing all my laundry in the public.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

My Related Posts:

My Site Table of Contents – I did it!

10 thoughts on “The process of creating Site Table of Contents

  1. Maxim Sense

    Oh, the technical process you mentioned was confusingly elaborate and I am now as afraid as you were before you tried on anything like it. But when I imagine the result could be amazing, I think it’s worth trying after all. One good thing with me, probably, is I had been using Firefox and quite familiar with most of the add-ons in it. Congratulations for showing bravery here.

    On your question, “Would you delete old posts if you’re not happy with them?” I won’t (I’m sorry), for the following reasons: first, I believe that good editing can make bad posts look good (I don’t mean the content.. that is a given); second, the memory they hold and the thoughts so painstakingly involved in composing them are valuable for whatever they mean to the writer; and third, “bad posts” could be subjective and judgmental and somehow they could be salvaged for others who may have a different way of looking at them.

    Another nice post, Janet.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Thank you for your input. I really appreciate it. I was brave trying out using Firefox with CoLT — without knowing what they were. Since you’ve been using the browser Firefox, you will definitely find the process much easier.

      The challenging and the fun part was categorising the posts. Decision making was not easy. I may still change the categories and move the files around.

      Thank you for your thought on the question of whether I should delete some posts. Perhaps I would go back to them to ‘salvage’ them, re-write them even.

      I agree with you that a blog holds so much memories. It’s a journey. I may not start off writing well, but it was still part of my growing up.

      Thank you for sharing. If you attempt to do a similar list, please share it with us.

      1. Maxim Sense

        Share.. surely, I will. Probably, I will have the courage to do it this weekend, ensha Allah. I am anticipating that I will have to give more time for it. Your courage on this one seems to be quite contagious, LOL. I really envy what you did. Thank you.

  2. Lorelle VanFossen

    Wow, so much to be proud of.

    A few points.

    1. A properly formed link requires a “title” selector (attribute) which is required by law in many countries. You will need to edit the options of CoLT Add-on to add the title to the link format. I’ve shown that in the blog exercise on Speed Blogging with CoLT, I really need to talk to the developer about making that structure the default.

    2. You may delete anything you want. They are your posts and your content and sometimes things need to go. There is memory and then there is inappropriate and basically useless content to you as well as your readers. We all do that. It’s natural. If you have qualms about it, don’t do it. But if it means nothing to you, trash it. Get emotionally attached to the content that most motivates, inspires, and serves your goals. Writers call it “killing your darlings,” the process of letting go of the emotional ties to your content that don’t serve you or the story. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen in love with a word or phrase and let it stay during the editing phase only to regret it later, so kill them early and fast, but don’t give up on the ones that are special.

    3. Good point on changing post titles. It’s a very good idea to make your post titles truly reflect the intention of the article to help everyone know what you are talking about. I tell my students to save their creativity for the content, not the title. Be aware that if you change the title and then change the permalink, while WordPress can often relocate a post, some linkage may be broken. You may change the post title, but be careful changing the post slug.

    4. Writing about WordPress is natural. As is sharing about learning anything. You are enthralled by the process and enjoy the learning, so you are eager to share it. Unfortunately, writing about something you are not an expert in just because you are having fun with it dilutes the SEO value of your content. It’s a hard thing to say, but your enthusiasm dilutes the search for expert WordPress help. People land on your site, don’t quite find the answer, and are left frustrated because they’ve been searching for hours to find an answer to something and they keep running across fans and not the ones who can really help them solve what should be a two minute problem. I’m exaggerating, but I want everyone to think about it from that point.

    In a few months from now, your passion for WordPress and providing WordPress help might wane, leaving these posts in the minority as you pursue your real passion. What then happens to all these posts about WordPress? Will you keep them maintained and updated as WordPress changes and evolves? Will you continue to serve as a supporter and a form of volunteer customer support for WordPress three years from now?

    Switch the word “WordPress” for knitting, stamp collecting, some fad diet, and it will mean the same thing. Share your enthusiasm, but before you start heading down a specific path, test the waters thoroughly and look far into the future. Do you want to be known as the WordPress (or whatever) Queen or the Origami Queen, or an expert on cultural integration and x-pat life?

    I’m really eager to see what you do with all these new insights past the technical. The division of your content really points out your strengths in subject matter. Eager to see how your analysis of all this turns out. It’s looking awesome so far! Thanks.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Hi Lorelle,

      I just felt like being operated on, by an expensive private surgeon! Don’t worry. I can cope with your honest feedback. I took up your challenges and I’ve been waiting for your verdict.

      I may get back to you with more questions. So far, the key question is: Do we have to be a King or Queen of something on our blog? Do we always have to be an Expert on something? Can’t we just, chillax? I understand that you don’t believe people “just blog.” Blog Exercises: What’s the View Through Your Binoculars, but the expertise viewpoint still bothers me.

      I have read enough of your posts to understand your passion about focus, establishing your unique voice, being an expert in a certain field… in writing. You talked about using your blog as a resume, but what if a blogger doesn’t use his blog as a resume, just using it as a platform for writing ‘freely’?

      Many bloggers I know cover many topics, mostly unrelated, including a WordPress challenge, a Postaday challenge, a WordPress photo challenge, 101 challenge …plus their other topics. It’s like having a Chinese fried noodle on a Friday night. The subject matters are not related, but these make people happy and these engage people somehow. They just write. WordPress ask them just write. I took up some challenges before too.

      When I look at my giant list, I can see most topics are related to me — at different points in my life, though origami and Ramadan may not link, but they were the focus at one time.

      If I have to be brutal, to follow one thread of writing, a lot of the posts on this blog will have to go, or to be moved to another blog. Again, managing multiple blogs has its strength and weakness.

      1. Maxim Sense

        And how does one who’s just operated on behave to recuperate fast? Just like how you are doing now. Yes, I not only say it, I also take my hats off. I was often told that after each operation, after the doctor’s advice, the next best doctor is YOU.

        Our blog posts are reflections of who we are, including how we feel about the things around us, at one point in time. Whether they will have to stay or not is a judgment call best influenced by the author’s value attachment, and I think, not exclusivity, or very little of it, if at all.

        I am enjoying and learning a lot of good things here. Thank you.

  3. Lorelle VanFossen

    Back from the conference. Let’s see if I can tackle your questions.

    1. Do we have to be the King or Queen of something on our blogs?

    If you wish to “own” your topic(s), yes. People tell me that they want to just flit around from topic to topic but I find that we are creatures of habit and pattern. In the end, you will find a theme that you specialize in, one that guides you throughout the day, in your thoughts, actions, and adventures. I could say I’m interested in world history, politics, culture, and anthropology, but in truth, it’s the fact that these things touch tea that make them interesting to me. I’m not just about drinking tea, I’m open open to all types of tea, tea ceremonies, the way tea is prepared, how people use tea in their lives, the various products now being made of tea, tea’s influence in history, health, and politics… The theme is there but sometimes it is lost in the clutter of topics around the main topic.

    For you, chillax all you wish but you will always come back to your core subject matter. You can’t help it.

    That is what blogging your passion really means.

    2. Does your blog have to be your resume?

    I use this as a metaphor. Your blog is your resume. Let it speak well of you.

    Many people start blogging, find their passion and their voice, and it takes off. They become “someone.” They develop a fan-base, a community of passionate followers and supporters.

    If someone was going to hire you or choose to work with you, they would use your site to represent yourself and your abilities.

    If you never work again, think of your blog as your reputation builder and keeper. Let the rumors fly where they will, let you be the source of the facts.

    3. What about theme or meme days? Do they define your site or add to it?

    Depends. If you make every Wednesday a WordPress Wednesday, then you make a commitment to your readers that the next three to five years will be WordPress Wednesday – turning you into a journalist rather than a free-for-all blogger. You come to serve WordPress as a daily special every Wednesday, and an expert on WordPress.

    Playing around without a branded day like Wordless Wednesday or Caturday, it’s fun, you participate in a bigger community on the social web, and everyone knows it is fun. They don’t expect you to be a fan-girl loyalist to a brand or be the expert on cats every Saturday. The expectation is different.

    This is a good topic which I will bring up on the Blog Exercises – thanks!

    4. When I look at my giant list of posts, it shows the ebbs and flows of my life not necessary the definition of me.

    There is a difference between sticking only to one subject or letting all the subjects represent you. By “expert” are you thinking about going into the business of being the “Left-handed Ghost Girl” or an expert in being an x-pat? As I look at your tags and all of the posts on your giant list, I see a whole person, not pieces. I see how you have danced around your passion like I explained in my tea example above. It is all you.

    Some posts might go as they don’t serve you, but that’s up to you. Since you started these blog exercises you have become more focused, more determined, and more passionate about what really counts. That’s the most important thing. Not the details. Don’t look too close that details on this, my friend. Look at the big picture.

    In other words, you’ve been doing it right all along. When you felt yourself wander off, you brought yourself back onto your path again. I see it through all of the posts on your site. You are doing it right. Now you are doing right better.

    It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

    It’s an honor. Thank you.

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