Build A Website Using Twitter Widgets

We tend to spend a lot of time on Twitter seeing what’s happening around the Austin area. Unfortunately, it can be pretty time consuming keeping up with relevant tweets.

So what if you could build a website that pulls in tweets based on specific search terms?

Introducing ATXTweets

austin-tweets

Luckily you can and it’s super easy. We managed to build Austin Tweets in a matter of a few hours. Now we have a great tool to see what’s happening in and around Austin.

Here’s how we did it:

1. Install WordPress

The next step is installing WordPress on your domain name. We suggest using WordPress because it kicks ass makes building websites quick, easy, and less troublesome. For more reasons, check out our post: WordPress: Beyond A Blog.

If you need help installing WordPress, feel free to contact us. You can also take a look at Installing WordPress if you prefer to do it yourself.

2. Load A Theme

Once you have WordPress up and running, it’s time to find a theme for your website. Theoretically you could build the site using the default theme, but we recommend using a premium WordPress theme. Why? Not only will you get a better design, but you will also get more flexibility. You’ll want a theme that works well with pages, since we won’t be using any posts for this website.

3. Get Twitter Search Widget(s)

The website we are creating will utilize Twitter’s search widget. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a widget that automatically displays tweets based on specific search terms. You can enter hashtags, keywords, or a combination of the two to find the most relevant tweets.

Here’s a quick screenshot of the Twitter widget setup screen:

twitter-search-widget

As you can see, it’s very basic. You simply fill out the search query, followed by a title and caption. However, we recommend leaving the title and caption fields blank since it works better to add the title on your actual website.

Also, if you use the default settings you will get a widget that looks similar to the one in the screenshot. It would work well for a sidebar of a blog, but not for an actual website. So make sure to click on the appearance tab and set your settings to something like this:

Picture 2

The reason we recommend these settings is so you don’t get any borders around the widget. That way you can fill the content area of your website and make it appear integrated.

You also have to set the dimensions to match the content area of your website. We ended up using 580px by 700px to match the width of our WordPress theme. The height can be anything you wish, but we wanted to keep the page rather short.

If you would like to have different pages on your website that feature different Twitter search results, you’ll have to make a few widgets.

4. Create Pages and Embed Widgets

Now that you’ve created your widget(s), we have to input them into WordPress. The easiest way to do that is by using pages. So start by creating a new page titled whatever you want. Perhaps “what’s happening” or something about tweets.

Once you have the title added, switch over to the HTML view so that you can input the widget code from Twitter. Then it’s as easy as copy and pasting the code in to the page. You should get something like this:

Picture 3

The last thing you have to do is click publish on the page and you’re all set. If you want to use multiple widgets like we did, simply create more pages and embed the code for the widgets.

5. Configure Your WordPress Settings

The only thing left to do is configure a few WordPress options. If you want to have a certain page as your homepage, make sure to configure WordPress to use that page from within the reading options like so:

Picture 4

It’s also a good idea to optimize your permalinks to use keywords instead of page ID’s. For a detailed tutorial on how to do this, check out our post on optimizing permalinks.

All Done!

Now that wasn’t so bad was it? We just walked you through the entire process of building a functional website. Best of all, you don’t have to create any content or manage any posts.

However, we haven’t tried using this on a large scale yet and still haven’t figured out how useful a website like this it. Plus it’s not the best for search engine optimization since the content isn’t on the actual pages.

We’ll see how it works out after the site is up for awhile and we do some promoting.

Posted By: Justin Wright

This post was published by Justin Wright on September 8th, 2009.

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