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Source: Adriano Gasparri

Source: Adriano Gasparri

One of the greatest design benefits of using WordPress is how easy it can be to change themes completely. If you don’t know what I mean by that, consider a time when you’ve gone to a WordPress blog you frequent and noticed a significant change in the appearance or way the site works. A theme is basically the design and layout of the site or blog you’ve been following.

There are thousands of free customizable themes for WordPress available, and even more if you are willing to pay for a professional looking skin, and WP is built for these to be almost interchangeable – almost being the operative word.

When you’ve been running a blog through WP for a while, you accumulate a number of widgets and scripts that are used to improve the performance of your site as a whole. They can run from widgets used for tracking and ads to RSS feeds and an assortment of other additions you’ve made to your blog after you chose the theme you are working to replace or change.

When you change themes, it isn’t uncommon for the new themes to run into problems displaying or running these widgets you’ve built int your site. The standard WP widgets like Archives and Pages are almost always safe, but any special scripts for fighting spam, editing sidebars, and anything else that doesn’t come standard can become break down, bogging down or derailing your site.

OnextraPixel writer Jay Adrianna created a list of 15 things designers or site owners need to do when undertaking a change of themes. If you follow every step, all of your widgets, scripts, and plug-ins will remain safe and sound, and you’re new look will be flawless.

 

Source: Adriano Gasparri

Source: Adriano Gasparri

Spam is a pain in the butt, but we bloggers have to deal with it on a daily basis. WordPress is as bad about spam as any other CMS, but there are a variety of options to help weed out the spammy nuisance. The most popular plug-in is Akismet, which most WordPress bloggers already take advantage of, but it doesn’t do near as much as most of us would like.

Instead of relying on Akismet, it is best to have a multifaceted defense that helps keep spam of all sorts out of the picture. Cats Who Code recently shared a list of snippets and “hacks” all aimed specifically at erasing spam management from your WordPress responsibilities. I’m sharing the different ways you can deal with the spam issue that have been highlighted in their article, but if you want the code for a specific solution, they are all available on their blog.

One method involves targeting any and all comments with extra long urls. If you haven’t noticed, most spam comments come with super long urls, which make them easy targets once you know what you’re looking for. But, there is a code you can paste into your functions.php file that marks any comment with a url over 50 characters as spam.

Similarly, you may also notice that most legitimate commenters are perfectly happy to not include any url at all. They are there to join the conversation, not sell their own site after all. This means you can fight spam simply by removing the url field from your comment form. Some commenters won’t be too excited about the change, as it is nice to get an added boost to your site simply by sharing your expertise on other blogs, but most won’t be too hurt by the decision.

Spammers are very predictable, and the most common trick they use is targeting specific keywords. As such, creating a keyword blacklist that uses the most frequently targeted keywords for spam will allow you to mark any comments using a mess of the target keywords as spam. It is a more focused approach than those above, but it can also affect commenters who just happen to use important keywords in their responses.

You have many more options when it comes to fighting spam, but it is best to take a look at the spam you’ve already been dealing with, so that you will know exactly what you’re dealing with before you start blocking tons of comments for every spammy tactic. You don’t want to accidentally weed out legitimate commenters while you’re on your anti-spam war path.

WordPress has gone from a simple blogging platform into one of the most popular tools for sharing a variety of different web content. We use it, and chances are so do many other websites and blogs you visit. Whole sites can be run with the platform, but WordPress’ heart will always be with blogging.

With the huge rise in popularity, and extensive fleshing out of WordPress, the bar has been risen in regards to what visitors demand of a blog’s look and layout. Ugly layouts diminish credibility in the eye’s of the viewer, plus no one wants to stay on a blog long enough to read even the best content if it hurts their eyes or sense of taste. If you are new to blogging, but want to get your page up to the level visitors desire, Jo Stevenson offers a few tips for how to get the jump on WordPress blogging.

One of the key moments in establishing how well your blog will look comes with choosing a template. Pretty much no one builds their blog from the ground up. There is a whole community out there dedicated to creating and sharing templates, often for free, and unless you have been coding for years, this will be almost any blogger’s first stop. The trick is finding one that suits the content and focus of your blog. News or politics blogs should look formal and authoritative, while cooking blogs might be a lively green or warm red palette with welcoming fonts.

Once you have a template, it is time to begin refining the structure of your blog. Directing the reader’s eye where you want it to go is essential in keeping their interest, and if the wrong thing dominates the screen, the reader may not be able to find the content you want them to see. Stevenson suggests video-heavy blogs would likely benefit from single column formats, while text-laden blogs would likely benefit from giving the copy room to breathe with a two or three column layout.

Most important for making a blog with a look that fits it perfectly is to learn to code, even if you just learn a little bit. Just a small amount of HTML and CSS knowledge will help you customize a template to make it your own, and eventually you may learn enough to design an entire site from scratch.

WordPress is easily one of the most popular content management systems available, especially for internet marketers and SEOs. It is easy to use and insanely flexible for a CMS, but it has become the most used by SEOs for the number of tools you can use within the site, and how easy it is to optimize web pages.

WordPress doesn’t just work well with quick and easy optimization techniques though. It is so flexible you can implement almost any more advanced optimization techniques you could want.

Ilan Nass at Search Engine Journal notes three of the more overlooked SEO tweaks you can do with WordPress, and teaches you how to do them in his article. If you want your blog or web page to be as optimized as possible, make sure you are doing these techniques.

 

We all use different ways to identify ourselves online. Most use their websites or social media pages. The problem is, once you go outside of your own domains and comment on blogs or forums, you become, for all intents and purposes, anonymous. Not so if you use a Gravatar, or ‘Globally Recognized Avatar’.

What is a Gravatar?

A Gravatar allows you to make a sort of ‘brand’ image of yourself by concisely providing a visual summation of the identity and personality of your choice.

The trick is choosing one that works best for your business, whether it is a standard head and shoulders photograph of you or your brand or product’s logo.

Everyone knows that blogs and forums are some of the most useful resources one can have to keep in touch with the trends and technical issues of their industry or areas of interest. What many may also realize is the comments sections on these posts are sometimes even more useful than reading the articles.

If you take a moment to look at comments sections, there are usually three different types of commenters.

  1. Spammers – The posters who leave generic comments that are often irrelevant.
  2. The Interested – Posters who appear to have a genuine interest in the subject, but are not usually very informed.
  3. The “Experts” – The people who post relevant and informative comments.

You will notice the Experts almost always have a Gravatar next to their names.

How Do I Create a Gravatar?

Creating a gravatar is as quick as it is easy and free. If you have a WordPress account, it’s as simple as logging in to Gravatar.com. If you don’t have a WordPress account, you can just associate your Gravatar with your email address.

After that, all there is to do is set up a profile with a suitable image and a few personal or business details. You can even add links to existing blogs, websites and social media pages.

Now, anywhere you comment, you will have your Gravatar next to it.

What Are The Benefits of Gravatars?

If you participate in comments sections frequently, you will begin to be recognized by others in the industry. This is why it is essential to have a professional looking image. This will help raise awareness of all of your pages, as well as their reputations inside the area of interest.

Considering it takes almost no time, and Gravatar doesn’t send you waves of spam e-mail, there’s really no reason not to sign up. You’ll be surprised by just how much your Gravatar does for you.

 

If you need more persuading to check out Gravatar, check out Alistair Harris’ article at ClickThrough.

When it comes to web design, one of the biggest issues is figuring out how to maintain a web site after it’s been completed.  The resolution to this issue is usually what’s called a CMS (content management system).  The trick is finding one that will work and is easy to update with.

When we’ve done Tulsa website design in the past, we’ve tried different approaches to the CMS.  But it’s come down to using one that’s very solid and many people are already familiar with.  And that is WordPress.

WordPress comes with standard templates (known as themes in WordPress) and such, although for web design you’ll want to create your own.  Creating a customized template is much like creating a custom website design, just within the WordPress framework.

The results can be quite good.  We have a Tulsa roofing client that we built their site with WordPress.  They were thrilled that when we were finished they were able to make changes on their own (without needing to call us for help) with this CMS.  It made things easier for both us and them.  It was a little extra work at the beginning for us, but in the end it saved a lot of extra work for us and money for them.

The benefits are several:

  • Lots of plugins to choose from that make putting cool add-ons easier
  • Very easy to edit content, good for both the designer and client
  • Easy visibility from the search engines (Google loves WordPress)
  • Adding or removing pages is quick
  • Editing is done all online, no need to mess with FTP shenanigans and such

There are a couple of bad things, though:

  • There’s no real “dev” area you can easily put together that I’ve found, aside from not linking to all your pages until you’re live
  • WordPress does need to be updated regularly to keep on top of security issues and such
  • Sometimes WordPress can have technical problems that aren’t always easy to solve

If these bad things are worth the risk to you, then using WordPress for website design might be worth trying out, especially if you’re trying to find a good CMS to use.