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  • How To Find The Right WordPress Theme

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015 by
    How To Find The Right WordPress Theme Having been a blogger for over a decade now, it has been a first-hand experience of how difficult it can be to maintain a WordPress theme to keep up with the latest standards and demands. Sometimes I would find myself switching styles as frequently as every few weeks, but time has taught me an invaluable lesson -- stick to what works for everyone, not just you. A good WordPress theme is one that serves the purpose of the website flawlessly, and the most important thing being the readability and accessibility of the content that you're presenting. In my own experience, sometimes going through a hundred different designs might actually prove to be more rewarding than settling for a single theme you enjoy, since seeing more of what is out there -- gives you an idea of which direction to take.  

    Free or Premium

    The most important decision you're going to make about your WordPress theme is whether you wish for it to be free or premium. The difference in overall design can be pretty staggering. And the biggest advantages premium has over free are:
    • It's easier to switch styles and colors since most premium themes come with multiple styles.
    • Features such as related posts and social buttons are automatically integrated within the theme.
    • An extensive options panel that gives you access to modify the theme to your own liking, without any coding.
    I'm currently a customer over at MH Themes who provide nice and flexible themes for bloggers, magazine owners and small businesses who need a reliable solution to modern web requirements. Before that, I was constantly a user of free themes (even though I do have coding skills), but found that a premium theme can save me a lot of time that could be spent making more content, than trying to optimize the site for it.  

    Personal or Business

    One more thing I have learned to take into consideration is the overall audience of the blog/website that you're building, is it going to be more of a personal blog that talks about your life and all the experiences you're having, or is it going to be on a more business level -- sharing stories and content that everyone can relate to? ipXYV68 On the left side we have an example of a very simple and clean personal blog, no extra images or content, just a list of posts and that's all. While on the right side we have an example of a magazine style blog, which is aimed at a global audience and is powered by all the latest gadgets of the web development world.  

    The Type of Content

    I think this is the one where you will spend most of your time on, to find a theme that resonates with the type of content you want to produce the most. For list posts, roundups and similar content types -- a simple blogging/magazine theme will be just fine, but what about themes that compliment proper and insightful storytelling? Once Upon A Time Then there are websites like BuzzFeed, who focus on both roundups and also polls, quizzes and surveys type of content. Before you settle for a final theme, ask yourself these important questions about your content choices, and whether the theme you're choosing is going to be able to reflect those answers. Amongst other things, look out for complete and total responsive integration (mobile support), make sure that the theme has been updated in the last year or so, that there are no previous security issues that might not have been taken care of, and avoid going for themes from shady and unverified sources, more often than not they're polluted with encoded scripts that will rob you of your rankings and credibility.  
    *****
    Alex Ivanovs is an online entrepreneur who has been writing about technology, business and developer topics for over a decade. He currently manages CodeCondo — an aspiring community for designers and developers.
  • 5 Common Beginner WordPress Mistakes

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015 by
    5 Common Beginner WordPress Mistakes WordPress can be a great framework to build your first website with. However, since it’s a platform that has a relatively low barrier to entry a lot of beginners make the same mistakes. In order to avoid frustration in the early stages of your online career it’s important that you avoid these beginner mistakes. In this post I’ll dive into the five most common WordPress mistakes you’ll want to avoid, so you can have a beautiful functioning site, instead of one that screams amateur.  

    1. Choosing A Poorly Coded Theme

    When you’re trying to find the perfect theme for your website you’ll notice there are thousands of themes to choose from. How do you choose the correct theme? Sometimes you might come across a beautiful theme from an unknown developer that has very little reviews. Even if the theme looks great it’s not recommended to use the theme. If you want to use a free theme it’s recommend to choose one from the WordPress approved list of developers. However, the best course of action is to go with a premium theme. These themes might cost you a little money up front. But, with that cost you’ll also receive dedicated support in case anything goes wrong, and a host of upgraded features not available when using free themes.  

    2. Not Changing The Default Login Information

    When you install WordPress you’ll be able to choose your username and password. The best way to prevent your site from being hacked is to use a strong password and username. Simple passwords, like your pets name, are not good enough. The best passwords are those that use a combination of characters, symbols, and uppercase and lowercase letters. You can use a tool like, Passwords Generator to generate a very strong and complex password.  

    3. Forgetting Basic Page Elements

    When you’re building out your website it’s easy to get carried away with all of the cool things you can do. However, it’s important not to neglect common website features. For instance, every website needs a contact page and an about page. Without these elements there won’t be way for people to learn about what you do, or get in touch with you. Make your site beautiful, but don’t forget the basics.  

    4. Not Changing Your Permalinks

    Your site’s permalinks is the link structure of your URL. The default structure for your WordPress site, is usually something like ‘http://www.yourwebsite.com/?p=21', rather than ‘http://www.yourwebsite.com/first-post'. Luckily, making this change is simple, and it will give your URL’s a more memorable appearance. Once inside your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to Settings>Permalinks. This will open up a window to change your settings. For most websites the fifth option ‘Post name’ will suffice. Check the box, click ‘Save Changes’ and you’re all set.  

    5. Failing To Use A SEO Plugin

    Getting search engine traffic is a crucial aspect of any online business. However, if you’re not optimizing your posts and content properly, you could be missing out on potential traffic. Luckily, there are a lot of plugins that make the process of SEO optimization very simple. All you have to do is install a plugin, such as, Yoast SEO, follow the steps and you’ll be set. WordPress makes it easy to have a beautiful website up and running rather quickly. By avoiding the mistakes above you’ll be able to avoid most beginner pitfalls.
  • The Hottest Web Design Trends Of 2015

    Thursday, June 18, 2015 by
    Startup Stock Photos Now that we’ve made it half way through the year, now is a good time to look at the hottest web design trends of the year so far. The web is a constantly evolving place. By staying on top of the latest trends you can ensure your website will always be up-to-date. In this post we’re going to take a look at the most popular trends of the year and what they mean for your website.  

    1. Focus On Simplicity

    The web is a crowded and noisy place. You can see a lot of sites getting rid of everything that’s non-essential in order to have the cleanest and easiest-to-read site possible. This can include eliminating elements, such as, background images, complex layouts, full-page sliders and much more. Removing these elements not only provides a much more relaxed environment for the reader, but it can improve loading speeds as well.  

    2. All About Scrolling

    If you’ve been browsing the web at all this year, I’m sure you have, then you’ve probably noticed the trend of sites getting longer and longer. This has to do with more fluid scrolling, and the way users actually read across the web. It’s much easier for users to scroll through web pages than it is to click around to find the information they’re looking for. You can see this trend in action on parallax-style pages that have animated effects. It’s much easier to tell a coherent story when the user doesn’t have to click to find out what’s next.  

    3. High-Quality Images

    Those sites that are using images to invoke a feeling in their users are tending to lean towards using very high-quality custom images. Stock images are still being used across some websites, but it’s becoming more of a rarity. By having a unique photo you can ensure you’re never going to run across the same image twice. This will help you to convey to your users how much attention to detail you put into your website, and how this will trickle into your services and offerings.  

    4. Collapsible Menus

    This year we’ve seen the trend of hiding your navigation across your website really start to take hold. These hidden menus only become visible once the user clicks on the icon to display the menu. This design element is in line with keeping your site clean and free of distractions. Hidden menus are very prevalent across responsive websites on smaller screens, only now the transition is taking place across larger screens as well.  

    5. Massive Typography

    There’s been an increasing trend towards placing a larger focus on typography. Now that trend is growing, literally. More websites are using very large font sizes to get their message across. Usually, this is only done with websites that have a very bold message. However, it’s slowly finding its way to website of any style. Who knows if the above trends will be here years from now, but one thing is for certain. They’re here now, and they’re going to be around for at least another year. If you’ve been trying to make your website more timely consider implementing one of the current design features highlighted above.
  • How To Build A Content Strategy That Actually Works

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015 by
    how to build a content strategy Building a content strategy that actually drives traffic to your website doesn’t have to take months to get right. By being strategic about your choices and following some of the advice below you’ll be able to build a custom content strategy geared towards your unique business goals. Simply creating content is no longer enough; you need to engineer a strategy that focuses on generating organic traffic through providing continuous value. The steps below will get you going in the right direction.  

    Nail Down Your Personas

    The only way to create content geared towards your ideal user is to know exactly to whom you’re writing. This information will help you to create a unique persona that resembles an actual person. These personas aren’t real people, but instead characters that resemble an ideal “perfect customer.” This will help you get in the head of your customer and speak to them and their unique needs. Common traits you’ll want to nail down include both demographic and psychographic information.  

    Know Your Search Terms

    By doing proper keyword research you’ll be able to see what your users are actually looking for. You can couple this data with your buyer persona and create content that truly makes an impact. To get started follow the basic steps outlined below:
    1. Make a basic long-tail keyword list: this list includes keywords that you think your users will be looking for, based upon having initial knowledge of your market and your product.
    2. Compare this list to actual data: compare this list to actual search data obtained from Google Keyword Tool, or a similar tool.
    3. Create headlines based upon these ideas: cross-reference your initial keywords with the terms with decent search volume and brainstorm topic ideas with this information.
     

    Get The Style Of Content Right

    A lot of companies use different styles of content to reach different portions of their market. This includes things like, video, blog posts, slideshows, infographics, social media posts, webinars, and even email marketing campaigns. To find out what’s right for your audience use the buyer persona you developed earlier to predict how they’re going to enjoy consuming your content.  

    Test Different Methods and Refine Over Time

    Over time you’ll be able to really nail down the style of content and voice that works best for reaching your audience. In the beginning don’t be afraid to test out different styles of content. However, make sure you track the success of each style of content so you’ll be able to see what’s actually working. The most common form of success tracking is through social media shares, or number of new email subscribers. Both of these metrics show engagement from your audience.  

    Determine A Regular Posting Schedule

    Once you’ve found the style of content your audience loves then you need to deliver on a regular basis. The type of content you’re using will also dictate how frequency you post. For instance, Twitter updates will happen more frequently than a YouTube video. People also engage across different platforms at different times, so take this into account when developing and executing your content schedule. Content marketing doesn’t have to be brain science. Know your customer, experiment, and continue to deliver free content they’re going to love.