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Archive for July, 2007

WordPress Theme: Duct Tape Business Blog 2

Over on Duct Tape Marketing, a blog I read pretty much every day, a new WordPress theme has been released.

Key Features:

  • Three column
  • Widget ready
  • Header graphic (PSD file included)
  • 125×125 graphical ad ready for your products and services

It is a modification of the previous theme, but I think its worth mentioning, especially since I didn’t mention the previous version. Check out the Duct Tape Business Blog theme.

Categories: WordPress Themes

WordPress.com Stats Plugin 1.1

Andy Skelton has put up a post on his blog letting everyone know that the WordPress.com Stats Plugin has been updated to version 1.1.

The new version includes a much asked for iframe which allows you to see your stats without going to WordPress.com.

We updated the WordPress.com Stats plugin just a little bit today. Now, instead of redirecting you to dashboard.wordpress.com, the stats are loaded in an iframe on your own blog’s dashboard. You still have to be logged into wordpress.com to see your stats. If your plugin version is 1.0, you should upgrade to 1.1 to see the changes. Just replace the old stats.php file with the new one.

The good news is that you don’t have to leave your site, we still take care of your data just like before and we can still update the interface with new features, such as the new clickable chart points, without pushing an updated plugin.

Categories: WordPress Plugins

Tools for the WordPress Admin

Those of you that love crazy long lists of resources and tools should check out the post on Mashable which is packed the brim with things that WordPress administrators should be using.

Running your WordPress blog can feel like a full-time job sometimes. We’ve compiled an A-Z list of more than 50 plugins to help you streamline everything you need to do out back. As with any plugins list, don’t install them all at once!

Categories: WordPress Plugins, WordPress Tips

WordPress Tricks and Tips: Custom WordPress Login

Ben of Binary Moon has taken the custom WordPress login a step further as one of his series of WordPress Tricks and Tips.

He created a plugin as well as an image template for the custom WordPress login.

The plugin itself sits in the plugins folder alongside the images – which you can change as required. The footer image has been changed to a gif with a transparent middle which means you can use any images you like for the main background and they will fit seamlessly.

Because this is a plugin and the images are kept separately from the admin folder upgrades a nice and easy. Just upgrade as normal. This is particularly handy for client sites where they may not be aware of what you have done to customise things.

Check out this and other tricks and tips over on Binary Moon.

Categories: Blog Design, WordPress Hacks

Desktop RSS Readers on the way out?

Read/WriteWeb has an article up that shows the results of two polls they ran, one was in January of this year, and the other was earlier in July. They ask where we read and manage our RSS subscriptions. I am all about online RSS readers, and it seems like I am not alone, with the poll responders leaning that way away from desktop applications. Pretty much all other types remained the same as the previous poll.

Firstly, the above stats show that people are migrating from desktop to browser-based RSS Readers. The percentage change in one is virtually a mirror of the other, while none of the other categories has changed much (if any). Web-based Readers are up 7% and desktop Readers are down 6%. In the space of 6 months. I attribute this mostly to the strong growth of Google Reader, which in most peoples’ Feedburner stats is in the top 3 Readers. Google Reader has been the most innovative major RSS Reader over the past year, and a lot of people I know use it as their main Reader now (as do I). Bloglines and Rojo also continue to be popular.

Check out their results, and let me know if you agree or disagree with their conclusions.

Categories: Blog Statistics, Feed Tools

WordPress as an Online Magazine

Darren Hoyt has put up two parts on WordPress and how great it has been as a content management system. In his latest part entitled “In Praise of WordPress Template Tags, Part II: The Magazine Layout” he shows how he integrated WordPress into a website, using it to run an online magazine. A very cool article that includes code rather than just ideas.

Previously, we saw how WordPress can capably handle data more like a small-scale CMS than a traditional blog, assuming the developer is willing to get creative with some Template Tags and The Loop. With that in mind, let’s move toward a more sophisticated homepage concept.

Sample scenario: a client needs your help in realizing his dodgy dream of starting an online men’s magazine in the vein of GQ or Details. His existing site already runs the standard WordPress blog format, but now he’s seeking a more ambitious, exploded-view layout to accommodate a variety of content modules and features.

A very bookmark worthy post. Probably my favorite WordPress related post so far this year.

Categories: WordPress Themes, WordPress Tips

Simple Tips to Increase Traffic

I love when people put together lists on how to manage a blog, and while most of it is common sense, sometimes it isn’t formatted in an easy to understand way.

Squarespace Insider has put up such a list in a post called Managing Blogs and Increasing Traffic.

Here are a few of their points:

5. Ping sites about your latest post to get an extra boost. A program like PingShot can help you out here.

6. Take a few minutes to create a blog editorial calendar. Figuring out what to write about now will save you time later. Copy Blogger has some good title ideas if you’re stuck.

7. Add a picture. It won’t take long to add an image and it will make your post more noticeable. There are lots of sites out there with free clip art and if you’re looking for free stock photos, visit this Graphics n’ Graphic Design post.

One thing that I don’t do enough of, but I know it helps is adding an image to my posts. A great list for those just starting out, or even those wondering why their blogs aren’t more popular.

Categories: Blogging Tips

Myth of the Fold

Boxes and Arrows has a great post up about what they call the “myth of the fold”. The fold is the area where the screen ends and you have to scroll down to see more.

Traditionally, you don’t want to put too much below the fold, especially advertisements and another things because users leave before ever seeing it. But the post on Boxes and Arrows says otherwise.

I took a look at performance data for some AOL sites and found that items at the bottom of pages are being widely used. Perhaps the best example of this is the popular celebrity gossip website TMZ.com. The most clicked on item on the TMZ homepage is the link at the very bottom of the page that takes users to the next page. Note that the TMZ homepage is often over 15000 pixels long – which supports the ClickTale research that scrolling behavior is independent of screen height. Users are so engaged in the content of this site that they are following it down the page until they get to the “next page” link.

Maybe it’s not fair to use a celebrity gossip site as an example. After all, we’re not all designing around such tantalizing guilty-pleasure content as the downfall of beautiful people. So, let’s look at some drier content.
For example, take AOL News Daily Pulse. You’ll notice the poll at the bottom of the page – the vote counts are well over 300,000 each. This means that not only did folks scroll over 2000 pixels to the bottom of the page, they actually took the time to answer a poll while they were there. Hundreds of thousands of people taking a poll at the bottom of a page can easily be called a success.

Read the whole article to understand more about the fold, and why you don’t need to worry so much about it.

Categories: Blog Design

WordPress Shirts: Available Internationally

Automattic have released a new shirt, and even better than it coming in one of my favorite colors (red), you can buy it internationally. That means I can have one shipped up here to Canada, and with the exchange rate being the way it is, the price isn’t too ridiculous

Via the WordPress blog:

One of the biggest complaints when we originally launched our t-shirt store was that folks outside of the United States, which is the majority of our traffic, were unable to order them. Now you can! (And we have a new style available.)

At our official shop.wordpress.net you can order the new red t-shirt in either manly or girlie styles and they ship almost anywhere in the world. The shirts are high-quality American Apparel, and are screen-printed. Styles are available for a limited time, we’ll probably to about 2-3 a year, and once they’re gone the style will never be printed again.

If you are interested in supporting WordPress, and gaining a bit of “geek cred”, pick one up.

Categories: WordPress News

WordCamp 2007: Day 2

WordPress developers returning for day 2 mostly arrived bleary-eyed and tired (and possibly a little hung-over) from the previous day’s activities, yet promptly launched into some heavy-duty geek-speak.

First up was Barry Abrahamson and Matt Mullenweg discussing the high-end server tuning that makes WordPress.com and other high-volume multi-user blogs hum. Abrahamson explained that WordPress installed on an un-tuned LAMP system could be expected to handle as many as 691,200 page views per day or roughly 8 requests a second. This type of installation is adequate for about 99% of the WordPress installs. He also explained that if you were to implement APC you might expect roughly 1,036,800 page views per day or about a 50% performance increase to about 12 requests per second.

Abrahamson recommended the installation of WP-Cache, saying that most users have no reason not to install it. His benchmarks demonstrated that a WordPress install using WP-Cache could handle 300 requests per sec or roughly 25,920,000 page views per day, yielding an increase over 25 times as fast as an un-tuned system. He later went on to discuss alternatives to Apache, PHP 4 and 5, load balancing, caching and memcache.

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Categories: WordPress News
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