Performancing Metrics

Archive for January, 2009

Crowd Science Analytics

Competition is tough these days on the internet. With millions of websites existing on the world wide web today and each trying to get a share of the advertising pie, a site should not just be left on its own after being created and kept running online. Websites need to be constantly monitored in order to drive traffic and achieve its business goals particularly for the ecommerce sites.

One vital aspect of websites that need to be kept track of pertains to demographics. Webmasters should take it upon themselves to determine the type of people that visit their sites as well as their attitudes. I know of certain software applications that can do this and there’s also an analytics service meant for such purpose.

I highly recommend Crowd Science Demographics which is a very helpful tool. With this new analytics service, webmasters, publishers, bloggers and even advertisers can now do an in-depth analysis of their site’s demographics and their attitudes towards products and services. What this service does is create questionnaires to survey a website’s visitors and then from the answers, comprehensive profiles are made giving publishers and bloggers an opportunity to know their audience well. The information gathered spans more than just the IP addresses of the target audience and page views because demographics and attitudes of a small number of visitors on specific subject matters are also known.

I’m sure those engaged in internet marketing including blogging are aware of the importance of being able to know and understand your target audience as well as the current market condition in an effort to successfully achieve specific goals. This is where marketing research proves valuable. Crowd Science recognizes this need and utilizes research techniques in a non-intrusive way. It makes use of surveys through questionnaires to gather the right information.

Of course, the questionnaires are well constructed, short and straight to the point in order to really get the truth. The main goal is to keep the visitors engaged during the survey and not bore them.

The whole process is simple. To avail of the Crowd Science Demographics service, all you need is to sign up for a personal or premium account then add your site and tag your pages. And that’s it. No need to worry about anything else.

By having an account, you can then gain access to a lot of great features. There are four types of invitations and colors to choose from. Users have also full control of their data through the account interface which they can view either by hour-in-day or day-in-week. They can decide who else should be given access to the data and in what form such as in bar charts or in pie format.

I would also like to point out here that users of this analytics service can customize their questions in their demographic questionnaires. In other words, you are free to ask your visitors anything you want and get the results together with the main demographic information. You have a choice between using a multiple choice and one answer question and a multiple choice and multiple answer question.

The greatest benefit that I like is that Crowd Science can keep track of not just one but multiple websites. These sites can be organized in various ways such as by groups or topics. Additionally, users can check out reports according to a specific audience subgroup either by age, gender or group.

Crowd Science is a must-tool if you really want to get to know your audience better and attract more people to your website.

Categories: General, WordPress Tips

Matt is Not WordPress

A great guy, Elliot Back just put up a post about the WordPress dashboard that made me cry out “thank you” as I now know I am not alone in feeling this way.

He says:

Since half of the items in my dashboard are currently irrelevant to me as a WordPress user, hopefully the time is approaching when Matt’s personal feed will be replaced or removed.

The dashboard has always been a touchy issue with me since Blogging Pro was never added back to the dashboard once I took it over many years ago, but to watch as certain blogs or types of posts totally take over what should really be a WordPress related community area makes me even more frustrated.

Does it help you to know where Matt currently is in the world? Maybe, all blogs in the WordPress dashboard feed should just be based on category RSS rather than the entire blog and everything it posts?

Categories: WordPress News

Beyond Blogging

A good friend of mine, Deb Ng, who you might know from Freelance Writing Jobs, has recently released an inexpensive, but very valuable e-book entitled, Beyond Blogging: Using Your Blogging Skills for Bigger and Better Things, where she gives tips to people looking to take their blogging skills, and market themselves for other careers and opportunities.

Currently, Deb lives her book as she is the Community Manager for BlogTalkRadio, after having been a blogger for a few years.

I’m not going to lie. There are no secrets in this short book. There’s nothing here you can’t figure out on your own. The purpose behind this 23 page e-book is to inspire you to take the skills you learned as a blogger and use them to propel you bigger and better things.You’re not guaranteed a job upon completion of your reading, but you may be inspired to seek out a new career. I just want you to think, and if you work hard enough, make a lucrative career choice.

The e-book is twenty-three pages long, but packed with ideas and observations. If you are looking to parlay your blogging talents into a new career for 2009, then this is the e-book to read. Deb does a wonderful job at opening people’s eyes to the possibilities.

Get your copy of Beyond Blogging for only $9.95.

Categories: Blogging Tips

Plugin and Theme Licensing Wars

Since the inception of WordPress there have been fights over licensing plugins and themes. Some people believe that WordPress themes and plugins automatically inherit the GPL license, and others contest this, but does the licensing really matter?

I believe two things matter: what is in it for the developer, and is the community served?

I don’t believe that the GPL is providing for the developers nor truly living up to what the community needs.

Consider this:

You’ve just created an amazing plugin, it took you over a dozen hours, and you’ve given it out to the community for free.

Now they come to you for support, and you try your best to provide them with the answers they need, adding another two hours per week to your “work”. WordPress then changes in some major way, and you have to recode your plugin to work under the new “rules” of WordPress, adding another two hours of development time to your plugin.

All of this time spent is from the goodness of your heart, but it becomes tiring. One day, you decide to start charging for support. Each request is only two dollars, and you go from needing to spend two hours a week to only spending two hours a month on support related inquiries.

The problems didn’t disappear though, instead the WordPress community forums are littered with people asking for help with your plugin, and they are getting answers, thus bypassing your new business enterprise completely.

You feel frustrated that the hours you originally and continue to put have been rewarded in such a way, and in the end you never make back in community currency, links or actual money the investment that you had put into the project.

Where is the benefit to continue? You either end up discontinuing your work or finding ways to try to drive business to yourself, only to have your plugin removed from the WordPress Plugins repository for not being “GPL enough”. Someone else forks your work and continues on, paying no homage to the original idea creator, you.

Sound like fiction? I have no doubt that this has been the case for at least a few WordPress theme and plugin developers as the GPL creates a number of limitations with no business model set up to reward those that spend the time adding to the community.

Flip that around and remove the GPL, and the plugin author could have built a business around the plugin, while still remaining in the forefront of the community. The monetary benefit would have hopefully changed the market in two ways.

The first way would be that the plugin developer would have been more likely to spend time developing their plugin continually. The second change would be that popular plugins would have to compete in the market in both price and features.

I don’t believe that GPL is the great equalizer and protector, and I also believe that within five years, WordPress will see much of their current plugin and theme development rock stars move onto other platforms that don’t have such restrictive licensing.

iThemes now has a Movable Type store. How long will it be until more theme developers follow suit? Habari’s license allows the creators to manage and sell their work under any license they like, allowing for true business to be built around their platform.

Categories: Opinion, WordPress Plugins, WordPress Themes

Integrating Twitter into Your Blog

NETTuts has recently put out an article relating to integrating Twitter on your website. Since blogs are a type of website, I figured now would be a good time to go over some WordPress plugins that help integrate Twitter into your blog.

There are three sets of plugins, ones that display your Twitter messages on your blog, ones that allow you to push out notifications of your blog posts to Twitter and ones that create other interactions with Twitter.

Displaying Tweets

LifeStream – I use this plugin on what “should” be my company site, Digital Life News and I enjoy it. Fairly full featured, and backed by a close friend of mine.

Lifestream displays your social feeds and photos much like you would see it on many of the social networking sites.

Twitter for WordPress – I haven’t used this plugin, but I can see why it is popular. It shows your latest tweets in your sidebar.

Twitter Tools – Everyone knows Alex King is an amazing plugin developer, and so his Twitter Tools suite is no exception. It fits into both categories, allowing you to display your tweets on your blog, as well as pushing out blog post information to Twitter.

My favourite piece from his FAQ on the plugin:

What happens if I have both my tweets posting to my blog as posts and my posts sent to Twitter? Will it cause the world to end in a spinning fireball of death?

Actually, Twitter Tools has taken this into account and you can safely enable both creating posts from your tweets and tweets from your posts without duplicating them in either place.

MyTwitter – Another simple plugin to see your Twitter messages on your blog.

MyTwitter allows users to display their recent Twitter status updates (tweets) on their WordPress site and update their status through the Options page. Includes customization options including number of recent twitters to display, formatting options, and stylesheets. It can be called as a function or used as a widget.

Twitter Feed – Looking a lot like your Twitter page, Twitter Feed is a nice widget for displaying recent tweets. It looks well featured, and highly configurable. An exciting way to display interactions with Twitter.

Pushing Blog Posts to Twitter

Twitme – If all you want is to push your blog post links to your Twitter friends and followers, Twitme should do that just fine. Last updated only two weeks ago, this plugin is still in constant development.

Twitpress – In the same vein as Twitme, Twitpress also takes blog posts, and automatically pushes information about them to your Twitter account.

Bird Feeder – Yet another blog post to Twitter plugin. This one was also recently updated, and is focused on fulfilling its single function as quickly, and as easily as possible.

WP to Twitter – This is the plugin I generally use to feed my blog posts to Twitter, and it has always worked quite well for me.

The WP-to-Twitter plugin posts a Twitter status update from your blog using the URL shortening service to provide a link back to your post from Twitter.

Other Interactions with Twitter

Tweetbacks – Created by a good friend, Joost de Valk, Tweetbacks brings responses to your posts on Twitter, back into your blog.

People are talking about your posts, and not only in the comments to your post. A lot of that conversation is happening on Twitter, and now, you can take that conversation right back to your blog! This plugin imports those tweets about your posts as comments. You can display them in between the other comments on your blog, or display them separately.

Tweet Tweet – One of the better known WordPress related figures, Donncha O Caoimh has created a plugin to back up your Twitter messages.

This plugin archives your tweets, and the tweets of those you follow in your database. It also stores replies from other people, as well as direct messages.

TwitterCounter – Much like people show off their RSS feed subscribers in a little “chicklet” box, this plugin allows you to show off the number of Twitter followers you have. Created by Ajay D’Souza and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten.

TweetRoll – Much like a blogroll, or those friend boxes from various blogging communities, TweetRoll displays some of your followers in a fancy widget that will hopefully increase your subscribers and give attention to those you follow.

These of course, are but a few of the hundreds of WordPress plugins available to bloggers to interact with Twitter in different ways. There are services, full scripts, and more that can be utilized to closer tie your blogging and Twitter together.

What are your favourite Twitter related WordPress plugins?

Categories: Microblogging, WordPress Plugins

WordPress Theme: What Would Make You Pay for a Theme?

I am currently working on a paid WordPress theme system, and I was wondering what it would take for people to spend money on a WordPress theme? Does it come down to constant development and updates, support, or some killer feature?

In about a week or so, I’ll be releasing a theme that I think will surprise people, but I am already looking at future versions, and want to offer the best product possible to the WordPress community.

Why is it going to be a paid theme?
The simple fact is that if I want to provide support, continuously develop the theme, and develop a real marketing plan, the theme had to be a paid theme rather than a free one.

That doesn’t mean that I take this lightly though, as the theme will blur the line between themes and plugins. I think you’ll all be very excited.

If there is a feature your favourite theme is missing, now is the time to speak up. If it doesn’t get integrated into the one I am working on, I am sure the Blogging Pro audience is listening and some of them are amazing WordPress theme developers as well.

Categories: WordPress Themes

Create a Custom WordPress Plugin

While it might not be the tutorial that many of us want, NETTuts has published a great guide to making your first WordPress plugin from scratch. They talk about making something that can show products from OSCommerce, which while interesting, isn’t what my first choice would be.

In today’s tutorial we’ll be talking about creating a WordPress plugin that extracts and displays products from an external OSCommerce shop database. We will start by describing the file structure of a plugin and where it must be included in the WordPress structure, then we’ll be having a closer look at how to make our plugin visible for WordPress and integrating it with actions run by its frame.

They cover the important broad strokes though, and help people realize that it is mostly PHP knowledge that comes into play when making a WordPress plugin, so if you aren’t strong in PHP, or aren’t willing to learn, then you might want to stick to the ones that are already developed.

Some of the great parts for anyone interested in plugin development to note include information on how to make your own page in the WordPress administration panel, as well as dealing with hooks to display your work on the public facing theme.

I hope to see more of such tutorials from NETTuts in the future, as WordPress plugin development interests me, and I enjoy how the Envato network writers break down concepts.

Categories: WordPress Plugins, WordPress Tutorials

David Peralty: Back Writing on Blogging Pro

Some of you were happy when I had left this site, others were not. I really appreciate all the support you have all shown me and I appreciate the good word that many of you put in for me. I hope you are as excited as I am to be back on this site. I will be providing as much WordPress coverage as I can, as well as detailed tutorials on the things I have learned since leaving, and how WordPress has changed since I started using it.

I hope you’ll all join me in thanking Splashpress Media for having me come back on here and take another stab at fulfilling your WordPress cravings. I also hope you’ll provide me with constant feedback, so I can be sure to satisfy your expectations on this site.

If I have missed something, you want to see more coverage of another thing, then please just let me know, and I will do my best. I love talking about blogging, WordPress, and the business of online publishing, and I hope that you’ll all be able to pick up on my passion and join me in being excited.

Categories: BloggingPro News

WordPress Global Translator Plugin

If you have either spent a fair bit of money buying a translator plugin, or worked hard on developing something to translate your content inside your WordPress blog, you’ll probably be kicking yourself now, as a plugin called WordPress Global Translator Plugin has been out for a while now. Recently, it released version 1.1.2 and it can translate your content, through automated translation engines, into thirty-four different languages.

Italian, Korean, Chinese (Simplified & Traditional), Portuguese, English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, Greek, Dutch, Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Polish, Romanian, Swedish, Norwegian, Catalan, Filipino, Hebrew, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

While these translations might not always be the most readable content, they do provide many new pages of content, and can give both a traffic and search engine ranking boost.

As long as paying real translators is too costly, these services will do well, and if you have a need to have your content be translated, even by machines, into different languages, WordPress Global Translator Plugin might be the plugin for you. It gets a thumbs up from me, solely because it is constantly being developed, and more blogs should promote plugins that are currently being constantly developed.

Categories: WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugin: FV Community News

Let’s say you have a high-traffic site that’s run by only one or two people. That site has a strong following; however, due to time constraints and other impossibilities of churning out an article or two every hour for your readers, you just can’t keep up with the demand.

Now, one way to keep up with this sort of demand would be to add related articles from other blogs to your sidebar. But we can’t just add those articles manually, it will take up lots of time. In fact, the reason we’re going through this entire exercise is that we don’t have much time in the first place.

Enter FV Community News. With this new Community News plugin you allow your visitors to add articles to the sidebar. Complete with moderation panel and a settings page, you can sit back while you have full control about the look and articles that being posted.

This plugin has a boatload of features, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see a lot for FV Community News:

  • Widget Ready (Different form/results widget)
  • Tags for use in posts/pages
  • AJAX Form Handling
  • Multi-Language Support
  • Moderation panel (with email option) – Make sure you approve the right articles
  • Edit Submissions
  • My Submissions Page
  • Customizable templates
  • Captcha Spam protection (on/off)
  • Akismet Spam protection (API key required)
  • Build-in RSS 2.0 Feed
  • Image Uploading
  • Settings
  • Uninstall Page
  • Configurable Responses

Installation is easy, just download it from here, and upload using your favorite FTP client to your /wp-content/plugins/ folder. Then activate via the plugins page in the Dashboard.

What do you think of FV Community News? Tell me about it!

Categories: WordPress Plugins