WordPress Plugins – Pop Up Window, Help or Hinderance?

I was recently asked by 2 clients to install a wordpress plugin that could enable a pop up window and I agreed, all be it kicking and screaming.  But now, having installed a pop up with the help of a wordpress plugin, I’m actually really liking it.  So I thought I’d share what plugin to use, and how to use it effectively, without being annoying! Read more

5 Simple Reasons We Love WordPress Websites

When we talk to new clients, we often have to explain why we only use wordpress for our websites content management system.  So we thought we’d put together our top 5 reasons for why we love wordpress websites.

1) WordPress is free 

WordPress is a content management system, which you install on a hosting server to run your website.  Think of it like a software application that sits on your desktop, like Microsoft Word.  Today WordPress powers one of every 6 websites on the Internet, nearly 60 million in all, with 100,000 more popping up each day.

So why would anyone develop something as sophisticated as wordpress, which powers more websites than any other, and then give it away for free?  How can anything that is free be that good?

They are difficult questions to answer, but it’s fairly safe to say, that wordpress is what it is today, thanks to the fact that the software is ‘opensource’ and has had significant improvements from a community of developers.     It’s like a community garden.  People love gardening, they plant seeds, they water the plants, the build shades, just to see it grow and bare fruit.

I guess you can consider wordpress is that market garden.  And once that garden is in place, people can make a living out of providing for that garden to help it improve. Nutrient soil, watering systems, fences, and fertilisers perhaps.  Or in wordpress terms, designers, developers, themes, plugins, hosting, and security products all allow us to make a living from that garden.

For more information on wordpress founders visit:

2) It’s powerful and yet really simple

I can teach somebody how to post content, upload images, edit menu’s, change a header, and add a sidebar feature in their wordpress website in less than hour.  When you think back to what a web developer had to do 3-4 years ago, reading lines and lines of HTML code, you marvel at wordpress’s simplicity.

And yet on the other hand, I’m often confronted with a new challenge each day.  Something to fix, a problem to solve, and each time I learn something new about WordPress.

There in lies the beauty of wordpress websites. They can be so very simple for the novice user, but  can be extremely powerful, and flexible for the more advanced.

3) Need a feature?  Plug it in with a plugin 

WordPress had a bursting apps market long before Apple.  Of course they are very different, wordpress calls their apps, plugins.  I compare the apps on your phone to plugins, because they provide additional functionality with a simple click and install.   The majority of these plugins are free, and can be installed from the WordPress dashboard.  Our favourite plugins for wordpress do things like improve SEO rankings, add contact forms, integrate e-commerce, or pull in image galleries from places like Picasa, Flickr or Instagram.

Not all plugins are good for your wordpress website however and some have major security concerns.  For our clients, we don’t allow people to add any plugin they like, and instead we vet them before installing any.

4) Out of the box, fully functional themes

Time is money (unless you are developing wordpress apparently).  Building websites in the past was a costly experience, working with designers and developers who’d provide flash slide shows, funky menus, and a general styling.  These days we can procure themes that have the majority of the functionality built in, at a small cost, and then customise them to suit each client.

We tend to think it’s like buying a kit home.  It’s a lot cheaper to purchase and assemble, but can be customised to suit individual needs.  Change the colour on the walls, move the kitchen, add a balcony, that it’s all part and parcel of the sort of thing we do with wordpress themes.    The extent to which you can customise your theme is really dependent on your theme and skill level.  Again just like building a house.  Sure you can have a go at building and painting, but if you want expert construction you working with a project manager, a builder and a architect.

Again not all themes offer ongoing reliability and security.  Our preferred supplier is Woo Themes, who have a huge theme portfolio and a great support community.

5) Dynamic Publishing

We can save the best for last.  Wordpress is a dynamic publishing platform, which began life as a blogging tool.   I always explain the way wordpress works by using an online newspaper as an example.  You can post articles to various sections of the paper, like technology, or latest news, and as each article comes in, the other articles move down.  You can click on the article heading and read the full article on another page.  It’s this sort of functionality that comes built into wordpress.  This means you can have hundreds and hundreds of articles, that might go hundreds of pages deep, and they are all filed away in categories, or tagged, and are in date order.  And at any given stage you can pull an article to the homepage, or link to it, or delete it.

I just wish I had a filing cabinet like that.

So there you have it, the simple reasons we love wordpress websites.  What started out as a simple list, turned out to be something much bigger, but we’d love to know if we missed something, or if you have other ideas.

Design Inspiration – Jason Mraz and Taylor

This is the first in a series of posts where we are going to look at some cool websites to draw some inspiration.  Our roots are in music so why not start with a musical inspired site from Taylor and Jason Mraz.

Why we love it:

The fold is dead!

Everyone used to talk in terms of ‘the fold’ meaning when you read the site online, the content you read above the fold is we you see without scolling.  But with tables these days, people have learnt to scroll more frequently on websites.  The fold is dead, the click is the new fold.

Colour Usage

It’s industrial with the grey which represents makesmanship, but it’s also simple black text with wood tinges.  Guitars are made from wood…good figure.

Block Styles

All the content is laid out in nice blocks.  There is no column consistency, with each block ranging from 4 column to a single column, but order is maintained thanks to minimised text, consistent imagery and lots of clean space.

Image treatment

The majority of images have a 3/4 circle effect.  This consistency of application makes it an artwork in itself, but it also helps me process the clumps of information on the page.

However most important is the image quality.  We don’t see faded white, pixaleted, stretched anything.  These are quite obviously professional images with identical tone and balance.

Bloody lovely if you ask me.

 

Apple maps business listings io6 – Yelp

One of the interesting updates to the new io6 software, is the removal of Google maps for Apple’s new mapping software.  My first thought was how on earth Apple would close the gap on Google considering it’s already comprehensive business directory.  I can’t possibly comprehend that the answer is going to be Yelp. Read more

Reduce WordPress Comment Spam

As the world’s leading CMS, and as a native blogging platform, WordPress attracts quiet a bit of spam.  To minimise the amount of comment spam you get we recommend the following top 5 ways of reducing spam on your wordpress powered website.

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