Home Page Disasters

Home Page Disasters

Image from Eric Martin

Last weekend I was invited to speak on a panel critiquing B2B marketers’ websites for a session called, Your Baby is Ugly with Eric Martin and Stacy Williams.

Since the conference was for marketing people, I was a little worried no one would volunteer their sites for review or, that if they did, we wouldn’t have much advice for them since one would hope marketers would have great home pages.  But, as the saying goes, “The shoemaker’s children has no shoes.”

This was validated, when surprisingly, we found plenty to critique. [Read more…]

WordPress For Big Dogs Too

WordPress For Big Dogs TooHere at New Tricks we have always created websites for Young Pups (people and companies just starting out) and  Working Dogs (established small businesses or new businesses who want and need to look like the experts that they are).

But more and more we are seeing  Big Dogs  (larger companies who have big needs for e-commerce, career management, employee directories, many service sectors or practice areas) making a decision to go with WordPress.

When we first started out in 2009, we had to explain to clients why using WordPress was the best solution for their website and convince them to use it.  Now, most companies, regardless of size, know they want to use WordPress, and come to us because of our extensive experience with WordPress.

Unfortunately,  going with WordPress doesn’t ensure you will have a great site, no matter what the size. It is easy to do a WordPress site but, then again that makes it easy to [Read more…]

Using a Blog to Honor Your Life and Tell Your Stories

Using a Blog to Honor Your Life and Tell Your Stories I am going to be a  speaker for an event at Mercer University, for seniors (as in the older people, not the graduating 18 year-olds). The class series is called,  Honoring Your Life; Telling Your Stories.  My session is on blogging as a a way for someone to chronicle their life and share their stories.

Blogging is a great way to write, categorize and share your stories and memories for others to read. I recommend for those just starting out to get a free WordPress.com blog.  Set your blog to public and watch your traffic grow or set it to private and allow only certain people to view your posts.

Why a Blog?
[Read more…]

Streamline Content Marketing with CoSchedule

Streamline Content Marketing with CoScheduleHaving blog posts on your site is key to looking like you are current, smart and know what you are talking about. It is important to write about things that your client base would find informative, helpful or entertaining. It is not the place to sell.

The blog posts should demonstrate your brand personality and expertise and shorten the sales cycle by having people feel like they would like to do business with you before they even make a call.  Most savvy business owners know about the importance of content marketing but don’t know what to write and don’t feel they have time to write a post and then send it out through social media.

I am all for tools that can help streamline this process for harried business owners and their content creators. CoSchedule is our new secret weapon. [Read more…]

Create and Display Custom Post Types with Toolset WordPress Plugin

Create and Display Custom Post Types with Toolset WordPress PluginHave you ever wanted to add testimonials, portfolio projects, information directories, or other custom post types and display them in a specific way? You could use a post category to separate this one kind of post, but that gets messy and doesn’t easily allow for much customization.

You could write the .php to declare new custom post types and create the necessary template files to display those post types, but that’s probably more difficult than you would hope.

What’s the easy solution?
Types & Views available in the WP-Types plugin Toolset simplifies the process to create custom post types and custom views for those post types.

This tutorial explains how [Read more…]

My What Big Font You Have!

Pet Peeve Alert: Websites with Unreadable Text

My What Big Font You Have!Why would you want to go through the trouble of writing blog posts, or telling someone about your business but make the font so small, and the text so crammed in, that no one can/will actually read it? When text is small visitors take one look, decide it is too much trouble and move on. And it only makes it worse if the text is light on a dark background.

Whew…

Let me tell you. It is not just me, Oliver Reichenstein of the design firm, Information Architects, is on a mission that as a blogger, and content marketer, I can get behind. It is called 100% Easy-2-Read (#100E2R). [Read more…]

Is it Time for a Website Redo?

Is it Time for a Website Redo? It’s that time again for New Tricks to make some changes and updates to our website. It’s been a few years since I refreshed my site design, and I want to redesign my home page messaging and presentation to better reflect all of the creative services we offer at New Tricks.

Having a website built with WordPress makes update projects much easier than starting from scratch. Since the content of a WordPress site is stored in the database, we can change the layout by updating theme files, and then tweak the content while keeping what works, and changing what doesn’t.

Incremental changes are usually preferable to changing everything on your site at once. Our clients get attached to how things are, and typically hate changes. You know how whiny we can be when Facebook changes things up?

Roger Dooley, author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing advocates against ever doing a whole new website redesign in an article on Forbes. The advantage to making incremental changes is that rather than risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater by changing everything all at once; you can make and test your changes more subtly.

Although a total website overhaul is usually not the best option, there are some cases when it is absolutely necessary. [Read more…]

Doing What it Takes to Grow Your Business

Doing What it Takes to Grow Your BusinessBack in the day, it took a lot of money to build a loyal customer base. When I had my software company, we had to spend thousands of dollars on advertising, pr and going to expensive, time consuming trade shows.

That was why later, I was so struck by the power that ordinary people could have using content management websites along with free social media apps to develop a following for our businesses, just like the larger companies and media. The impact of this idea to me was huge and I knew that everyone was going to want and need this technology. [Read more…]

The Secret to Great Content and Developing a Following

The Secret to Great Content and Developing a FollowingThe secret to getting traffic to your website is providing content that is in sync with your brand, and valuable to your customers.  It’s important to write content that shows your expertise, is entertaining, or develops a relationship between you and your people. You will notice a couple issues arise: first, how to find valuable content and then, how to make it your own.

In order to develop a content strategy, you need to know your right customers and what information they will value receiving from you. Who are they? What are their pain points, where are they coming from? What is the best way to communicate with them? What do they really want to know? How can you be the source of making that content accessible to them? [Read more…]

Choosing WordPress Themes for Beginners

Whether you’re just starting out with WordPress or you’re a seasoned pro, choosing the right theme is imperative for a WordPress website that looks right for your business and performs well over time.

There’s nothing worse than finding a theme that looks good on the outside, but functions poorly on the backend or doesn’t have as many options as you thought.

Of course, you don’t realize how good or bad a theme is until you actually purchase and use it, but by then you have invested many hours in customizing it.

I’ve put together some of the things you should know when choosing a theme in the slideshow below. Hopefully the slideshow and the tips below will help make your decision easier.

[Read more…]

Twenty Tips for a Scrumptious Food Blog

Twenty Tips for a Scrumptious Food BlogEveryone and their sister has a blog these days, and what better thing to blog about than food? Food is one of the highest searched content areas on the web. I tried to find how many food blogs there were but the only figure I could find with real numbers was from a 2012 post on a site called Taking back the Kitchen that quoted Technorati saying there were 16,588 Food blogs at that time. I could not update or even verify that information with Technorati since in May of this year Technorati removed all of their pages of their blog directory and associated information and hasn’t replaced it.

The thing about blogging is that it is hard to do. At least it is hard to do for the long haul. Many people start and then abandon their blogs like gym memberships in July when they find out that to blog on a consistent basis is a JOB. [Read more…]

WordPress Goodness for Food Bloggers

I am here at the 2014 Food and Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida where Renee Dobbs and I gave a short talk on using WordPress for Food Bloggers. Before conference organizer Isabel Laessig  introduced us she polled the audience about how many people were using WordPress. Most of the 200 people in the room raised their hands. I remember the days when we had to really sell WordPress to our clients. Now, people come asking for it.

Here are the slides from our talk that goes over whats good about WordPress and we share some of our favorite plugins for Recipes, Social Media, Calls to Action, and Security.

10 Awesome Social Media Plugins and Management Tools for WordPress

Almost every WordPress website could use a social media plugin or two. Take a look at our list of 10 awesome social media plugins and management tools for WordPress.

Social Sharing Plugins

1. Add Twitter Facebook Google Plus One Social Share
10 Awesome Social Media Plugins and Management Tools for WordPressAdd Twitter Facebook Google Plus One Social Share is a simple floating social sharing bar. It comes with a couple of handy user options and allows you to change where the bar floats on your site as well as minor style customizations. The plugin also features LinkedIn, Stumbleupon and Pinterest (which it doesn’t mention in it’s title).

[Read more…]

Collect Testimonials on Your WordPress Site Using Gravity Forms

Collect Testimonials on Your WordPress Site Using Gravity FormsCollecting testimonials from your clients can be a time consuming and slow process, so why not automate the process and let Gravity Forms do the heavy lifting?

After working with a client, there is a good chance you send them some sort of invoice or thank you email. What if you could insert a link in that communication to a form that allows your clients to compose a WordPress testimonial post and does everything but publish it? You can, and it’s easy! Using Gravity Forms you can have your clients fill out a form that automatically creates a WordPress post categorized as “Testimonial” with a picture they’ve uploaded. Here are 7 simple steps to automate your testimonial process: [Read more…]

No More Bad Stock Photos, Use Your Instagram Pics on Your Website

No More Bad Stock Photos, Use Your Instagram Pics on Your WebsiteInstagram is my fun place. I don’t use it to “get business,” I use it because I love snapping pics that I find interesting.  I like that I can instantly share them with others through Instagram, and if I want I can send an image to Facebook or Twitter. Although I don’t specifically use it for business, my feed does give people, who follow my feed, a sense of who I am and keeps me in front of mind.

I feel like I really get to know the people I am following by the images they share. It is another way you create the brand of “You”. [Read more…]

If WordPress Is So Easy Why Do You Need a Developer?

If WordPress Is So Easy Why Do You Need a Developer?I just read a question someone tossed out to an online WordPress forum, “WordPress seems to be a simple CMS for everyone. If that were a true fact then why would someone hire a WordPress developer? ”

My answer to this is:

It is really easy to do a WordPress site with themes and plugins. And that is the big problem. That makes it really easy to do a bad WordPress website.

It comes down to lack of training. If someone is not in marketing or web design or that person has no graphic design skills, content marketing knowledge, or understanding SEO then how do they know how to create a site for their business that is going to not only be effective to get visitors but also be effective in converting them into customers?

I have seen some very poorly done sites. Using a theme makes little difference since customizing themes is not easy. It is not easy to set up and design the site, even with a theme, that reflects a brand with the degree of professionalism needed to have a visitor trust the site enough to want to do business with them. [Read more…]

Copyblogger’s Authority Intensive Conference

Copybloggers Authority Intensive ConferenceI was quick to sign up when I heard that Copyblogger was hosting their first content marketing conference, the Authority Intensive. It was right up my alley. They had a lineup of speakers that was a roster of my heroes with people such as Seth Godin, Ann Hadley of Marketing Profs, Sonia Simone and Darren Rouse just to name a few. Additionally, they were only selling 400 tickets, which would facilitate networking. [Read more…]

How to Try Out a New Theme When You Have a Live Site

How to Try Out a New Theme When You Have a Live SiteI have a reader in Australia (Hi Dave!) who is working on a website for his language school. He got it up but he isn’t really happy with the theme he chose. He wrote and asked me about the best method for trying out a new theme to see how it would work when you have a live site that you don’t want to “mess-up”.

For those in a similar situation as Dave, I recommend creating a test site on a sub-directory of your live site. If your live site is on your “root” directory, you would set up an installation of WordPress, for your test site, on a sub-directory and it would look like this: http://mysitename.com/mytestsite. [Read more…]

13 Signs of a Bad WordPress Website

13 Signs of a Bad WordPress WebsiteWas talking to a friend of mine about a WordPress website someone did at a company she works with and the programmer did not do such a hot job.

She said, “I thought WordPress was supposed to be easy!” I said, “Oh it is easy. It’s very easy . . . to make a bad WordPress site.”  What do I mean by bad?

Here are 13 signs of a bad dog WordPress website:

  1. The developer hard-coded elements instead of using native WordPress functionality thus making it impossible to maintain by the end user.
  2. Someone used 52 plugins to create the site and thirty of them each have you do something a little different so that no one can remember how to update different types of content on the site. [Read more…]

Understanding WordPress Files: WordPress Under the Hood

Understanding WordPress Files: WordPress Under the Hood

Last week at WordCamp Atlanta, I had major Internet connectivity issues during my presentation on understanding WordPress files, WordPress Under the Hood.  I hated how I ended up bumbling through what I think is an important topic for people wanting to learn to customize WordPress themes.  I decided I should give myself a “do-over”.  So I redid my talk and made it into a video for the people to see how it should have gone down.

There are a couple of very important caveats that are in this presentation on understanding WordPress files. These three things alone are why you should make some time and watch the video.

1. You can’t just move a WordPress site by copying the files from one place to another without dealing with the database that has to go with it. [Read more…]

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