What Features Do Most Commercial WordPress Themes Have in Common?

published on July 5, 2014

WordPress users enjoy many benefits not necessarily available in other content management systems. The plethora of high quality WordPress themes that users can choose from is more than enough to dress up any website. Whatever type of website you plan to put up, most likely, there is a WordPress theme for it. Here are some of the most common features present in some of the most popular WordPress themes in the market today.

A Great Slider

An effective theme must help create a steady following for your site. It must be able to captivate casual visitors and convert theme into followers that eventually become clients and customers. A slideshow is a great tool that can deliver quick, dramatic visual impact combining the use of images with taglines, spiels, or memes to hook visitor interest. This billboard-like effect gives casual visitors something to spark their curiosity and encourage them to examine and explore your site further. The short attention span this generation has, a slider is an indispensable feature for any website. Popular plugins like Slider Revolution, Layer Slider, Nivo Slider, and Flexslider make the job a whole lot easier.

Parallax and Animation

Once you’ve gotten the attention of visitors, the challenge shifts towards keeping their interest. Perhaps you’ve attended lectures were you came in with excitement about what you could learn only to be disappointed by a boring, uncharismatic instructor whose droning voice put you to sleep. This is analogous to going through great content in boring or even hard to read content. This actually narrows your followers to those who are actually already sold to your content. If your goal is to convert more people to your product or service, the presentation of your content has to facilitate easy reading and assimilation of information. Corporate presentations are often more effective when stats are represented as animated charts and bullets. These actually help executives focus on the items that need to be considered. Having animated bullets and content sections also give focus on items you want your visitors to remember.

Flexible Layout with Drag and Drop Capability

Presenting your content is important in developing your following. While animation helps your audience focus on key points of your content, a sound content structure is still required for visitors to make sense of your site as a whole. Being able to piece together key points into a cohesive body of knowledge will drive home a stronger message to your visitors that will keep them coming for more. To do this, your content has to be organized in such a way that visitors go through important sections in a natural, stress free manner. The natural flow of content will vary according to your audience. Recognizing this, themes that have been designed and devised to respond to the needs of various audiences will bring a higher conversion in terms of subscribers and followers. A lot of themes now include drag and drop page builder features allowing you to assemble your own pages from scratch. Some themes come with ready made layouts for almost any type of site which can be tweaked to meet specific audience needs. Most, if not all, of these themes have powerful options panels and shortcode generators for maximum customization flexibility.

Mobile Friendly

Mobile is a platform that cannot be ignored. Mobile gadgets are part of today’s lifestyle because of the convenience it provides its users. As such, theme designers and developers are forced to confront the peculiarities one encounters when using a mobile device. A theme has to be responsive. This means it has to be able to adjust to give the best possible display regardless of what device you use to browse your site. Theme pages need to have the capability to reorder and resize according to tablet and smartphone displays without sacrificing the beauty of the theme on desktop. In addition to this, special navigation menus for mobile devices must be able to facilitate the interface differences on these devices from desktop. Usually, the Bootstrap framework is a theme author’s go to option to ensure optimal performance on mobile platforms.

Good SEO

No matter how great your site is in terms of content or aesthetics, it must be found by your target audience. Great themes are coded in such away that is friendly to search engines to help land your site on the first few pages of search results. This is accomplished in a number of ways: meta and links, XML sitemaps, RSS Optimization, and Breadcrumb among others. There are numerous options to ensure your site is covered by good SEO measures. Clean code, SEO optimized images and videos, and installing reliable and tested SEO plugins like SEO by Yoast, etc. are some of the many SEO practices you can integrate on your site.

Made With Code – Girl Power Courtesy of Google

published on June 30, 2014

A post, a tweet, a share, an instant message, a download, an upload – we all do that. Well, most of us do nowadays. The learning curve to do all that is not too high at all especially with the way information is served today. However, not too many of us know what powers these things and what goes on behind all these tech activities we do today. Too geeky for most of us. And, it’s probably done by a dude and not a girl. No bias intended.

The reality is – majority of the key players in the tech industry are men. The likes of Carly Fiorina and Marissa Mayer are few and far between. But this drought of women in the tech world may soon end with the recent initiative of Google via its Made With Code Project.

According to Tech Crunch,

This week, Google launched a new initiative called Made With Code (a $50 million investment), aimed at getting young women excited about learning to code and close the gender gap in the tech industry. The idea behind it is to show young girls that the things they love, from apps on their smartphones to their favorite movies are made with code, and they can apply the skills they learn to their own individual passions.

One of the many hurdles that prevent women from venturing into creating code is the perception that it is a man’s world and that coding is difficult. Google is challenging this disbelief and investing in the program offering resources and projects for kids to learn how to code, communities to discuss different lessons and projects with each other and mentors, as well as information about regional events.

Made With Code

Made with Code is an initiative to champion creativity, girls, and code, all at once. The movement is designed to do three things: To inspire girls by celebrating women and girls who are using code to do great things; to engage girls to try coding through introductory projects and resources; and to sustain their interest by creating alliances and community around girls and coding.

Made with Code is meant for girls who have already tried coding as well as for girls who have never seen it before.

Most people, when they think of coding, think of the numbers and symbols that are most often associated with syntax. Google decided, however, to base the coding projects on Blockly. Blockly is a web-based, graphical programming editor developed by Google and used by services such as code.org and MIT’s App Inventor to teach beginning coders the concepts of coding in a fun, visual way. Some of the core coding concepts that are covered in the projects using Blockly include variables, coordinates, statements, strings, and sequence.

source: Madewithcode.com

The program includes:

  • Cool introductory Blockly-based coding projects, like designing a bracelet 3D-printed by Shapeways, learning to create animated GIFs and building beats for a music track.
  • Collaborations with organizations like Girl Scouts of the USA and Girls, Inc. to introduce Made with Code to girls in their networks, encouraging them to complete their first coding experience.
  • A commitment of $50 million to support programs that can help get more females into computer science, like rewarding teachers who support girls who take CS courses on Codecademy or Khan Academy.

Spearheading this project is Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube along with Chelsea Clinton, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, Mindy Kaling, MIT Media Lab, National Center for Women & Information Technology, SevenTeen, TechCrunch, etc.

A Word from the Founder – Matt Mullenweg

published on June 24, 2014

Here are some of the interesting points that came up in a recent extended interview J.J. Colao of Forbes.com did with WordPress Founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg. Talking points were shared on WordPress releases, market share, funding, revenue sources, mobile, and other interesting insights about the future of WordPress and Automattic.

  • On Web Presence: WordPress now powers 22% of the Web, including Forbes.com
  • Mullenweg became CEO of Automattic in January 2014 after being chairman for 8 years.
  • On WordPress releases: The next WordPress release isn’t expected this year but Mullenweg hopes maybe in a year or two.
  • Automattic is basically a big experiment hoping to create something that’s fully open source to the core, that becomes a big Internet-scale business.
  • Revenue composition is 80% from WordPress.com subscriptions, 10% each from WordAds and VIP
  • People who are hosted on Amazon or GoDaddy or those places also have a set of products for them under Jetpack.
  • On Mobile: A new interface that works fluently whether you’re on the desktop, a tablet or notebook is currently being built targeting half or a plurality of active users by the end of the year.
  • On the future of Automattic and WordPress: 10 years from now, Mullenweg wants it to be an organization that has thousands of people – to build, in a completely distributed, open source fashion, a 10 or 20 thousand-person company.
  • On Mullenweg’s management style and hiring policies: “Don’t worry about whether your team hired someone that put you over budget for the year. Something like that has nothing to do with creating great products.”
  • On Touch Technology: “We’re not going to launch anything anymore ever again, that’s not responsive. I want to be more of a mobile company but as we do that I don’t want to lose the things that make us the engine of the independent Web.”

Mullenweg’s aggressive and visionary approach to delivering a product that is open, diverse, and which can be widely adopted by tens or thousands or millions of users is not an easy task. But then again, to quote his own words, “I didn’t sign up for easy.” Here’s to an exciting WordPress future for the world wide web.

Check out the complete transcript of the interview on Forbes.com

WordPress Slider Mania

published on June 17, 2014

Sliders are staples in websites nowadays. A homepage without a slideshow seems an oddity considering the media intensive content this generation craves for. For all the benefits sliders give website owners, there are indeed some sliders that really standout from the rest. Below is a listing of 5 of the most popular sliders available in the market today:

Slider Revolution

Considered the most popular plugin in the Envato marketplace, Slider Revolution is a slider definitely worth considering. This plugin features tons of unique transition effects, an image preloader, video embedding, autoplay that stops on user interaction and lots of easy to set options to create your own effects. This plugin is one of the few that offers full screen slideshows, it is also noted for enabling almost any type of content that can be put in a slideshow, and, it is quite popular for its responsive feature as well. The plugin also enables easy slider creation using Visual Builder. Using its animation builder, you can conveniently drag and drop captions, and, create your own custom animation easily. Slider Revolution also allows you to integrate SEO optimization measures on your slides thus further improving your page’s performance on search engines.

Royal Slider

This slider plugin was created especially for mobile devices. What makes Royal Slider standout is its affinity toward touch screen interfaces. Create your own custom slideshows and css3 banner rotators with images, videos or HTML content in slides, allow dynamic population of data from Flickr, Instagram, Featured posts and even WooCommerce products, display vertical or horizontal thumbnails with the plugin’s photo gallery. While it doesn’t have much of fancy transition effects, Royal does guarantee a stable, accessible, high performance slider experience on any device. RoyalSlider is tested on Mac, PC, iPad 2, iPhone 4, HTC Desire, Lumia 920, Surface, Blackberry PlayBook and even on Kindle Keyboard

Layer Slider

Layer slider is most noted for its use of cutting edge technology to give you more than 200 preset 2D and 3D slide transitions to give you the smoothest slideshow experience available. At the very heart of this slider is its layered design that enables you to have 3D like slideshows. Easy to use interfaces enable you to create your slideshows in a WYSIWYG manner which include live previews, drag and drop slider builder, etc. The plugin supports responsive layouts, multiple layouts and touch screen gestures to ensure that your slideshow experience is the same regardless of device. Layer slider is SEO friendly allowing you to build semantic markup with custom attributes that search engines can index easily.

Slider PRO

This fully responsive and mobile ready slider plugin in comes with 150+ options to help you set-up your very own slideshow. The plugin allows you to dynamically load content from your content. Slider PRO also enables you to add animated or static layers into your slideshows to create 3D like slides. The plugin uses a user friendly media loader to enable easy population of content into your slideshows. Slider PRO offers 100+ transition effects which can be optimized into hundreds of possible variations.

Touch Carousel

This slider plugin was created with mobile devices in mind. Touch carousel enables touch navigation on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. Over 20 settings are available to control speed, layout and slideshow. Touch carousel allows you to slide any post type including WooCommerce and Jigoshop content. You can select content based on taxonomy, popularity or date.

5 Most Popular Page Builder Plugins Roundup

published on June 12, 2014

Drag and drop customizations via Page Builder plugins are quite popular because of the ease it provides in creating multiple layout configurations without messing with code. There are several page builders available in the WordPress market today. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Visual Composer

Visual Composer is #1 Best Selling drag and drop frontend and backend page builder with 70k+ websites already powered. This plugin offers drag and drop page building with an intuitive user interface. What makes Visual Composer convenient is its front end page building capabilities. Visual Composer allows you to choose from 40+ different page elements or use custom shortcodes. The plugin also allows you to design your pages in a responsive way. The developers offer lifetime updates free of charge and has lots of tutorials available to help you use the plugin. The capabilities of Visual Composer may also be extended with premium add ons like Templatera or Easy Tables. You will be able to take full control over your WordPress site, build any layout you can imagine with no programming knowledge required.

Live Composer

Live Composer is a front-end WordPress page builder plugin with 28+ modules packed with functionality and styling options that allow countless variations to be made easily and without any coding. Live Composer offers front end drag and drop page building capabilities to your themes. It is designed to turn any theme into a feature packed beast. Live Composer comes with 28+ modules with easy customize options for each. Each module can be adjusted for device specific options making sure your pages look great on tablets, smartphones and desktops/laptops. You also have the option to create your own modules for specific functionality. Live Composer comes with special post types like Projects, Galleries, Downloads, Testimonials, Staff and Partners and transferring what you do on one page to another is easy with Live Composer’s Templates system.

Awesome Builder

Awesome Builder is a WordPress Drag & Drop Page Builder and shortcodes generator that offers the best solution you need to build a modern web page in the easiest way ever. This plugin widgetizes your pages allowing you to drag and drop your widgets into any section of the page. No need to create new modules. You can use existing widgets on your website. You can also use 25+ widgets included with the plugin but it will work with any widget you have. The plugin also enables a responsive layout for your pages. Awesome builder supports animation for each widget you add. Awesome Builder supports full width, background color image and video support.

Parallax One Page Builder

Parallax One Page Builder enables you to create your own one page website in just a few minutes. With this plugin you can create unlimited landing page with more features options and unlimited sections each with parallax effects as you enable. The plugin also comes with gallery and portfolio capabilities included. The first section gives you 7 slide gallery you can use with images, color or YouTube video. Each section there after can have an image, color or YouTube video as background. Plugin employs custom SEO for improving your sites web search results.

Drag and Drop Shortcodes

Drag and Drop Shortcodes is a great WP plugin with intuitive drag&drop interface and lot of elements to choose from, like: Accordions, Stats Counter, Knobs, Alert Boxes, Animation Box, Price Boxes, Progress Bar, QR Code, Service Boxes, Tabs, Team Member, Map, PayPal Buttons, Member Only Content, Tooltip, YouTube, Vimeo and self hosted HTML5 video. Drag and Drop shortcodes offer convenient page building capabilities using a highly intuitive backend interface. The plugin comes with a lot of page elements including Video, Stats Counters, Progress Charts, etc. Draggable sections and column allows you to present content as you see fit. Animation options, parallax and video backgrounds help you enliven your content even on the most boring default themes. What makes this plugin even more special is that it allows you to create your own modules with shortcodes.

Featured Internet Articles Roundup

published on June 10, 2014

Here are some of the most interesting articles in and around the web that are worth taking the time to read.


Want to Launch Your Own E-Commerce Site? Start With These Tips & Tools

published on June 6, 2014

EMarketer predicts that online retail sales will be at $434.2 billion in 2017, so if you’re thinking about launching your own e-commerce site, it’s a great time to make a move. You don’t need to be a technology guru to get an online store up and running, either—there are many tools available to make your transition into the online market easier. The following tips will help get you started:

Find Your Niche

Don’t try to be and do too many things—at least, not at the outset. Say you’re in the business of selling women’s clothing; you need to figure out what makes your company unique and what demographic you cater to. When you can answer both questions, you’ll have a better idea of what your niche is. You could sell affordable vintage women’s clothing for the professional woman like Ruche does, or target women in their 20s who love nightlife and lingerie like YumDrop does. By offering specific goods, you narrow down your competition and have a better chance of becoming the lead seller in a particular market.

Create a Home for Your Goods

You don’t need to know how to code or have Web development experience to set up your site. Companies like Shopify and Bigcommerce will help you design your site and set up a virtual transaction process. They also offer protection from hackers and provide worldwide unlimited hosting. Long gone are the days when shop owners were forced to spend big bucks for a custom online store.

If you have some design knowledge and would rather self-host, you’ll need a domain name, a Web host, a dedicated IP address, private SSL certification, a shopping cart script such as Zen Cart and a payment gateway like PayPal. Although self-hosting requires more work, you’ll have more control over branding and your shop’s overall look.

Determine Shipping and Packaging Logistics

You need to select a shipping carrier. The most commonly used ones are UPS, USPS and FedEx. Choose a carrier as you would choose a business partner; ask yourself which one you consider the most cost-efficient, reliable and trusted. Now find out how you will calculate shipping cost—as a retail store, you’ll most likely be calculating by weight. Figure out the maximum amount you can spend on shipping while still making a profit. If you can afford it, offer free shipping for purchases over a certain amount. Your competitors are already doing this, and you don’t want to be left behind.

Get creative with your packaging. Place your logo somewhere on the outside of the package, wrap purchases in pretty tissue paper and include some fun freebies. Your customers will appreciate the extra thought.

Make Your Mark Online

You’ll need a strong social media presence, especially for customer service inquiries. Entrepreneur recommends establishing a company Facebook page and Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube accounts. Publish content your target audience will find interesting—for example, if you sell swimsuits, focus on content related to swimming, traveling and fitness. Pair tailored content with great promotions, and customers will start flocking to your online store.

Internet Trends 2014 according to Mary Meeker-The Highlights

published on June 4, 2014

Mary Meeker recently shared her annual Internet Trends Report at the recently held Code Conference by KPCB. Here are some of the highlights of noteworthy Key Internet Trends she shared that web professionals should take note of.

  • Internet Users
    • <10% in growth and slowing down. Fastest growth is happening in developing and harder to monetize markets like India, Indonesia, Nigeria.
  • Smartphone Subscribers
    • +20% strong growth though slowing. Fastest growth is happening in underpenetrated markets like China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia
  • Tablets
    • +52% rapid unit growth. Growing faster than PC units ever did.
  • Mobile Data Traffic
    • +81% accelerating growth where video is the strong driver. Mobile usage continues to rise rapidly.
  • Internet Advertising
    • Advertising Revenue per User is on the upside for Google, Facebook, and Twitter
  • Mobile Ad Spend Growth
    • Remains optimistic
  • Mobile App Revenue still trumps Mobile Ad Revenue
    • Global Mobile App Revenue is at approximately 68% of Mobile Monetization
  • Cyber Threats are Intensifying
    • Number of Active Threat Groups is rising rapidly.
    • Increased Nation-State Activities
    • Vulnerable Systems placed on Internet are compromised in less than 15 minutes.
    • +95% of Networks are compromised in some way.
    • As Mobile Platforms grow, directed attacks will rise.
  • Personalized Education is Ramping
    • People are turning to the Internet for Education options – own terms, low cost, real-time feedback.
  • Online Education is a Global Thing
    • Online Courses can help learning process for teachers
    • Khan Academy, YouTube, iTunes U Open University, Coursera courses, Duolingo, Remind101, ClassDojo.
  • Digital Technology Enables Change in the Healthcare systems
    • Consumers want to get healthcare related stuff online.
  • Evolution of Communications
    • Image+Video Sharing is rising rapidly.
  • Evolution of Apps
    • There’s an App for that. (multipurpose web apps, multipurpose mobile apps, single purpose apps)
    • Rise of the Invisible App – apps that you have on your phone but only open when you need to be notified about content.
  • Social Media and Social Distribution
    • Social Media Traffic Referral Leaders: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter. Emerging: Buzzfeed, ABC, BBC, New York Times.
    • New way to think of content: lists, quizzes, explainers, video, mobile
    • Social Distribution – faster turnaround time.
  • Re-imagining Local Services
    • AirBnB, Alibaba, GrubHub
    • Free shipping, Same day delivery
  • Re-imagining Money
    • BitCoin – huge interest in CryptoCurrency
  • Content, Community, Commerce
  • People Enabled with Mobile Devices
    • Instant sharing, communications
    • Personal privacy = an ongoing challenge
    • Potential to solve previously unsolvable problems
    • Challenges related to individual rights
  • Uploadable, Sharable, Findable Real-Time Data is Rising Rapidly
    • Photos
    • Sharable content (Pinterest, Imgur, etc.)
  • Uploadable, Sharable, Not Findable Content
    • WhatsApp
    • Snapchat
    • Tinder
  • Re-imagining user interfaces
    • Finding a place to stay
    • Organized logistics / People moving
    • Managing traffic
    • Finding Music/Video
  • Data Mining and Analytics Tools are improving and finding patterns
    • Big Data is now being used to solve big problems.
  • Screen and Video Growth
    • Apps replacing channels
    • Internet TV replacing Linear TV
    • Media Engagement rises with screen usage
    • With more screens, consumers get more content in less time
    • Traditional remote controls are being replaced with a new IP-enabled search engine
    • Smart TV Adapters + Smart TVs are the game changers for Internet enablement of screens (Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV)
    • On-demand Apps are replacing channels
    • Consumers love video (long-form and short form) including ads(short form)
  • Ads the Digital Way
    • Google TrueView Ads is a game changer
    • Social TV can provide Advertiser lift (TV + Twitter boosts ad impact)
    • Younger consumers = on-demand video
  • Internet TV is replacing Linear TV
    • Consumers are increasingly expecting to watch TV content on their own terms

Interesting trends shared by Mary Meeker. To view the full video of Meeker’s report and additional info about it, check out this article on recode.net.

Happy Birthday WordPress!

published on June 2, 2014

WordPress celebrates its 11th year this May and it can only get better. It may be a bit more quiet than last year’s 10th year celebration but things have been equally if not more exciting than ever. Here are some interesting statistics you need to know about WordPress (.com and .org).

  • 11 Years
    It’s been 11 years since WordPress was first released – May 27, 2003 to be exact.
  • 22% Usage, 60% Market Share
    According to W3Techs.com, WordPress is used by 22.3% of ALL the websites, which translates to a content management system market share of 60.0%.
  • WordPress 3.9 – Downloaded 19.3 million times
    WordPress 3.9 which was released fairly recently has already been downloaded more than 19.3 million times (as of this writing).
  • 2,531 themes, 101,742,042 downloads
    – in the WordPress Theme repository alone with approximately more than 10,000 themes available in the marketplace.
  • More fun embed stats from partners and friends that their users have embedded WordPress short codes on their sites:
    Twitter – 32,978,750 (as of May 2014)
    YouTube – 12,933,230 (as of Apr 2014)
    Flickr – 14,952,725 (as of Apr 2014)
    Vimeo – 29,158 (as of May 2014)
  • WordPress localized in 140+ ways. Find your language here.

Happy Birthday, WordPress!