WordPress-Friendly Ghost Themes

published on August 12, 2014

Ghost started out as a Kickstarter project by John Nolan with the goal of creating

… a blogging platform with all the open source benefits of WordPress, but simpler in every way, and just focused on publishing. Ghost is unique in its philosophy of focusing entirely on publishing. Everything about the administrative system is designed around making writing simple and pleasurable. Everything about the theme system has been created to facilitate personal blog, magazine, and news themes.

The biggest difference between Ghost and other platforms from a technological point of view is that it’s built entirely in JavaScript. A modern technology stack means that Ghost can push the boundaries of what’s possible with the web. You can install and run a blog on a 16MB USB stick, a Raspberry Pi, or a high powered Virtual Private Server.

Although this new ecosystem is fairly new compared to WordPress and may not appeal to everyone’s liking, there have been several beautiful and interesting themes that have been released with a WordPress version counterpart. Here are a few of these Ghost-inspired WordPress themes that you can check out.

CASPER

Casper WP theme, is essentially a port of the gorgeous default theme from the Ghost blogging platform built using Underscores as a base. It is a clean, minimalist, and lightweight theme that’s designed to highlight content without the unnecessary frills. Author, Lacy Morrow, gives a short demonstration of the theme’s features with a blog post that was written in Markdown (the language used by Ghost)and uses the Jetpack Markdown plugin for parsing. Other WordPress features are also integrated into the theme.

RAIN

RAIN is one of the best selling Ghost themes on ThemeForest and also has a responsive WordPress theme counterpart. This minimalist WordPress “Ghost” theme has a background that is 100% dynamic where you can imply upload your own photo and it also includes audio files in the package free of charge. This theme is designed primarily for writers.

ASTRO

Astro is a content focused responsive theme, originally a Ghost designed theme, built for the WordPress platform. Designed from the bottom up to be high performance, user friendly, and accessible on all devices. Astro adapts to the users viewport, so it looks great on smartphones, tablets, TVs, and even the latest 4K monitors. Astro includes two different post styles. The standard style is designed for update posts and short articles. The featured style includes full title images, suited towards larger articles, tutorials and other documentation.


Not Your Usual WordPress SEO Plugins To Try

published on August 5, 2014

WordPress as a Content Management System, in itself, is already a good platform for SEO goals because of the way it is structured. But you can always make a good thing better if you want to. Check out these fresh SEO plugins that you might not have heard of but might help make your SEO efforts yield even better results.

Premium SEO Pack for WP

This plugin in gives you a whole array of tools to help you optimize your site’s visibility in internet searches. The plugin includes monitoring tools like Google Analytics, SERP tracking, On-Page and Off-Page optimization tools, the premium Mass Optimization feature that allows you to optimize all your posts and pages at once. Another cool on page feature is Local SEO. This allows you to rank your pages based on the geographic locale. Other noteworthy on page features are: title & meta format, sitemap, SEO slug optimizer, SEO feature optimizer and google authorship. The SEO pack also includes Link Builders, Backlink Builder, Social Stats, Page Speed Insights, Smush It, and also an SEO code insert feature.

WordPress SEO Post-Optimizer

WordPress SEO Post-Optimizer plugin assists you in optimizing page rank posts. This plugin checks your posts againsts SEO criteria, checks for keyword density (the right amount of keywords in a post), and autochecks for the SEO score of your post every 15 seconds. The SEO scores are expressed in percentage. A real time check on the amount of words is also done in recognition of the fact that search engines usually prefer content with more than 300 words. The plugin also checks if the post has images or not and also if there are links to older posts on your blog to improve your internal content structure. The Post Optimizer plugin also checks for internal links, the usage of h-tags and alt-tags, and bold, italicized, or underlined keywords in your post.

Rankie

Rankie is a WordPress Rank Checker plugin that helps you keep track of WordPress rankings on Google keeping a close eye on each keyword position. The plugin allows you to track an unlimited number of keywords on Google and keeps updating these ranks daily. You can also check out ranking trends per week, month or all time. The plugin is also a great keyword research tool that helps you generate keyword lists by suggesting possible alternatives to keywords of interest. You can track unlimited number of keywords ranking on Google and keep updating these ranks daily as it works as a WordPress SERP plugin, generate ranking reports per month, per year or by all time letting you know how ranking is going up or down with details on every single position change for each tracked keyword, including many other helpful tracking functions.

Ultimate Video SEO Plugin

Ultimate Video SEO Plugin is an advanced stand alone plugin for WordPress which covers all aspects of Video SEO. It automatically fetches video SEO details from videos of all major video hosting providers and submit it to a video sitemap. What can it do? It supports self hosted videos in all WordPress supported video formats. It notifies search engines whenever a sitemap is updated or generated. It supports video embedded through shortcode or metabox (created by third party plugins or theme). It supports self hosted videos embedded using default WordPress media gallery. It adds schema.org video object markup to all your video posts/pages. It shows snippet preview of video search results within your post editor.

Meta Tags Optimization

Meta Tags are keywords used by search engines to find useful information. A lot of times the title and nature of the content may not be associated with the right meta tags. The Meta Tags Optimization plugin advices the admin whether the page is optimized correctly, by highlighting with green and red colors the Meta Tags that are found on the page. While the plugin will not tell us what tags to add or eliminate, it will highlight with red the incorrect inputs. This plugin gives useful information to the writer by highlighting meta tags on the page that may not be the best suited for the content. This plugin also lets you optimize meta tags for posts/pages by providing you clear instruction to repair your meta tags.


The Big 4.0 – Multi Lingual Made Easy (Beta 2)

published on July 29, 2014

In keeping with its development timeline, WordPress is set to release version 4.0 in August and it is something to be excited about. It has recently released the Beta 2 version which includes further refinements of the first release. Here are a few of the exciting features developers have been working on in this version.

  • Previews of embedding via URLs in the visual editor and the “Insert from URL” tab in the media modal. Try pasting a URL (such as a WordPress.tv or YouTube video) onto its own line in the visual editor.
  • The Media Library now has a “grid” view in addition to the existing list view. Clicking on an item takes you into a modal where you can see a larger preview and edit information about that attachment, and you can navigate between items right from the modal without closing it.
  • Fresh plugin install experience. You’ll see some early visual changes as well as more information when searching for plugins and viewing details.
  • Selecting a language when you run the installation process.
  • The editor intelligently resizes and its top and bottom bars pin when needed.
  • Improvements to how your keyboard and cursor interact with TinyMCE views such as the gallery preview.
  • Widgets in the Customizer are now loaded in a separate panel.
  • Changes to some formatting functions.
  • Refinements for the the plugin installation and media library experiences.
    Updated TinyMCE, which now includes better indentation for lists and the restoration of the color picker.
  • Cookies are now tied to a session internally.

This software is still in development and is not recommended that it be run on a production site in real time. If you want to try and test it before its official release, you can try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want “bleeding edge nightlies”) or you can also download the beta version (zip).


Top Themes Featured on Theme Forest

published on July 16, 2014

Every week, Themeforest features promising WordPress themes that are worth noticing. Here are some of the latest themes that have been featured on Themeforest you need to see. Check these out.

Forgiven – A Powerful WordPress Theme for Churches

Forgiven Premium WordPress Theme is a powerful parallax enabled church theme that includes major features such as: Visual Composer plugin, Slider Revolution, Envira Gallery, the unique and exclusive Blur Slider, support for Church Theme Content, WooCommerce support, Page customizer, Gravity Forms and Contact Form 7 support, Sermon functionality, The Events Calendar and the Events Calendar Pro plugin integration and support, and so much more.

FlatAds – Classified AdsWordPress Theme

FlatAds Classified Ads WordPress Theme is a super flexible and fully responsive Premium Directory/Listing WordPress themebuilt with HTML5 and CSS3. FlatAds is compatible with WooCommerce 2.1, bbPress, and MailChimp for WP plugin. Other key features include custom fields for categories and subcategories, interactive Google maps Geolocation support, integrated PayPal payments support, and WPML (multilingual) support.

Faculty – Responsive Academic WordPress Theme

Faculty Responsive Academic WordPress Theme is a magazine or personal blog styled page that can be used to build personal or professional websites specifically for academic people. This simple and yet well structured responsive theme is especially designed as an online cv of professors and PHD students. Key features include publications management, option to present research, teaching and blog pages, and provision for downloadable CVs for interested visitors.

KLEO – Next level Premium WordPress Theme

KLEO – Next level Premium WordPress Theme is an extremely flexible, fully customizable BuddyPress and bbPress compatible WordPress multipurpose theme to help you create a community, a corporate portfolio, or a membership website. This membership ready theme allows you to create membership levels and restrict content based on member access quite easily. key features include: WPML and Translation Ready, WooCommerce Ready, Google Maps integration, Contact Form 7 compatible, among others.

Time Travel – Timeline WordPress Theme

Time Travel – Timeline WordPress Theme is an ultra modern next generation premium theme developed with cutting edge technology and design. The built-in voice control makes it both revolutionary and at the same time super intuitive to use. You can set up your own language to be used in the voice commands control, so it is as easy as possible for your visitors. The design of the site is a 3D time travel path, ideal for displaying chronology data, posts flow by date, history info or just any type of timeline content in a modern and futuristic way.

It is ideal as a blog, a portfolio site, a corporate site aiming to display the history of company or brand, an artist’s portfolio to display albums / films / books in a chronological way, an agency website to showreel projects and team by date, etc.

Hooray – Premium WordPress Blog Theme

Hooray Premium WordPress Blog Theme is one of the most colorful and user friendly personal blog themes. Key features include: easy to use powerful Admin Panel, full Arabic RTL support, social counter integration, translation and multi language ready, page templates, review and rating system, unlimited colors and sidebars, and so much more.

Moustachey: A Blog theme with extra gusto

Moustachey Premium WordPress Theme is a fun, quirky WordPress blog theme playing on the moustache design. Key features include: Author support, social share enabled, typekit web fonts integration, adobe edge web fonts integration, Google analytics support, Google API v3 integration, configurable donate/message block at the top of the page, localization support, and so much more.


Why User Generated Content Goes Viral

published on July 8, 2014

If you are hoping to create a campaign that goes viral, look no further than your own users. People love to create their own content. Statistics published by YouTube show that 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute, and more than 6 billion hours worth of videos are watched every month. A viral campaign created with the help of user generated content can reach millions of people, and here are some examples of how it works.

Fractals

Fractals are mathematical figures of reoccurring patterns that recur repeatedly on a diminishing scale. Likewise, content goes viral as users share it with other users who then share it, and the cycle can continue on and on. For example, T-Mobile’s “Break-up” campaign is a perfect example of this idea. T-Mobile offered to pay the early contract termination costs from their competitors in return for a switch to T-Mobile and a posted picture of the switcher with a “break-up letter” to their former provider. These break-ups were documented via photographs, image macros, twitter posts and Facebook updates, all collected at RebelMouse. By connecting with their potential customers concerns about their current providers, T-Mobile effectively created 80,000 unique advertisements shared with countless users without having to do anything themselves.

The other side of the coin is more frightening for businesses. Bad viral content spreads quickly and can destroy a brand. According to Fox Sports, a hashtag heavy tweet congratulating the U.S. in its World Cup win over Ghana quickly backfired on Delta Airlines. People swarmed to criticize the company for an insensitive “giraffe gaffe” and quickly shared the tweet amongst their friends and followers. Delta apologized and removed the tweet, but the damage was already done.

Reasons Users Participate

Getting users engaged with your content is key if you want them to generate and share their own content. In 2010, Old Spice launched the immensely popular “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” advertisement that accrued more than 48 million views on Youtube. The combination of humor and strangeness was a perfect viral video cocktail, but Old Spice didn’t stop there. Seeing the popularity of their shirtless spokesperson Isaiah Mustafa amongst bloggers and social media users, Old Spice initiated a campaign in which “The Old Spice Guy” began sending out videos via Twitter to the bloggers who had originally shared Old Spice’s original content. The genius of this move is clear; sharing the ads and talking about them garnered you a personal thank you from a highly recognized advertorial character. There was an inherent reward that Old Spice offered, and users scrambled to chase after it.

Taking It to the Next Level

Sometimes user generated content doesn’t exist to advertise a product, it is the product. T-Shirt company Threadless took the idea of user generated content to the next level by building an entire company based on the idea. At Threadless, users submit T-shirt designs that are voted on for a week by the community, and those artists whose designs are approved by the community and website are paid a flat rate plus royalties based on sales of the shirt. Threadless figured out a way to not only incentivize users to create content, but they made user generated content and community interaction the foundation of their business. Each new shirt design is a chance for the site to go viral on social media. By holding regular contests based on the best and most popular content, Threadless keeps artists and consumers glued to their website and sharing links in the hopes of having their designs printed—and that’s the genius of it.


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.