A WordPress Love Letter

Most of the web design industry may be on WordPress overload but majority of us still can’t get enough. The WordPress, “I’m Lovin’ It” faithful-following understand that it has quickly become one of the fastest growing, most popular content management systems (CMS) for blogging, if not the most popular CMS overall. It’s extremely quick to install as well as easy to navigate and master.  And they are consistently evolving across all platforms with simplistic, internal update features and plugins that are only a few clicks away in the backend.  Often, there are no external file downloads even necessary! One of the best parts is that it allows both web design companies and individuals alike to produce dynamic websites without extensive knowledge of web development or code writing. Unlike traditional HTML sites, WordPress is extremely cost-effective and easy to change over when you tire of the layout look.  If you want a fast turnaround with minimal time invested, look to web design firms such as Design Theory to supply you with a customized, stunning website with lightning fast turnaround at a start-up budget price.

If there’s a WordPress for Dummies TM (yeah, there really is) you have to know there’s some industry staying power and it is more than just a flash in the pan or temporarily trending on Twitter.  They’ve definitely invested in their place at the table of content management systems.  Some skeptics may wonder, well is it really that easy?  As a non-code writing web content designer, I can say yes it is.  And as I’ve quickly learned, if there’s something you don’t understand, there is a TREMENDOUS amount of help and documentation online you can find on nearly every aspect of customizing your WordPress website. If you can dream it, chances are it’s already been done with WordPress and documented somewhere tangible and therefore learnable.

WordPress also has one of the widest varieties of plugins and themes to choose from giving a seemingly endless realm of design possibilities.  Let’s look at some of the recently added & most popular layouts.  Looking for a simple way to showcase your photos?  Check out this Free Photo WordPress Theme. Have a blossoming political career or want to blog about and propel your choice candidates’ ratings?  Political Blogging WordPress Website gives you sound bites right on the homepage and yes that is our current Prez Obama on the 4th slide.  If those don’t titillate your visual & artistic senses, feel free to peruse these Top 100 Most Beautiful WordPress Themes highlighted by TopDesignMag.com.

While these great themes are indicative of the WP developer bug bite, WP and its growing community of contributing developers do their best not to skimp on flash or fun.  How creatively, fun are widgets! A Widget? For those who don’t know, it’s an on-screen device/application that can be installed and executed within a web page by an end user such as a clock, calendar, image, daily weather, etc.  This allows putting your own style & spin to most WordPress themes/layouts.  And speaking of spin…a great example of having more WordPress amusement can be the Flash Image Carousel plugin, which circulates a variety of images/photos in a cool, circular motion versus the typical, right to left slide show.  WordPress Plugins are great tools that extend the functionality of your WordPress website and currently there are 21,820 plugins available directly on WordPress’s website (as of today that is).

Another feature that we all love is the ease of Drag and Drop content editing which makes content placement a cinch with 2 clicks. Oh and the list goes on and on…With WordPress it seems that if you can conceive it someone creates it and that’s the best part of being WordPress user and fan.  So if you’re already an enthusiast or are curious about becoming one, check out some of the latest WordPress innovations via WordPress TV.  What, their own online TV station – what’ll they think of next?  Apparel?  Say it isn’t so…sorry we can’t because you can wear it loud and proud via WP Apparel.  Needless to say they’ve proven that the sky’s the limit and I’ll be tuning in to find out what’s hot from these tried, true and trendy website theme makers.

Lastly, to the Big W…if you couldn’t already tell –
Aw shucks, we love you guys!

 

~ Content Writing Inspiration ~
“A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.” Frank Capra

Analyzing Your Trends – What They Really Tell You

Last week Design Theory allowed the outside world an inside look at our audience numbers for our weekly blog postings via Peeking Underneath the Hood at Your Blog #’s.  It was great to get feedback by email and comments on the blog as to what people thought of our exposure and how that helped them to consider the importance of analytics. Most companies should know that tracking their visitors through a source like Google Analytics includes hits from search engines, pay-per-click networks, email marketing, displayed advertising and the like.  Off-site analytics, like the ones I’ve demonstrated here, are to measure not just the website’s current audience but also it’s potential audience and what we at Design Theory can do to create more opportunities, exposure and buzz (aka comments) about our services. So, the analysis of our web data helps to improve the website and our blog content for Design Theory and it’s visitors.

During the last week of September
887 Page Views vs. preceding week’s 994 Page Views


As opposed to last week, this week we see a significant increase in readership directly from www.jpdesigntheory.com.  Additionally, the top referring website is still Google but there seems to be a little less traffic via Google UK than the week preceding and Google.com jumped 46 more than last week as well.   Last week there were very few unique readers on Monday & Tuesday (how readers are tagged via a persistent cookie that stores and returns a unique id value so that Client V is always the same Client V whenever he/she comes back to the website) but this week, there are definitely more than its predecessor (361 vs. 221).  That’s great because that tells us we are reaching new people and therefore more potential clientele.  As far as the blogs go, Daphne & I are still neck & neck, which once again confirms that our blogs and tags are working well for us. Lastly, as ironic as it is, our top view location moved from Ulaanbaatar, New Mexico last week to Meriden, CT this week.  I can’t explain that one at all!  But at least it reflects the diversity of our readers and confirms that Design Theory has a worldwide presence.

During the first week of October
717 Page Views


What I also notice right off the bat is that Tuesdays readership fell drastically and I know exactly why.  I was on vacation and didn’t blog.  Yes that’s right, I did it…I took a vacation and I’m not sorry about it.  And although I’m not happy the numbers dipped, it did provide us with some solid intel.  It shows that I have a reading audience and there is value in the content I create weekly for the blog.  So Daphne metaphorically DUNKED on me HARD but that’s ok.  Despite having different titles and talents, we have the same goal.  And that ultimate goal is increasing the ROI that those talents provide via the blogs and the work we do for our clients.

As detailed in the Audience Stats, our number of visits/readers let us know that people are accessing our website and whether or not we are capturing new audiences.  However, something this particular report doesn’t reflect (but should definitely be considered) is the bounce rate.  The bounce rate tells us how many people come to our site and quickly left it.  Now there are plenty of reasons that happens.  Maybe someone had to answer their door or walk their dog…but most often it reflects that they didn’t find what they needed or became bored with the content. There’s no room for ego when looking at these numbers I must tell you.  Because what it does is identify areas that we could improve on like imagery, written content and the ease of navigation throughout the website.

So once again we learn, we grow and do better.  I’m encouraged by our numbers while knowing there’s ALWAYS room for improvement and I look forward to continue to write and put out great content & tidbits to our readers and clients.

~ Content Writing Inspiration ~
The beginning is easy; what happens next is much harder. ~ Anonymous

Peeking Undeneath the Hood – Your Blog #’s & Ours!

Jean Perpillant, owner, head honcho and web designer extraordinaire of Design Theory and I recently had a conversation about the importance of Social Media and in particular, blogging.  Oftentimes one of the hardest parts of our (and in particular my) job is getting clients to believe that professional blogging is a worthwhile cause and can be a great contributor to your business’s success. See a previous blog I wrote on that subject at http://bit.ly/WaawSu.  So as we were talking about our own numbers and the ROI therefrom, I suggested lifting the hood on our analytic statistics to prove just how vital this is to the exposure and growth of your business and that business’s profitability.  He loved the idea of using our own transparency to prove the validity of our belief to outside clients that there is a tangible benefit To Blog or Not to Blog.  No dirty overalls or Goop needed, here we go…

The early part of September hits on our weekly blogs – 572 Page Views

As you can see, we have 3 main contribution sources for our readership this particular week-those who come through our blog being indexed on Google, visits to our blog through visiting www.jpdesigntheory.com directly and others through various alternative search engines.  As you can see, the top referring websites that contribute to our audience statistics are Google & LinkedIn with majority this weeks of readership coming from our blogs being indexed on Google.  Ah yes, the power of Google.

At Design Theory, we know that our readership is vital to getting our name out there not only in the World Wide Blogosphere but also to the masses as a whole.  We’re not a huge corporation with various satellite offices (YET!) but we know that having a world wide presence is the key to meeting our company goals as well as attaining clientele outside our hubs geographic region in Orlando, Florida.  What you can also see from the Audience Stats, is that Tuesday happens to be our highest number of reads for this particular week.  Knowing that information is important because it tells us at DT, that the early part of the week is the best time to post and also can help clue us in as to who is posting on that day & the impact that person has our readership.  Monday is right behind Tuesday for readership and I happen to know that those 2 days blogs are written by Daphne Lenti, our lead Graphic Designer on Monday and me, your happy Wordsmith & Content Marketeer (love the title right!) on Tuesday.  What it additionally shows Daphne & I is how important our blogging is to the exposure of our company AND that people are interested in what we have to say & that we have a well-respected level of knowledge on what we write about.  It also shows that our connections on LinkedIn are working as an additional exposure source through our professional networks and the groups we are affiliated with on there.

The 3rd week of this month – 994 Page Views

What you see right off the bat is that our Page Views have dramatically increased by 442!  Additionally, the 3 main contribution sources to these statistics remain the same but take note of the jump from 24 visits via LinkedIn to a whopping 148 visits in just 2 weeks!  Once again Daphne & I are neck in neck until we get to a spike in readership on Thursday.  Also note that the top viewing location has changed from Tijuana to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.  I have no clue why but talk about a world wide presence!

So the crux of our To Blog or Not to Blog and reason for our behind the scenes look at our blogs, is to put our own “argument” to the test and to show you that we practice what we preach to our clients.  Oh, and it works!

~ Content Writing Inspiration ~   

This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back again.
                                                                                                       ~Oscar Wilde

Looking for New Web Design Writers

Girl at desk typingHey everyone! We’re proud and humble that you all have subscribed, comment, and continue to share our blog posts. I’d like to give a huge thank you from myself and the Design Theory staff. We wouldn’t be successful without all of you!

With all that, we are looking go expand our articles and this is where you come in. Let us know if you’re interested in writing for us. The only requirement is that you’ll be writing a post once a week for a specific day. The range for topics is still pretty open, but it does need to be design related. If you’d like some more information, please fill out the form below or call us at 888.603.1090. [contact-form subject=”New Dt blog writers” to=”email@jpdesigntheory.com”] [contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /] [contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /] [contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /] [contact-field label=”Comment” type=”textarea” required=”true” /] [/contact-form]

Getting over the Hump – An Inspiration for Blog Writers Block

Even those who have great aptitude in writing sometimes find themselves with literally NO WORDS! Unlike our verbal language, writing is actually one of the most difficult activities that we humans use to formalize communication sin la boca (without your mouth if you don’t speak Spanish).  It sounds simple but as Wikipedia has defined it:  writer’s block is “a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand.”  Uh, yeah- I couldn’t have said it better.  But what does one do when the deadline is looming and the children are to bed and it’s man vs. machine and you realize…I’VE GOT NOTHIN’!  Thank God writing pro’s like Mike Rose (famed UCLA Graduate School faculty member and author) even acknowledges that it truly is “an inability to begin or continue writing for reasons other than lack of basic skill or commitment“. Whew…I’m off the hook a little!  But now what do I do about it?

Why do you we do this to ourselves…it‘s supposed to speak back to you right? Like in some gone from a book to the big screen movie—the leading character is some highly paid British actor/actress paid to throw their laptop out the window of their 5th story NYC walk-up in utter despair.  Yeah…in the real world most of us don’t have the kind of money that allows for those despairing moments.  So I have opted not to spend hours wasting good wine or time employing this useless tactic. Instead I think it’s best to stare at something else.  Walk around your house- look at some pictures, clean, cook, do a little laundry or run an errand.  Heck, play with your kid or a game of chess with your spouse.  Do something else besides stewing in the quagmire of I have no clue. You would be amazed how making the best salmon with a lemon dill sauce can jump-start a blog idea.  Personal Example: One day I was frustrated about a concept I dreamt about (and DID NOT GET UP & WRITE IT DOWN.. I know bad, bad, bad) and was about to scream when my daughter asked me to color with her.  As I was taking note of how precise my “staying within the lines” was and how the unbridled charm of a child’s Crayola skills were, yes the cliché lightbulb went off.  And before you knew it, while she was still coloring outside the lines, I was pecking away on my laptop.  Writers cramp over came writers block and I was grateful for it.


You know what they say in real estate…Location, Location Location.  And I agree. After a very busy weekend and stressful morning I found myself not able to color in anybody’s lines or muster up enough energy required to even stare at a blank page.  So what else could I do to get the boost usually relegated to a high-priced cup of Starbucks coffee?  I went outside. Yup in the lovely 70° weather, I listened to the sounds of a almost perfect May day  in Connecticut.  And before I knew it, several titles/concepts came to me which enabled me to write this blog AND  birth 2-3 ideas for some other projects.  Fantastic right!  Sometimes a simple change of location can do wonders for inspiration.  Being jailed at your desk is not worth it when you can get some fresh air and use the objects/sounds/feelings around you to motivate your imagination. Like an artist who can use a host of colors or materials to create their masterpiece, so can writers.  And I’m not talking laptop vs. plume…I mean what you use to connect ideas/concepts/words together to tap into your linguistic intelligence and unlock the door to your next novella. 

1.) Interview a customer about particular concerns/challenges as well as solutions and then blog about it.  I’m sure they will love the attention & it gets their name advertised in social media for free. Or you can opt to share an anecdote about an issue that occurred in your own business, from the problem to the solution.

2.) Dialogue with industry-friends via social media and let the responses shape a blog post or video blog with them weighing in on topics relevant to industry news items.

3.) Consider product or service comparisons, a Consumer Reports of sort but on issues like social media, graphic design, use of WordPress themes vs. traditional HTML websites.

4.) Report on a conference or webinar you attended giving perspective to real issues facing people in your own industry or some great highlights and tricks of the trade that you learned.

5.) Address customer questions you’ve received on the same topic/aspect of service.  This lets them know that you’re listening and are willing to receive feedback once it’s out on the www.

6.) Expand upon a comment you wrote on someone else’s blog & parlay that into your own blog post. Tread lightly here, these are your peers after all.  But bringing in a different angle never hurts.

7.) Correlate what inspires your daily life into the business world and create a blog connection. Hence, look out for my upcoming blog “Coloring In and Out of the Lines in Social Media” – thanks to my daughter’s crayons.

 

Save the world with a team

There are a bunch of movies in which individuals team up to take on obstacles they never could have faced alone.  My absolute favorites are the Lord of the Rings trilogy in which a group of nine set out to destroy a ring and a Dark Lord.  While in the movies, the forming of the Fellowship was a bit more of a volunteer effort, the books tell of a more deliberate approach. Each individual was selected for their particular strengths and how they could best accomplish the goal of saving the world.

While creating a web platform for your business might not equate to “saving the world” per se, the fact is that having a good website gives your business a competitive edge that other marketing methods simply can’t. It can help mobile users find you, help reach a global market, and so much more.

While there are individuals that claim to do it all, the fact of the matter is that no one person can do everything well. Even superheroes have holes in their skillset, and that’s okay…unless you need Kryptonite disposal and you’ve hired Superman. You don’t want to end up with a site that isn’t visually pleasing or whose code keeps search engines from ranking you properly.

Here at Design Theory, I’m fortunate enough to work alongside amazing professionals who are awesome at what they do and who work great together. Design is not my strong suite, but I know that I’m working with people who actually know what kerning is or who understand UI design far better than I ever will.  That’s better for clients because they get a strong site that fulfills their business goals with an appealing design and clean, valid code.

So next time it feels like your website needs a redesign, contact us at Design Theory. We’ll go to the ends of (Middle) Earth for you.

Who are some of your favorite teams–movie, sports, superhero or otherwise? Let me know in the comments!