WordPress.com Sites Add Reblogging Feature

wordpress.com

If you have logged into your wordpress.com account lately, you’ll notice a couple new buttons at the top menu when you view posts and pages of other wordpress.com sites. That’s because the feature that Tumblr made popular called Reblogging has been added this week.

So What is Reblogging?

The idea behind reblogging is very similar to the Twitter retweet – when someone posts or says something that you like, you share a snippet of the post on your personal blog. The web has been fascinated with the idea of sharing content, so just like you would share a funny picture on Facebook or Pinterest, in the push of a button you can reblog the picture to share with your blog’s audience.

If you haven’t checked it out yet or don’t have a wordpress.com account (and why not?!) here is what the tool looks like:

wordpress-reblogging

But won’t this result in mass duplicate content?

Automattic setup the system so only a snippet from the intro is copied to other blogs, and it will link back to the full post on the original authors site. Looking to grow your audience and ind more readers? This makes linkbait and writing epic stuff even more important, as your work (and backlinks) can now spread at lightening speed by way of these simple reblogs.

I like to think of them as the easiest guest posts you will ever write, since you can now write a great piece of content on your own blog, and you will get readers from a whole spectrum of blogs following these reblogs to read the full piece.

There is the added benefit to reblogging someone else’s work besides finding great things for your audience, and that is a comment that gets added to the original post showing who liked it. This is pretty close to the trackback system of allowing readers to find other places where the conversation is being carried on.

Overall, the reblogging feature adds a solid social media element to the trusty veteran blog platform.

Convertible Landing Page Theme by Elegant Themes

convertible theme

The premium theme shop Elegant Themes just announced the release of their latest project – the Convertible Landing Page theme. Their goal with Convertible was to create a landing page system that “is both functional and beautiful.”

We’re the first to agree that all the landing page apps we have seen focus almost exclusively on organizing words on a page and slapping up Buy Now buttons. One look at Convertible and you’ll notice something different – it actually looks good.

The theme operates by making use of drag-and-drop modules, which appear similar to how widgets operate on typical WordPress themes. Drag these versatile modules onto the page then configure them with your mouse. You can create customized looks without getting into the code.

Why does this matter? Well if you follow the advice of landing page experts, you’ll know how much testing should go into your page. By making tweaks to colors, columns, tables, images, and even big advanced layout changes as simple as dragging a module around, you can find your optimally converting page with little hassle.

Convertible Landing Page Theme Features

convertible landing page

Convertible is an affiliate marketing dream theme. It has all the critical components of a landing page, and the styling and polish to everything from the ribbons to the text boxes really make this theme a contender for your toolbox. Here’s some of my favorite features:

  • ribbon headers
  • testimonial boxes
  • video embedding
  • tabbed and toggled content
  • excellent box styles

Elegant Themes has included Convertible as part of their $39 membership package, so if you’re at all in the market for a landing page system, this is a great value when you consider the free bonus of over 65 other themes. For more information you should visit their site elegantthemes.com

Genesis Framework 1.8 Update

genesis framework

The premium theme crowd gets a great release today with the Genesis framework 1.8 update from StudioPress.

The 1.8 update appears geared toward making customization and theme development even easier. Comment lines now make up over 40% of all lines of code in Genesis 1.8, up from 30% in Genesis 1.6, with a significant amount of non-comment code having been added in the meantime as well.

Here’s just some of the main changes made to the framework:

  • New SEO Controls
  • New Extendable Classes for Creating Admin Menus
  • Completely Disable a Navigation Menu, from functions.php
  • Color Style Options
  • Code Standards and Inline Documentation

New Genesis Framework Default Theme

The team also updated the design of the default theme that appears when you have Genesis activated without a child theme applied. Besides the new look, the theme is also responsive, which means it will adjust its dimensions based on what kind of device the site is accessed from.

genesis 1.8

Genesis 1.8 does require the newest version of WordPress 3.3.1 to be fully compatible. After that, grabbing the update is a snap, just go to Themes and click to move to the new version. A major benefit of using a theme framework is that the update only effects the actually framework files, and not the customization of your child theme.

For more info on the Genesis theme framework, checkout the site at studiopress.com

Headway 3.0.5 Responsive Update

headway

The folks over at Headway Themes have released their Headway 3.0.5 update today. It comes complete with plenty of fixed bugs from 3.0 along with a slew of additional features. The entire change log can be found at their site here.

There are enough improvements for practically anyone with sites running Headway to upgrade, and for those previously on the fence about investing in the premium theme to take a second look. To upgrade, just log into your site’s dashboard and select the upgrade link, or you can grab a full zip copy in the members’ area of headwaythemes.com and upload it via FTP.

Headway is Now Responsive Grid Enabled

headway responsive update

The main update to Headway is their inclusion of the responsive grid design ability that has been rapidly growing in popularity among premium themes. Headway now allows you to choose whether to make your site mobile-friendly, and you can have it done in just 2 steps. Whereas most responsive themes force you it on you (or require knowing your way around the code well enough to remove it yourself) Headway provides two interesting ideas.

The first is for site owners to decide for themselves whether to add responsiveness, use a mobile theme plugin, or simply show the site the same way to every visitor.

The other nice feature is it allows your visitor to decide whether to view the site as it normally looks by selecting the option at the bottom of the theme, or just leave it re-sized for their device.

For more information on this update to the Headway Theme, visit the site headwaythemes.com

GPL Themes Get Some Love, Plugins Suffer?

Matt Mullenweg asked the Software Freedom Law Center whether WordPress Themes are GPL too. One sentence summary: PHP in WordPress themes must be GPL, artwork and CSS may be but are not necessarily covered under the same licensing requirements.

For more information on and to find out where can I buy a kindle you can check out the link.

WordPress 2.8 Brings Back Drag and Drop Widget Management

The next version of WordPress is due out soon (probably in early May), and one of the most exciting new things in WordPress 2.8 is the re-worked widgets admin. The vast majority of the complaints I received about the WordPress 2.5 admin redesign, were about the widget admin page. First, you could no longer add widgets using drag and drop. Instead they added the ever annoying “add” link, which would instantly add the widget to the bottom of the current sidebar. The other thing was that if you had a widget configured just how you wanted, and you needed to remove it for even a couple minutes, you would lose all the settings and have to re-do them all. Unfortunately, this seemingly backwards progress held on through versions 2.6 and 2.7 of WordPress as well. However, this page has undergone a complete redesign for 2.8. The real question is, does it make up for lost time? In order to try to answer this, I set up WordPress 2.8 on a development version of Xavisys.com.

A widget being added via the new drag & drop in WordPress 2.8

First, the ability to add widgets to a sidebar by simply dragging them to where you want is back! While I really am excited to see it, I’ll be the first to say that this should really have never left. As web-based applications become more and more common, people expect to see the same kind of functionality on the web that they find on their local system. I know that my mom would never be able to move things around on her computer if she were expected to open the proper window to the right, then click a link to move a file. She has grown so accustom to drag and drop (and rightfully so, it’s everywhere) that it’s what she has come to expect. If WordPress is really going to be the blogging platform for your average Joe, they can’t take steps backward like that. Thankfully it’s back now.

Additionally, like the rest of the admin section in WordPress 2.7+, the widgets page has been modified to take advantage of nearly any screen size. As you can see, in a browser that’s 1024 pixels wide, there is one column of available widgets and another column for active widgets.

WordPress Widgets Admin Page on a 1024px Wide Browser

However, on my screen, which is 1920 pixels wide, I get four columns of available widgets along with the column of active widgets. As a person that uses a high-resolution widescreen monitor almost everywhere, I really appreciate this new layout. I know it won’t benefit everyone, but as you can see it degrades nicely and should work well for pretty much everyone.

WordPress Widgets Admin Page on a 1920px Wide Browser

If you look at the screenshots above, you’ll notice a couple of other new features as well. First, you will see the inactive widgets box.

WordPress 2.8 Inactive Widgets

You can drop fully configured widgets here to store them, rather than lose them altogether, when you remove them from a sidebar. As you can see, the WordPress Twitter Widget Pro widget is fully configured and ready to be dropped back into any one of the widget-ready spots on the theme. This will be really handy for people who change their widgets on a regular basis. However, one of the reasons people wanted this so bad, to move widgets between sidebars, is no longer needed. Instead, you can now simply drag from one sidebar to the next. If the sidebar is currently empty, it will be closed by default. Simply click the name of the sidebar to open it first. You will see it expand vertically, giving you a place to drop a widget.

WordPress 2.8 Widget Settings

The widget settings still work in much the same way as they have for the last few versions. Each WordPress, when the mouse hovers over it, shows a little arrow on the right side. If you click the arrow the widget expands to show all the settings. As you can see, the settings for the WordPress Twitter Widget Pro widget are exactly what you expect, looking just like they have for a while. The settings will show if you click the arrow on any active or inactive widget. Each of the available widgets has the same arrow, but expands to show a description of the widget rather than settings. This actually makes for an extremely intuitive user interface, which is quite refreshing after what we’ve been working with for the last few versions.

So, does the new widgets admin page make up for lost time? I think it does! I was really afraid that the new updates would do nothing but restore what was lost in WordPress 2.5. Instead, the new features in 2.8 give us that and more. The refined user experience of the widgets admin page will go a long way toward truly making WordPress the blogging platform for everyone.

Why BuddyPress

WordPress is one of the most popular sites in the world for bloggers and business owners, mainly because of the many apps and plugins that allow people to make the most out of their blog without having to have too much knowledge about web design. BuddyPress is one of the most powerful platforms that works with WordPress, and it’s also one of the most popular. Not sure why it’s so popular? This article will tell you why so many internet marketers are going gaga for BuddyPress.

What Does BuddyPress Do?

If you want the very simple and short answer to why this platform is so powerful, it’s because it turns your WordPress blog site into a social networking site.

BuddyPress is the perfect choice for internet marketers who want to get people involved in their marketing campaign, because everyone loves to be active on social media sites. It gives people the option of contributing to activity streams, to discuss the latest product news on your own forum, and even lets your customers network with one another through your site. This means that you will not only get information about the people who are interested in what you have to say – it means that they will likely tell you what they want to see happen with your company’s direction.

Since it gives people the opportunity to say what they want to say about your products, their hobbies, their views on life, and more, it is the ultimate way to get people involved with your campaign. You will not only learn about your customers when you use BuddyPress – you will also get your best customers to spread the word about your company when they talk about their membership on your social networking site. This might just be the easiest way to make your site – or your business – go viral.

Use BuddyPress to Create Niche Networks

For niche groups, having a social networking site completely devoted to your subculture, goals, or lifestyles can be what you need in order to develop a very tight-knit community. BuddyPress also gives people the ability to private message one another, which means that it will feel just like any other social networking site, but it can be devoted completely to your cause. Since BuddyPress gives you the opportunity to make much of the social networking site that you run private (if you want it to be private), it’s a great way to provide your groups with a less public way of networking with one another. This is especially handy if the group that you are devoting your WordPress site to wants to stay unnoticed.

Making the most of your WordPress site starts with an incredibly powerful platform, and the most powerful platform that there is happens to be BuddyPress. If you want your site to be very interactive, very lively, and frequently visited, you need to install BuddyPress. This is the only way to harness the power of WordPress and social networking at the same time, and it’s also the best way to get people interested in what you have to say without having to say it all. A couple of years ago, a page with the exact same amount of features would have been way too expensive for most people to afford. Now that BuddyPress has come into existence, there is no reason that ambitious website owners shouldn’t have all the amazing features that comes with a social media site. In other words, instead of asking “Why BuddyPress?”, you should be wondering, “Why not?”

10 Great WordPress Plugins

One of the greatest things about WordPress is how extensible it is through it’s plugin system. There’s a plugin for almost everything. There are more than 4,400 plugins just in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory and there are plenty more that aren’t in the directory. Unfortunately, sometimes there are so many plugins that it makes it hard to find the best WordPress plugins in the massive sea of options. Here are some of my favorite overall plugins.

  • Akismet
  • Simple Trackback Validation
  • Headspace2
  • Clean Slugs
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • Twitter Widget Pro
  • WP Super Cache
  • Sociable
  • Subscribe to Comments
  • Twitter Tools

Akismet

Akismet is the only useful plugin that ships with WordPress (so to speak). It requires that you sign up for an API key, but it’s well worth it. Comment spam is a huge problem on any site that allows comments. The WordPress Akismet plugin checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s “Comments” admin screen. It’s actually quite effective, more than most (if not all) the other comment spam plugins I’ve tried.

Simple Trackback Validation

Fighting spam is the never ending task of anyone running a site that allows user content of any kind. Akismet does a great job of handling the comment spam, but Simple Trackback Validation fills in the gaps and handles trackbacks. Simple Trackback Validation Plugin performs a simple but very effective test on all incoming trackbacks in order to stop trackback spam. Basically, it makes sure that the page claiming to be posting a trackback actually links to the page it’s posting that trackback to.

Headspace2

WordPress is pretty good with search engine optimization right out of the box, just by turning on permalinks. However, there’s definitely plenty of room for improvement. HeadSpace2 is an all-in-one meta-data manager that allows you to fine-tune the SEO potential of your site. Headspace will help you to better handle your tags/keywords, meta descriptions, and it does a great job of cleaning up and customizing your title tag. No longer do you need a bunch of conditionals in your title tag. A simple wp_title(”) will suffice, and the rest can be handled by Headspace2.
Clean Slugs

Another plugin that will help you get a little better search engine optimization. Joost’s Clean Slugs plugin looks for and removes more than 650 “stop words” from your post or page title when the slug is created. These are words that most search engines ignore because they are inconsequential, so removing them will help your raking. Unlike all the other plugins on this list, this plugin can’t be downloaded from the WordPress.org repository. To get this plugin, simply sign up for Joost’s WordPress Newsletter.

Google XML Sitemaps

While it’s true that search engines can spider or crawl your site by following links, having a proper XML sitemap allows you to make sure that every post/page is properly indexed, as well as letting you specify a priority level for each. This plugin will create a Google sitemaps compliant XML-Sitemap of your WordPress blog. It supports all of the WordPress generated pages as well as custom ones. Everytime you edit or create a post, your sitemap is updated and all major search engines that support the sitemap protocol, like ASK.com, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO, are notified about the update.

Twitter Widget Pro

Twitter offer javascript widgets that display your latest tweets, but there are a couple problems. First, you need to be able to modify your theme or put the code into a text widget. Secondly, since it’s javascript, search engines don’t see the content. Twitter Widget Pro is a widget that properly handles twitter feeds, including @username and link parsing. It supports displaying profiles images, and even lets you control whether to display the time and date of a tweet or how log ago it happened (about 5 hours ago, etc). It does all this as a server-side widget, so the content can all be parsed by search engines. Requires PHP5.

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache is a static caching plugin for WordPress. It generates html files that are served directly by Apache without processing comparatively heavy PHP scripts. By using this plugin you will speed up your WordPress blog significantly, reduce CPU/memory usage, and lessen database strain. If you have a high-traffic WordPress site, this is absolutely necessary.

Sociable

Social marketing is a hot topic and many have found that it’s incredibly successful. There are a few plugins for WordPress that will help you with this. Add This, Share This, and Sociable are the most popular, and I think Sociable is the best. It’s the only one that allows all content to be loaded from your site, no scipts or images to load from some other site. The reason this is so important to me is that I don’t ever want my site to load slowly because of a different site. Sociable automatically add links to your favorite social bookmarking sites on your posts, pages and in your RSS feed. You can choose from 99 different social bookmarking sites!

Subscribe to Comments

Getting people to comment on your posts can be a challenge. Even more difficult is getting people to come back to the same post and continue a discussion. Subscribe to Comments is a robust plugin that enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries. The plugin includes a full-featured subscription manager that your commenters can use to unsubscribe to certain posts, block all notifications, or even change their notification e-mail address!

Twitter Tools

Twitter Tools is a plugin that creates a complete integration between your WordPress blog and your Twitter account. The only part of it that I use is the ability to automatically notify Twitter of new posts. The problem is that it prefaces all these Tweets with “New blog post:” and this text isn’t customizable. Additionally, it uses tinyurl to shorten the URL for the post, and I would prefer that it let me use something like SnipUrl which lets me track the number of clicks. Still, the fact that it’s all automatic saves a lot of time for me, especially on sites like Web Developer News where people other than me post articles on a regular basis.

WordPress Widget

The WordPress widget has evolved over the years from simple recent posts, texts, and tags to now being able to add many different features to your sidebar like your latest Twitter feed, social sharing buttons, and blog feed subscription boxes forms.

This page will serve as a collection of innovative and useful widgets for your consideration, so bookmark it and stay tuned for updates!

Problem Related Post Plugins

I think the main problem with related post plugins is that they don’t seem to evolve as often as they could. I did a Google search and landed on Mr. Cutts’ blog where he explored some popular recommendations.

This is where it gets tough to find one that can compete with Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP). Competition is always good in the theme and plugin space since it forces developers to either innovate new features or add their own twist on existing ones. I think the related posts niche can easily be as popular as the SEO plugins and contact forms, since every blog could really make use of one.

Personally, if there was a complete solution that I could install on every blog I would be happy to pay for a premium solution.