Usability Testing Tips

Feedback Army blog. Topics include:
Usability Testing, Business Musings, and Site News.

WordPress Site Integration Made Easy

Britain Going Blog Crazy - Metro Article

Photo credit: Annie Mole

Feedback Army continues to grow and do well. It’s my privilege to serve you. Despite this growth I noticed Feedback Army’s search engine traffic is poor. I looked at some options to improve SEO and settled on a strategy of adding quality content to this site. Step 1 of this meant getting a blog up and running with Feedback Army.

For a long time I avoided a blog on this site for fear it would take too much effort to set it up and make it feel like part of the site. Fortunately my fears were wrong and the overall process wasn’t too bad.

Here is what I did to quickly get Feedback Army up and running with WordPress.

My Custom Theme

The first step to a natural integration is a theme that fits the site. WordPress has many beautiful themes to choose from but I wanted the Feedback Army look and feel. Moreover I didn’t want to learn the loop and the WordPress specific theme hooks.

To create the Feedback Army theme I used ThemesPress. ThemesPress is a tool that generates a WordPress theme using the HTML and CSS you give it. They let you develop the theme, preview it, and when you’re happy cash out for $10.

I can’t recommend this product enough. I started playing with it waiting for a flight and when I landed I couldn’t wait to get home and finish it. All told in a few short hours I had a theme that fit into the Feedback Army design and didn’t break WordPress.

ThemesPress Screenshot

If you have a design already and want to bring WordPress into your site, try this product out.

My Plugins

One of the great strengths of WordPress is the variety of plugins available for every need. Here are the ones I use and tips for setting them up.

After the Deadline – Write Better

After the Deadline is a replacement for the spell checker that comes with WordPress. It checks spelling, misused words, grammar and style. I invented After the Deadline and continue to work on it full-time for Automattic. It’s unlike any proofreading tool you’ve used before. Your browser will not alert you when a word is misused and the style checker is similar to other products that cost over $100. This tool is a bargain at the low price of FREE.

To get the most out of After the Deadline, I recommend you visit your user profile settings and enable automatic proofreading. This will force After the Deadline to run before a post is published and prompt you if there is anything to change. I also recommend you have After the Deadline check for everything except “passive voice” and “hidden verbs”. These last two options are valuable if you’re writing a manual or a proposal. For blogging, they’re overkill.

I’m an enthusiastic user of my product and trust me, this product will make you a better writer.

Akismet – Stop SPAM

Akismet is distributed with WordPress. You have to activate it and I highly recommend you do. Once enabled Akismet provides near-100% protection from comment spam. Being free of spam is a good thing.

All in One SEO Pack – Improve SEO

This is one of the most popular plugins on the WordPress repository. Maybe it’s the allure of the name? I downloaded it because it creates a few meta data fields that WordPress does not bother with. Once setup it has been pretty transparent to me.

CommentLuv – Increase Participation

Since my purpose in setting up a blog was to help with SEO, I figured I’d like to return the favor to those who participate on this blog. Enter CommentLuv. CommentLuv scans the site you provide when you comment and generates a link for your latest post. It’s a way of rewarding comments. I think it’s a great concept and it’s non-intrusive.

Google XML Sitemaps – Be Search Engine Friendly

This plugin generates a search engine friendly sitemap to make life easier for robots crawling your site. WordPress has good out of the box SEO but again, this is something that can’t hurt. Once loaded, this plugin has been transparent to me.

iflickr – Makes Posts More Interesting

I love this plugin. From my Add New Post screen, I’m able to search for creative commons licensed photos on Flickr. This is how I’ve added the nifty images to spice up these posts. While this plugin works fine, it is slightly rough around the edges.

Twitter Updater – Publicize

Good social media integration is as important as good SEO. I’m not too active on Twitter but I’m a fan of having an auto-publicize feature for blog posts. This plugin works for what it does.

What I’d like to see in the future is a publicize plugin that lets me publicize my posts to sites based on what I tag my posts with. For example, most of my business musings post are right for Hacker News. Moreover, I’d like to see such a plugin support an API that lets users contribute code to make submitting to smaller or more niche sites possible. Good promotion isn’t hitting just the big services, it’s reaching the niche ones.  Note–getting this right is a great opportunity for someone.

WordPress.com Stats – Measure Growth

The WordPress.com Stats plugin is easy to use and provides statistics for measuring your blog’s growth. I use it because I’m used to it from WordPress.com. When it works, it works fine. When it doesn’t work, it’s a mystery. For the first few weeks of this blog’s existence I saw zero users according to the WordPress.com stats. If you think it’s demotivating writing for 40 or 50 users, try writing for zero.

I later discovered that the theme created by ThemesPress lacks the <?php wp_footer(); ?> line in their footer.php file. This line is necessary for the stats plugin to work. If you’re using a ThemesPress theme (I still recommend it), you’ll need to update footer.php to get the WordPress.com Stats plugin to work. Just insert the code right before the </body> tag at the end of the document. Once I fixed this, WordPress.com Stats started reporting results and I saw that I do have readers.

Closing Thoughts

As I said earlier, getting up and running with WordPress was pretty easy. ThemesPress made it possible for me to get the look and feel I desired. The plugins help make writing go from a chore to fun. Happy blogging.

Posted in business musings on February 9, 2010 | 1 Comment »

One Comment on “WordPress Site Integration Made Easy”

Usability Testing Tips and Handbook – How to Keep Blogging – Motivation Tips from Top Writers Says:

[...] money and getting the equipment is a lot easier than actually running. Previously I wrote about my experience setting up the Feedback Army blog and I’m proud to say I’ve beat my low bar for consistency [...]

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