Why Now Is The Perfect Time For A Re-Design

Why Now Is The Perfect Time For A Re-Design

Pink & gold flatlay desk

Are You Tired Of Looking A The Same Old Tired Website?

When you visit other websites are you green with envy?

I get it! I love color, all colors, and when I come across a pretty new color palette or an amazing font comes across my desk I start designing in my mind automatically and before I know it I’m putting the changes on my own sites or those of my clients.

I’m going to tell you a secret…

I can trust you, right?

I don’t always practice what I preach! SSHHHHH! Don’t tell anyone, but I struggle with branding because I get bored so easily. You’ve heard me and a whole lot of other experts tell you that consistent branding is necessary for brand recognition, but nobody tells you that IT’S SO DAMN HARD!!!

I’m constantly experimenting and if I could spend my days making graphics I would. That’s my favorite thing in the whole world! Speaking of…Did you know my DIY BLOGGING/TRAVEL site WanderingWebDesigner is having a grand opening sale and now until Jul 31st you can get 30 custom graphics for $30!!! That is a hell of a deal 50% off of the regular price! Better hurry though this amazing offer ends 7-31-19. If you looking for web design tips, travel recommendations, or your just trying to figure it all out by yourself then this is the site for you!

Anyway, back to branding. I get bored easily so changing out designs for graphics or website graphics seems like a necessity to keep my business looking fresh and user-friendly. I love pretty pictures (can you tell) so whenever something catches my eye I have to have it. I have a fabulous subscription to Styled Stock Society where I get all of my images exclusively for this site. I pay a small fee once a year and every month I get so excited to see the new images in the library and there’s no limit. As you can see I’m a huge fan of the flat lay desktops.

The best place to find professional images, videos or music for your website or social media is Shutterstock. You’ll find anything you’re looking for from foodies to fashion. You can use free sites like Pixabay or Unsplash, but free doesn’t always cut it when you need to create consistent & professional branding. As a special gift to you, they are going to give you a 10% discount just for being a loyal reader! Use this link and bump your game up!

Best professional stock images on the market.

Choosing the right imagery & graphics is just as important, if not more important than copywriting, color palettes & font choices. When creating a brand you want your ideal customer to feel a certain type of way when they see your content. Let’s face it, today’s world moves at warp speed and we need to keep up. People no longer read, they visualize and scan so having the right imagery is really the only way we have to stand out and grab attention.

For example, I want my clients here on The Blogging 911 to feel confident & empowered. The way I accomplish this is by connecting the technology to run their businesses and setting up system automation to save time & money while giving their clients & customers great user experience. I work with mostly females because I love what I do so much & I want you to love what you do just as much. It’s life-changing. For me to be a success you need to be successful.

So, Why Is It The Perfect Time For A Re-Design You Ask?

Because when you purchase our design or branding package you don’t just get a fresh, modern look. You get the full experience where you’re in the driver’s seat to your own destiny. Right now, I’m throwing in a lot of Summer bonuses that don’t normally come with the design/branding package.

  • A full video tutorial teaching you how to use your new site + a Skype session to answer any additional questions. ($150 value)
  • You know that you’re building on one of the best website frameworks on the market thrown in at NO EXTRA COST! ($60.00 Value)
  • Your choice of child themes from StudioPress from my theme library (A $49.99 to $149.99 Value).
  • Things like SSL Certificates are always included. Provided by Bluehost.
  • You also get one full year membership to the website maintenance plan ($149.99 value) so that you can use your new website knowing that someone is there to help, to answer your questions, to keep the site updated and backed up. To hold your hand through the whole process for A WHOLE YEAR!!! Who does that?!?

It’s like having an insurance policy for your website!

You won’t have to:

  • Worry about conflicting plugins.
  • Worry about backing up your site.
  • Worry about updating WordPress.
  • Worry about backing up your theme.
  • Worry about backing up your plugins.
  • Worry about optimizing your database on a monthly basis.
  • Worry about running a monthly malware scan twice a month.

If you’re new to WordPress you will receive a detailed video explaining the various parts of your new website and best practices when it comes to using it. Even if you’ve used WordPress you might like to watch it and maybe find out things that you didn’t know.

Another reason now is a great time for a redesign is because we’re in the Summer Slumps, those few months every Summer where people have nothing on their minds but spending time with family & friends, enjoying vacations, or just lounging by the pool! Get ready for the busy holiday seasons now. Create a plan from publishing new content to creating a sales funnel, email sequence or setting up a shopping cart & Facebook ads.

I only work with one client at a time so that I can give them a 100% personal service. So you better hurry, spots fill up fast! A re-design is more cost-efficient than a build because the foundation is already there which means it costs less & takes less time than a standard web design/branding package. Turn around is generally 2 weeks instead of the 4 to 6 weeks it takes to build out from scratch.

Pageviews always decrease during the Summer months.

Which means it’s a perfect time to freshen up that website, dust off the cobwebs, add a much-needed enhancement, upgrade your website security, or just move things around. It’s the perfect time to put a content marketing plan in place.

I’d love to talk to you about your ideas, dreams or wishes! Need something other than web design? Need to connect analytics or maybe set up an email sequence? Check out the shop over at WanderingWebDesigner.com

Right now I’m offering a web design/branding package for over half off the usual pricing! This is for established websites only.

Get a consistent, beautiful new look that will be shared across all platforms.

Have you been dreaming of carving out a brand for your products or services that will turn sales on autopilot!

You better hurry!

I don’t know how long I can afford to keep this pricing!

$500

 

 

*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase I will earn a small commission. It will in no way affect your pricing.

 

 

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Help Your Blog Shine Using Color Psychology

Help Your Blog Shine Using Color Psychology

Colors are everywhere! It’s hard to imagine a world without color, and even harder to measure their impact in our everyday lives. However, the impact is undeniable, and blogging, web design, branding, marketing, and sales are not immune to it. It is well known that colors have an effect on human moods and emotions, which in turn affect decisions and behavior. This effect is the fascinating subject of color psychology and understanding it can be an incredibly useful asset when optimizing your blog.

 

DesignAdvisor has researched this topic and put together an informative infographic on 40 facts about the psychology of color. If you’re looking for ways to boost your blog, it’s well worth considering the color psychology factor. Here are three questions and answer to help you explore this topic and assess how it’s affecting your blog design.

 

What messages are associated with different color?

 

First of all, let’s consider the underlying meanings and messages behind the most frequently used colors:

·         GREEN: Just like grass and trees in nature, the color green gives a message of growth and health. Green is a calm and soothing color with an element of freshness. It works well in the household, finance, agriculture, technology, and energy sectors among others.

·         BLUE: Blue tends to be a firm favorite across the board. Its message is one of peace and tranquillity, and it symbolizes security, trust, reliability, and productivity.

·         RED: The color of passion and excitement, red has been proven to increase the observer’s heart rate in some cases! Red conveys a bold and lively message which can also give a sense of urgency and speed.

·         YELLOW: Bright and cheerful like the sun, yellow is an energetic color which speaks of competence and intelligence. It can even arouse hunger pangs making yellow an ideal color for food outlets and catering businesses.

·         ORANGE: Another warm and energetic color, orange sends a message of confidence, enthusiasm, and ambition. It is popular with technology and healthcare brands.

·         PURPLE: The color of royalty, purple symbolizes wealth, power, authority and sophistication. It is often used in the health and beauty industry, for anti-aging products, as well as in finance and various other industries.

·         PINK: This attractive color’s message is one of warmth, sensitivity, sincerity, respect, and sophistication. It also gives the sense of possibilities.

·         BROWN: Brown is a solid and earthy color. It works well if you want to convey a message of ruggedness and durability.

·         BLACK: Black is a classic – ever elegant and sophisticated, often giving the message of wealth and luxury as well as carrying the weight of power and authority.

·         WHITE: White is the ultimate symbol of purity and perfection, and it also gives a fresh and clean look. It works wonderfully as an accent color.

Do my color choices align with my blog’s intended message?

Now that you know the ideas and feelings commonly associated with each color ask yourself how your blog’s color scheme matches up. Have you chosen shades that correspond to your blog’s themes and messages you’re trying to convey? Perhaps your chosen colors have been sending a contradictory message all along. Now might be a great time to rethink your blog design with color psychology in mind. Perhaps after reading this far, you feel convinced that you have chosen the right colors, but for some reason, your readership response is not as high as you would like it to be. If this is the case, here is a bonus question for you to consider.

What color is my CTA button?

Who would have thought that the color of your call to action button can make a huge difference to the number of clicks you are likely to get? Indeed, case studies have confirmed that simply changing the color of the button can cause a marked improvement. Whether you are asking your readers to subscribe to a newsletter, sign up for an ebook or perform another desired action, it’s all about visibility and standing out on the page. The colors which work best for a CTA button are usually orange, red, yellow or green. So what color is yours?

For more information on color psychology in branding and digital marketing, check out the infographic below!

The Color of Psychology

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35 WordPress Hacks That Will ROCK Your World

35 WordPress Hacks That Will ROCK Your World

 

  • This first one came to my attention after helping a friend create a new website. She was going through her web hosting company every time she signed on to her website. When you want to log in to your website you can type in your URL and then add /wp-admin/ to the end of it and you will be taken to your login page. For instance, to sign on to this site you would go to https://theblogging911.com/wp-admin/.

 

  • A page is a static piece of content. It’s like a web page. It isn’t dated, nor does it show up in any sort of RSS feed. Great uses for pages are your ABOUT page, RESOURCES page, CONTACT page. A post is a dated piece of content that gets pushed out to your RSS feed. It’ll show up in readers. It also is categorized and tagged in your database differently than a page.

 

  • If you look at the top of your posting page you will see a tab that says “SCREEN OPTIONS” (See image below 1.). There you can decide what you want to see on your posting page. You can change it whenever you like and it includes things like plugins that you may want to use. Such as SEO by Yoast or CoSchedule. You can also choose whether you show an excerpt, you can turn your comments off and on, use the distraction-free writing functionality, turn off sharing buttons, even whether or not you use the featured image.

 

  • edit-post-the-blogging-911-wordpress

 

  • The next tab which is the “HELP” tab while give you instructions for writing posts, inserting media, etc. (Image 2)

 

 

edit-post-the-blogging-911-wordpress-1

 

  • On your posts page if you have “LAYOUT” checked you can decide what kind of page you want to create. On mine, I can use the “Default page” which will be whatever I have checked for your general layout (sidebar, no sidebar, right sidebar, left sidebar). My other choices are: Archive, Blog page, Category Index, or a Landing Page. You can make any or all completely different from each other. (image 3)

 

 

2017-03-23_li

 

  • You can also choose to make a post or page public or private. You can even make a post or page password protected. Like the resource library for this site. When you sign up for my email list you get a password which allows you access to the resource library.  (image 4).

 

edit-post-the-blogging-911-wordpress-3

 

  • You can also schedule posts in the future in case you are away. (image 5).

 

edit-post-the-blogging-911-wordpress-4

 

  • Write an excerpt (activate it in the post screen option) to customize how your post appears around the web. If you are using an SEO plugin, it’s called the meta description. One difference between the two: The excerpt box will display if you have your blog posts set to an excerpt format, whereas the SEO meta description usually only shows up in Google search results or in places where you share the link (like on social). The excerpt will show up in RSS feeders (if your website is set to only show excerpts).

 

  • Under the “SETTINGS” tab on the left under “READING” set your how your article looks in a feed to summary and only send out excerpts in your newsletters. If you send the whole thing out no one will have a reason to come to your site. (image 6).

 

reading-settings-the-blogging-911-wordpress

 

  • You can always change the permalink (URL) of your post by clicking on the edit button right beside the permalink (URL) (image 7).

 

edit-post-the-blogging-911-wordpress-5

 

  • If you want to decide exactly how much text is shown of a post on the front page. Then use the jump break (image 7). It will stop the text and add a read more tag. (#16)

 

edit-post-the-blogging-911-wordpress-4
edit-post-the-blogging-911-wordpress-6

 

  • Trying to get rid of preformatted text by highlighting and using the eraser button. (image7). (#7)
  • The toolbar can do a lot of things quickly as you can see on image 7. I’ve already mentioned two the rest are as follows:
  1. Bold text
  2. Format text (H1, H2 etc. If you are not using these you should be.)
  3. Underline text
  4. Is to justify text
  5. Change the color of the text just highlight the text you want to change and enter the HEX number).
  6. Change the color around the text.
  7. I mentioned above
  8. Insert icons of different things like hearts, diamonds, etc.
  9. Decrease the indention
  10. Increase the indention.
  11. Undo
  12. Redo
  13. A list of keyboard shortcuts.
  14. Show/hide the bottom part of the toolbar
  15. Proofreads your writing
  16. Mentioned above
  17. Break a link
  18. Add a link
  19. Insert text/image to the right
  20. Center the text/image
  21. Left-justify the text/image.
  22. Insert a horizontal line across the page
  23. Quote button to accent parts of your text.
  24. Numbered list
  25. Bulleted list.
  26. Strike through text, example: She is was
  27. Italics.

 

edit-post-the-blogging-911-wordpress-7

 

  • When creating menus you can use not only pages and post but categories & external links as well. Example: On your menu, you could have “STORE” and it could take you to another site altogether. Or you could have a tab marked “RECIPES” and have it take you to all of the recipes on your site.

 

  • Under the “SCREEN OPTIONS” that I mentioned earlier you can set it to show your bio at the end of a post or page. You can change the wording by going to “USERS” & “EDIT”.

 

  • If you are using Genesis and many other themes you can create an archive page of all of your posts. I use a plugin called “CLEAN MY ARCHIVES” and I only have to place the shortcode [clean-my-archive] and it will post my archives. I also use a plugin called “GENESIS 404” which lets me create my own 404 PAGE (the page someone gets when they type in an error or there is a broken link). On my 404 page is a list of all of my posts so that readers can quickly find what they’re looking for. If you don’t have Genesis then you can go here for instructions on how to create your own Archive index page.

 

  • If you go to “SETTINGS” “DISCUSSION” you can blacklist anyone you want by
  • simply entering their email. This will prevent them from being allowed to comment. (Trolls & bullies). You can also filter out comments by “trigger” words.

 

  • Go to “SETTINGS” “READ” to change the number of posts that show up on the front page.

 

reading-settings-the-blogging-911-wordpress-2

 

  • Change your media sizes to fit parameters that you choose by going to “SETTINGS” “MEDIA”

 

  • If you have Genesis you can go to “GENESIS” “THEME SETTINGS” to enable breadcrumbs which are a small bit of text showing the reader where they are on the website. If you don’t have Genesis you can use this plugin.

 

  • Not only can you upload images but also Powerpoint presentations, pdfs, word docs, and now Google docs on your website. Just upload them just like an image. Just insert them where you want them with a link.

 

  • Trying to get images side by side? You can go to Picmonkey and Canva and make a collage or you can simply go to the “TEXT” view and insert this bit of code that will allow you to make columns. There are also plugins that will help you as well.

 

  • What to create columns on your blog post? On your post or page edit screen and click the text view. Use the following instructions to create columns on your Genesis theme. Here is a great list of Columns plugins by Elegant Themes.

    2 columns

    <div class="one-half first">This is the 1st column</div>
    <div class="one-half">This is the 2nd column</div>

    3 columns

    <div class="one-third first">This is the first column</div>
    <div class="one-third">This is the 2nd column</div>
    <div class="one-third">This is the 3rd column</div>

    4 columns

    <div class="one-half first">This is the 1st column</div>
    <div class="one-fourth">This is the 2nd column</div>
    <div class="one-fourth">This is the 3rd column</div>
    <div class="one-fourth">This is the 4th column</div>
  • Use the WordPress APP to respond to comments, check stats, and even write posts.

 

  • Use the find link content tool when creating links. When the link box pops up, just hit the arrow and choose “find existing content”. Then you can search or browse your posts for the link(image 8).

 

  • Go to “SETTINGS” “GENERAL” and fill in the first two blanks for your website title and tagline. This is what will show up in Google Search.

 

  • Fill out the “USERS” profile completely.

 

  • Change the name of your “UNCATEGORIZED” category to something custom by going to “CATEGORIES” find “uncategorized” click “QUICK EDIT” and change the name to whatever you’d like it to be.

 

  • Create a FAVICON (the small image at the very top. Mine is the pink square that you see at the very top. I use a plugin called Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator Plugin. Once you’ve installed the plugin go to APPEARANCEE” “FAVICON” Insert a picture of your choice 260 x260 (Use Picmonkey) and it will generate it for you. Save it and you will have to clear out your browser then go back to your site and your favicon should be there.

 

  • Put a search bar where it is visible on every page. I suggest the top, but sidebar and footer are fine.

 

  • Put an email sign up form in at least three places on every page. Because there are so many different size devices. Chances are some of them will not show up so it is imperative to have it at multiple points.

 

 

  • Stop saying you wrote a blog. It’s annoying. You write a “BLOG POST” on your “BLOG”.

 

  • Put up sharing buttons even if you’re not on that particular platform. Just because you aren’t utilizing it doesn’t mean that your reader isn’t. You may get new readers from the exposure.

 

  • When creating a link the rule of thumb is. If it’s a link to somewhere else on your site you shouldn’t open in a new window. If it’s a link to another site then you should definitely check the box that says “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW”.

 

  • Don’t use CAPTCHA it’s annoying and people will avoid it altogether. The WordPress plugin Akismet works great.

 

Want even more awesome WordPress tips? Check out the infographic I recently created!

wordpress-hacks-that-rock-your-world

 

Get your own copy of 35 Design Tips To Take Your Site To The Next Level

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Do You Have An Emergency Plan For Your Business?

Do You Have An Emergency Plan For Your Business?

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you were to become incapacitated in some way? Maybe you’ve gotten sick or been in an accident whatever the reason, what would happen to your online business, Facebook groups, or your website?

Would all of your hard work go down the drain within weeks, leaving your readers wondering what in the world happened to you? Sponsored posts have gone unwritten, affiliate earnings abandoned, subscriptions canceled for non-payment and the list goes on.

The effects could be felt for months, even years to come. As a caregiver, I have to worry about these kinds of things all of the time. Not my website, but my life in general. Who can take over in case I can no longer do it. What happens if I get sick or hurt? 

There has to be a safety net in place long before that emergency happens or everything you’ve worked for could just disappear. Believe me, I know this first hand. If you haven’t read my story check out my About Page In my personal & business life I use a book called Cellphones Don’t Work In Heaven written by Mark C. Pope & Beverly R. Thompson. It’s a wonderful book and talk about a story! Whew, watch this video! The book covers every aspect of your life, but as a blogger or online business owner, we have another layer of need that just isn’t covered.

So the first step is to make a plan & I’m here to help!

    1. What Is Considered Critical Website Information?
    1. How To Gather Your Information
    1. Picking The Right Person
    1. Instructions
  1. Free Downloadable Critical Website Information Guide
  1. What Is Considered Critical Website Information?

I define this as anything needed to keep your website/business up and running. Everything from your website login credentials to the course you bought. Everything on the list may not be critical, but it’s nice to keep track of everything in one (two, or ten different places). I keep one online and one in my file cabinet.

    • Website Url and login credentials
    • Email (Gmail, Outlook, etc.)
    • Email service provider (Mailchimp, ConvertKit, etc.)
    • Web hosting
    • Media storage
    • Scheduling tools
    • Analytics
    • Affiliates
    • Your social media platforms
    • Creative Subscriptions
    • Premium plugins or extras that will need to be renewed
    • Posting Schedule
  • Instructions
  1.  How To Gather Your Information

Make a list, make several in fact, but start off with sections such as:

Your website, Social Media, Advertising & Analytics, Scheduling, and Other. You can use any system that works, but remember to include EVERYTHING so it may take you several days/weeks to get it all together. For instance, media storage would include things like Dropbox or Google Drive, but also Evernote, Onedrive, etc. A little bit here, and here, and there. It adds up.

Are you like me and get hit with shiny object syndrome sometimes? I’ll admit this, but only to you. I sometimes all the time sign up for great services or cheap offers *shush don’t tell my husband!* with all of the greatest  intentions in the world and then after chasing two-year-olds, following mom around shutting doors and turning off appliances, working on my clients work, working on my own business goals, plus cooking, laundry, bills most of the time I’ve forgotten by bedtime. Wait, bedtime what’s that? I have courses I’ve bought and never had time to open them up. Tomorrow never comes and pretty soon your inbox rivals your local library in quantity.

I also have two pretty cool tips that can help you keep control of the number of companies allowed into the prime real estate that is your email. The first one is a website called deseat.me. Enter your email address and you will see a list populate with every company that you’ve given your email address to and some that you may not have. Then it gives you a link to go in and delete the account if you choose.

As you can probably guess my email can sometimes get overwhelming. Trying to keep up with several different threads at once confuses my poor damaged brain. (I think that’s why I struggle so much with Facebook! My brain can’t keep up with it.) My friend Nesha from NeshaWoolery.com asked a question in her Facebook Group the Shelancers if we had a plan if something happened to us. It got me thinking about it A LOT I mean face it “we aren’t spring chickens anymore”. She also gave me another hot tip when she shared the tool unroll.me

It will change your life! You sign up for a free account and it will gather every single thing that you are subscribed to. Seriously, every newsletter, every subscription, and roll it up into one big newspaper or magazine. You have the opportunity to unsubscribe from multiple accounts, keep the ones that you want, and have the rest rolled up into one email delivered once a day or even once a week at whatever time you choose! How awesome is that!

My inbox is now full of the people who should be there…my clients. I can still get the newsletters I want. It just keeps them from coming one after another and creating that overwhelmed feeling I mentioned earlier.

    

  1.  Picking The Right Person

Picking the right person is a trickier matter. You need someone who is both trustworthy & tech-savvy. Maybe you already have a webmaster or V.A. and that would be the perfect option. They already have all of the information right at their fingertips. They should still have a contingency plan in place or you will be playing catch up from the very beginning.

If you don’t have access to an admin or web tech then you are going to have to train someone to literally be you in case of an emergency. I chose my daughter not only because of the top two reasons above but she’s the only one close enough to me that even knows how to turn a computer on and log in! I kid you not! My husband can operate two computers; an ATM and the self-checkout at Walmart.

Keep in mind that they are going to probably be flying blind so hitting them with everything that has to be done in your everyday online business life will most likely have them throwing up their hands in sheer brain overload.

Think of it this way. When an ambulance gets to a wreck they triage the situation. Who is in the most danger or hurt worse. So figure out the bare minimum that can be done to maintain your space and all of your hard work. Teach them starting with the most important and work your way down. At first, I would keep it to your top 5 most important things. Do it for a week at a time and have an alternative. You can always add more in small doses if you have someone willing to go above and beyond. You will owe them big time when all is back to normal for sure!

Just remember THE BARE MINIMUM, they will go back to the real world eventually. Teach them to maintain it, keep it safe, and keep it from having that abandoned feeling some sites whose creator has just ghosted…

 

  1.  Instructions

Not only should you leave a detailed list of exactly what needs to be done, but you should also schedule some time to show them step by step how to maintain the basics of your website and your business. Use visuals such as calendars or even maps. Blog post→ → Facebook → → Instagram. Whatever works!

Keep your content scheduled AT LEAST a week in advance. I’m not always successful at this, but I do try. I’ve started using “batch days”. I’m sure you’ve seen or heard these words in the last few months. If not, it means to set aside a certain day every month or week to create. One day for content, one day for graphics, or one day for scheduling social media. That way you can stay ahead of the game and if you use the same day every month or week you will never run out!

My problem is trying to think of things that will bring you true value. I know how valuable your time and inbox are and I want you to feel that it was worth it every single time you click that button!

Speaking of value, (see how I did that?)

I’ve done the hard part for you! I’ve created the 13-page download

to create your very own

Critical Information Guide

 A place to keep all of that new found knowledge in one simple place.

Print it out, but it in a binder, and keep it in a safe place.

It not only gives you peace of mind, but it feels like a fresh start. Clearing out the old and making room for the new. I want to add that I keep a paper copy of the Critical Information Guide, but I also keep an online version as well. I use LastPass, if you haven’t tried it check it out. Sometimes you just need to see the password, but it’s locked deep in our computer’s memory banks and all we get are ***************. It’s easy with LastPass, also free! It’s a Chrome extension so it’s simple to set up! If you struggle coming up with strong passwords try this free tool by TheBestVPN.com. You can generate strong, unique passwords by simply clicking a button and it’s also free!

 

That’s it for now!

*This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission of the Cell Phones Don’t Work In Heaven.

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Jetpack & Even Some You Don’t!

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Jetpack & Even Some You Don’t!

 

Some people love it, some hate it, and some seem to be totally baffled by it. I thought this would be an excellent time to explain its features and why I think you will find it extremely useful.

What is the Jetpack plugin?

First of all, Jetpack is not so much a plugin as it is a whole box full of tools, widgets, and services. Previously these were only available for users of WordPress.com. With Jetpack, Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, has packaged all favorite features into one place to make them available for the self-hosted WordPress websites.

Currently, the Jetpack stack includes more than 30 powerful features. They cover topics from site customization, content tools, and user engagement, to site performance and security.

Because Jetpack allows you to hook up your self-hosted WordPress site to WordPress.com’s infrastructure, you will need to create an account with WordPress’ commercial version in order to run it. But don’t worry, it’s quick and easy to do and free of charge.

How to install Jetpack on your WordPress website

Though it comes with a whole host of features, Jetpack’s installation is no different from that of any other plugin. The only extra work you need to do is the aforementioned setup of a WordPress.com account to connect Jetpack to its service.

jetpak1

1. Install Jetpack from the WordPress directory

The easiest way to install Jetpack is from within WordPress itself. Log into your site and go to Plugins → Add new. Search for ‘Jetpack’ if it doesn’t already show up on the front page. You can then install the latest version of the plugin by clicking ‘Install Now.’

Alternatively, you can also download Jetpack from the WordPress plugin directory and install it manually. To do so, click the download link on the plugin page download it to your computer. Unpack the archive and upload the plugin’s folder to wp-content/plugins on your server via FTP. Then log into your site, go to the Plugins menu and there click ‘Activate’ right under the plugin name. All done.

2. Set up a (free) WordPress.com account

You can go to this link for the signup. To set up your own account, you will only need an email address, a username, and a password. Fill in the necessary information and submit. You will receive an email from WordPress.com to confirm your account. Follow the link to finish the setup.

3. Connect Jetpack to WordPress.com

Once you have activated Jetpack, you will see a big green bar on the top of every screen inside your WordPress dashboard with a prompt to link your new plugin to WordPress.com. If you click on the link within the banner, it will take you right to the page where you can do so. Input your newly set up credentials and click on ‘Authorize.’

How to activate modules within Jetpack

To activate and deactivate the Jetpack’s features, go to Jetpack → Settings. Here you can see a list of all available modules and their status. On the right, you can order the list in several ways, by active or inactive modules, alphabetically, by newest, by popularity, and by topic.

In order to activate any of them, simply hover over the module in question and an ‘Activate’ link will appear. Click it and your new feature is ready to use. Hovering over a module which is already active will show a link for its configuration.

Beware of the bloat!

With more than 30 features and services to choose from, it is easy to go a bit overboard with Jetpack. Unfortunately, the plugin doesn’t help with that either as it will activate a whole number of modules by default. When I installed the latest version of Jetpack for the sake of this article, I found 20 of its modules already running when I first entered the settings page.

Therefore when you install the plugin, disabling everything you are not going to use should be the first thing you should do. Fortunately, this has gotten much easier over time and doesn’t require several clicks per feature as it used to. The new interface even lets you deactivate in bulk. For good reason.

Jetpack: 8 highlights from the feature list

Which modules should you keep running? That’s a fair question. With so many features, widgets, and services to choose from, it can be difficult to determine what is worth it and what is not. To help you decide, I will first give you a list of the highlights from the Jetpack app stack before moving on to the full list of available features.

1. Photon

Photon is a free CDN (content delivery network) plugin. It allows you to use WordPress.com’s infrastructure to load images appearing on your website (currently only for posts, pages and featured images) from an external source. As a consequence there are less bandwidth demands placed on your server, your website loads faster, which in turn is good news for readers and SEO.

Photon is one of the favorite modules of Jetpack and for good reason. It’s free, it’s fast, and because it’s part of the WordPress.com infrastructure, it is highly reliable. All you need to do is turn it on and it will automatically load all of your images into the system.

2. WordPress.com stats

Let’s face it, everyone with a website loves looking at their stats. Seeing the numbers for page views and visitors climb can be quite a thrill (or frustration). It’s probably safe to say that there are people out there who check their website statistics more often than their email.

However, there’s no need to log into Google Analytics for that. With Jetpack, your WordPress website will have its own stats right there on the dashboard, complete with:

  • Number of visitors on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
  • All time views of your content
  • Top-performing posts and pages
  • Main referrers and search engine terms
  • Most-clicked links from your website

In addition to that there are also enhanced stats available on WordPress.com.

Granted, the level of information is by far not as sophisticated as Google’s analytics solution. However, WordPress.com stats give you enough for a quick peek at how your site is performing.

3. Monitor

Imagine you type in the address of one of your websites for a routine check. Instead of taking you right to it, you wait and wait and . . .the connection times out. What? Your site is down? How long has it been that way? How many visitors have you turned away without knowing? Oh my gosh, this is a disaster!

To avoid this kind of situation, Jetpack comes with Monitor. This service, the subject of a recent Weekend WordPress Project, will check on your site every five minutes and notify you via email if it detects downtime. This simple yet powerful feature alone is almost enough justification to install Jetpack on your website.

4. Publicize

Every marketer knows that pushing your content out to the social web is necessary these days. However, connecting your WordPress site to all social accounts can be a pain. Luckily, Publicize makes it a breeze.

The service allows you to connect up to six social accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Path, and Google+. After you have done so, whenever you publish new material on your website, it will now be automatically shared on these accounts. Pretty neat, huh?

5. Related Posts

The folks over at WP Engine have a list of plugins which they don’t allow to be used on their platform. Among them are almost all popular ‘related posts’ plugins. Why? Because they are extremely database intensive.

If you look further down, however, there are a few plugins of the same kind of that they don’t have a problem with and Jetpack’s related posts plugin is among them.

The reason for that is that Jetpack allows you to outsource all the heavy lifting to the WordPress.com servers. What they effectively do is index your WordPress website and – from analyzing the available content on your site — then suggest related content underneath your posts. Good news for your loading times!

6. Jetpack Comments

Let’s face it, the native comments of the WordPress platform are already quite nice and there are a bunch of plugins out there, which make them even better. So what can Jetpack do that others don’t?

First of all Jetpack comments do not hijack the entire comment section as other solutions do. Instead, it offers a few key improvements that make life (especially that of your users) a lot easier.

Most notably is the fact that Jetpack gives them the opportunity to log in with their social and WordPress.com accounts. That way they do not have to set up yet another login with yet another website just to interact with your content.

Jetpack Comments can also be further enhanced with Subscriptions. This functions allows visitors to subscribe to comment threads and your entire website from the convenience of the comment field. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

7. Spelling and Grammar

Though many of us who use WordPress mainly as a blogging tool like to think of ourselves as word magicians, there is always room for improvement. Luckily the Spelling and Grammar module is here to help with that.

It’s essentially a spelling plugin for the TinyMCE editor that uses Automattic’s ‘After the Deadline’ service to improve your content. Smart suggestion technology offers improvements for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as customized profiles for users. It has never been easier to write better content.

8. Sharing

Jetpack makes integrating social media on your website as easy as drag and drop. Literally. Sharing allows you to change the number and type of social buttons visible underneath your content with just a few mouse clicks.

Besides the usual suspects, there are also a number of less common sharing services available such as Reddit and Pocket. If that is not enough for you, you can even create you own options. Besides that there are a number of customization settings available to make it all look the way you want.

Jetpack features – the full list

These eight services alone make installing Jetpack worthwhile. However, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Here is what else Jetpack has under the hood:

The settings area is broken down into 5 categories and they are:

  • GENERAL
  • ENGAGEMENT
  • SECURITY
  • APPEARANCE
  • WRITING

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GENERAL – Besides the connection tab there is also:

  • MANAGE – Manage all of your sites in one place.
  • NOTIFICATIONS – Get notifications on your admin toolbar and mobile device.
  • JSON – Allow applications to securely access your content through the cloud.

ENGAGEMENT

  • SEO TOOLS – Paid accounts only.
  • SITE STATS – Of course, this is where it collects your stats, insights, and who gets counted in those stats.
  • SHARING – This one is an important one. It includes the PUBLICIZE tab. Once you connect your social media accounts it will automatically post to them whenever a post publishes. It has an area where you can add sharing buttons to your posts/pages.
  • PUBLICIZE – Redundant since it takes you to the exact page as SHARING.
  • RELATED POSTS – This allows you to show related posts at the bottom of your blog posts.
  • COMMENTS – Basic comments.
  • LIKES – Adds WordPress likes at the bottom of each post.
  • SUBSCRIPTIONS – Allows readers to subscribe to your blog posts or comments.
  • GRAVATAR HOVERCARDS – Allows a “business card” of the commenters gravatar profile when you hover over their name.
  • SITEMAPS – Creates sitemaps so that your site is easily indexed by search engines.
  • ENHANCED DISTRIBUTION – Increases reach and traffic.
  • SITE VERIFICATION – This tab verifies your site or domain with Google Search Console, Pinterest, Bing, Yandex.

SECURITY

  • SCANNING – For paid accounts only.
  • PROTECT – Prevents brute force attacks and Whitelist management which mean that you can put your IP addresses in there so that you can never be blocked out of Jetpack.
  • MONITOR – Reports to you whenever your site is down.
  • AKISMET – Spam detection.
  • SITE BACKUPS – For paid accounts only.
  • SINGLE SIGN ON – Your users will be able to log into your site with their WordPress.com account. This includes two-factor authentication making it the safest login mechanism for your site.

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APPEARANCE

  • TILED GALLERIES – Allows you to create image galleries that you put into your posts/pages.
  • PHOTON – Speeds up images. I’ll talk more about this one further on. Photon is an image acceleration and editing service for sites hosted on WordPress.com or on Jetpack-connected WordPress sites. That means less load on your host and faster images for your readers. This speeds up your photos by serving your images to your viewers on the powerful WordPress.com servers.
  • CAROUSEL – You can make slideshows out of your images. You can also choose white and black.
  • EXTRA SIDEBAR WIDGETS – This is a really good one. It adds all kinds of great widgets that you can use. Add images, Twitter streams, your site’s RSS links.
  • WIDGET VISIBILITY – Allows you to easily decide which pages show which widgets. You can turn them off and on easily inside your widgets area.
  • CUSTOM CSS – Allows you to add CSS to your child theme.
  • INFINITE SCROLL – Infinite scrolling pulls the next set of posts automatically into view when the reader approaches the bottom of the page.
  • MOBILE THEME – Optimize your site if your theme isn’t mobile responsive. This is another one I’ll discuss further down.
  • HOLIDAY SNOW – Yes, you can make it snow on your site. Used mostly during the holiday.

WRITING

  • WP.ME SHORTLINKS – Give your posts shortlinks.
  • SHORTCODE EMBEDS – Allows you to easily add videos from Youtube, Vimeo, Slideshare.
  • VIDEOPRESS – Upload and embed videos to your site.
  • CONTACT FORM – Create a contact form on your site.
  • SPELLING & GRAMMAR – Checks your spelling, style, & grammar.
  • MARKDOWN – Compose posts and comments with links, lists, and other styles using regular characters and punctuation marks. A quick and easy way to format text without needing any HTML or coding. More on this later.
  • POSTS BY EMAIL – You can upload any post from any client by email.
  • BEAUTIFUL MATH – Add math equations to your posts/pages.
  • CONSTANT CONTENT TYPES – You can enable portfolios or testimonials.

So, is Jetpack worth downloading?

There’s no denying it, Jetpack is chock full of a lot of awesome features. Putting them all in one centralized place inside “one plugin to rule them all” also sounds very appealing. Especially if you take into account that it is run by the people behind WordPress.com and each feature has therefore been stress tested on hundreds of thousands of blogs.

The biggest downside of the plugin, however, is the price you pay for its feature richness — the size. Unzipped, Jetpack is many times larger than the WordPress core. Especially for those running their websites on shared servers, this is an important consideration. Plus, pretty much all modules inside the WordPress stack can be had in other form as individual plugins, often with more features.

So should the Jetpack plugin be a part of your site? More than 13 million people, me included, have already answered that question with yes. However, it really depends on your needs. If you are only going to use one of its main features, you might be better advised to find another plugin for that purpose. But even if you will only utilize two or three of its compartments, in my opinion you should go for it. Either way, you will only find out if you test it.

Do you use Jetpack? What is your favorite feature? Or if you don’t use it, why did you decide against it? Let us know in the comments.

 

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10 Things You Might Be Doing To Make Your Website Suck

10 Things You Might Be Doing To Make Your Website Suck

 

The first one most of you will agree with, but I still see people using it, although, not as frequently as I use to:

  • CAPTCHA –  The first one on my list for a very good reason… DO NOT USE EVER AGAIN! I understand you have this deep-seeded fear of spam. You hate it, I hate it, we all hate it but you don’t NEED Captcha I promise! Akismet –  It’s the best spam blocker there is. It comes already installed on new WordPress websites (yeah it’s that good). Follow the directions and when you get to the subscription price just slide that little bar all the way to zero. Grab your API key and you’re all set!
  • SHARING  This one will take a little explaining. I see this all of the time. You have three or four little share buttons because “I’m only on those platforms“. Guess what, just because you’re not there doesn’t mean that people won’t be interested in what you’ve written.  Add those buttons it can only help your stats.
  • TO MANY ADS  You’ve been to those websites that take forever to load because there are to many ads. People will leave quickly never to return. When estimating site speed 5.0 seconds and under is what you’re aiming for BUT it depends on a lot of factors so take it with a grain of salt. Everything from too many ads to the time of day you check your speed. Want to your site speed? Go to an incognito window and pull up your site and see for yourself then go to GTMetrix.com and see what they say. All you need to enter is your URL and hit enter plus its free.
  • UNCLEAR NAVIGATION  One of the great things about WordPress is the option to use not only pages but, posts, categories, or custom links on your menus. USE THEM! One of the easiest ways, if you want people to take a particular path, is to have a START HERE tab on your menu leading them right to your call-to-action (you do have a call-to-action right?). At least have an ABOUT ME, CONTACT, BLOG, but you can also include links to a sales page or your book on Amazon, or your different categories just make sure that there is some kind of direction. Because a lost reader is a lost client.
  • SUCKY TEXT – Text that is small, illegible, or some funky color that makes my eyes want to bleed. I’m 49 and my eyes are probably 69.  If it’s too small or lightly-colored I can’t read it and if I can’t read it I go somewhere else. I never use anything (this is the main content I’m talking about) smaller than 16px and preferably 18 or 20. Your headlines, widget titles, etc. go crazy. Live it up!
  • NO SEARCH BAR – Not only can’t I find my way around with the navigation, but I can’t even search for what I want. Not cool!
  • MESSY CONTENT – A website’s content is supposed to drive traffic to the site. How the content is structured has a lot to do with its success or failure. People only read what is absolutely necessary. They scan through information and pick out points of interest on a web page. You can’t just put up a block of text on your web page and totally neglect headings, sub-headings, bullets, keywords if you want your hard work read.
  • NO ESCAPE POP-UPS – Have you ever been to a website that has a pop-up that you just can’t get rid of? They block the content we’re looking for and there’s no clear way to turn it off. If you have a popup check to see if there is an easy to find exit for those who want to opt out and please for all that is holy only use one!
  • BROKEN LINKS – Links leading nowhere are sure signs of unprofessionalism. Such small details can ruin the general impression even if the design is splendid. You should always have a good 404 page. It should include a search bar, breadcrumbs and at the very least your top performing posts. I have an archive list on my 404page.
  • BAD IMAGERY – Using the wrong size images, too many images, or just bad images. It’s best to use the image size that your theme requires. Those dimensions are there for a reason. It must make sense.

AND A BONUS!

Please, please, please don’t call your post a blog. It’s annoying, really. It’s called a “blog post” a blog is what you call your website if you are a blogger. Blog post = ONE POST  Blog = ALL OF YOUR POSTS TOGETHER and that is my public service announcement for the week!

 

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