Many of the websites we have created in the last year of so have been built on the WordPress platform. WordPress is more than a great blogging platform it is also a very powerful content management system (CMS) and for those clients who wish to maintain their site themselves it is a good option.
Once we complete a WordPress site we don’t just turn it over to the client and let then figure stuff out for themselves, we provide an interactive training session. Here is what we generally cover.
- How to login
- The anatomy of the WordPress dashboard
- Writing a new blog post
- Adding and assigning blog categories
- SEO techniques for blog posts
- Dealing with comments, approving, editing and trashing
- Adding links
- Uploading photos
- Uploading documents
- Viewing and editing website pages
- Adding new pages
While this is not a comprehensive list of the all the things capable from WordPress, it is the perfect collection of “need to know how’s” for clients who want to edit and update the content of their sites.
©: 2011 Chicago Web Designer
Launched this week is a completely redesigned web site for the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance.
The academy is about to move into a fabulous, brand new, custom built space and owner Brenda Didier also wanted to start things fresh with a new web site as well.
The site showcases a wealth of professionally taken photographs which capture the commitment of the students and the teaching ethics of the dance school, they taken center stage in the the look and feel of the site. The content from the original site was reorganized into a more logical architecture and a clean and simple navigational tool allows users to easy move around the site.
For ease of client management the site has been built on the WordPress platform.
We have already heard very positive feedback on the site!
©: 2011 Chicago Web Designer
WordPress may be the preferred blogging platform for many but Google Blogger is still hugely popular.
Over the years the administrative dashboard has changed very little but yesterday a much needed and completely new design to the dashboard for Blogger Draft was implemented .
I use Blogger in Draft for a personal blog I write “Creative in Chicago”
The overall appearance is a very clean and sleek design with a lot of the clunkiness of the old dashboard gone. A top navigation has been replaced by a left hand side drop down tool with intuitive little icons and a simple color palette is easy on the eye.
Here a a few screenshots
New Post page
As with any new release it will take a bit of getting used to, especially as I have been using the old interface for over six years. From what I have seen so far I like the direction Google has taken in this redesign.
© 2011 Chicago Web Designer
I watched my first episode of TLC’s Extreme Couponing last week and was amazed at the ingenuity and lengths some people go to, to get stuff for free. The internet plays a huge part in their ability to get the best deals on all sorts of products.
So in the spirit of that program I thought I’d do a series on Extreme Couponing for web designers.
Let kick off with What you can get for FREE – no coupons required for this stuff
Google Products: Google offers a load of free products, from the igoogle home pageyou can fill with gadgets to manage your bookmarks ( even have a folder for all your coupon web sites), see the weather for the week, read the news etc, to Gmail for your email needs. They even offer free storage of photographs through Picasa and you can build a basic website using Google sites
Google’s blogger is great for simple blogs but WordPress is better for the more complex.
Content Management Systems
WordPress is being used more and more these days as a CMS system ( I read recently that 14% of all new web site being built today are built using WordPress). Joomla is a great application for building member type web sites, Drupal is another good contender.
Set up free social networking accounts with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and monitor traffic and SEO efforts with the wonderful Google Analytics
Next time coupons for domain names hosting and stock photography.
© 2011 Chicago web designer
In a recent post ” Chicago Web Designer: The power of 10” I alluded to the fact I strive to write 10 blog posts a month. That really doesn’t seem that many but after writing for 5 years, read my first blog post here , keeping this live and interesting can be a challenge. Looking at my blog stats I am falling a just little short of my monthly goal!
So what are the main challenges of writing a business blog?
- Fresh Content
I keep a running list of topics to write about which really helps the despair of sitting down to a white screen and drawing a blank. The nature of my business means it is important I keep abreast of all the latest technologies and how they can impact my clients, from design trends, coding languages, communication and marketing tools , where were Twitter and Facebook five years ago? This evolution of technology provides a good source of fresh content.
- Finding Time
Sometimes, especially recently, following my move to Chicago, there are just not enough hours in the day to accomplish all I need to do. It is easy to let blogging to fall to the way side. However blogging is an important part of my internet marketing strategy so I make a concerted effort not to let things slip. Setting aside half an hour,after pressing emails have been dealt with, first thing in the morning works best for me.
It is important to select a blogging platform that can accommodate your requirements as you evolve. For my business it was important that all blog posts could be stored on our server rather than a third party server. I started off using Blogger but they moved away from the self hosted functionality earlier this year. I then transferred to WordPress which is a self hosted application.
How about you, what challenges do you face writing a business blog?
2010 © Chicago web designer
Inspired by my original “Eye of the St Louis web designer” and now Eye of the Chicago web designer” series I have decided to launch an additional blog dedicated to my “Eye of the Chicago web designer” posts.
Chicago is a rich city full of inspiration for us web designers … my camera has hardly stopped clicking since I arrived here! I didn’t want to swamp this blog with my photos.
So without further ado click iChicagoWebDesigner.com and take a peak.
2010 © Chicago Web Designer
Hello! A week ago today I was packing up my St Louis web design business and today, here I am firmly planted in Chicago. It may be a while before I am fully unpacked but I am really looking forward to getting to know you, all your fabulous businesses and getting down to work as the Chicago web designer.
Here is what I do:
- Custom Web Site Design
- Web Site redesign
- Banner ad Design
- Email templates
- Blog Design, wordpress, blogger
- Internet marketing ( SEO)
- Logos and corporate branding
- Traditional graphic design
I have been in the web and graphic design business for over 10 years and am truly passionate about what I do.
One question, as a city you have a lot of nick names. Which one do you prefer, Chi town, ChicagoLand or the Windy City?
The Chicago Web Designer
2010 © Chicago Web Designer
Any savvy small business owner will have a carefully crafted online marketing plan, it may include a lead generating web site, a monthly newsletter blast and even a blog.
Blogging is much more than a passing trend and is here to stay as an invaluable cheap ( free!) tool. However to be effective a blog must be written on a regular basis and this definitely requires a substantial commitment. Making time in your work schedule and coming up with interesting/relevant/unique content can be challenging. Writing a new blog post is far too easy to push down to the bottom of your to-do list. So is it worth the effort?
When it comes to a blog you reap what you sow. Just take a look at the follow five things that can be achieved by blogging.
- Illustrating expertise in your field to build and maintain credibility
Do you offer a unique service or approach to problems? Are you an IT expert who can offer easy everyday tips to keep a home PC running smoothly? Blogging about your area of expertise will help build and maintain your credibility as an expert in your field.
- Increasing traffic from search engines (SEO)
There is nothing search engines love more than fresh content and blogs are a great way to deliver that content. Think about the key words and phrases you would like to target and include them in both the title and body of your posts.
- Generating sales leads
Promoting a new product or service, have any special offers? Because blog posts are quickly picked up by the search engines they can act as great landing pages to engage your visitors. Be sure to include a call on action in these types of posts. It is also important that your blog appears as a seamless part of your corporate web site so visitors can easily navigate around.
- Sharing less formal thoughts/ideas
Blogging offers a great platform for less formal thoughts or ideas that may not be suitable within the confines of a corporate web site. You can be personable and conversational.
- Engaging with your site visitors
Through blog comments you can interact with your visitors on a different level. Don’t worry about spam or detrimental comments. As a blog administrator you are always given the option whether or not to publish.
So is writing a blog worth the effort? I think it is.
2010 © St Louis Web Designer
When I first started this blog back in 2005 it was an experiment and educational process. I could see their potential and what better way to learn than start one for my own company. Over the last five years my blog has evolved and grown into an invaluable tool for attracting site visitors and generating leads.
Blogger was a nice easy platform to start on and I used one of their templates, modifying it to reflect some very simple Indigo Image brand elements. As you can see (thanks to the way back machine) it was pretty basic stand alone application.
When I saw the amount of traffic visiting it became imperative to incorporate the main site’s navigation into the template from a usability standpoint . I developed a header which created a seamless transition from blog to the rest of the site and vice versa and had a consistent branded feel. I also introduced subject categories to better organize the ever growing content and give the visitor a different avenue to explore.
The momentum for the 3rd generation came from a complete site redesign. I took advantage of this to better position the blog subscription and offered users a number of ways to subscribe. The 3rd generation was originally powered by blogger but has been recently switched to WordPress ( this was due to blogger withdrawing FTP support). The switch to WordPress has made it easier to introduce additional functionality like a blog search (this is such an easy way for me to look up older posts) and better manage things like blog categories.
So what’s in store for the 4th generation? I will definitely be taking advantage of the functionality offered by WordPress and some ideas are certainly beginning to formulate but not quite there yet. My main objective still remains the same though, but they are secret so I will keep them to myself!
2010 © St Louis Web Designer
I have been writing this blog since June 2005 ( quite shocking!) and in that time I have seen the internet do it’s magic and produce and ever increasing stream of traffic to my site via my blog. I have accumulated readers, subscribers and clients as a result, I thank you all.
It’s not really magic at all, its a combination of consistent posting and writing unique posts relevant to my business area, web and graphic design. Here are a few tips for blog posts that will help generate traffic via SEO or other means
- Select a good title for each blog post which contains key words relevant to the post’s copy.
- Write something unique and make sure you include the key words or phrase you have in your post’s title.
- If your post contains an image, include key words in the image file name. Also make sure the image size is optimized for the web.
- Share your post, include links to common social media networks like Twitter or Stumble Upon
- Comment on other blogs and if appropriate include a link to a relevant post you have written. Do not spam other blogs though.
Blogging can be an excellent internet marketing tool, it has certainly worked for me.
2010 © St Louis Web Designer