Tags: layout, mobile, opinion, plugin, reviews, web development, webdesign, wordpress
These days, more and more people are viewing blog content through mobile means–our phones and tablets have largely replaced our laptops when it comes to simply taking in content. We bloggers must keep pace with these demands when possible; after all, visiting a site and having to re-zoom in to see the text every time you open a new page can be an off-putting hassle. (Take it from me, I’ve run into this annoyance factor even on my own blog!)
But what if you don’t have the time to develop either an app or a mobile-friendly version of your site? The solution seems to be simple: use a mobile layout plugin! It’ll build your mobile design automatically!
Since I am running a self-hosted WordPress installation on my blog, I looked up WordPress plugins which create mobile-friendly layouts. The following is what I discovered while investigating 3 of the most Internet-viewed “popular” plugins…and it’s shocking, to say the least.
Free or Paid: Both options available, but the paid “Pro” option appears to have better tech support overall.
Brief Reviews: Most people get what they’re looking for–a quick, usable mobile layout with a little customization. However, the free version seems to have some issues, especially with themes giving a “too many redirects” error or not serving menus properly to mobile devices. Upgrading to the Pro version apparently fixes this for some users. Check out more reviews on the WPTouch reviews page.
WordPress Mobile Pack
Free or Paid: Free
Brief Reviews: Lots of bad reviews about this plugin not working properly, messing up blog databases, and and being almost impossible to install. Looks like you’d better steer clear of this one…check out more reviews here.
More Information: WordPress Mobile Pack
Mobile Website Builder for WordPress
Free or Paid: Paid
Brief Reviews: This one looked very, very promising–the best of the three I reviewed, in fact!–until I read about all the ads that the plugin puts all over your site, which are very difficult (if not impossible) to remove. Couple that with the fact that this plugin apparently hosts the mobile version of your site on a DudaMobile web address, and this doesn’t seem as strong a contender as I first thought. Check out more reviews here.
More Information: Mobile Website Builder for WordPress by Dudamobile
Conclusion: You’re Really Better Off Doing It Yourself
If you can believe it, this post started out as a way to let people know about great plugins to simplify the process of making our blogs mobile-friendly. Sadly, after considering all the reviews, I can’t in good faith suggest any of these–it’s not worth risking all your hard work just to save time on developing your own mobile-friendly layout. (Of course, this is just my opinion, but after reading about the database problems some of these plugins created, it’s kind of given me the willies about it all!)
I’ve written a few articles here before about developing mobile-friendly designs–these will be helpful no matter whether you want to develop a mobile app, make a separate mobile site, or build a responsive layout that adjusts to all sorts of browsers.
- Designing for Mobile Devices
- Mobile-Friendly Designs, part 1: Do You Need an App?
- Mobile-Friendly Designs, part 2: Separate Mobile Site or Responsive Design?
Tags: blogging, plugins, web design, wordpress
As a blogger on dialup, I don’t have a lot of connection speed to test plugin after plugin. Instead, I spend a good bit of my time researching good plugins on WordPress help sites, and asking other WP bloggers what they personally use. Once I know the general community’s opinions and issues, as well as the opinions of closer blogging friends, I can then know whether the plugin is right for my own WP setup and needs.
In the process of all that research, vetting, and questioning, I have found 6 plugins that really help Crooked Glasses be all it can be, in the midst of all the other plugins available. I highly recommend each of these, as they have all made my blogging life much easier.
Akismet: Worth Its Weight in Data
Akismet, to be fair, came already installed when I loaded WP on my own server. But I have been so pleased with how it targets spam that I recommend everyone who hasn’t signed up for an Akismet API key to do so. (This is a completely unpaid statement on my part–I just really like the plugin because it works.)
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP): Reaching Into My Archives For Me
Despite being named “Yet Another” related posts plugin, YARPP is the only one of the three “related posts” plugins I tested that worked for me. Not sure if it was operator error, faulty installation, or non-working programs on the other two, but YARPP came through with flying colors.
At the end of each single post, now, I have links displayed to other posts similar enough in content, without ever having to lift a finger. THAT is such a help, much more than I ever imagined. Now I don’t have to do huge, link-laden Glassics posts unless I just want to!
Wordbooker: A Way to Connect My Blog with Friends and Family
Thanks to Wordbooker, which automatically posts newest blogs to my Facebook, my close friends and family can now read my blogs with ease. This actually means a lot to me, to know that real-life people are reading my works and they can comment on Facebook about them.
(Wordbooker’s plugin updates do tend to unhook the link between my FB and Crooked Glasses, but all you have to do is go into the plugin’s settings and re-connect with Facebook, which takes about 5 minutes even over dialup.)
AddThis: Making Tweeting/Liking/Sharing SO Much Easier
AddThis, like many of the sharing plugins, has a tweet button and a like button–but it’s also infinitely customizable by adding other specific-site share buttons to your lineup as well (like Foursquare and Pinterest).
I also like that it tells you how “viral” your links have gone through being shared (via your Dashboard)–though Crooked Glasses hasn’t gone all that viral yet, I know that the potential is there and I’ll be able to track its progress.
Tweet Old Post: Tweeting from the Depths of My Archives
This wonderful little plugin digs back into my archives and auto-tweets older posts about every 3 or 4 hours, even when I can’t be online due to having to keep the phone line clear (or when I’m feeling sick/headachy, which is often these days). Thanks to this plugin, my older posts have a chance to get some Twitter love, and my blog’s Twitter presence stays fresh and updated.
This plugin and the aptly and funnily-named plugin below are likely the ones I have to thank for my Twitter following…just saying.
(Special Honors) Just Tweet That S**t: It Does What It Says!
Like Wordbooker does for Facebook, this plugin auto-tweets links to my newest blogs. It helps so much to have this automated, since I can’t always be online and logged into Twitter when my blogs go live.
The reason this plugin gets a special honor? Because I tried several auto-tweet plugins before this and none of them would authenticate correctly with Twitter. I was about to tear my hair out trying to find an auto-tweet plugin, and NONE of them would do it…but this one did!
If you run a WordPress blog and are looking for plugins to help your spam problem, link to older posts, auto-post to social media, or make sharing easier, I would highly encourage you to install these 6. I have found them to be reputable, without spam and without hassle. Amazing how a single plugin can change your blogging life!no comments October 10th, 2011 by Robin, in Monday in the HTMLab
Tags: content, structure, user interface, web design, wordpress
On a typical WordPress blog (and possibly other blogging software as well), you have the option of doing Posts or Pages for your content. But what’s the real difference?
Many beginning bloggers do not know, and I was confused when I first started using WordPress. “My posts are going to appear on web pages, so why do I need to bother using something called a ‘Page’ with a capital ‘P?’” I wondered.
So I set about learning the differences for myself. Here is what I discovered:
Pages are static–they occur outside “the Loop,” or the time-sensitive code that produces the Posts. Because they’re outside the normal blog post structure, they have to be accessed through the “Pages” links and sidebar modules instead of falling in chronological order with Posts.
Because they’re not in “the Loop,” Pages look kind of silly with a date on them. After all, you can’t find them by searching through the date-sensitive archive anyway. Also, Pages don’t usually have a need for the comments template, unlike Posts. If and when you design a custom blog theme, don’t just copy-paste your Posts template as your Page template–if you don’t want a date to show, and don’t want comments to be allowed on your Pages, remember to take out those bits of code before you publish.
I find that Pages are better for static information that isn’t time-sensitive like Posts tend to be. Content like your “About Me” page, a links page, an FAQ, or product information looks better on a Page and can be more easily accessed from anywhere on the site.
Unlike Pages, Posts happen within the time-sensitive framework of “the Loop,” at least in WordPress. Because they happen in “real time,” so to speak, having the date included as part of your Post template makes it possible to search for Posts through the Archives pages of your WordPress site. Apart from needing the date included, Posts also more than likely need a Comments template so that visitors can post replies.
Posts seem to be best for regular blog entries and time-sensitive information like site updates, rather than general site information like “About the Author,” or more static information like “Product Specs.” Also, since Posts are more searchable through the Archives pages, Posts are better for your main blog content.
Making the Choice
If you’re still confused about which format to put a certain block of content in, ask yourself the following questions about the content you’re working with:
“Does this content need to be readily available to users no matter how long it’s been since I published it?”
If yes, you likely need to put this content on a Page.
“Is this content only going to be relevant for a little while, and then fade into old news?”
If yes, you likely need to make it into a Post.
I hope this quick rundown of using Pages versus Posts has helped you figure out what type you need more of for your site. WordPress offers this diverse functionality as a way to help us bloggers and webmasters publish content–we just have to know how to make use of it!comment (1) May 9th, 2011 by Robin, in Monday in the HTMLab
Tags: blogging, happiness, maintenance, wordpress
One of the things that drew me to using WordPress is the ability to schedule posts. Since I have horrible 26.4 kbps dial-up internet at home (which barely opens any modern webpages anymore), I am greatly restricted in my internet usage, having to grab it in wireless bits and pieces at coffee shops in town, my boyfriend’s house when he’s not at work, the public library, and the gaming shop 20 miles from home. Thus, I needed some way to upload multiple posts when I could get internet access. Scheduling posts worked beautifully, and enables me to have an active blog without having to waste gas driving out every day and hurrying to post a new blog entry.
How to Schedule Your Posts
When you’re on the Add New Post page of your WordPress Dashboard, look over to the right side of the screen. A module will be on display there, with options to save your draft, discard what you’re working on, etc. One of the options reads “Publish immediately.”
You can click the “Edit” option beside the text “Publish immediately.” It will expand out a form with text boxes where you can change the date and time the current post will display.
When you first open the Scheduling option, the current date and time will be in the text boxes. In this screenshot, it was May 4th, close to 2:00 pm (WordPress has a 24-hour clock, so keep that in mind!)
Now, all you have to do is fill in the date and time you want your current post to appear:
Click the white OK button, and the text in the box subtly changes to “Schedule for: May 16th, 2011, at 9:01,” as seen below:
This is how my blog posts magically appear at around 9 AM every day, whether I’m actually awake or not–another great function of scheduling.
Why would anybody use this function?
- To post a ton of entries at once as a time-saver later on. This is what I’ve done with my Link Digests and my Biblical interpretations–I’ve scheduled them several weeks in advance, since they are easier posts to put together. This means less writing overall for each individual week.
- To get around having limited internet access by posting the week’s posts in advance. I generally upload the coming week’s posts on Saturday or Sunday of each week, depending on whether I get access to wireless internet or not.
- To have posts lined up for publishing even when you’re going on vacation or will otherwise be away from your computer. This is a good option if you want a week or two without having to worry about blogging, but you don’t want your blog to lie un-updated for all those days. It’s also a good way to blog while taking care of your day job–you can just set aside a day to upload and schedule posts, and WordPress takes care of it while you’re at work the rest of the week.
- To post announcements ahead of time, right when they need to be posted (such as a warning an hour before an online contest closes, etc.). Timely updates ensure your visitors that the site is being watched and updated regularly, and is a great interactive tool.
WordPress makes it easy to do posts in advance, for whatever reason, with its Scheduling option. Try it out sometime–it’s certainly been a lifesaver for me!no comments March 20th, 2011 by Robin, in Sunday in the Wild
Tags: blogging, layout, small victories, wordpress
WOOT! I finally (FINALLY) figured out how to make my header image stay visible when navigating to other post pages and other standalone pages. Also, I figured out how to take away the silly “Posted on” and “Category” lines from my standalone pages–they didn’t need it, after all. YAY for victories, however small!
One problem remains: how to make comments work. Currently, I’m tinkering with the comments template, but there’s a lot of things I need to add to the stylesheet in order to make comments look right, as well as function right. Sigh. Coding awaits.
Just wanted to let my viewers know that I’m still working on this theme and trying to make it right. And at this rate, I hope to be 3 for 3 soon!no comments