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WordPress.com Design

Providing Best WordPress.com Blog Customization Solution

Blogging 101 – Does Column Matter?

blog simple design wordpress
WordPress’ simple interface

Great people at WordPress.com gave us pretty simple blog designing steps. But if we want – we can go deeper.

You chose a theme – the WordPress’ 2016 theme, predictably. Now you think “Damn, my blog looks great!”.

Well, maybe – but most of the time, it is not.


wordpress com homepage column
WPD’s homepage divided into 3 columns

There is a thing called “column”  that matters in your blog design. It defines your blog sections – do you need a “latest posts” widget? Then you’ll need a widget section in the sidebar, which means that you’ll need at least 2 column theme – one for the content, the other is for the sidebar.


So how do you choose?

how do you choose

Well, there are few steps – the unlisted one is: choose freebies.

No offense, theme developers. 🙂

Here are the steps!

1. Define your blog

The first damn thing any blogger should do is to know their own blog – deeply.

These are few things you need to figure out about your blog:

a. What is your blog about? Cars? Cats? Your wife?

b. Why did you create your blog? Is it for money?

c. Who are your audience? Grandpas? Babies? Otters?

d. How would you want your audience to see your blog? As a minimalist blog? Full-of-information? Lots of animation?

2. Apply the definitions

Let’s review your answers.

a. What is your blog about?

I’m not going to list all possible blog topics here – instead, I will give you an example.

There is a difference between these topics:

  • My blog is about cat paws – John Meow
  • My blog is about realistic astrophysical calculations using cat as example – John Black Hole

The first is considered as a simple topic. If your blog is about simple things like cat paws (and dirts), you can go for two or more column theme. Why? Because simple contents need to be coped with quite complex design – the brain needs balance.

That goes for the second too – it’s astrophysical, it’s about calculations, and the blog owner is from the Black Hole family – it is a complex topic. So, go for one or two column, make it as simple as you can. Again, brain needs balance.

b. Why did you create your blog?

Well, there are two options: profit, or not.

Going for profit means your blog needs advertising space, email sign-up form, etc. I simply recommend two or more column theme.

Going for non-profit gave you full freedom – make it one column for a minimalist and neat-looking blog, two column for an additional “latest post” widget, three column so contents stay nice at the middle, and whatever.

c. Who are your audience?

“Audience, or should I say – readers”.

There are two things you need to consider about your audience:

  • Their reading capabilities – if yours have high capabilities (ex: educated adult), you’re free to go for two or more columns since they can receive more informations at once and not easily get distracted.
  • Their relation with the topic – if yours are highly related to the topic, feel free to go for two or more columns because they are particularly interested in your topic, and would love to see related posts, and even, related ads.

d. How would you want your audience to see your blog?

Definition of a great blog? The one which has its own identity.

How do you want your blog looks? How’s your blog image? These things made your blog’s identity – going for minimalist? choose one column theme, and so on.


See also HOW CAN A SIMPLE TRICK REFRESH YOUR BLOG’S LOOK IN SECONDS


Finally, does blog column matter?

Absolutely.

But keep in mind that empty blog will never look good.

It’s like preparing for a sprint – you’ve got great shoes, next-gen breathable running suit – but, you never practice sprinting, it’s all useless.


Before you leave, do you blog alone?

If you do, we can actually blog together so “blogging” won’t be a work, but a social activity too 🙂

Please do mail me a “hello!”: fardhanigumilar@gmail.com

Choosing font tips by The Daily Post

The Principles of Design: Readable Typography – http://wp.me/p23sd-10yi

How These 3 Blogging Tips Can REALLY Increase Your Twitter Followers

how to increase your twitter followers with these 3 blogging tips
Courtesy of: westernseminary.edu

In my backyard, I stared at the sky for a while, and think.

“All of this, earth, sky, sun, meteorites, comets, asteroids; are created by god. He also created bible, quran, etc. to make a way for us to follow him.”

Then I think about few seconds, why don’t we apply this to blogging?

Why don’t we (as a creator of our blog posts) make a way for our readers to follow us, not just our blog?

I actually found some, but for now, let’s talk about the Twitter way. 🙂


I found 3 ways to increase your twitter followers via your blog (and even convert some of your blog followers into twitter followers). Here they are:

1st: Create inside-the-post twitter follow button

For this trick, I use shortcode. The official WordPress.com already made the tutorial for this so I don’t want to stupidly recreate a tutorial, I will instead just refer it to you. Here’s the tutorial link:

How to insert twitter follow button inside your post, page, and even widget!

2nd: Create tweetable quote

Tweetable quote consists of two things: the quote, and tweet-this button (or link). Here’s an example:

Roses are red.

I know this is a nonsense quote but I don’t care, at least it’s tweetable. (Click to tweet)

That click-to-tweet link works, try it!

Well, the way to do it is just by typing “Click to tweet” and add link into it. The link is:

http://twitter.com/home/?status=YourTextHere

Don’t forget to change the “Your Text Here” with your quote and mention to your twitter account (like I did in the example). 🙂

3rd: Create tweetable image (and quote too)

Most readers are visual learners, so they are drawn to images more than anything else on the page. That’s why you really need to take this seriously. 🙂

Okay, but how to create it?

  1. First, you must be sure that your image has been tweeted so it has a tweet-friendly image link. If you don’t, please tweet it.
  2. Second, right click on your tweeted image and click “copy link address” or something like that. It should look like: http://twitter.com/yourusername/status/somedisgustingnumber/photo/1 (or 2 or so on, depending on which image did you choose)
  3. Then, use the same trick as if you want to create a tweetable quote (my 2nd tips above). But, add the copied image link at the end of your quote. For example:

“I want to go with both of you”

“But we’ll ride a 2-seated Lamborghini”

“I can fit”

i can fit

(Click to tweet)


 

Yep, that’s it!

If you have any other tips, please tell us in the comment. And if you have difficulties in using any of my tips above, feel free to tell it in the comment too! 🙂

Sincerely

Gumilar Fardhani


OOPS! Don’t go away so fast!

Next time, this blog will have a major theme revision. I will tell you why, how, and what to focus on when you’re trying to revise your blog’s appearance. Interesting, right?

In case if you are interested in my next post and don’t want to miss it (just in case). Here’s an easy way to not to miss it: 🙂

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Thank you so much for reading!

 

WordPress.com Design Commitment Announcement

wordpress com design commitment announcement

For a few months ago, I’ve been tested with the hardest test in my life (so far). After finishing that test, now I’m ready to get back on this blog again. I also noticed followers degradation because of this blog’s inactivity. So I found something:

Blog is like a person. Keep talking about something that helps people and you’ll get noticed. But when you shut up for a few months (like a dead person), then everyone that follows you will think that you’re dead.

Knowing that truth, I decided to create a commitment rules, and that would be like this:

  • New post is published every Thursday
  • At the end of every post, there’ll be some hints for the next post

So, because of the commitment rule that states “new post is published every Thursday”, why don’t you follow this blog? 🙂


 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


 

or, if you want an alternative way to follow this blog, you can follow my Twitter account too, I also tweet my blog post. 🙂

 

Note: If you want to know how I insert that blog subscription form and twitter follow button inside this post, I’ll make a guide for it later.


For the next post, we’ll talk about why should we make our blog’s design stay updated, how to make it stay updated, and comparison between blogs that talk about blog design (this blog is included too).

Thank you for reading, and sincerely.

Gumilar Fardhani

The Forgotten WordPress Feature that Boost Your Blog’s Mobile Version

the forgotten wordpress feature that boost your blogs mobile version

I really surprised by how easy I forgot this superior feature. This feature surely makes a WordPress blog’s mobile version million times better. And believe me, this feature is really in front of our eyes – every time we open our blog’s dashboard.


After looking at Blogger’s default preferences, one of the conclusions I came up with is that Blogger use it’s basic mobile theme as the default mobile theme. WordPress does the opposite – it allows each theme to be the default mobile theme, ‘cause most of the themes in WordPress are mobile-friendly.

Because of this, we may forget that there is a feature named “mobile” in the WordPress dashboard. It allows us to use WordPress basic mobile theme as our blog’s default mobile theme, rather than our chosen theme.

Should we use it?should we use basic mobile theme

Well, honestly, it’s kinda difficult to answer this question because both the WordPress basic mobile theme and the mobile theme from theme you’ve chosen bring the exact same features, and they’re both look great too. So, I’ve done further research. And I came up with three factors that help you decide: ease of use, page load speed, and usability.

Ease of Use

Ease of use plays big role on influencing your decision. Compared to most of the available themes’ mobile versions, the WordPress basic mobile theme offers easier-to-use interface. Every page and post is perfectly fitted into any phones’ screens I’ve tried. And the interface is very much simple. Menu is on the top, blue colored, and the widget is on the bottom, perfectly placed.

Page Load Speed

After running some page speed testing, I’ve come up with a conclusion: the WordPress basic mobile theme is generally faster to load than most of the available chosen themes. This is somehow, true. The WordPress basic mobile theme doesn’t use too much resources. It doesn’t use any animation. Maybe the closest thing it has to be called an “animation” is its menu. Well, I think the menu itself isn’t a big-resource-eater ‘cause it only uses fading effect – yeah, no drop down effect or something else.

Usability

Maybe, this is the only factor that supports both of the sides. Depending on how you want your blog to be:

  • I recommend the WordPress basic mobile theme if you want your blog to be a blog that filled with short to medium sized articles (like a news blog, or a general life tips blog) because you should prefer page load speed, and simplicity for your reader.
  • I recommend the mobile theme from the theme you’ve chosen if you want your blog to show who you truly are, or to show a brand because this kind of blog is kinda more about showing uniqueness to your reader.

Yeah, that’s it. It’s up to you to use your chosen theme’s mobile theme or WordPress basic mobile theme.

Now, the second question arises.

How to perfectly assign the WordPress basic mobile theme?

Well, to assign the WordPress basic mobile theme, there are only few steps you should do. But, to make it even better (better looking, more organized, etc.), I’ve also written some tips for you so be sure to continue your reading.

1. Assigning the basic mobile theme

appearance mobile dashboard wordpress
Click Appearance > Mobile

Basically, you only need to do 2 steps to enable the basic mobile theme:

  1. Click Appearance > Mobile
  2. Click “Yes” on enable mobile theme

But, there are something else you need to do to optimize it:

  1. Click “Yes” on the “Always show posts on the front page” if your blog is a news blog or a quick life-tips blog to optimize it’s simplicity and readability

    mobile theme dashboard wordpress
    This is the mobile section dashboard
  2. Always click “Yes” on the “Show excerpts on front page and on archive pages instead of full posts” to improve your blog’s load speed
  3. Click “Yes” on the “Show featured images on front page and archive pages” if most of your posts are using featured image as their visual aid
  4. Always click “Yes” on the “Turn off the Custom Header text color?” to improve your blog’s load speed

2. Some tips to optimize the basic mobile theme

Originally, my research is intended to only decide whether should we use the WordPress basic mobile theme or shouldn’t we. Well, it accidentally widens and concludes some tips for us to learn:

– Don’t depend on your theme’s special features

If you’ve decided to use the basic mobile theme, you really shouldn’t depend on your chosen theme’s special features (social links, animation sliders, etc.). Because when you click that “enable mobile theme”, your mobile version of the blog won’t have those features that are available in desktop. Well, this is okay if you actually want those special features to be available only through your blog’s desktop version.

– Optimize your widgets

Using widget is the best way to ensure that your blog still has features you really want it to has. For example, if your blog uses a theme that has social links feature in it, you’d like to put your twitter address in the widget section, so people who open the mobile version of your blog still see your twitter address.

Conclusion

Well, you’ve read 3 reasons why you should use the basic mobile theme, how to assign it to your blog, and 2 tips about it. Remember that the basic mobile theme offers faster page load speed and simplicity, but it lacks uniqueness. So, think again before using it.

However, the best way to be sure about anything is to give it a try! So, maybe you can try this by yourself, and I can give you a “try this at home” sticker this time, just kidding.

Okay, if you don’t know me yet, my name’s Gum. And I always here to help, just put it in the comment.

And one more thing, I’m not that great, so, if you think you’ve learned something from your experience, or maybe you have the knowledge about WordPress blog design, come here and lets discuss it! I will gladly accept your thoughts and respect your knowledge.

Cheers, Gum – Writer, Designer, and undeniably, Friend.

ask in the comment

 

An infographic I recently found in Pinterest really made me shocked. WordPresscom Design doesn’t even think about these future web design trends:

web design trend 2015

Don’t Stupidly Choose a Widget! Use This WordPress.com Blog Widget Guide!

wordpress.com widget guide

Hello! Gum here.

Widget (especially, sidebar widget) is an essential part of most blogs. It adds something rather than the whole main content. So yeah, it is a kind of refreshment for reader’s eyes.

One thing we must consider is that widget(s) must be placed strategically or it will be a distraction for readers and it will slows down your blog. Knowing this, I’ve made a complete guide to choose widget, based on what you need, and what you want to give to the readers.

To make things easier, I also made a “what do you want?” list below. So you don’t need to look for the whole article. But it is highly recommended for you to read the whole article.

The Essential Widgets for Every Blog

Regardless of what kind of blog you have and what you want to give to your readers, these widgets are a must for your blog:

Archives

Archives widget is a widget that lets your readers to find your blog’s old posts. Maybe there are some great posts buried by newer and newer posts, which can’t be found except readers dig deeper into your post list. Archive widget makes this easier. Your old posts won’t be useless, buried, and forgotten.

Know more about archives widget.

Follow Blog

The follow blog widget is essential to make readers stay updated about your blog, so people won’t just come on leave. I recommend to use the follow blog by email widget rather than by WordPress account user. It’s just because people check their email inbox more frequently than their WordPress reader. Yep, the follow blog by email widget notifies people via their email, not to their WordPress reader.

Know more about follow blog widget.

RSS Links

Believe it or not, RSS feed is still alive. There are various feed readers in PC and smartphone and they are growing. So, don’t miss the opportunity to give your readers more ways to stay updated about your blog.

Know more about RSS links widget.

Top Posts & Pages

The top posts & pages widget shows your most viewed posts and pages. I like this widget more than the top rated widget that shows your top rated posts. Because I think everybody has different point of view, maybe someone likes your post and others aren’t. So I think the top posts & pages widget should be the right choice.

Know more about top posts & pages widget.

Categories

Categories widget is very essential for every blog. It tells readers what are inside your blog specifically. So if your blog is about fishing, the categories widget will show what inside your blog. If you categorize your posts well, then readers will see something like “fishing baits”, “fishing rods”, “fishing tips”, and many more. It will help them find what they really need from your blog.

Know more about categories widget.

The Personals

After looking to each essential widgets for every blog up there, now is the time for the personals. The personals is a list of widget I’ve compiled, that are good for showing your personal side to the readers.

About.me

The about.me widget is a very good way to show your personal side. With this widget, your name, photo, short biography, and even the link to your other social media accounts will be visible (these options are customizable). It needs only one requirement: you must have an about.me page which is free to make at the About.me website.

Know more about the about.me widget.

BandPage

If you’re a musician, and like to share a little bit about it in your wordpress.com blog, then BandPage is the way. BandPage is a place for musicians to share their work, sell it, and reach more fans. With bandpage widget, you’ll be able to show your readers your photos, let them listen to your own-made music, and even letting them know where your concert will held next. But first, you’ll need to make your page at the BandPage website.

Know more about bandpage widget.

Contact Info

The contact info widget tells readers when and where you are available, and how to contact you. This widget makes physical contact between you and the readers able to do. It normally shows your phone number, your address, and your available hours.

Know more about contact info widget.

Flickr

The bandpage widget is essential for musicians, this flickr widget is essential for photographers and artists. This widget simply shows your latest Flickr photos. So you can demonstrate your visual art ability with this widget. Register for Flickr account at the Flickr website.

Know more about flickr widget.

Gallery

If you just want to simply show some of your pictures without using Flickr, then the gallery widget is good for you. You can choose to where are your images linked to, and you can also choose how they will be displayed.

Know more about gallery widget.

GoodReads

If you love reading at GoodReads or even publishing at it, then you should use the goodreads widget. It tells the reader books that are listed in your GoodReads. Just a simple trick, list your own-written book, and this goodreads widget will show it to the readers and make it more popular. Like other widgets, you need to register for an account first, at the GoodReads website.

Know more about goodreads widget.

Instagram

Instagram widget is another alternative to share your photo. Uh, and now you can also upload video at Instagram too. Well, if you just want to share your selfies and some small arts, then I think the instagram widget would be better for you than flickr widget which used to share professional photos.

Twitter

If you want readers to know what’s on your mind right now, you’d better let them know your recent tweets and re-tweets. Assigning this twitter timeline widget on your blog will let readers know the personal side of your life.

Know more about twitter widget.

Gravatar Profile

To make a WordPress.com account, a Gravatar account is automatically created first, so you won’t need to sign up to Gravatar to assign this gravatar profile widget on your blog. Gravatar profile widget has much similarities with the about.me widget. This widget will show your name, photo, personal links (your websites and blogs), and your other social media accounts. Name and photo are automatically taken from your Gravatar profile.

Know more about gravatar profile widget.

Facebook

This facebook widget tells readers that there is a Facebook page that related to your blog (either your blog’s fanpage, or even your own fanpage). This widget also has a “like” button embed, so readers will be able to directly like the Facebook page from your blog without visiting the Facebook page first.

The Professionals

Sometimes, a blog isn’t about yourself. There is a type of blog which is made to look professional. The professionals is a list of widgets I’ve compiled that helps your blog looks professional.

Authors

The authors widget is a widget that tells readers who are the author(s) of the blog. The authors must have a WordPress.com account in order to be listed in this widget. I recommend the author widget, not the author grid widget. Because author grid widget only shows the profile photo for each author, without name or anything else.

Know more about authors widget.

Milestone

Professional websites and organizations usually held an event for at least once a year, so I think your professional-looking blog should do the same too. The milestone widget makes your event looks more dramatic. Milestone widget displays countdown to a date or time. You can also add a message for what will happens when the time is up.

Know more about milestone widget.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events widget has pretty much same function with the milestone widget. It was made to show upcoming event(s). But, the upcoming events widget is more organized kind of widget, which import an iCalendar feed (usually from Google Calendar), but this widget is more difficult to use than the milestone widget.

Know more about upcoming events widget.

The Customs

These widgets aren’t made for a one reason. They’re just divided, but I found that they are essential to people who need them. I’ve compiled them in a list named “The Customs”.

Custom Menu

Custom menu widget is a widget that displays your own-made custom menu. Your custom menu can be a list of links, selected categories, and many more.

Know more about custom menu widget.

Image

The image widget was made to display image. You can even control where the readers go if they click the image. You can use this widget for various purposes. But I mainly use this widget for stylized menu.

Know more about image widget.

Text

This is by far, the most flexible WordPress.com widget. You can just add some texts, maybe “hi readers!” or something else. You can also add custom html code in this widget. You can add links, this widget is superbly versatile.

Know more about text widget.

tlk.io

Tlk.io widget makes direct chat between you and readers become fastly possible. Tlk.io is a chatting site where we don’t need to create an account. We just need to enter the chat channel and we’re good to chat.

Know more about tlk.io widget.

Need Help?

If you’re still confused to choose which widget is right for you without crowding and slowing down your blog, let me know what do you want in the comment below. You can also tell me what your blog is, and I will visit it right away and give some suggestions for you.

Cheers, Gum.

How to Choose a Fast-Loading WordPress.com Theme

You’ve chosen a great-looking theme. With complete features, beautiful color selections, and fantastic fonts. It looks superbly great on your blog, pleasing in the eyes, esthetically esthetic, aerodynamically aerodynamic, and whatever words that means “this theme is beautiful”.

I don’t know if a blog theme needs an aerodynamic aspect.

I think a "Plane" named theme needs to think about being aerodynamic.
I think a “Plane” named theme needs to think about being aerodynamic.

But, I won’t let you miss one aspect other bloggers missed when they choose a theme – its load speed.

Many SEO gurus (Dalai Lama isn’t one of them) said that a website’s load speed also determines how they rank on Google (at the first page, or anywhere else). So, I think we should obey what those gurus said, we must improve our blog’s load speed.

And the first step is….

A pizza?

No, we aren’t going to buy a pizza, the first step is to choose a fast-loading theme.

Why? Because in WordPress, a theme is the framework of your blog. It transforms the posts

great theme makes content more acceptable
Theme (design) makes boring content more “acceptable”.

you’ve written crazily (they’re actually just texts) into something better-looking for the reader. So yes, it’s just like a driver for a computer hardware, a storyteller for a blind kid.

Yeah, enough with that analogy, let’s go to the how-to.

1. Number of Features

When you choose a theme, your eyes will be shined with those theme’s features. Psychologically (I’m not a psychologist, but I know some psychologies) our choice will be influenced mostly by those available features. That’s the big problem.

wordpress blog theme features
Features are often included in theme’s tags.

More features means more things to load when someone visits your blog. It’s just like when a truck carries more cows, it should be heavier – although the truck will looks good because it can carries more cows.

Yep, of course you can “cheat” this by not enabling some features you don’t need, and enable it when you need it. It’s just like dropping the cows in a farm, and take it back when you need it.

2. Animation(s)

Dropdown menu, color changes when the pointer hovers on it, I must admit that they’re cool.

animated aspect decrease blog load speed
A dropdown menu, this needs to be watched.

Theoretically (nope, Einstein didn’t tell me this) those animations hurt your blog‘s load speed. It’s just like choosing rather to load a video than a photo, chasing a running man rather than a standing-still one. So, yep, the web browser needs more time to load your blog. The difference varies between few milliseconds until some seconds, Based on how many animations used by the theme.

3. Varied Visual Aspects

A theme that uses 3 fonts will takes more time to load than a theme which only needs 1, right? Totally makes sense.

varied design elements decrease blog load speed
An example of varied design elements

Even if the content is longer, when the theme needs fewer fonts, fewer icons to load, less variable background colors, it should theoretically loads faster than a shorter-content, with a more variable (fonts, backgrounds, etc.) theme. Imagine this like a shopping session, 3 fonts means 3 places to visit and shop for a pack of font for each. Then we’ll need to assign that package into our content that already in our house. This also works for backgrounds, icons, etc.. More variable means more shopping places to visit, because not all things are available in one store (that’s the internet, blame it if you want).


Note: These points are just theoretically (no Einstein, please) calculated. If you want to see the real-world load-speed, visit 2pagerank and put your blog’s URL in. It will checks everything – even your page load speed. But remember, the load-speed is based on how fast your connection is, so it’s not an exact result too. I recommend you to compare one theme with another. A few milliseconds difference won’t hurt your blog, really.


Conclusion

I believe you can conclude this post yourself (’cause I believe that you’re genius – emm, okay no lie, you’re just smart) but I also made the conclusion:

Choose a theme with “enough” features, not-so-much animations, and less varied visual aspects. And, if you don’t understand the analogy, leave something in comment. I’m trying to use analogy because I believe that we need to try more than one way to know which works best.

Okay, I hope you like this post (or at least I hope this makes sense). Remember that this is only a small step into fully-optimizing your free WordPress.com blog, I’ll surely write another guide, such as intelligently assign widget, and something else.

One more, Dalai Lama is a guru, but he isn’t a SEO guru.

Thank you for reading! Have a really really nice day! 🙂

Bonus:

dalai lama is not a seo guru
Honestly, I don’t know why are they laughing.
Image by dumplife on flickr

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