Wibiya has opened its doors to WordPress users

We recently reported on Wibiya, an exceptional tool for WordPress blogs (and other sites but we don’t care about them).  At the time, Wibiya was in beta mode, asking you to request an invitation to use the plugin.  Just recently, Wibiya took two pretty big steps.

First, Wibiya is now open to the public.  Simply click “Get it now!” to sign up.  You will select a few settings like applications to include on your toolbar, then download a plugin zip file.  Previously you were given a raw PHP file that required manual upload (instead of the handy “upload new plugin” option in your WordPress Dashboard.

Second, Wibiya updated the toolbar altogether.  If you already had the Wibiya toolbar, you need to reinstall it.  The toolbar now includes a couple more applications and a better interface for adding/removing them.

So what does the Wibiya toolbar do?

  • Integrates Facebook into your blog
  • Integrates Twitter, allowing users to tweet about you right from your blog!
  • Offers easy navigation of random and previous/next posts – increasing pageviews and retaining visitors.
  • Lets readers chat with other visitors
  • Lets you communicate with visitors by setting up announcements (popup or not)
  • Decrease reasons for visitors to leave by allowing social networking right on your site (instead of leaving to do so)
  • And tons more applications (translations, real time users and more added all the time)

Like we said, we don’t care about anything that doesn’t involve WordPress, but Wibiya also works with Blogger, Drupal, Ning, Joomla and more.  Check out the new Wibiya toolbar here.

10 recent trends in WordPress themes

WordPress themes have come a long way. As the exceptional WordPress team builds in more and more features, they give web designers tons of options for creativity and innovation in theme design. We hope that this post brings up trends in WordPress themes that you have noticed, but didn’t know you noticed.


People are really digging the simple, white background themes. Maybe we are all moving on from the flashy website phase and into the simple-is-better phase.


Social media is all the rage. Every blog now has a Twitter Bird and an orange RSS image somewhere above the fold. This is the bare minimum, there is typically many more options for sharing their content.


Contextual themes are becoming more popular. These are the themes that look like they belong somewhere like on someone's desk or in a notebook.


I know we just talked about white being popular, but so is tasteful use of color. Not just a colored background, but a range of popping, eye-catching colors.


Having various style sheets is quickly becoming a standard feature of premium/commercial WordPress themes. Not only does thi smean color options, but full dashboard settings pages to change how your theme behaves. A word of warning to the WordPress developers and theme creators: DON'T BECOME LIKE JOOMLA!


Rounded corners are popular recently. They do give a theme a nice, futuristic, smooth look. But they can easily be over-done.


Shadows or drop-shadows have started giving themes a nice 3-dimensional affect; giving the feeling that the content is sitting out from the page, drawing your attention to the meat of the blog.


Sliders are also growing in popularity. They offer a nice way to display content and the images that blogs are now starting to rely more and more on


Green is the new black. Or is it pink? Anyway, the green movement is sweeping the globe and WordPress is no exception. Eco themes are coming out everywhere, although this may been seen as greenwashing.


Glowing elements are a popular theme among themes. This is definitely a nice touch, but can destract from both content and other, more subtle, design elements.

What’s up with WordPress Hosting?

Have you seen the wordpress.org hosting page?  With WordPress consuming a massive segment of the web, the WordPress hosting industry has to be big.  We recently stumbled upon a page over at WordPress.org that recommends web hosting providers.  Our first thought: this must be a goldmine!  Here’s why:

1st) WordPress.org has a page rank of 9.  A simple link from a PR9 site can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month, not considering any traffic that might be generated from said link.

2nd) The web hosting industry is cutthroat.  Hosting providers often pay over $100 for each referral.  Let’s say only 1/10th of 1% of all WordPress.org visitors sign up for hosting services through the wp.org/hosting page.  Ranked 320th among all websites, WordPress.org likely receives millions of visits each month.  Let’s say 10 million.  That’s 10,000 web hosting signups times $100 each…   $1,000,000 per month.

Obviously this can’t be the case, so we’re wrong somewhere.  But this exercise was simply to demonstrate the value of the hosting recommendations page on WordPress.org.

3rd) WordPress.org is not just a website, not just a blogging platform, it is one of the most powerful and recognized brands on the internet.  Getting recommended by WordPress is like reaching the holy grail of web hosting.  All together now: “KATCHING!”

4th) Only five hosts are listed on that page.  This is not an open directory or depository of hosting links.  The architects of this page did their homework and that means you don’t get on this page by offering them the highest referral fee.

Image credit: Lex.

Mini-tutorial: How to add noindex to category pages

This question was asked in the WordPress forum here.  Since nobody had answered Michael at press time, I thought it might be helpful to find the answer and publish it here.

Solution:

Option 1) Use robots.txt to prohibit search engines form indexing a page.  Simply add this to your robots.txt file.  If you don’t have a robots.txt file, simply create one in your go-to text editor.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /category/page-title

These two lines will a) let search engines know this rule applies to all robots and b) tell them they cannot index the page located at “category/page-title”.

Option 2) Use this handy plugin.  The Ultimate Noindex Nofollow Plugin by Jonathan Kemp.  With this plugin you can choose pages that the plugin will identifying as non-indexable in the robots.txt file.  There are many other options with this plugin including adding the rel=”nofollow” tag to various places in your WordPress code.

Option 3) Use a meta tag to order search engines to not index a particular page. The meta tag looks like this:

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>

10 Must Have WordPress Plugins

We have built a ton of WordPress sites. Seriously, hundreds. Maybe thousands. Over time, we have developed a short list of go-to plugins. No matter what kind of WordPress site we’re making (a blog, a community, etc.) we start by downloading the latest version of these plugins. In our humble opinion, their features should be built into the WordPress Core.

Here is our list of must-have WordPress plugins:

  1. Alex King’s 404 Notifier. Ever wonder how many visitors are lost to a 404 page?  Let’s face it, your site URL’s change from time to time, and people incorrectly link to you.  Have the chance to fix that by being notified when a 404 error is received.
  2. Fix Database Plugin. Database errors happen, and they slow down your website’s load time.  This plugin identifies errors and attempts to fix them.
  3. Auto-Hyperlink URLs. This can be a real time saver.  This plugin automatically generates hyperlinks of the URL’s you place in posts.
  4. Google (XML) Sitemaps. What good is your exceptionally informative blog if nobody finds it?  Step one to SEO is making sure the search engines are indexing your content regularly.  Just make sure your robots.txt file is updated accordingly, this plugin does not address this.
  5. Sexy Bookmarks. This is the same plugin we use below our posts. (And they happen to be using the same theme as us).  Super easy to setup with a handy AJAX settings page.
  6. Advanced Exerpt. This is the simplest way to modify what the “get_the_excerpt” template tag generates.  You can change word count and even what html tags are dropped from the excerpt.
  7. Contact Form 7. The most versatile and easy to setup contact form plugin.  It’s a little tricky to figure out the first few times, but once that time has passed, it is super easy to use.
  8. Akismet. Comes pre-installed in WordPress – but you have to set it up before it works.  Saves loads of time by auto-identifying SPAM comments.
  9. Twitter Tools.  The easiest (and most comprehensive) way to integrate your Twitter account and your WordPress blog.
  10. Wibiya.  Read this post about why we love the Wibiya plugin/toolbar.

The big list of big boys using WordPress

WordPress is so immensely popular that even some monster sites and companies are using it to manage their content.  From blogs to portals, these big boys have chosen WordPress.  Can you blame them?

If you like this post, you’ll probably like this one: 20 Reasons WordPress Gives Us Goosebumps

Where are the links? This list will grow so big that there would be too many links on this post to be search engine optimized.

  • Google
  • New York Times
  • Martha Stewart
  • Yahoo!
  • Playstation
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Meebo
  • Flickr
  • Rolling Stone
  • CNN
  • Smashing Magazine
  • TechCrunch
  • British Prime Minister
  • Ebay
  • Digg
  • Ford
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Sony
  • People
  • Samsung
  • Wired Magazine
  • Mozilla
  • Network Solutions
  • Download.com
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Cpanel
  • GE
  • Rackspace
  • Perez Hilton
  • ProBlogger
  • Copyblogger
  • Mashable
  • Engadget
  • TMZ
  • Huffington Post
  • Treehugger
  • BoingBoing
  • Gizmodo
  • A list apart
  • I can haz cheeseburger?
  • PostSecret
  • DailyKos
  • Watts up with that?
  • Hackland
  • And so many more

Sources:

  • http://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/21-popular-brands-that-are-using-wordpress/
  • http://en.wordpress.com/stats/
  • http://royal.pingdom.com/2009/01/15/the-blog-platforms-of-choice-among-the-top-100-blogs/

20 reasons WordPress gives us goosebumps

If you’re reading this post we can be sure of two things.  First, you love WordPress too.  Second, you have experienced other content management systems and thus, know WordPress beats them all.  These are (just some of) the reasons WordPress is the only choice for managing a blog, a community, or a business online.

WordPress is…

  1. simple.
  2. easy to learn.
  3. fast.
  4. constantly updated.
  5. fully supported.
  6. popular.
  7. scalable.
  8. easy to theme.
  9. beautiful.
  10. functional.
  11. secure.
  12. intuitive.
  13. flexible.
  14. free.
  15. ready out of the box.
  16. can be updated automatically.
  17. can be extended easily.
  18. is SEO friendly.
  19. transferable.
  20. poetic.

Top 10 list of lists

Have you noticed the dramatic increase in “list” posts?  They often have title like “10 best free magazine style WordPress themes” and “10 best social media plugins”.  We, too, enjoy a list here and there.  We thought it would be fun (and funny) to come up with our own top 10 list of  lists.

Image Credit: InstantShift.com

Moving your WordPress site in 2 easy steps

This tutorial assumes you know how to install a self-hosted WordPress site.  Let’s say you’ve got a wordpress powered blog that you’d like to transfer.  Here’s how to do it in just a couple quick steps:

  1. Log into the dashboard of the old site and under “tools” click “export”.  WordPress will export all of the posts, pages, comments and even images into an XML file.
  2. Log into the dashboard of the new site and under “tools” click “import”.  Select that xml file that you saved in your last step and begin the import.  Voila! Your WordPress site has now been duplicated on the new site.

Remember that this does not affect the theme or any customizations or plugins you were using.  Is that easy or what?

5 features we would love to see in WordPress 2.9

These are the features we would absolutely love to see in the next stable release of WordPress. Of course, being that this site is dedicated entirely to WordPress, we love the simple blogging platform as-is. But there is always room to grow.

  1. Line markers in the theme editor. – Sometimes it’s easier and faster to edit your theme code through the built-in editor rather than using an FTP client.  But a line count would be very helpful.
  2. A search feature in the theme editor. – the old Ctrl+F technique sometimes works depending on browser, but would be great to have a built in, AJAX powered search function in the next release.
  3. Database tools in the dashboard. – This could be dangerous for those who like to tinker with database tables, but direct access to the DB within the dashboard would save lots of steps for a WordPress admin.
  4. More Ping/update tools. – WordPress can notify update services when you post, but further control around this feature would be helpful.
  5. Theme tag control. – This is a tall order, but the ability to customize various template/theme tags like the excerpt tag would be great! For example, it would be nice to be able to change the excerpt word limit on the fly.

What are you hopes and dreams for the next WordPress release?  Add them as a comment below.