Review of WordPress Theme Designer Birdtone

If you have ever come across BloggingTips.com, you’ll have noticed they have an incredible design.  It is use-friendly, professional and there’s just something about it that makes you want to subscribe to their content.  That feeling is due in part to the high quality content found on that site.  It is also due in part because of the design.  I contacted Birdtone to see what makes them tick and how they conceive designs.  This is an unpaid review of Birdtone Designs, the shop responsible for this cutting edge design.

Using Bloggtips as an example of their design strategies, you can see the content is priority one.  There are no flashy, distracting features.  If you notice two things on the page, they are either the content or the conversion tools (subscribe form and social media links).  That’s it.

They specialize in blogging designs with a focus on user experience and content.  Their designs are simple and so very easy to use, even a two year old could find what they need.  That’s a compliment.

They do two things really well.  Simplicity and a nifty “ripped paper” effect.  When each are used in the proper form, they create exceptional packages.  I don’t want to speak out of turn, but the cost of their designs are less than you might think.  Although it sounds otherwise, this was an unpaid review of Birdtone.  Here are a few designs from their portfolio.

blogging tips custom wordpress design

pizza reign custom wordpress theme

flippa tips custom wordpress design

Latest Alternatives to Google: David, Meet Goliath

There is no question that Google is the goliath of search, bigger and more powerful than any other search engine.  But with 70% of the lucrative search engine market share, there is bound to be constant challengers to their position.  Google usually buys out any serious competitor before they can become a threat, but that doesn’t stop some very smart people from trying to build the next Google.

Whether interested in the financial prospects, ethical interests, or because they like the challenge, new search engines are popping up everywhere.  Here are a few of the latest and coolest search innovations.

My personal favorite, DuckDuckGo takes privacy very seriously.  They don’t track your searches or click behavior.  They also produce a mighty fine search result and have tons of nifty features and add-ons.

blekko

Blekko has the biggest push behind it since Bing.  Although they produce a nice search result, I think anyone could with $25 Million in venture capital behind them.  They use hashtags to help searchers sort through notoriously spammy results like “online degrees”.

twitter search

Despite my longstanding opposition to everything Twitter (read: I don’t care what you just ate for lunch), Twitter is being used as a new search tool.  Their user base has reached the size that it can actually provide a somewhat accurate, real-time presentation of what’s happening.

wolfram alpha

Wolfram|Alpha is about as real as it gets.  There’s no flip-flop spam here, just detailed facts.  You pay a price for those facts, but cutting out probably 99.99% of the searchable web.  If you’re looking for many obscure results, try one of the above searches.  If you need encyclopedic results, go with Wolfram, if you can remember the name.

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Must Have WordPress Plugins for 2011

I build a lot of WordPress sites and these are, in my opinion, the must-have WordPress plugins for 2011.  I start almost every new WordPress install with these plugins, even if I don’t have a specific intention for them all at the time of development.  If for no other reason, these WordPress plugins will make your websites function at a top-notch level in 2011.

Jetpack WordPress plugin for 2011

Jetpack is a compilation of handy features for any WordPress installation.  It includes Gravatar Hovercards, WordPress stats (available as a standalone plugin), Twitter Widget, wp.me shortlinks, Sharedaddy social sharing plugin, and Shortcode Embeds.

jetpack wordpress plugin for 2011

Usernoise Contact Form WordPress plugin for 2011

Usernoise is an absolute must.  It is the easiest, smallest and best-looking contact form plugin available for WordPress.  It is super-simple to setup, but that means there’s not a lot of customization options.  Usernoise Plugin ads a floating “feedback” image on the side of your site, that when clicked, created a slick AJAX powered overlay contact form.

usernoise wordpress plugin for 2011

Donation Can WordPress plugin for 2011

Donation Can creates a widget that accepts both set and custom donations via Paypal.  It works magically, letting you choose fundraising goals like “Pay for our server costs” or whatever you’d like.  Set weekly, monthly goals, anything really.  Perfect for kickstarting your WordPress website development.

donation can wordpress plugin for 2011

Password Protect WordPress Plugin for 2011

Password Protect plugin is essential for development, especially if you’ve got a great idea that you don’t want stolen.  Make sure your WordPress install is not indexable by search engines, then install this plugin.  It will only show the front end to logged in users, ie: you.  You can even set a custom message to users who try and view your site.

password protect wordpress plugin

Facebook Traffic Pop WordPress Plugin

This plugin creates a floating Facebook like box that utilizes jQuery overlay to catch visitors for a set period of time.  They can either “like” you or wait for it to fade away.  This is a great, albeit pushy technique to increase your social networking presence.

facebook traffic pop plugin

Foobar Announcement Bar WordPress Plugin for 2011

This plugin expertly mimics the HelloBar which is a free but branded dropdown bar at the top of your page.  HelloBar limits what you can place in their bar, and asks for $25/monthly to unlock the best features.  That’s pretty steep, especially when this plugin only costs $9 once at CodeCanyon.

foobar wordpress plugin 2011

Google +1 WordPress Plugin for 2011

Despite how you feel about Google’s foray into social networking, savvy webmasters will need to adopt Google +1 as the next wave of content sharing.  This plugin is free, in the WordPress plugin directory and gives you tons of flexibility to choose how the button is displayed next to your content.

google plus 1 wordpress plugin