Top ways to promote your WordPress site

Someone once said about blogging: “never before have so many people said so much to so few”.  I find this quote hilarious because it really does capture a lot of blogs quite well.  What makes the internet so powerful is always what makes it so bloated.  The ability to broadcast information instantly and efficiently to as many people as may find the information valuable.  But information that nobody sees is useless.  That’s why a WordPress blogger needs to do more than write, they need to promote.

We all have dreams of content we write going viral, and our blogs gaining instant credibility, being read by millions every day.  But that happens to a tiny fraction of us.  The rest need to work tirelessly to write quality content and distribute it as widely as possible.  Here are some solid, white-hat methods for distributing content and promoting your WordPress site.

1.Write quality content!

I had to insert this one even though it is not a direct “promotional tool”.  I also listed this as the top method for promoting your WordPress site because I believe strongly that writing quality, unique and useful content is the most important step in creating a popular website.  If people find your content useful, they will share it among their network and promote it for you.

2. Guest blogging

This is one of the oldest tricks in the playbook, but it work.  Offer to create quality, unique content for similar websites.  Don’t fill the content with links back to your site, rather just one link in your author byline.  This method goes along with numbers 5 and 7, relating to building relationships with other WordPress sites.

By writing unique content for other websites, you are doing them a favor and building a long term connection that will benefit you over time.  They may offer to return the favor.  In the least, you will garner new readers from their traffic.

3. Promotions and Giveaways

I’ve done this a few times here on Pingable and other WordPress sites I run.  It is easy to set up a promotion and it generally works at building traffic and readers.  One method is to identify a resource you already have, such as a product or service, and give it away to a lucky visitor.  Another method is to partner with a member of the WordPress community, such as a theme producer, and give away someone else’s product.  They benefit with free publicity and the “winner” benefits by getting something for free.  It’s a win-win-win.

I have even done this with physical products on a non-WordPress site I run.  I worked out a deal with a manufacturer of tech accessories to give one of their products to a lucky reader.  People were entered into a drawing by liking my site on Facebook or following on Twitter.  I earned a lot of followers that month!

4. Submit content to social sharing sites

Some websites have sprung up in the last few years that are essentially clones of Digg, or vertical market within that focuses on a specific area such as WordPress.  These sites let you submit links to articles that visitors then vote up (or down) based on usefulness and appeal.  These sites can be useless or incredibly helpful.  Again, your content needs to be good or else your efforts on these websites will be for nothing.  Some examples of social sharing sites include:

5. Build relationships

Why on earth do you need to build a relationship with other (competing) websites?  Because even on the internet, relationships are everything.  Working together, two WordPress admins can boost traffic to both of their sites.  The first example of this is guest posting described above.  But two collaborating admins can also share links, swap ads, trade content, liven the comment discussions and offer tips and feedback.

I have been consistently surprised at the positive response I’ve received when blindly reaching out to webmasters who’s sites I liked.  People are often friendly and approachable, willing to talk about collaborations most of the time.  What types of collaborations?  How about joining forces?  One of the best ways to guarantee success is to combine your assets and time.

6. Offer a unique resource

This one is big.  I once ran a very small WordPress powered site (that I’ve since sold).  I made a couple hundred dollars writing some quality posts for a very popular site.  I took that money, and paid someone to develop a custom theme that I then gave away on my blog.  Not only did this garner new loyal readers, it raised the value of my site so that when the time came to sell, it was worth the normal price plus the value of the custom theme that came with it.

What’s also helpful about this strategy is the fact that people really have to link back to you, giving you credit.  You then become the resource everyone is talking about, instead of being one of the everyone talking about someone else’s resource.  Of course, people will steal the resource and not give you credit.  But those people far outweigh the honest ones.

7. Comment and interact with colleagues

This one is a great way to promote your site.  Let me be clear: this is not about plastering the internet with links to your blog.  This is about generating good, honest discussion.  Many websites allow you to insert a link with your username which is good.  But if you engage in healthy discussion about a topic related to your site, many people could see it and convert to readers.  Again, don’t spam, don’t simply comment for the sake of commenting.  Engaging in a friendly discussion and visitors will follow.

What did I miss?

There are thousands of ways to promote your WordPress site out there, which ones are your favorite?  Leave them in the comments below and I could add them to this post.

 

15 Spring WordPress Themes

Spring is in the air, and so are some amazing new WordPress themes.  Although it’s not advisable to switch your WordPress theme with the seasons, it is nice to modify it to reflect the changing weather.  A fresh theme, even if just some minor touches, makes visitors feel like your content is fresh.   Here is a collection of Spring WordPress themes to inspire your next design.  Or, if you’re looking for a theme for a spring launch, consider one of these themes.

Mon Amour (free)

A simple, flowery theme with an image slider and right sidebar.  Mon Amour would make a great spring theme for your WordPress site.

mon amour spring theme

Enis (free)

A very professional looking blog theme with nice social media integration, Enis is a good choice for a fresh new Spring WordPress theme.  Shortcodes and some nice custom page options make a complete package.

enis spring wordpress theme

RetroPress (free)

A professional looking spring log theme with a nice teared paper design.  More stitching and some nice depth-creating background color combinations create a multi-dimensional theme.

retropress spring wordpress

Simple n’ Bright (free)

A single-column theme with beautiful nature-themes backgrounds, Simple n’ Bright is a great Spring WordPress theme.  It’s totally free, and comes with a smooth image slider.

spring wordpress theme

WordGrass (free)

A slick theme with nice background texturing and blurry filter.  Infinite scrolling make this Spring WordPress theme a great option for simple blogs.

wordgrass spring wp theme

Originative (free)

A classic blog theme with a nice watercolor style design and a popular design element for Spring 2013 that looks like stitching.  A powerful image slider and media widgets round out this very nice free theme.

originative free spring wordpress theme

Lucid

A premium theme by the guys over at Elegant Themes.  One of my favorite theme design shops, Elegant Themes (and Lucid theme) come with a powerful control panel and a minimalist, light, airy feel.

lucid

Xenon (free)

A grassy theme for Spring, Xenon is a nice gallery style theme that showcases media with nice user interface.  Perfect for anyone looking to highlight their works.

xenon spring theme

Samarcanda (free)

A premium-quality but free WordPress theme for spring, Samarcanda is a horizontally scrolling showcase and gallery theme.  Very fit for a spring collection.

spring wordpress

Nature

Nature is a theme designed for environmental campaigns but the overall design can easily be adapted for a spring update.  Lots of features in this premium theme are worth checking out.

nature theme

Origin Theme

Another Elegant Theme, Origin uses pastel colors (largely dependent on your post images) to create a smooth feeling design.  Nothing says spring like bright but calm colors.

origin

Pulchellus

A seasonal theme, Pulchellus comes with four seasons worth of design templates.  For those who really want to change their theme with the seasons but don’t want to customize it themselves, Pulchellus is a great option.  That being said, this theme doesn’t directly reference Spring or any season, so it could be used for any purpose.

pulchellus

Full Frame

Full Frame is actually a showcase theme that comes with some beautiful Spring imagery.  It can be used to display some gorgeous outside images, or just brighten up the overall look of your site.

full frame

Watercolor

A beautiful, calm theme with some pastel colors make this a great Spring WordPress theme.  Nivo slider, cufon font replacement and a few other nifty features make this a good theme for just about anything.

watercolor

Child Care

Don’t let the name throw you off, Child Care is a great theme for any purpose – especially a Springtime focus.  The designers have incorporated some natural elements like trees and grass which remind me of Spring.

spring wordpress theme

 

Handy WordPress Theme Hacks

WordPress themes are coming with more and more handy features, some you don’t even want.  As things evolve, clever and competitive designers are putting more of the handy features into themes and there becomes less of a need to hack one’s theme to expand functionality.

That being said, there are many theme hacks that are useful for almost all sites.  This is a compilation of handy hacks and tricks meant to streamline your site and add those tiny bits of better functionality.  These are all aimed at the novice to intermediate WordPress admin.  Only basic knowledge of coding and formatting is necessary for these.

But first, an important clarification: the loop.  hacks or plugin code often say something to the effect of “this tag must be within the loop”.  Anything placed in “the loop” will be repeated for each post displayed.  This is the loop:

<?php if(have_posts()) : ?>
<?php while(have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
// the code inside the loop
<?php endwhile; ?>
<?php else : ?>
<?php endif; ?>

Display multiple loops

This can be helpful for customizing the presentation of the first post, or first several posts.  In order to do this, simply create multiple loops and limit which posts are shown in each.  To show just the latest post:

<?php query_posts('showposts=1'); ?>
<?php if (have_posts()) : while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
<h3><?php the_title(); ?></h3>
<div>
<?php the_content('Read more »'); ?>
</div>
Posted on <?php the_time('F jS, Y') ?> in <?php the_category(', '); ?>
<?php endwhile; endif; ?>

The red code shows the key modification to the loop, limiting to just the latest post.

In order to display more posts, say the next 8, you would add a second loop:

<?php query_posts('showposts=9&offset=1'); ?>
<?php if (have_posts()) : while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
<h2><?php the_title(); ?></h2>
Posted on <?php the_time('F jS, Y') ?> in <?php the_category(', '); ?>
<?php endwhile; endif; ?>

The offset parameter causes the theme to skip the first post and start with posts 2-9.  This would result in 9 posts displaying on the front page.  You would use the first loop to format the first post differently, or whatever your intention was.

Conditional Tags

Are my second favorite hack.  This lets you do virtually anything with a theme if the correct parameters are met.  This is handy in a few ways that I will describe.

The simplest version is the is_home conditional tag.  The following code will display markup if the page is the home page.  Note: this is different than is_front_page.  “Home” is the main blog page, and will only work if “latest posts” is the chosen front page display in the reading settings.  is_front_page includes both the blog page or a chosen static front page.  Make sense?

if ( is_home() ) {
   echo 'Will display this text only only the main blog page';
}

Some variations include:

is_single – for single posts and pages

is_sticky – needs no explanation

is_page – only for page content types

is_page( 5 ) – will display on page id 5 only

is_author( ‘4’ ) – will display if the author is id 4

There are many more applications, see them all in the official WordPress codex.

Custom Fields

My favorite handy WordPress theme hack, custom fields let you streamline entering custom data into posts, and customize how it is displayed via the theme.  The custom field parameters are set below the post content, but you can move them anywhere you’d like in the composition screen.

Start by creating a custom field name/key, and adding a value.  Here’s an example: I want the post title to link outside of my site.  This is the case for showcase or gallery sites that really only aggregate listings but don’t duplicate content with individual posts.  I would create a custom field called “url” and a value for each post would be the URL I want the title to link to.

Next, integrate your theme.  Change this:

<a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>">
<?php the_title(); ?>
</a>

to this:

<a href="<?php echo get_post_meta($post->ID, 'url', true); ?>">
<?php the_title(); ?>
</a>

This will change the post title to your custom field “url”.  Pretty nifty huh?

Use Body Class to display custom CSS

Designers often use filters to style a particular page.  For example, using a conditional statement to add a custom CSS class to an element like a menu, widget, etc.  Instead, and perhaps the better way to add custom styling to a specific element is to use a body class.  WordPress loads a particular CSS class depending on the page type, but this is optional.  If not specified, the standard body class will be loaded.  Using this code will specific the body class:

<body <?php body_class($class); ?>>

And here are some common body classes, courtesy of WPBeginner:

.rtl {}
.home {}
.blog {}
.archive {}
.date {}
.search {}
.paged {}
.attachment {}
.error404 {}
.single postid-(id) {}
.attachmentid-(id) {}
.attachment-(mime-type) {}
.author {}
.author-(user_nicename) {}
.category {}
.category-(slug) {}
.tag {}
.tag-(slug) {}
.page-parent {}
.page-child parent-pageid-(id) {}
.page-template page-template-(template file name) {}
.search-results {}
.search-no-results {}
.logged-in {}
.paged-(page number) {}
.single-paged-(page number) {}
.page-paged-(page number) {}
.category-paged-(page number) {}
.tag-paged-(page number) {}
.date-paged-(page number) {}
.author-paged-(page number) {}
.search-paged-(page number) {}

Were these handy tricks helpful?  Is there one I should have included?  Please share it in the comments below.

Best Places to get WordPress Support

WordPress is known for simplicity and ease of use.  Even people that don’t understand a lick of code can get WordPress up and running in about 5 minutes.  With the advent of 1-click installation, this became even easier.  Another great feature of WordPress is the foundation that allows you to build virtually any type of website on top of it.

Originally a pure blogging platform, WordPress has grown into a structure upon which one can build an online store, social network, magazine, business, even portfolio websites.  In building such advanced functionality, there comes a time when everyone needs a little help.

This help can come in form of community support, official support, paid support, or just a casual learning tool such as a tutorial.  In this post I outline some of the most common and reliable places to find WordPress support.

Official WordPress Support

The official WordPress support resource has to be the first one listed here, obviously.  From here you can access a vibrant support community in the forum, the official documentation (codex) and some handy WordPress tutorials.

Visit the WordPress forum.

The WordPress forum isn’t the most vibrant forum I’ve ever seen, but it is steadily and consistently accessed by some very smart WordPress admins that can answer questions quickly.

wordpress forum

Visit the WordPress Tutorials Section

These tutorials are basic, but helpful for the newbie that hasn’t spent a ton of time with WordPress yet.

wordpress tutorials

Unofficial Support

There are lots of unofficial support sites.  Some are dedicated WordPress support blogs,  but many are articles written by WordPress admins.  For me, this has come about when I’ve needed to learn something new about WordPress.  Often it seems sharing this new knowledge might be helpful to someone else so I write it up.

Some of the websites dedicated to providing WordPress support can be found here.  I decided not to share individual bloggers’ attempts at support because I can’t guarantee their consistency or accuracy as confidently as I can for these dedicated resources.

TutsPlus

TutsPlus is part of the NetTuts (short for tutorials) empire.  They have quite a bit of free stuff, plus some paid content that is well worth the few bucks to access.

tutsplus wordpress support

WP101

I’ve not personally used WP101 but it presents itself as a premium WordPress support resource.  It is a video-based learning resource that you can access with a monthly, annual or lifetime membership fee.

wp101 support

Crowd Support

For these purposes, I considered crowd support to be any organized service that allows people to support each other.  Whether paid, or free, a service that connects people for the sole purpose of getting WordPress help.

WPQuestions

My personal favorite.  I’ve answered many tough questions on this site.  Ask a question and offer a small monetary reward for the person that answers it.  Some people have made thousands on this site.

wpquestions wordpress support

Guru.com

Hire a pro for a little or lot of money depending on the scope of your needs.  I got my start with WordPress on this website 10 years ago.

guru wordpress support

oDesk.com

Another pro-for-hire site.  I’ve spent a lot of time on this site and found some very inexpensive and fast help with WordPress.  Mainly custom plugins and themes.

odesk wordpress support

 

Individual providers

These are a couple individual WordPress support sites who’s skill level I cannot verify but seem pretty reputable.

MyWPExpert

In addition to custom themes and such, this WP expert offers one-on-one support and training.  Not something that is widely available.

mywpexpert wordpress support

WP boys 24/7 support

This is very cool.  Pay for 24 hour WordPress support.  Scenario: your client calls at 11pm, their site is down and you can’t figure out why.  Call the WP boys!

wp-boys wordpress support

If I missed a great resource for getting support with WordPress, please leave it as a comment.  I love to hear your suggestions that make Pingable a truly rich WordPress resource.

20 WordPress Theme Design Trends for 2013

If you’ve been watching WordPress for years like I have, you will have noticed various design trends that come and go.  WordPress is old enough now that it has gone through a number of these cycles.  From minimalism to complexity, from sidebars to single column, here is an outline of the latest WordPress theme design trends for your perusal.

Minimalism

This style is coming back, strong.  Designers are figuring out how to do more with less and make things stylish without gimmicks.  This is very appreciated.

minimal design

Single Page

Single page designs were once popular because, well, the internet was boring and there was no reason for multiple pages.  Then we went through a phase when every site has millions of pages.  Now we are backing off to a more reasonable level.  A site that can put most content on a single scrollable page is a user-friendly site because page load speed is minimized.

Masonry Portfolio

Masonry is a jQuery library that has allowed designers to compile various block sizes automatically and dynamically.  This allows for some impressive portfolio and gallery layouts.  The most famous example is the new (WORST OPERATING SYSTEM EVER) Windows 8 desktop.

masonry design trend

Responsive Design

Responsive is the big kahuna.  A WordPress admin no longer has a need for a separate mobile theme.  Rather, new themes in 2013 have the ability to scale up and down seamlessly.

Retina Ready

Retina is the name of Apple’s latest screen resolution.  An ultra-sharp resolution is like a close up camera.  It makes pretty things beautiful and mediocre things ugly.  The retina displays has so many pixels crammed into each inch, the human eye can no longer distinguish between pixels.

retina design element

Image Sliders

Image sliders are back baby.  With the advent of new javascript libraries to handle transitions and effects, image sliders are flexing their muscles.  Big, bold images flying across the screen is a popular design element for 2013.

Shortcodes

Shortcodes are not new, but their widespread use in WordPress themes is relatively new in 2013.  Shortcodes make for good design continuity when they are developed by the theme designer.  When executed well, they keep the site fluid across pages, buttons, columns, etc.

shortcodes design

Unlimited Colors

Gone are the days of “skins” that pre-determine color schemes for your design.  New WordPress themes are including a color selection feature that chooses the primary and secondary colors that permeate the entire theme.  Good for most people, bad for the color blind.

Google Fonts

As mentioned below, people are focusing on typography more than ever.  The ability to integrate Google’s web-friendly font library has opened up a whole new world for designers.

google fonts in wordpress themes

Single Column

A good single column theme is a nice piece of art.  To incorporate usability into a theme of this layout is tricky.  But when done well, it makes for a  very cool design.

Custom Post Types

WordPress has offered custom post types since version 3.0.  But designers have just begun to really take this feature for a ride.  Post types let you determine how a particular theme displays content based on the type chosen by the author.  This lends itself to nice mixed-purpose blogs that may highlight a link, then a video, then an image, then some text.

custom post types

Integrated Plugins

New themes are starting to integrate premium plugins through partnerships with developers or custom plugins.  Sometimes these plugins are unavailable as a standalone purchase.  Sometimes they are readily available but are thrown in as a perk for the theme purchaser.

High Contrast

WordPress themes this year have definitely taken on more high contract color schemes.  Bright yellow on black is an example of a color combination we’re seeing more of.

high contrast web design

Infinite Scrolling

This is a technique made popular by Facebook and Pinterest.  Keep users on the page by not requiring a click to see more content.  Most designers utilize AJAX for this feature.

Block Designs

The blocky feel has definitely made a comeback.  This design trend uses blocks, squares, and sharp corners to define elements like menu items.  There was a time when this was a sign of an old, outdated design.  But now it’s progressive.  Huh.

blocky designs

Left Sidebar

For some reason the left sidebar has come back with a vengance.  It could be the natural inclination to look to the left for navigation. (as opposed to the top or right)

Big Typography

I’m not sure why, but I like the focus on typography in new WordPress themes.  Lately, the typography has gotten larger and more pronounced.  The text used to be what went in between design elements.  Now the text IS a design element.

typography wordpress

Image Reliant

There was a period of time when WordPress themes moved away from images incorporated into the design.  This was often because of the connection between page load speed and search engine rankings.  However with faster hardware and ubiquitous high speed internet, this has become less of an issue.  So designers are incorporating more image dependence into their themes.

Filtering Media

The filterable portfolio is a design element we started to see widely used in late 2012 and early 2013.  This is really a user interface feature as much as a design element.

filterable portfolio

Grid Based

Grid based design is not new but it’s deployment in most new, premium themes is.  Grid based designs lay out the content is easy to find, intuitive locations so users experience an easy to interpret design.

20 Time Saving WordPress Plugins

What’s most important to the WordPress admin?  Security, simplicity, quality.  These all make the list.  But time is perhaps the only true asset, something you can’t get back.  I have scoured the web looking for WordPress plugins that will save time.  And time is money folks.

This is not an all-inclusive list, so if you’ve come across a WordPress plugin that has saved you time, please add a comment below, or reach out to me on Google Plus.

Pretty Links

pretty link wp admin

An indispensable tool for the WordPress admin.  The easiest and fastest link cloaking plugin I have used thus far.  The free version is very functional, allowing for different types of redirects (301, 302, etc.) as well as basic cloaking.  Stop those affiliate commissions from being stolen and cloak those links!  You can also bulk-add cloaked links with the pro version and generate some handy reports.

ManageWP Worker

manage multiple wordpress sites

Manage all of your WordPress sites from one dashboard! Forget about logging into each site individually, this plugin centralized administrative control.  Very handy for those of us that run more than one site.  It is totally secure (according to the developer) and allows for one-click plugin updates among many other handy features.

Theme Test Drive

This plugin lets you work out the kinks on a new theme while showing your existing published theme to viewers.  This cuts out gobs of time spent customizing a new theme on a local WordPress install or a clone of your site.  You no longer have to export your theme from the local install and hope it works fluidly on your live site.  With some exceptions to functionality, this plugin lets you test your new/potential theme where only you, the admin, can see it.

Plugin Central

time saving plugin central

This plugin lets you streamline the installation of other plugins.  But here is the real time saver.  You can use Plugin Central to bulk transfer plugins from one site to another.  This is a huge time saver for anyone who is moving to a clean installation of WordPress, or who likes to use a default grouping of plugins on all sites.  Very nice.

Ultimate Google Web Fonts

time saving plugin

Stop hand coding CSS or importing Google Font functions into WordPress.  This plugin ($14 at Code Canyon) does it all for you.  Play with lots of different fonts to get just the right look on your site.

OSE Firewall

ose firewall save time with wordpress

Protect your site with one plugin against hacking, viruses and spam.  The built in scanner consistently checks your WordPress site for malicious code so you don’t have to be (as) diligent.

Developer Mode

developer mode plugin

Completely customize how different user levels see and interact with the WordPress admin.  Save time by restricting what your clients can see and change in the WordPress admin.  This cuts down training time, repair time (when they break something) and generally streamlines your clients’ admin experience.

Simple Optimizer

Stop downloading different optimizing plugins and tools, this one does it all for you.  It optimizes the database among many, many other things.  Here’s a brief video on what it can do:

Admin Bar Removal (aka annoying top bar thing slayer)

I always go in and remove this admin bar, it’s worth doing permanently.  The admin car causes multiple problems for the speedy WordPress admin, throwing off layouts and themes and just visually getting in the way of good site testing.

Post Snippets

wp time savers

Use Post Snippets to keep a personal library of assorted code so you’re not looking it up every time you need it.  Perfect for a theme’s shortcodes or javascript, HTML or PHP.

Plagiarism

fast plagiarism check

Plagiarism automatically scours the web for copied content.  This is particularly helpful for any WP admin that accepts guest posts.  You want to make sure work is original, but don’t have time to check everything manually.  This plugin automates the process.

Infinite WP

wp admin time saving plugins

Another way to manage multiple WordPress installs.  This one is completely free, just install this plugin on all sites you want to manage and you will have access to them through the accompanying plugin, Infinite WP Admin.

Infinite WP Admin

You’ll need this plugin to manage Infinite WP.

Global Content Blocks

global content blocks shortcodes

Similar to Post Snippets, this plugin lets you create your own shortcodes.  This is particularly helpful and time saving if you regularly use the same code over and over.  Kind of takes some of the appeal away from fancy themes with built-in shortcodes.

Content Progress

content progress plugin

Insert workflow management into the post writing process.  Very helpful for multi-author blogs.  Label your posts as in-progress, ready for review, etc.  Will be a time save for anyone who frequently uses guest authors or those that manage other writers.

WP Butler

wp butler

This plugin creates a text field in the WP dashboard that allows admins to jump to commonly used admin actions.  Handy even for people that know their way around the WordPress dashboard rather than waiting for the (sometimes slow) menus.

Adminimize

wp dashboard

I like this one because I like a clean dashboard.  Adminimize allows the WordPress administrator to select what displays on the dashboard.  Of course this can be done manually by modifying the WP core which isn’t recommended.  Instead, use adminimize to pick and choose what you see.

Tidy Up

Tidy Up does exactly what it says, goes through your posts and pages and looks for sluggish or improper coding.  You can then choose (a nice feature) to update the database with the tidied code.  Be warned, this plugin is not actively maintained but appears to still function.

Advanced Excerpt

excerpt

Advanced Excerpt lets you customize the length and behavior of the standard WordPress excerpt function rather than hand-coding the changes.  I use this plugin surprisingly often.  Image credit.

Simple Backup

simple backup plugin

Simple backup takes the process out of “backup process”.  You can regularly download backups of your WordPress site, and optionally run some database optimizations.  This is the kind of plugin you wish you had when it’s too late, but you never think of until it’s too late.

20 Obscure WordPress Theme Providers

There are hundreds if not thousands of WordPress theme shops out there.  Many are blow-your-socks-off amazing.  Conversely, many are just throwing themes against the wall and seeing if they stick.

Rather than just list all of the well-known, popular WordPress theme providers, I decided to identify some of the more obscure theme shops.  The following are high quality, lesser-known WordPress theme shops you may never have heard of.  Go ahead, try them out.  This post has no affiliate links.

Theme Trust

They claim “beauty and function” and I would agree.  Very professional, clean and easy to navigate themes.  Nice work Theme Trust.

theme trust wordpress

Para.llel.us

A creative shop mainly selling their stuff through ThemeForest.  They make one of the most popular themes of all time on ThemeForest.

parallelus themes

Chimera Themes

Not the top of the list in terms of cool designs.  But there are many themes to choose from, many of which are unique and serve a specific purpose which is convenient.

chimera themes

Shaken and Stirred

Some neat and clever, creative themes here.  One designed for the sole purpose of accepting invoice payments only.  Neato.

shaken and stirred wordpress themes

ThemeShift

Lots of high quality themes with an elegant, minimalist style throughout their portfolio.  Like the big boys, ThemeShift will soon be releasing their own theme framework upon which to build their future themes.

themeshift wordpress themes

ThemeFuse

Slightly higher priced ($59-99) put the “premium” in premium themes.  But they back up the price with some nice designs with specialized functions and clean, stylish lines.

themefuse premium wordpress themes

Dessign

Beautiful, minimalist designs pulled off with a classy and professional look.  In this case, minimalist does NOT mean boring.  This provider was once featured on SmashingMagazine.com, but still remains under the radar.

dessign wordpress themes

Mint Themes

Nice, run-of-the-mill themes, basic functions and designed well.  Mint Themes wins the award for “keep your eye on them, they’re going places.”

mint themes

My Theme Shop

Great styles come out of this obscure theme shop.  Clean, grid-based designs offer a creative spin on simplistic design.

my theme shop wordpress

WPCrunchy

Clean, crisp themes with a professional spin.  I’d call this an economy theme provider at the tune of $39 per year.

wpcrunchy wordpress

ThemeZilla

Gotta say, one of my favorites.  Orman Clark and ThemeZilla can really put together a slick WordPress theme.  They are clean, professional, simple and fast.

themezilla themes

CSS Igniter

Cool, usable themes using some of the latest but important techniques like responsive designs.

css igniter themes

SoloStream

Business-y themes with a true blog feel.  Many of their themes are really just built for standard blogging.

solostream themes

Rockable Themes

Some nice forward-thinking designs for professionals and graphics design folks.  Nothing ground breaking here, just good wholesome themes.

rockable themes

Gavick Pro

Like Rockettheme, Gavick Pro started with Joomla Templates and realized just how awesome WordPress was.  They now offer both.  I’ve no personal experience with Gavick themes but they sure look nice.

gavick themes

Theme Warrior

Badass name. They offer some inexpensive and free themes with a classic flair.

theme warrior themes

OKAY Themes

Very simple themes with designers in mind.  Lots of portfolio and media focused themes.

okay themes

Press75

Some excellent themes, some for just $5.  Press75 calls their themes “unique, clean and efficient.  I would agree.

press75 themes

Designer Themes

Cool block-style themes with a nice color-contrasting kick.  Creative use of minimalism and scrolling effects are sprinkled around their portfolio.

designer wordpress themes

WP Explorer

Great themes, very well conceived and put together.  They are usable and professional at the same time.  This one is more of a collection of themes from various providers.

wp explorer themes

 

 

WordPress.com launches WordPress for Classrooms

WordPress.com has recently added a new vertical specifically aimed at the education sector called WordPress Classrooms. Many teachers will tell you that they have been using WordPress for some time for class blogs and for communicating with parents, however, this vertical includes some features that will make life much easier for teachers and students.

Privacy

Privacy is the number one factor for teachers looking at getting their content on the web. Particularly if the content includes photos or videos of kids. WordPress for Classrooms deals with this by giving users a range of privacy options, including keeping content from search engines, password protecting posts, or simply limiting posts to certain logged in users.

class_list

Themes

WordPress.com users can select from a list of predetermined themes, however, classroom users get access to a wider range of Education specific themes. Any user, can of course pay a small fee to use a custom theme. With the launch of Classrooms, WordPress have also released a new theme called Chalkboard, that would make a great template for a class blog. Check it out here.

chalk

With an emphasis on BYOD that many schools in developed countries seem to be moving towards, it makes a lot of sense for teachers to use blogs more often. If a student is sitting with an iPad or laptop on their desk, then blogging to WordPress will be a breeze. This is a great opportunity for teachers to give WordPress a try.

WordPress for classrooms also includes all the great features that other .Com users get, which make it an ideal classroom website option: Moderated and threaded comments, great media embedding options, simplicity and speed of publishing and all this is hosted in free package. Sounds like a winner to us. With an emphasis on BYOD that many schools in developed countries seem to be moving towards, it makes a lot of sense for teachers to use blogs more often. If a student is sitting with an iPad or laptop on their desk, then blogging to WordPress will be a breeze. This is a great opportunity for teachers to give WordPress a try. If you are involved in Education and want to check it out, jump over to WordPress.com Classrooms.

25 Free Nonprofit WordPress Themes for February 2013

What to consider when choosing a WordPress theme for a nonprofit.

Today’s nonprofit can no longer depend on generous donors to send money because of the quality or depth of the mission. In a tight economy, nonprofits need to act like businesses – adopting business principles and strategy in order to stay competitive. One major component of a competitive nonprofit is a powerful and dynamic web presence.

Because this new reality for nonprofits and non-governmental organizations requires an intentional focus on their website and design, and WordPress is miles above the competition when it comes to building a community online, I thought it important to look at what makes a good nonprofit WordPress theme.

First, how these themes were rated.

1) A good nonprofit WordPress theme must be easy to navigate for non-tech savvy visitors.

2) A good nonprofit WordPress theme incorporates multiple avenues for converting visitors to participants.

3) A good nonprofit WordPress theme is stylish but professional.

I examined each of these three factors, along with basic standards for usability, good design principles and quality coding. The following are standout themes that would be good for virtually any nonprofit.

Yasmin

A fixed layout, 3-column theme with lots of social media engagement for potential donors or volunteers. Comes with a slick portfolio feature too.

yasmin nonprofit wordpress theme

Western

A 2-column business theme with striking color contrast and up-top social links.

western theme for nonprofits

Stylish Church

An easy to implement branding platform (like – just upload your logo easy) and an integrated events calendar make this a great option for nonprofits.

Free Church nonprofit wordpress theme

Simple Nonprofit Theme

It is what it says, a simple nonprofit theme with a header menu to highlight what’s important. A clean blog and latest news function round out this nonprofit theme.

free nonprofit theme

Fanwood

More striking contrast to make the theme pop off the page. Above the fold social links and easy navigation.

fanwood nonprofit theme

Pure Line

A truly simple design with the old school menu header. This theme is super free (full GPL) because it’s found in the WordPress theme depository.

pure line nonprofit theme

Simple Catch

It’s right in the name: “simple”. A smooth, clean design but a pretty powerful back end with a complete administrator panel.

simple nonprofit theme

Unique & Responsive

Responsive is the key phrase here. With more people accessing the web via mobile devices than ever before, this theme will set up your organization to catch people wherever they are, and in the future as more and more people use mobile web.

responsive nonprofit wordpress

Foundation Theme

One of the very few themes out there specifically designed for nonprofits. Foundation theme is from a small (2-theme) shop so who knows about support or consistency. But the theme looks pretty tight and clean.

wordpress foundation theme

Panoramica

Some nonprofits generate some great images as part of their work. Panoramica would be a good theme for them because it is built to showcase powerful images.

nonprofit wordpress theme

Simple n’ Bright

Again, built to rotate great images, Simple n’ Bright also has some beautiful built-in photography that can make the visitor feel all warm-and-fuzzy and maybe a little open-the-wallety.

bright wordpress nonprofit theme

Boldy

Another theme with rotating imagery. Boldy is put together by Site5 hosting as a “free premium” theme. Lots of social integration and a clean column look make this theme a winner.

boldy nonprofit theme

JournalCrunch

Generating lots of written content? This theme is the one for your group. A very clean, professional look with sutle vertical lines make the user feel like they’re sitting in grandma’s living room (in a good way).

journal nonprofit wordpress theme

WP Anniversary

OK, the “thank you” isn’t meant for your donors, it’s meant for Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress. But it could be customized to provide a very nice message to your visitors.

wpanniversary nonprofit theme

Simplo

Yep, I really dig the simple themes. Most themes today only look good with amazing, popping images and we don’t all have those accessible and appropriate for our site. Simplo is super simple and super easy to navigate. Two great design principles.

wordpress ngo theme

Academica

A very professional looking design, obviously targeted toward universities. With universities comes instant “cred” so tap into that if possible.

academic wordpress theme

Iris

Nice, calming but exciting blue permeates this design. Great for kids charities or other child-focused agencies. The navigation is simple, but the layout doesn’t allow for much content above the fold.

iris nonprofit theme

Respo

One of my favorites on this list, Respo is clean but really professional. The menu is boring, but the rest of the design is simple in a nice, clean and usable way.

respo nonprofit theme

Financio

One of my other favorites on this list, I think it’s the subtle vertical lines and the off-black menu. I love how this theme draws your attention immediately to the name, then the content.

simple wordpress nonprofit theme

Goodchoice

This one is modern in terms of design style. The static image background, overlaying screening, and round social buttons are all “design-forward”. If your nonprofit is progressive, this may be the design for you.

good wordpress nonprofit theme

Tint

Rounding out my list of favorites among favorites, tint has a cool, retro color bar at the top that serves no function other than to make me happy. The user is drawn to the content of your message or mission right away.

nonprofit theme

Quintel

Not my favorite design, can’t really explain why. But it has all the right components. Maybe it’s my hatred of the color teal. Yes, that’s it. Otherwise, Quintel might work perfectly for your nonprofit.

quintel nonprofit theme

Orion

A simple and straightforward nonprofit theme. If you care most about your content and images, this might be your theme. It doesn’t distract with flashy features, just clean lines.

orion nonprofit theme

Rolex

Rolex is nice because it has front page widgets you can use to highlight your work with nice icons. Plus the images are nicely displayed above the fold.

rolex nonprofit theme

Faith

I liked faith because it has an elegant quote or statistic spot at the top. Highlight a fact about what your organization does, or some inspiring word of wisdom.

faith nonprofit theme

Ready for the next level? Go premium, like this theme:

mission nonprofit theme

WordPress for iOS 3.4 update released

Automattic, the company behind WordPress has released an update to the WordPress iOS app: version 3.4. It now supports push notifications for events such as comments, likes, shares, new posts, and more. This feature should be great for keeping your comment moderation time down, and giving your blog a current/live feeling, as you will be able to approve comments in real time when using your phone. To gain access to the push notification feature on a self-hosted WordPress.org blog you will need to add the jetpack plugin.

Comment moderation has been greatly improved in this update also, allowing users to carry out all moderation tasks from one screen. This is a significant feature for user friendliness, and something I have been waiting for, for a long time, mostly because this is the type of task I think a phone or tablet is more useful for. It’s not likely that I will be writing entire posts on my iPhone, however, moderating comments when I have a free moment of two makes a lot of sense. So I am very pleased with this new feature.

The app is still missing a few key features. Most notability the option to search through old posts, thus allowing you to make quick edits or updates to existing posts.

Some of the reviews on iTunes are suggestion the new version is fairly unstable. What do you think of the new version?

You can download the app here.