Freshen Your Theme with Seasonal Touches

You can freshen your blog appearance in many ways that reflect seasonal changes and holidays that range from changing themes  temporarily to less dramatic decorative changes to the theme you are using now.  Consult your calendar and  unleash your creativity to transmit your brand to your readership through seasonal events, holidays and special occasions. Continue reading

Instagram Widget for WordPress.com Users

instagramInstagram is a fast and easy way to share your photos with friends and family free of charge.

Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.

Today WordPress.com Staff announced something Instagram users have been waiting for. Widgets » Instagram Widget > via Instagram Widget — Support — WordPress.com. via Instagram Widget — Support — WordPress.com.

Upcoming Events — Support — WordPress.com

I was so busy with the seasonal ghouls, goblins and zombies and the clean-up afterwards that I missed the announcement of this cool new widget.

“It allows you to use an iCalendar link to display a list of events on your WordPress.com site. This feature can be used for any kind of event list, but it was created especially with musicians in mind so they can rock the web with a list of tour dates. Rock on!” via Upcoming Events — Support — WordPress.com.

Milestone Widget for all WordPress.com blogs

milestone widgetSave The Date!

Forever also sports a custom design for a new widget we call Milestone. You can find it in your blog dashboard at Appearance → Widgets and it’s pretty easy to use. Just pick a title for your event, a date and time, and a special message for the big day, and you’re ready to go. Now you have a special save the date widget for your Wedding on every page of your blog. via Get Married With WordPress — Blog — WordPress.com.

But wait there’s more in the comment section. The new Milestome widgets is available for every theme on WordPress.com 

Facebook Like Box for WordPress.com

facebbok iconWordPress.com social networking features are being added continually.  If you are one of those WordPress.com users who has eagerly been awaiting a Facebook like box you can use on your blog — the waiting is over.  Look at you widgets page and discover a new addition  that’s bound to make you smile.  Appearance > Widgets

I must have missed the announcement. Does the Facebook like box widget now operate on WordPress.com blogs without the software stripping the code out?  Yes, we now have a Facebook like box widget that can be used  on WordPress.com blogs.  Note that the Like Box only works with Facebook Pages (and not Personal Profiles).

facebook widget

FBwidget1

WordPress.com provides:
You can post a Facebook badge in your sidebar.

You can also enable sharing buttons on your posts, pages, and index pages.
Also note  you can have Facebook like  and share buttons on your posts.

You can use a Twitter widget.

You can post a twitter follow button.

You can set up Publicize and publish to your Facebook profile page.

Alternatively, you can use Networked Blogs  or RSS Grafitti for posting to Facebook walls if you prefer.

WordPress: Create a random post icon

wordpress icon

Click for random post

It’s easy to post a link in a text widget in your wordpress blog’s sidebar that when clicked will display a random post found in your blog. You can use anchor text or not. Simply place the code into a text widget and display it at the top of your blog’s sidebar for reader convenience.  But did you know that the random post URL can be linked to an image of your choice? This post is a step by step tutorial for wordpress beginners.

Here’s just a little easter egg for you to play with: Try adding ?random to the end of your WordPress.com URL and it will redirect you to a random post on your blog. You can link to that address like any other, either in your post or a widget. Update: Based on a suggestion in the comments, I’ve added this to the admin bar so when you’re logged in and you hover over “Blog Info” the first menu item is a random post link. — Get Random

Simply replace example URL with  the Random Post link in the choice you make below.

Example 1 link without anchor text:

http://example.wordpress.com/?random

Example 2 linked to anchor text: Click for random post

<a href=”http://example.wordpress.com/?random”>Click to read a random post</a>

Example 3 linked to an image:

Draft post

  1. Create a draft post that you will later delete.
  2. Select a small image to link to and upload it into your Media Library.
  3. Fill in the Alternate Text.
  4. Type “Click for random post” into the Caption.
  5. Fill in the Description.
  6. Hover over “Blog Info” on the Admin bar and a dropdown menu will appear.
  7. Hover over “Random Post” and copy the URL onto your clipboard.
  8. Paste that URL into Link URL
  9. Click the “Insert into post” button and when that it complete click the X to close the image details box and return to your draft post.
  10. Switch to the HTML edior and copy the image code provided there onto your clipboard.

wordpress image detail box

Text Widget

  1. Proceed to Appearance > Widgets select a text widget and drag and drop it into the position in your sidebar that you want it to appear in and open the widget.
  2. Paste the code you copied out if the HTML editor into it.
  3. Click “Save” and “Close
  4. View the front of your blog. Click your tmage and view a random post.
  5. Delete the draft post as you are done.

Netvibes Drag’n’Follow Facebook, MySpace, Twitter Widgets

Netvibes Introduces New Drag-and-Follow Facebook, MySpace and Twitter Widget

Netvibes is a free portal you can personalize. All the information you need in one page. With the rapid growth of real-time content and activity feeds from sources like Facebook and Twitter, many people are struggling to keep track of multiple friends and interests that change day-to-day.  Netvibes has launched a novel solution and industry first: drag-and-follow widgets.

Continue reading

Widgets: Less is More

Widgets generally  accomplish one or more of the following things:
  1. improve the functionality of a site by providing reader accessibility to content that is not located on the front page;
  2. act as leaders for e-commerce or other transactions;
  3. promote and lead traffic to the site serving the widget;
  4. redirect readers to high quality sources of relevant information found in authoritative blogs in the same niche.

Keeping the amount of widgets and other sidebar clutter to a minimum may seem like common sense to veteran bloggers but to new bloggers the lure of adding widgets may be too overwhelming to pass up.  However, a  common mistake  beginner bloggers make  is the  overuse widgets as sidebar decorations, methods of bragging,  and as space fillers,  because they fail to consider the following:

  1. the impact of  the amount of script they have running on their blogs on their readers experience;
  2. the collection of  reader information (computer ip,  location, browser type and version) that some widget use results in; and
  3. how all those widgets clutter the 12 inch screen of laptops.

Widgets as spoilers

Widgets don’t only spoil the design and give the blog an amateurish appearance, but they also compromise blog speed (page loading time), in short viewers have to wait for widgets to load before they can interact with your blog. This may not seem important to bloggers on high speed broadband service but most people surfing the web today are on dial-up service.

“Too many widgets on a page will kill a blog’s design and turn off visitors. How should you gauge whether or not you have too many widgets on your blog? Check other blogs and see what kind of an impact widgets have on your experience as a reader.” – Glen L Graham II, Web-designer / Graphic artist  for The G&R Group

Widgets as distractions

Consider that readers come to our blogs to read our content. They don’t come to our blogs to view our awards, badges and buttons and they have no interest in seeing where every other visitor is coming from. Yet every day I witness distracting and tacky looking widget clutter in the sidebars of many personal blogs. The important point here is that widgets and other sidebar clutter distract readers’ attention by drawing the eyes and mind away from the content in our posts.

Widget test

The test for whether or not to add a widget or any sidebar link to your blog is to answer these questions:

1. Will adding this widget or link to my sidebar provide my visitor’s access to blog content that’s not found on the front page?
2. Will adding this widget or link to my sidebar provide my visitor’s access to additional high quality related resources beyond my blog?

The rule of thumb is that if it does not accomplish the foregoing , then do not add it.

References:
Too many widgets

Related posts found in this blog:
Why having a well designed blog is important

 

WordPress: Placing images in text widgets

copyright

I have noticed that many new users have difficulty with placing images in text widgets. IMO the easiest way to do this is to create a draft post first, then copy and paste the data into a text widget, and delete the draft post after you see the image display correctly in your sidebar. Prior to trying to insert an image into a text widget I recommend reading these two FAQs entries:
Put an image in your sidebar
Using the text widget
I hope they will provide enough background information so that the walk through below will simply function as a guide.

Walk through – Insert an Image into a text widget

–> New Post –> upload image into the post –> send image to editor –> click the image and position it using icons 7, 8, or 9->  switch to the code tab (HTML) on the visual rich text editor and copy the entire image code to your clipboard –> save the draft post (you can delete it later)

->Appearance –>  Widgets –> drag a text widget out of the available widgets box and drop it into the sidebar box –> open text widget and paste in the image code –> click ‘Save’ then -> click ‘Close’  -> now view your site (it should be there) -> go back delete the draft post.

Walk through – Linking a sidebar graphic to external link:

-> New Post ->  browse for your image and click ‘upload’ (this will take you to a new page) -> select the size (usually ‘thumbnail’)  and click ‘insert into post’. Switch from visual mode in the editor to code (HTML) and your HTML will appear there.

In the first portion of the HTML is the link reference page. You will change this to link to the url for the site you want to link to, instead of the long text so make sure you leave in the image code {img scr} and then copy all of the code with your cursor and save the draft post.

-> Appearance -> Widgets’ and drag a ‘Text’ widget from the Available widgets box and drop it into the sidebar box -> click on the  the ‘text’ widget in the right hand corner and it will open -> paste the code from the draft post you’ve copied in there and click  ‘Save’ and ‘Close’.  Click ‘view your site’ and make sure everything went accordingly and then delete the draft post.

Example: Copyright Notice or License

Here is an example for placing a text widget in your sidebar for displaying a copyright license or notice.

official copyright symbol

You can simply place “Copyright © 20__All Rights Reserved”  in a text widget.

Or you  can register copyright licenses see: creativecommons.org as described here > How to copyright your digital  works and then display these license images in your blog’s sidebars in  a text widget.

Or if you prefer you can create a static page for displaying your copyright and then link to it from “Copyright © 20___ All Rights Reserved ” placed in text widget in your sidebar by following the walk through below.

1. Copy the HTML code or the phrase “”Copyright © 20__ All Rights Reserved “.
2. Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets
3. Drag a Text widget out of the Available widgets box
4. Drop the Text widgets into the Sidebar box
5. Click the top right hand corner of the Text widget to open it.
6. Paste the HTML code or the phrase “”Copyright © 20__ All Rights Reserved “” into the Text widget.
7. Click “Save” and Close” at the bottom of the Text widget.
8. View the front page of your blog and the copyright symbol/notice should be there.

Related posts found in this blog:
8 Hot Widget Tips
Working with wordpress widgets
Copyright basics for bloggers

 

Text Links in Posts, Pages and Text Widgets

Text Links in Posts, Pages and Text Widgets
by guest author, Richard

Text Links in Posts and Pages
For those who are not fluent in HTML, writing text links can be a daunting thing, but it doesn’t have to be. The WordPress visual editor can make quick work of it for you. For reference, you might want to take a look at this WordPress.com Support Documentation which explains what all the icons in the Visual Rich Text Editor do.

(1) Type in and highlight the text you want to use as the link

(2) Click icon 10 in the tool bar that looks like three chain links hooked together

(3) In the box that pops up, enter the full URL of the page or site that you want to link to in the “Link URL” field. If you wish the link to open in a new page, click on the arrow on the end of the “Target” field and select “open link in new window.” Click the “Insert” button and you have created the link.

The text you selected to use as the hyperlink in your page or post will appear blue with an underline in the editor. What your link text will look like when you publish your page or post depends on the theme you are using. That’s all there is to it.

(4) If you want to change the link to different text, or remove the link, highlight the current text that has the link and click on the icon that looks like broken chain links.

Text Links in Text Widgets
If you want to put text links in a text widget, again, you don’t have to know HTML to do it. Use the WordPress Visual Rich Text Editor.

(1) Type the text you want to put into the text widget into the visual editor. Note that you can use the alignment icons 7, 8, 9 to align the link to left, center or right.

(2) Follow the directions above to create the text link.

(3) When finished, click on the “Code” tab at the top of the editor, highlight all the text and code and copy it to the clipboard (ctrl +c Windows or cmd + c Mac).

(4) Go to Appearance > Widgets and drag a text widget from the “available” widgets pane at the bottom of the page to the “sidebar” pane and position it where you want it. (If there isn’t a text widget in the “available widgets” pane, scroll further down on the page and increase the number of text widgets available to you and press “save.”)

Open the text widget you placed in the “sidebar” pane by clicking on the small icon on the right end of the text widget in the “sidebar” box.

TIP! I typically open Appearance > Widgets in another browser tab or window so that I can quickly switch back and forth between them..

(5) Paste the code and text you copied from the editor into the text widget (ctrl + v Windows or cmd + v Mac). Type in a title for the text widget if you wish (not required) and click the small “X” at the upper right on the widget title bar, and then click “Save Changes.” You are done.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Planning to self-host your blog?

Update:  December 2008: Please see: Become a wordpress.org blogger free video tutorials

If you are a wordpress.com blogger who is considering self hosting your own blog then I would like to recommend a series:

“Going self-hosted with WordPress : A Wolfie Guide”

To self-host or not to self-host?
Plug-ins for WordPress

Of Blogrolls and Widgets
Domains
Why Go Self-Hosted?
Hosting Sites

“People start to worry when you talk about self-hosting; they look at you as if you’re talking some sort of strange, new foreign language. They assume that it’s really technical and they won’t be able to do it, or they assume that it’s really expensive and it’s not worth it. I’ll be honest, it’s not the ideal solution for everyone but it doesn’t have to be technical and it doesn’t have to be expensive. The question you need to ask yourself is whether your blog is worth a little bit of effort to learn some new skills and perhaps install a new piece of software? There are things that WordPress.com does for you at the moment that you will have to do for yourself if you move – are you prepared to put in that extra bit of work for the extra freedom you’ll get? Can you handle a little bit of FTP?” Wolfie

Related post: WordPress blogroll, links widget, categories widget

WordPress blogroll, links widget, categories widget

Update: The word “Blogroll” was replaced with the word “links” in wordpress.com 2.5 upgrade.

Understanding the relationship between blogrolls, links widgets and categories widgets is a must for mastering wordpress blogging.

All wordpress.com blogs have only one Blogroll located in the Admin area where you enter all links and assign each link to one or more Categories.

The links you enter into your Blogroll are displayed only after the Links widget is placed in your sidebar. Also note that there must be at least one link assigned to a Category before it will appear in your sidebar.

Likewise, the Category widget must be placed in the sidebar for posts to display. And just like links when it comes to posts there must be at least one published post in a Category before the Category will be displayed in your sidebar.

Once your Links widget and Categories widget are positioned in your sidebar, the manner in which the links you entered into your Blogroll will be displayed is alphabetically in accord with the Categories you created and assigned to those links when you entered them into your Blogroll.

Therefore as you will have multiple Categories it may look like you have multiple Blogrolls when you view your links in your sidebar. But in truth, you only have only one Blogroll, which is displays links as separate alphabetically ordered groups, in accord with the Categories that you assigned to those links when you entered them into your Blogroll.

To learn how to set up and configure your blog’s widgets please see: WordPress Widgets (the post immediately preceding this post).

* Note that the foregoing does not apply to the Blix theme which is coded to display all links in one alphabetically organized row and has some other quirks too.

Related posts:

Pages Widget

Authors Widget

Working With WordPress Widgets

Working with WordPress Widgets

Update: This is the November 19, 2009 edited version of WordPress Widget Wizardry originally published September 17, 2006 by the same author.

Contents

What is a Widget?
In the everyday world the terms like gadget or gizmo are used to indicate helpful small devices, things or tools. In the computer world widget is used generically for a plugin that can be placed in your blog’s sidebar to conveniently customize, and quickly increase blog functionality, without requiring you to acquire any knowledge of html and how to edit a web page. See: What is a widget?

Where to find WordPress widgets
Regardless of the theme you choose to use to locate the available widgets you click on -> Dashboard -> Appearance -> Widgets.

Adding  Widgets
At the top of the page you will locate the Available Widgets. Once you have located a widget that you would like to use you simply click  and drag and drop it into  the  Sidebar box on the right hand side. Place it in a position of your own choosing and, click Close and Save to activate the widget.

Widget Configuration Required
Some widgets do require configuration.  Clicking the arrow icon on the top right hand corner will reveal that particular widget’s options. After you provide the required information to configure these options you click  Save and Close on the bottom left hand corner  hand corner of the widget to activate it.

No Widget Configuration Required
Many widgets DO NOT require configuration to become activated and new widgets are being added frequently.

Note 1: The whole Blogroll Links created will be displayed in alphabetical order in accord with the Categories you assigned to the links when you added them to your Blogroll in the admin area and have placed the Links widget in your sidebar box. It will not display until you have entered at least one link.

Note 2: The forgoing can likewise be said about the Categories widget. Your categories will not display until you have placed the widget in your sidebar box and have assigned at least one category to one post.

You simply click and drag and drop these widgets from the  Available widgets and position them where you choose in the  Sidebar box, click  Close and Save and the widgets will be activated.

Text Widgets – can contain text, html code and small images of the your choice. See: Text Widgets

Text widgets can be used for an infinite variety of purposes, limited only by your imagination and the restriction of not using javascript, iframes, flash or media embeds.

Happy blogging.

Working With WordPress Pages

Updated May 14, 2010
Discounting Archives and Categories pages, in a WordPress blog there is only one page that will automatically update with each new post you publish, placing the most recent post at the top. This page is by default the front page but it can be changed to another page.

How do I post to a Page?
It’s not possible to “post” to a page. Pages are static entities that only can be updated by editing.  If you are using static pages for several different subjects then consider using posts and categories instead as they update automatically upon publication.

Pages are quite different from posts

The Pages you create > Dashboard > Pages > Add New (an unlimited number) sit outside posts and their structure and are meant to be used for static content. In most themes Pages lack timestamps and in all themes any additions you make to them must be done manually by editing. You cannot assign categories and tags to Pages. They do not go out to your subscribers in RSS feed,  and they are not search-able via your web-based search box. Pages lack the “Google juice” that posts on a front page get.

Static Front Page

As mentioned in the opening paragraph above, the default display of posts presented on the front page can be changed. This is done by designating another static page as the front page of your blog. And the Posts page can also be changed at the same location.

> Dashboard  > Settings > Reading

Sub-pages

You can also create an unlimited number of sub-pages assigned in hierarchical order to “parent” pages.

> Dashboard > Pages > Add New
Look to the far right beyond the editor box and assign the new sub-page you are creating to a Parent page.   Complete the sub-page contents and publish it.

page attributes image

Some themes like Digg3 and Misty Look have horizontally displayed page tabs. These are usually located at the top of the blog. Some themes like Day Dream have page tabs just below the header. But many themes like Kubrick and Connections do not display page tabs at all.

The Pages Widget

pages widget image

If you’re using a theme that lacks page tabs then the Pages Widget becomes the method of click through navigation for your readers.

It displays links to your blog’s static pages in your sidebar.

Pages Widget set-up walk through -> Dashboard -> Appearance-> Widgets

  1. Scroll down to the Available widgets box and locate the Pages widget.
  2. Drag it out and drop it into the Sidebar box.
  3. Click on to open it.  When the widget opens you will see optional fields that you can complete.
  4. Configuring the widget
    * Title:
    * Sort by: Page title Page order Page ID
    * Exclude:
    Page IDs, separated by commas.
  5. Once your selections have been made click “save” and “close”
  6. View your blog.

Different Pages for Different Bloggers

The use of pages for presenting static content to readers is limited only by a blogger’s imagination.  Below are examples  (Click images for full size).

About Page

screen shot about page onecoolsiteblogging bloggingtips.com

An About Page can provide a variety of information  so the reader has an idea of who the blogger is and what the purpose of the blog is.  An About can be used to let your readers know:

  1. about the blogger;
  2. about the kind of blog it is;
  3. about how readers can comment and subscribe.
  4. how to contact the blogger.

Comment Page

screen shot commenting page onecoolsitebloggingtips.com

A Comment Page can be useful too. It can advise readers of your policy (moderated comments or not – email addresses required but not posted, or not required). It can also contain how to instructions for formatting comments.

Each blogger can determine how many pages and sub-pages their own blog requires and create them to suit.

More page references:
Can I sort my pages?
I have 2 Home page links
I have too many pages at the top of my blog
I have too many pages in my header

Meebo and WordPress.com

The only chat widget allowed on wordpress.com blogs at this time is the meebo widget.

The code is obtained from going to the meebo website and registering there. It’s 3 step process to create your sidebar widget and setup an account with them. After the 3rd step there will be a box to copy the code you need to put into your sidebar widget.

  1. Log into your WP admin -> Appearance -> Widgets.  Click “add” on the meebo widget and it will appear in your sidebar.
  2. Open the  widget and  copy the code that you got from  meebome.com into it.
  3. After you have pasted the code in  click “Save Changes”.