Tag Archive for wordpress

Refresh trends to end 2011

In what looks to be a trend that appears to be ramping by business up as traffic patterns typically decline as the year ends. A product relaunch can be at times risky if users love your existing design/functionality or if you take away or hide popular features within a new interface.

Twitter Relaunch #letsfly
Twitter relaunched its platform with a new version of twitter “Fly” which is designed for a more common experience across Twitter.com and mobile devices. Their relaunch was focused on bringing everything under 4 new tabs but not everyone has responded positively to the radical change to the interface. Their new interface seems to bring them closer to a Facebook style interface but even with an improved search function the new interface has been found confusing by a number of their users.

YouTube interface Refresh
In what was an expected move YouTube finally flicked the switch and rolled out its interface across all its users bringing the interface closer to the other Google properties. The rollout was unusual for Google as it was not progressively rolled out but was done in a single update which was fairly risky for the company considering the size of the audience that could be impacted. The new interface brings the platform up to scratch with a new look and feel but also seems to make it easier for Channels and Google to maximise both their advertising revenue but also the branding and visitor experience as YouTube chases higher quality content.

Path upgrades to 2.0
One of the big upsets to the idea that a refresh could hurt your growth or revenues was Path, who after upgrading their platform saw a reported 30 fold increase in user sign ups. Their personal journal style platform offered new and improved lenses; greater privacy and less noise for their users which was a successful and welcomed refresh ending 2011.

WordPress goes Sonny
While it only appeared to be a minor update going from WordPress 3.2 to WordPress 3.3, the actual admin interface refresh too a large step forward. The new more responsive admin design offers better functionality for adoption to smaller screens such as tablets. The new liquid layouts and scaling media seemed focused on the growing audience of Mobile users that WordPress needs to cater for if it’s platform is to continue to grow. The media support gets a welcome boost as does the co-editing functionality and is certainly worth the update even with the increased number of sometimes annoying notification tips.

Google Toolbar relaunched
Google just recently rolled out a consistent black Google toolbar across a number of its platforms which made navigation more consistent for users across Google properties.

Google Black Toolbar

Google Black Toolbar

Google Toolbar relaunched (again)
Just as most users had started to see and accept the new Google black bar at the top of Google pages they introduced another Google bar within a few months. The new interface has now moved the navigation to under the Google icon and centralised the search panel across Google properties. The new Google menu is a bit more confusing way to navigate Google products and the quick links are surely going to be missed by most users and will change how you navigate within Google properties.

Gmail refreshes
Gmail has been one of the slowest adopters of new Google features over the past few years but there has been a number of recent improvements including the overhaul started in July. While the navigation had a big upgrade the search functionality is still below expectations. The biggest issue for users is to get used to the new streamlined conversation view which strips out much of what was previously shown meaning searching an email thread can be more time-consuming. The biggest benefit for the mobile users is the elastic density which allows easy changing of display to suit any device automatically.

Blogger refreshed
While it happened a few months ago Google’s blog platform got an update as part of the overall Google product refresh. The biggest elements to get updated was around streamlining the blogging experience but also improving the audience analytics and insights information for admins. Recently there has been the addition of the ability to publish your Blogger posts straight to your Google+ circles. There is certainly a fair bit more work needed across the Blogger network to match WordPress or Tumblr but it’s a good start to finish off 2011.

Color 2.0 tries again
Following on from what was a slightly disastrous launch, Color decided it was time to start again following on from the success of Instagram. The new app updates focus around a “visit” which also now allows for sharing of 30 second movie clips but also offers a visual timeline similar to the new Twitter/Facebook streams. The question is it all too little and too late with the new website being far too forceful to remind users to login to interact, and their mobile app does not work on a majority of Android devices.

Facebook Timeline rollout
Based on the growing amount of media its users are sharing online Facebook has finally rolled out its timeline feature for all accounts. This is not yet enabled on all accounts but is available if you want to upgrade your profile globally. Finally Facebook is learning its a global platform and not limiting features to it’s US users. Learning from its privacy failures in the past it now offers a 7-day review period before anything that appears in your timeline is made public. It will be interesting to see how many users fill in the blank spots in their timeline as more accounts enable Timeline. There has already been so many complaints about Facebook interface refreshes it will be interesting how warmly this overshare functionality might be accepted.

Watch the Facebook Timeline (download video)

Ending 2011…
So it seems that a number of platforms have taken the time to allocate resources to updating their interfaces, how many will rollback functionality after user riots during 2012? Mostly it seems the interface updates revolve around making them more usable on mobile devices so will desktop users benefit from this continuous update process or will it led to more resentment and drop off?

Trunk.ly – Link Engine

Trunk.ly LogoEveryone know the pain in having to search back through hundreds of past tweets trying to find exactly what was that link URL that you ReTweeted that you need to use right now or want to help out friend request on Twitter as someone looking for that exact URL. Well Trunk.ly has created what I term as a “Link Engine” where you are able to make all the links you have shared socially to be search-able.  Most people freely admit that Twitter’s search functionality is fairly limited and and most platforms don’t allow for searching across multiple data sources from a single search window but Trunk.ly appears to have solved that issue.

It was highlighted today in a Tweet via Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz who made the bold prediction that this platform could get big.  I would have to agree with his statement as I was able to create an account, follow a few suitable friends it suggested and add in my RSS feed from my blog and all my previous tweets in less than 5 minutes.  The point is that the website got the usability down to a fine art and my account is created and progressively expanding my history of links. It was covered by RWW back in December last year but didn’t seem to make that much press elsewhere until more recently when a number of members in the SEO and Marketing industry such as Rand started promoting their use of the tool.  While Trunk.ly was first created to deal with the pending death of Delicious it also emails you to start to manage the ever growing mountain of links shared via social media in a personal link engine.

Trunk.ly Interface

You can see below a partial screenshot of the interface with the ability to tab between your own links or those friends you chose to follow with a enhanced search as you type module to find links via keyword. Their search platform is very powerful and allows you to conduct a search via keywords, phrases, partial domains extensions, link urls, link title, text of the tweet and even text on the linked page. That’s right if you share a link but can only remember what is the content on the page you can now discover this using Trunk.ly along with who else shared the link, total number of shares, ability to delete the link or edit the link details.

Trunk.ly LinksThe downside is that at this stage you can only view Friends links and cannot search through them as a whole group but can click on a user and you can quickly search through any of their links from all the sources they have connected to Trunk.ly.  You can see in the screenshot below you can see you bio, one web link, location and the total number of your links that are now searchable via Trunk.ly and anyone you are following or following you.  The image is powered by Gravatar.com which makes it easy to ensure you have a consistent profile picture across a number of web 2.0 properties, but it is slow to update and may require a click on the “check this gravatar” to speed up the refresh.

Trunk.ly Profile

What about no results?

It’s kinda cool that Trunk.ly thought outside the box when it provided the zero results screen as it encourages users that if they just connected it may take several hours to process your initial links but you should also connect to some social networks.  The more data they have the better your results will be and the more data they will have to refine their search algorithms and suggested users you should consider following, but it would be great if it then could allow you to click and search the links of those friends you are following.

No Trunk.ly Results

Who else shared the Links?

Trunk.ly offers a far more advanced understanding of who has shared a particular link, but is limited to those who are Trunk.ly users.  But you can start to see the potential of the platform as you can start to see how the value of the link stats will grow with more users joining Trunk.ly, including how many people shared the links, when it was first shared and who first shared it. This can be useful to complement platforms like Bit.ly for measuring your social media campaigns as many users may select to share links generated by other shortners such as TinyURL or FB.me or via a standard link and the sharing data could not be captured.

Shared by the following Trunk.ly users...

Edit Trunk.ly Links

It is possible to retro-actively edit links stored within your Trunk.ly platform to fix incorrect titles, update URLs, descriptions or add tags to improve the search results.  It’s important to note that any #Hashtags used in a tweet will be automatically added as a tag for the link saving you time, but also making it possible to search based on Hashtag later to see what related links you shared. While it may not be used much it is useful as often a link URL Title might not be accurate or the note/text related to the tweet might be incorrect or scrapped from a site’s meta description providing no real value on what the link relates to.

Edit Trunk.ly Links

Trunk.ly supports what platforms?

It’s great that one of the key benefits of the platform is the ability to connect multiple social platforms, book marks and even RSS feeds. Trunk.ly makes it easy to import your blog URLs for a searchable record of what links you included and when you added those links and has tested it with WordPress, Posterous, Tumblr & Instapaper. It is likely that other platforms such as Reddit, Digg, Linkedin and email might be added in the future as the platform expands it’s userbase and demand for alternative platforms rises.  Most websites these days do provide a public RSS so it’s easy to add these to your Trunk.ly connections and you could potentially add your favourite RSS feeds to monitor what links are being shared/promoted without having to read the article.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feeds
  • Delicious
  • PinBoard

Trunk.ly Connections

You can easily load your links from 5 main networks within just a few minutes via their authorisation page but at peak times Trunk.ly advises you might have to wait a few hours.  I found that this was not the case and unlike a number of other web 2.0 platforms within just minutes I had access to both everyone link I have ever included in this blog and also every link I have tweeted via @TheLostAgency.  This was a great start to using a new platform and now that I have authorised these 2 accounts Trunk.ly will continue to check these services for new links every few hours.

Existing Trunk.ly ConnectionsYou can see above that as part of the transparency of the Trunk.ly model it lists what connections you have linked to your account, when it was last updated, when it was last checked and the type of connection it is.  This is useful in your search results as you can see what platforms that you might have shared that link by including Facebook, Delicious, Twitter or Pinboard.

Trunk.ly Limitations & Privacy Warnings

When you first connect Trunk.ly to Twitter they can store your last 3,200 tweets but you are unable to search any links prior to this due to Twitter limitations but can capture everything from that point forward.  If you delete or unfavour a tweet once it is in Trunk.ly this will not automatically remove it.  You cannot currently extract with the Facebook API any links that you just selected to Like but did not comment on, also no privacy settings are followed so any links you share will be stored and available to all Trunk.ly users. If you don’t wish to have your links that you share public you can set your Trunk.ly profile to private. The advice from the developers is that Trunk.ly will continue to grow and look at privacy features but you can read about it in more detail here.

Discover my Shared Links

If you find that you want to see what links I have shared on this blog or via Twitter you can see my Trunk.ly links here, and don’t forget to signup and test the platform for yourself.

Related Images:

WordPress for Windows Phone 7

Wordpress for Windows Phone 7It has just been officially announced by WordPress that following on from last weeks announcement that you could get WordPress for Nokia you can get WordPress on your WindowsPhone7.  Being how a majority of my sites and this blog run on the WordPress CMS platform and I have a WindowsPhone7 that is awesome news.  The platform is designed for busy users running WordPress to enabling quick blog posts, quickly check visitor statistics and manage  visitor comments on the move.

The official WordPress application will be made available for FREE in the Windows Mobile Marketplace but currently you can just download it here and sync via Zune if you want to get it now.  It’s syncs up easily and takes about a minute or two before you are ready to make your first post. The platform is open source and you can get involved with the project here, so expect some very cool customisation that will be released over the next few months and the team is already working to address bug fixes and responding to users already on Twitter about the application.

Just like you can when sending via email from your mobile you can now easily add footer notes like this to any new WordPress posts you write on the go such as the standard “Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone” but you can customise this to suit your blog persona.  I did start this post on my WindowsPhone but after publishing it instead of saving it to a draft I decided to go old school and use my PC to write-up a more detailed post on the new application.

WordPress Mobile Advantages

The ability to moderate comments directly from your WindowsPhone is amazing and makes it possible to manage even some of the larger blogs remotely without your PC, last week I had to wait until I went back to the office to approve a comment which was just annoying.  The ability to remotely moderate a blog, a series or blogs or even your clients websites is amazing and certainly worth the reduced stress and increased control.  The WordPress Mobile statistics are just amazing and certainly worthwhile for anyone who is a bit OCD checking visitor web analytics during the day or when you manage to get a breaking news post out early and is very easy to use.

Windows Phone WP Stats

WordPress Mobile Limitations

The ability to draft up a post is fairly useful but it’s far too easy to publish before you are ready, they have advised that you need to make sure the Publish box is unchecked before saving, but having it set off as the default is a far better setting.  While you can add and select new categories for a blog post I did experience a strange error and the category I selected and saved did not seem to apply correctly and I had to do it again via my PC when I wrote this post. The other limitations included the ability to edit the PermaLink on your blog post and it’s very difficult if you often use HTML in your blog posts to easily do on the initial version, but like the 2011 WindowsPhone update it’s likely the next version of this will address many of the issues.

I suggest you get a WindowsPhone so you can get the app or if you are waiting until Christmas you can still follow their official applications updates on Twitter WP for Windows Phone 7

Head First WordPress (Book Review)

A Brain-Friendly Guide to Creating Your Own Custom WordPress Blog

The review of Head First WordPress starts off very well visually as it is complied like a students scrap-book which is a welcome change for what could have been a boring and mind numbing experience. The book features lots of fun hand written notes pointing out key areas and tips, post it notes, great screenshots and thought bubbles for clarification on any technical terms used on that page. While WordPress is famous for its 5 minute installs it’s great that chapter one steps you through the entire process and highlights what you are doing and explains what might change after the install so don’t panic.

Once you are through setting up WordPress the steps to create your first post are explained with a focus around image optimisation for better user experience and also some great exercises on how to get your head around using and editing images to be a suitable size for your blog posts. The best part I found about the book was that it steps you through what WordPress file does what for your blog and even how to start to understand what is required to change your template or even customise your blog theme.

A pleasing point about the book was the focus on explaining how to keep your blog organised better with plenty of detail around user roles and how to classify categories and tags to control how your content is presented to visitors and search engines.  The focus on embedding video is mostly focused around Vimeo but visually it does offer the best experience for visitors to your site as your video content is not covered with Google Adsense banners but it would have been great to have some more detail around plug-ins.

In a welcome focus on the power of WordPress is the renewed focus which is mirrored in the book around both locking down WordPress from hackers but also ensuring you keep everything up to date with WordPress’s unique one click upgrade feature. The book works well as it steps users up through the levels of complexity with the final chapters focusing on some very high level tips, strategies and guides on how to make your WordPress blog well awesome.

My advice is that anyone using WordPress should know more about how it works but also how to better customise it check out Head First WordPress from O’Reilly.

WordPress now available for Nokia

Template Refresh Works for Users

One of the common objections of website owners is the process of upgrading or replacing their current website template to improve conversion rates or site usability, but the actual improvements when I did it for one of my websites almost floored me.  If you aren’t using a platform like WordPress that can hot swap templates on a live website it’s maybe time to start chatting to your web developer on how you can and when you can get started on the move.

Original WordPress Template

The original template while very good for customisations, it was actually leading to a very poor user experience for a number of visitors to the site, the very dark backgrounds and white text made the content harder to view and the site had an average bounce rate of 68%. Based on some feedback from a few people I had finally decided to tear down the other template which was very heavily customised and replace it with a new brighter and more simple template.

Pixel by Sam

Refreshed WordPress Template

The move to the template produced more than a little hestitation as the old template had a number of customisations to improve SEO and monitisation of the site, but the work was done with the click of a button and my old WordPress website template was replaced.  If I had of used another CMS besides WordPress it might have taken hours if not days to migrate across to the new WordPress template but because I was using the latest version it was just a simple click and it was done. There was no need for a web developer to go in a check links, content or site structure as WordPress manages all this for you when you change the template, it’s just really click and wait for results.

It is important to note that this was done on a live website, there was no downtime, no safety net it was a real experiment and while I don’t recommend doing it during business hours, it is fairly safe swapping templates as long as you have the latest version of WordPress installed.

The above template appears to be no longer available on WordPress.org to download but there are lots of web designers who are able to build you a similar template or might even have an old copy of the template that you can use.

Impact of new WP template?

Because I was concerned about the impact and got held up with other projects it was a fair while before I went back to see what was the impact of the template change on my website visitors.  Prior to the refresh I did have some major concerns as I had a fear that it would have a very large negative impact on visitors behaviours or monetisation aspects of the site, but I discovered that all my worst fears were wrong.  The bounce rates and pageviews showed a massive improvement since the new template went live and the effects were almost instant as you can see in the analytics graphs below.

Bource Rate and Page Views Improvement

I was completely floored in the matter of 1-2 mins at most I had turned the site from a poorly performing site into an insanely respectable and well awesome website, the cobwebs had been blown away and the site was able to blossom into it’s own with the new template. The website visitor behaviour improvements are shown below along with the changes in Adsense performance on the website.

Visitor Behaviour Improvements

  • 119% increase in pageviews
  • 3.5% increase in visitors
  • 5.7% increase in time on site
  • 94% improvement in bounce rate
  • 135% increase in pages/visited

Adsense Impacts

  • 19% increase in Adsense Revenue
  • 25% decrease in Adsense Clicked
  • 73% increase in Adsense unit impressions
  • 42% increase in Adsense page impressions

Custom WordPress Templates?
While I say it’s easy to click and replace it can be very beneficial to spend the time or money and getting a custom design done up but not so customised that it changes how WordPress works, but enough that it matches with your company or brand image.  Wordpress is fairly powerful and it might even pay to have 2-3 similar templates designed at the same time and implement them and test conversion rates and site behaviour to see which one performs the best. Also there is no excuse for keeping your version of WordPress current as they offer a simple 1 click update as do many of the templates these days.

WordPress Tweet Button

Tweet ButtonWordPress has moved very quickly to add the new official Tweet Button to all its hosted blogs with a simple click, no coding or hacking required. Typically WordPress.org blogs have the ability to add a number of extra plugins but often WordPress.com hosted blogs have to wait several months or years for the same functionality.  It’s great to see that WordPress.com blogs can now be one of the first blogging platforms to benefit from the Tweet buttons, increasing the ease that visitors can share content.  The hype around the new Tweet button follows on from last weeks exclusive coverage about the new Tweet Button by Mashable, it seems a number of blogs are rapidly dropping the TweetMeMe buttons in favour of the new official tweet buttons.

I noticed the Twitter update via an announcement today when I logged into my WordPress dashboard, the steps to add the extra functionality just required me to click the link, and tick the box “Show a Twitter “Tweet Button” on my posts, and it was done. You can see below how easy it is to add the official Tweet Button to your hosted WordPress blog, no more need for hacking or adding in code, it’s just requires one tick and its enabled for all your blog posts.

Wordpress Extras Settings

Wordpress Tweet Button

You can see the Tweet button at the bottom of your blog posts, we have taken the image above from a previous post, but you will also see a live version at the bottom of this blog post. One of the first search industry blogs to add the new official tweet button was the Oxford based search agency SEOptimise on their SEO Blog.  I asked Kevin Gibbons on his views and he was kinda enough to give some initial feedback via Twitter that they thought it looks good and the Tweet count seems to be more accurate too which is good.  From a styling perspective I would have to agree it’s quite cool, but its harder for me to compare how TweetMeMe performed in the past on this blog. So I suggest you login to your WordPress.com blog and enable the new official Tweet button today and start benefiting from some better insight into what articles your visitors like to share via Twitter.

WordPress add automatic Analytics Notations

Following on from Google Analytics recent update that includes the ability to add notations to track significant and key events such as new campaigns, new content or site changes.  The team at WordPress.com appears to have followed this lead and has also rolled out a new feature which automatically adds annotations when a new item is posted.

This feature is only visible on the current period of time shown in the stats window and only when viewing views per day, not week or monthly data traffic.  While it is likely this feature will be expanded and improved it is a great start and makes it easy to start to understand how recent posts influence your website traffic.

It would be great if this could be further improved to allow the ability to see how particular post tags or categories attract visitors to your blog, as a following update to the stats reporting.  Being able to see how popular particular post tags or categories in relation to traffic is a real benefit for bloggers using the free hosted version of WordPress.