Apr 212011
 

Customizing the look and adding useful features to a blog makes a difference between a beginner and professional website. Thereafter, readers will begin to read a blog (quality content will retain readership). This blog is self hosted using WordPress Content Management and the article assumes that reader is familiar with WordPress Admin Console. The mentioned plugins need to be installed on self-hosted WordPress. This post lists 15 customizations - 8 implemented (go to list) in this blog, 3 in last stages of implementation (go to list) and 4 wish list items (Do you have a solution?) (go to list).

Implemented in this Blog

  1. Choose most appropriate WordPress Theme for the purpose of your blog – picture oriented, videos, text, scientific etc. For this text oriented Analytics and Marketing blog, plain, light-colored and text-oriented Europe theme is most suited.
  2. Change “No Comments” to welcoming readers to comment. Change files index.php and archive.php (Appearance -> Editor -> the php file).  Search for text ‘No comments’ and replace with phrase of your liking.

    No comments to welcoming readers to comment

  3. Show case your books – the ones you have read, you are reading or you have read. Install plugin Now Reading Reloaded and add books to your library. Sign up for Amazon Associates account to search  and add books in your library. You can also get commission if someone buys books from your library.

    Now Reading Reloaded plugin

  4. Let readers print, email and share a post on social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg. Install plugin AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget. You will need to signup for an account on AddThis.

    AddThis plugin


    This plugin will show number of times readers shared your post and thus, add popularity to your post.

  5. Get comments posted on Facebook in your post. Install plugin Facebook Comments for WordPress. This plugin will also show number of users who liked the post and if a reader is logged in on Facebook account then shows a couple of names and number of admirers.

    Facebook Comments for WordPress plugin

  6. Monetize your blog and add colors. Sign up for Google Adsense, create advertisements of the dimension available on your blog and paste the code in Text widget (Appearance -> Widgets -> widget type “Text” [shows Arbitrary text or HTML]).

    Google Advertisement

    Plugins are available to insert Google Advertisements at more places than your theme’s widget areas available.

  7. Facilitate readers to subscribe to comments on a post. Install plugin Subscribe to Comments Reloaded and users will be able to subscribe to a post’s comments.

    Subscribe to Comments Reloaded plugin

  8. Facilitate readers to subscribe to RSS and Email. Create a link to your blog’s feed in your blog; link is generally Blog URL/feed (Tip: Blog URL/feed/rss gives summary of blog). I recommend to redirect your blog feed to Feedburner.com (readers will be redirected to subscribe through Feedburner.com) using plugin FD Feedburner Plugin. Advantages of Feedburner.com are as follows:
    • RSS through Feedburner works on all browsers
    • Readers can subscribe to both email updates and RSS feed
    • Readers get an option to subscribe using different formats
    • Feedburner.com will provide measurements to analyze your feed subscriptions

     

    Subscribe for RSS and Email

    Let me know if you struggle to find the URL for comments feed.

Last Stages of Implementation

  1. Facilitate readers to contact author in one click. Install plugin Contact Form 7, customize the fields and create a “Contact me” page.
  2. Conduct polls. Install plugin WP-Polls and run a poll on a widget or through a post.
  3. Register the blog in technorati. This will increase your credibility, web traffic and, google rank so that your readers can easily find your blog.

Wishlist Items (Do you have a solution?)

  1. Clicking on “1 COMMENT” or “4 COMMENTS” does not take user to “Leave a Reply” (comments section). The functionality works well when there is no comment “BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT”. The reason is that probably Facebook Comments for WordPress has modified name for comments section from #comments to #facebook-comments.The error has percolated to RSS feed as well.
  2. Internet Explorer shows “Name*” before input field name and thus Email and Website have shifted one field up. In Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla fields are well placed.

    Leave a Reply in Internet Explorer

    Leave a Reply in Safari (non IE)

  3. Remove option to give comments on pages such as About, Site map etc. Presence of comments is preventing me from implementing “Contact me” page because “Contact me” page will show option to give comments and comments on “Contact me” page will look awkward.
  4. Implement option to rate a post and a comment. I need to search plugin for this purpose.

Finally, please remember to give a solution (if you have for my wish list items) or a comment (praise, feedback, or a query).

  10 Responses to “15 WordPress Blog Customization – from beginner to professional”

  1. Dear readers,

    This post is from Himanshu. Hope you will find it useful, incase you want to start your own blog. :)

  2. Changes after the post:
    Implemented item #5 removed. This plugin has known bug to change anchor name comments to facebook-comments.

    Wish list item item #1 resolved. I modified comments.php to add <a name=”comments”></a> (you can check the source code of generated html). I have also uninstalled Facebook plugin which caused this bug. The change that I have made may affect when theme is upgraded.

    Last stages of implementation #1 resolved. I used plugin Fast Secure Contact Form instead of mentioned “Contact Form 7″.

    Can you help me fix other 3 wish list items?

  3. Recent changes:
    Last stage of implementation #2 Conduct polls – Watch the first poll in action at how I lost 10 pounds in 2 months
    With that I noticed another bug: RSS feed shows message for this poll but shows a box for bmi calculator. I want the similar message be shown for bmi calculator (that was a third party code).

    Another wish list item after this post – optimize webpage using page speed online

  4. I have also implemented mobile theme using WPTouch. This site looks sleek and cool in iPhone now. Thanks to Manshu from onemint.com.

  5. I could determine the error for Wishlist Item #2 (Name field shows before Name input box). There is a bug in IE7 and below that causes text fields before text box to move up. The same effect was there in vote results when the first option showed on the left side and looked odd compared to other vote results. I downloaded IE8 and Name, Email and website looks neat.

    I will let readers upgrade their IE version to 8 or 9. I may also put a comment for IE7 and below users to tell that fields are distorted.

    I also found site http://ipinfo.info/netrenderer/ to check your site on different IE versions. Only problem with the mentioned site is that it does not let you scroll.

    Two more wish list items left. I will target 3 and 4 as and when I get a chance.

  6. Thanks for the steps. Thank you because it is a big help. Do you already know the plugin for #4?

    • Name of the plugin is “AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget”. Sharing buttons that you see under each posts come from this plugin. The plugin let’s you customize how the sharing buttons show. I particularly like printfriendly (printer icon in green color) because that can let you print and create a pdf of a post.
      Himanshu Bansal recently posted..12 Social Media FactsMy Profile

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