Benefits of a Bespoke Website over a Standard Wordpress Template

Custom Templates Example

Whether you are trying to promote your business, your cause or anything else, you will find that one thing that you absolutely need is a website. While many people consider that it is enough to have a presence on places like Facebook, there needs to be a place where people can get all of the information that they need about you right away. When you need a website, it is very tempting to pick up a free Wordpress template, but the truth is that it is always better to invest in a bespoke website, that is, one that is made especially for you.

Unique Look

Take a look at the other websites that are in your field. Once you start looking around, you’ll find that just about everyone is using the same, rather small set of Wordpress templates! Some hide it better than others, but when you get right down to it, there are more and more sites that are simply taking their template from Wordpress whole cloth.

Now that you have noticed it, you will also note that this creates a look where their sites all have the same appearance. When you are told that you need to stand out to get your business or cause of the ground, this is the last thing that you want!

Increased Functionality

If you are a unique cause or a unique business, chances are very good that you need some unique functionality.

For example, if you are an artist, you need to have a gallery setup for your work. You need to have a space where people can page through a number of images, and these images need to be set up clearly and simply. Wordpress does not offer this kind of functionality. Think about what you need your customers or interested parties to see.

A bespoke website gives you a great deal of freedom when it comes to design.  

Custom Looks

When you choose a bespoke website, you are essentially making sure that your website suits you.

“Bespoke” is a term that originally comes from tailoring; a bespoke suit is one that is cut to fit you personally.

A bespoke website works the same way. You will be working with a programmer who will help you figure out what you need and how you can get it. While it will take a great deal of planning and tailoring to get a site that completely suits you, the truth of the matter is that the result is worth it!

Instead of having to pound the Wordpress template into something that suits you, you will be able to get something that is tailored to your needs from the beginning.

Your website is essentially your home on the Internet, so make sure that it is presentable when people drop by. While plenty of people think that using a Wordpress template is good enough, a bespoke website will always be better for your needs.

Think of a bespoke website as a chance to present yourself to the world in a professional manner.

Publishing with Wordpress iPhone App

Wordpress for iOS iPhone and iPad Screenshot

Writing and blogging via the WordPress App for iPhone (iOS) and iPad has evolved tremendously.

Saying that the early versions of this app were "clunky" would be a nice way of putting it. I would argue that using the WordPress iPhone App to publish or author content was a nightmare.

I, like many urban lifestylers, spend a good part of my day on some form of public transportation.  That used to be a time that I would spend writing blog content on my old Blackberry.  I would at least have time to get a good post started or nearly completed.  Often, I could have an entire post done by the time I got to work.

The dark ages.

At the time, I was using a post-by-email plugin that allowed me to email posts to a secret email account.  Any email sent to that address would automatically be converted to a blog post.

The email subject line became the post subject line, etc.

It worked well enough but the formatting was always a little wonky.  There was no way to insert links or other basic HTML markup.  At the time, there was no such thing as a Blackberry with a camera in it.  That meant no embedded photos in my mobile posts either.

Eventually, Wordpress made post-by-email part of the core platform.  During that change over, formatting continued to get even more difficult to manage.  Also, if you changed devices from one phone to whatever was next, there was a good chance that there would be some extra markup in the email that would cause formatting to be a disaster.

Fast forward a few years to the debut of the iPhone.  I immediately could not wait.  Once I saw the potential of apps on this device, I knew that the Wordpress community would build a Wordpress CMS App for iPhone.

And they did.

Sadly, it sucked.

The first few times I attempted to use the iOS app, I was very disappointed.  Publishing, including links, adding images, tags, content categories, etc. were all difficult to manage or completely impossible.  

Time to suck less.

Fastforward one more time to today, and I think they've finally figured it out.  I hope that the project continues to evolve (there's lots of work left to do).

Once I had honed my iPhone typing skills, I was exited to at least us my commute time to write the plain text copy.  I suppose I could have used any other notepad app or even an email to accomplish the same thing. But there was something about the promise of being able to do it from right within the Wordpress "platform" that was appealing, if only in concept.

Until more recently, the app did not perform well if there was not a strong 3G or WiFi connection.  First it seemed that the app wanted to sync all of my old posts down to the handheld client.  That took forever.

The app also failed me a few times when I went to save a post without a good wireless signal.  The app did not really know what to do if it wasnt able to communicate with the cloud.  The app crashed a few times on me, and my post was gone.

Today, pretty much all of my major concerns have been solved.  The app works great if you are in some sort of "offline" mode.  The post content will simply save locally until it can be pushed up to your server.  Now I can continue to work while on the train, underground.

There's also basic HTML formatting available including Bold, Italics, etc.

The most convenient factor is the overhauled photo publishing feature.  You can finally take a raw iPhone image and embed it appropriately into your content right from your phone.  The app will upload the photo to the cloud where it will get crunched and resized.

Complete post via iPhone app.

This entire post was written on the Wordpress App for iPhone.

I find myself publishing directly from the app about half the time.  The other half, I end up saving as a draft and simply giving it a little final polish later on, once I am able to get in front of my laptop.

However, by then, the hard part is done.  Just do some last edits, maybe add a couple of links, and hit publish.

If you've got a 20+ minute public transit commute, you have no excuse (nor do I) for not having enough time in your day to write your blog.

Facebook Creates Official Plugin for Wordpress

Facebook and the Wordpress development community have teamed up to build a more integrated Facebook sharing plugin. An official Facebook plugin for Wordpress. The plugin is available at Wordpress.org for free.

Wordpress is the largest digital publishing platform powering over 16% of the sites on the Internet.  Stop and think about that for a second.  A single platform powers over 16% of the sites on the entire Internet.  That's pretty amazing.  As you've read here before, we are big Wordpress fans.

Official Facebook for Wordpress plugin

The plugin allows Wordpress authors to tag their friends on Facebook from within the article that they are writing.  That tag shares the story snippet onto your friend's wall.

You can also tag pages (fan pages) from within the post, or update your own status.

Make your WordPress site social in a couple of clicks, powered by Facebook.

This kind of deeper Wordpress integration makes sharing authored content onto Facebook that much easier.  No more having to copy/paste the link to your latest update and ping it out to everyone manually.  You can all your Facebook promotion and post syndication from right inside the Wordpress platform.  To use it is just as easy as the tagging feature in the Wordpress core.

The setup is a little tricky.  The plugin requires some extra steps and signups to pass the security muster of Facebook.  Basically, you have to create a Facebook "application" in order for seamless system interplay.  The whole process is fairly painless as long as you follow all the setup instructions.

The new plugin also comes with some extra Widgets for your sidebars.  Very easy to drag and drop into the site.

Wordpress Blog Security

It is a terrible feeling the day you realize that your Wordpress blog security was compromised.  When you've been hacked, it is like getting punched in the stomach.  You've always heard how important it is to keep your site secure, but you never really paid attention. Passwords

Boom, you just learned the hard way.

Whether you know it or not, your site is constantly under attack.  There are malicious crawlers, bots, and scripts trying to poke holes into your site.  It might be happening right this second, and you'd never even know it until it is too late.

Here's some tips to keep your site secure.

Updates, updates, updates.

There's a reason that you see that band across the top of your Wordpress dashboard screaming at you to update.  Don't ignore it!  Virtually all Wordpress core updates come with some level of increased security.  The same goes for plugins.  When security flaws are discovered in Wordpress, the community is very quick to resolve them and push a new release.

Change your password regularly.

Yes, I agree.  Updating your passwords is a massive pain.  Keeping track of them all is ridiculously hard.  Unfortunately, it just needs to be done.  However, you need to go deeper than just your Wordpress dashboard password.  You should also change:

  • Email Password.  Remember, if I can get into your email, all I need to do is use the Wordpress "Forgot my password" feature to get into your blog.
  • Hosting Account Password. Why hack into your Wordpress account when I can just get right into your host?
  • Server Passwords.  If you are using your own servers and hosting provider, there's passwords for your database and FTP that need to be updated.

Take this stuff seriously.  Just look how bad it ended up for LinkedIn.

Try using a password generator to help you make a more secure password.  

Take the Offensive.

Be proactive and install some security enhancing plugins.  Here's a few we recommend.

Wordpress Backups.

This one isn't really a preventive measure.  It really is designed to help you quickly recover.  You need to be doing daily system wide backups.  If the worst happens, you will then be able to restore to relatively recent version of your site without major losses.

There are third-party vendors that will handle the work for you for a small fee.  Many hosting providers do this automatically, but do not assume.  Make sure you find out how long they store backups.

Is Wordpress a Superior Publishing Platform?

Yes. If you're a regular at BlogCraving, you know that we are huge Wordpress fans. Guilty as charged.

However, we are constantly reminded why it is a superior publishing platform.

Wordpress VIP LogoFor example, 15% of the top 1 million sites on the web are powered by the Wordpress platform.  At first glance, that sounds like a big fluffy number.  Stop for a second and take a look at the caliber of publishers using the platform, and you will see it is not all fluff.

Publishers using Wordpress: NBC Sports, CNN, TED, TechCrunch (AOL), Time, Wall Street Journal, CBS Radio, CBS Local, and the LA Times...just to name a few.

Recently, Wordpress also announced its Partners program for companies that want to build Wordpress ready versions of their products into the WP platform.  The Wordpress team then certifies these vendors as "partners" basically saying that the code is compliant with the WP core.

The fact that other digital and web companies are building specific instances of their products for the Wordpress community says something about the scale and quality of WP.

Getting to Partner status with Wordpress is no joke either.  Their developers run through every single line of code to make sure that there is nothing being committed that could endanger the health of a WP site.

Wordpress FTW.

Tutorial: Different Sidebars for Homepage and Posts

This is an update with full illustrations to an older post.

Basic Method:

1) Find your sidebar.php file.

2) Make a copy of it. Name it sidebar-secondary.php. Your second, third, forth, etc. sidebars all need to start with sidebar-NAMEHERE.php. That's part of the naming convention in Wordpress.

3) Make the content changes you need in secondary sidebar file. This is where you make the secondary sidebar different. Whatever it is you need to be different should go in this file. Save sidebar-inside.php and upload it to your server.

4) Locate your single.php file.

5) Look for a line near the end of the file that looks like this: <?php get_sidebar(); ?>

6) Change it to <?php get_sidebar('inside'); ?> (note, the 'inside' part should match the name of the new sidebar-inside.php file). The single quote marks ' ' are required.

Should look like this:

7) Save your new single.php file and upload it.

8) Done.

You've now made two separate sidebars. You then told your single.php file (single posts) go fetch a different sidebar file than your index.php (homepage) does. Your homepage will pull in the old sidebar.php file. Your single posts will pull in the sidebar-secondary.php file.

Note: In your sidebar-inside.php file, you will want to remove the dynamic sidebar components. Otherwise, your homepage widgets will also show up on your inside pages. Look for a line like this:

<?php if ( !function_exists('dynamic_sidebar') || !dynamic_sidebar() ) : ?>.

Only remove that line of code from the file if you do not need the new sidebar to have dynamic widget functionality. Otherwise, if you would like to wigetize this sidebar, proceed to the next lesson below.

If you would like to get a fully detailed version of these instructions with illustrations and screen shots, just fill out your name and email address below. We will send you the documentation instantly. It is far more detailed and contains useful screen shots for you to follow along.

How to make your new sidebar Widget Ready or Dynamic:

We have to do two things. 1) Register your sidebars to your Wordpress backend knows you have two ready for widgets. 2) Tell each sidebar.php page which set of widgets to pull in.

Here we go:

1) Find your functions.php file.

2) Look for the register_sidebar section. It will look something like this:

if ( function_exists('register_sidebar') )

register_sidebar(array(

'name' => 'Homepage Sidebar',

'id' => 'homepage_only',

'before_widget' => '<li id="%1$s" class="widget %2$s">',

'after_widget' => '</li>',

'before_title' => '<h2 class="widgettitle">',

'after_title' => '</h2>',

));

Illustration

It may not contain all of the lines such as 'name' or 'id'. It may not even exist at all. In the next step, you will overwrite the old version. If you don't have one, you will make one now.

3) Set number 1 will control the homepage sidebar and should be setup to look like this:

if ( function_exists('register_sidebar') )

register_sidebar(array(

'name' => 'Homepage Sidebar',

'id' => 'homepage_only',

'before_widget' => '<li id="%1$s" class="widget %2$s">',

'after_widget' => '</li>',

'before_title' => '<h2 class="widgettitle">',

'after_title' => '</h2>',

));

Illustration

'name' => 'Homepage Sidebar', will refer simply to the name of the sidebar that shows up on the Widgets admin page drop down list.

'id' => 'homepage_only', is a unique ID just for that sidebar set. We will add this ID to the sidebar templates later.

4) Next, make the second set for the inside pages:

if ( function_exists('register_sidebar') )

register_sidebar(array(

'name' => 'Inside Pages No Cal',

'id' => 'inside_pages',

'before_widget' => '<li id="%1$s" class="widget %2$s">',

'after_widget' => '</li>',

'before_title' => '<h2 class="widgettitle">',

'after_title' => '</h2>',

));

The above set is almost identical to set #1.  The only change is the 'name' and 'id'.  For the name of this sidebar, we decided to call it 'Inside Pages No Cal'.  You can call it whatever you would like.

5) STOP. This is how a section inside your functions.php file should now look:

6) Continue.

7) Locate your sidebar.php file.

8) Locate the line that looks like this:

<?php if ( !function_exists('dynamic_sidebar') || !dynamic_sidebar() ) : ?>

9) Make it look like this:

<?php if ( !function_exists('dynamic_sidebar') || !dynamic_sidebar('homepage_only') ) : ?>

Illustration

You have now told your single-inside.php file to go look specifically for the widgets assigned to the homepage_only function.

10) Locate your sidebar-secondary.php file.

11) Locate the line that looks like this. If none exists, don't worry.

<?php if ( !function_exists('dynamic_sidebar') || !dynamic_sidebar() ) : ?>

12) Make the line look like this. If you do not have this line, simply add it in the possition where you want your dynamic widgets to appear.

<?php if ( !function_exists('dynamic_sidebar') || !dynamic_sidebar('inside_pages') ) : ?>

Illustration

You have now told your single.php file to go look specifically for the widgets assigned to the homepage_only function.

13) Upload your newly changed functions.php, sidebar.php, and sidebar-secondary.php files to your server.

14) Earlier in the basic method, we already changed your single.php file to pull in the sidebar-inside.php file. So at this point, you are all done.  If you did not do this, go back to Step 5 in the Basic Method instructions.

You can now log into your Wordpress Admin and go to the widgets section. You will now see a dropdown menu with your Homepage Sidebar and Inside Sidebar listed. You can add widgets separately to each sidebar. When you save, the changes will update on your site.

All done!  Hope this was helpful for you.

Visit http://blogcraving.com for more helpful tips, tricks, and money making ideas for your Wordpress blog!