The Essential Elements of your First WordPress Design Site (Part 2)

Find Part one of this series here
This series of articles aims to discuss the key points you need to cross off, if you wish to setup your own design site. Some things I hope to discuss are in finding your design sites niche, which plug-ins are the best to use and what social networking sites are helpful.

Akismet: ‘Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blogs “Comments” admin screen.’

Disqus Comment System: ‘Disqus, pronounced “discuss”, is a service and tool for web comments and discussions. Disqus makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commentors across a thriving discussion community.’

Most themes and templates come built in with there own comment system, but from personal experience I have found Disqus to be a more interactive and reliable plug-in. You use their in built moderation panel to moderate any potential comments which are spam or any comments you don’t wish to show. The interface is fully customizable in both features and colors etc, Disqus is definitely my recommended choice for your comments.

WP Google Analytics: ‘Lets you use Google Analytics to track your WordPress site statistics, it is easily configurable.’

This great plug-in sits inside your dashboard and tell you your top referrers, top searches and top pages. It updates on a daily basis and allows you to track your most popular posts and articles. If you wish to see your analytics in full detail the plug-in allows you to navigate to the Google analytics page online.

Sexy Bookmarks: ‘Though the name may be a little “edgy” for some, Sexy Bookmarks has proven time and time again to be an extremely useful and successful tool in getting your readers to actually submit your articles to numerous social bookmarking sites.’

This is the plug-in used by Design Juices, it is a bookmarking plug-in I have seen used in several sites, it offers complete customization and features every perceivable site your article could be posted to.

Platinum SEO Pack: Optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines.’

The platinum SEO pack offers the best in search engine optimization which allows your post to be optimized to get the most hits from search engine traffic such as Google. It’s as simple as inputting your title, description and tags. The title should be clear and concise using keywords of the article, the description should be optimized to be a punctual as possible with 160 characters and you should limit your tags to around 3/4 at the most.

Google XML Site maps: ‘This plug-in will generate a special XML site map which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and to better index your blog. With such a site map, it’s much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently.’

I would definitely recommend be interactive in Twitter under your sites name, with design juices not only do I tweet under my personal Twitter account (@jthompsondesign,) but I also tweet as @designjuices. This account is primarily used to tweet when a new article goes live as well as tweeting about other friends and associates articles. Be interactive with your followers on Twitter and they will help in spreading the word of your blog, its articles (and your work also.) Use the Twitter account to promote your community feed, and show some love in helping promote other peoples articles.

By interacting with other designers you are building up relationships with people who help you spread your blog, but also help us all improve as designers, bloggers, artists and our general personality. I have maintained several great relationships since I first launched myself in being active online, those relationships have brought me great lessons and great positive memories also. You interact with people all the time and new people will weekly offer up help, advice and positive comments when you are doing well. Twitter plug-ins and widgets are available to show your Twitter pages updates in your sidebar or wherever you wish.

Watch out for my ultimate list of Twitter friends to follow this coming friday, I interact with so many great people and will be showcasing them on the article here on Design Juices.

A Facebook page is as easy to setup as your own personal Facebook account, on the Facebook page you can upload links to your content every time your post a new article. This may bring the article to a new group of people on Facebook which would not have previously come across your sites content. I know from experience I have several people who have got in touch via the Facebook page who have previously not come across Design Juices before, so I am thankful that I setup up the page.

Be interactive with your fans on Facebook, offer updates on your content and what’s going on with your site. If they leave a comment be sure to comment back and get a conversation going, you may receive advice and helpful hints in how to improve your content or what layouts need improving. Facebook also offers you the chance to promote your Facebook page in the sidebar as a widget in your WordPress blog as shown in the right hand side of this site.

You also have the opportunity to improve your Facebook fan numbers, with giveaways and competitions via your Facebook page. This is often an old trick used across the board to increase Twitter followers also, with sites offering giveaways with entrants having to follow them on Twitter and Facebook. You should also interact with other design Facebook pages, the Facebook pages offer a favourite function which allows you to add favourite pages which your users could also follow.

Be sure to keep a look out for more help and tips with further advice in this series of articles on the essential elements of your first WordPress design site.

See part one here.

Part three coming soon…


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