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How To Make New Visitors To Your Blog Feel Welcome

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If you have been running your blog for a while now, chances are that you have a loyal following of readers. In this case it is easy to overlook new visitors, people that are newcomers to your blog.

Thing is, if you want your blog to grow, you need to strike a balance — cater to your regular readers, yet at the same time, make people that visit your blog for the first time feel welcome. You absolutely do not want them to be confused, and ensure that they are able to find their way around quickly and easily.

Here are a few pointers to make new visitors feel welcome, and covert them to regular readers.

Uncluttered Sidebar

Most new visitors arrive on a blog post, not the homepage. The sidebar of your blog, then becomes vitally important, as this is the first thing people will turn to when looking for something. Make sure that it is neat and shipshape, preferably with a short about section, blog categories and a list of top posts.

An Updated About Page

Your regular readers are rarely going to click the ‘About’ page of your blog, unless they are seeking some specific information, many newcomers will often head there if they like what they see on your blog. Outdated content here is not going to make them feel welcome, that is a given. Refresh regularly.

Make It Easy To Follow

If a new visitor enjoys your blog, personal or business, they will want to subscribe. Make sure it is easy for them to do so. Include social links, RSS feed, and an option to subscribe via email. In fact, you might not want to use the word ‘subscribe’ per se, as some might think they have to pay. Use ‘follow’ instead.

Describe a Series of Posts

Easy to assume that everyone has read previous posts in a series. If you are partway through a series of blog posts on a particular topic, then you should let newcomers know by including an introductory line or two at the very top. No one likes to read a story from the halfway point.

Respond To Comments

Another thing that newcomers take note of. Always make it a point to respond to comments in a timely fashion. This creates serious impact, as readers, particularly first time visitors, know that are you easily accessible. Perfect way to meet new readers and bond with your fresh audience.

Marcus Daniels is a real geek. He loves to get his hands really dirty with CSS, PHP and HTML 5. He loves to build, destroy and rebuild websites.

3 Comments
  • Michael L

    Very helpful! I have found responding to comments makes the readers and commenters feel as though they’re being heard and that there’s a little more of a personal feel to it. I’d highly recommend this to anyone with a blog.

  • businessman

    Great tips Marcus. If visitors do not feel welcome when they come to your site, they are extremely unlikely to want to stick around. I think all of these tips will aid in creating a welcoming site for newcomers. A big key for startup websites.

  • Buzz

    I love all these tips. One thing I would say though is that your sidebar is following me as I scroll up or down a page. It has a social aspect, which is nice, but it makes it feel cluttered and everything harder to read.

Web Design

Digital Marketing Tips – Picking A Good WordPress Theme

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Studiopress Theme

When you get to the point where you need to select a theme for your WordPress site one of the most important things that you need to pay attention to is whether the theme has been optimized for speed.

There are some very beautiful themes for WordPress but most of them are coded badly and will only slow your website down.

It is best to choose a simple theme and combine it with good quality plugins for all the features that you want on your website than it is to pick a theme that is packed with complicated layouts, flashy-looking animations and lots of other features that you really don’t need.

Three of the best types of themes are Studiopress themes, Thrive themes and MyThemeShop themes. These are all coded well and have all been optimized for speed and we will be looking briefly at them later.

First, what if you already have a bloated or badly coded theme on your website? It’s time to change it and here’s how you do that:

Changing Your Theme

This is a big step because it means changing the entire look of your website or blog. SO, very important, backup your site entirely before you begin.

To install a new theme in WordPress:

  1. Open Appearance>Themes in WordPress and you will see all the themes you have installed on your site
  2. Click on the Add New button – it’s at the top of your screen
  3. On the page that loads, look through the list of themes until you find the one you want – move your mouse over it and click on Install.

Wait until the theme has been downloaded – please note, this does not install the theme, it only downloads it. You will need to activate it yourself.

  1. In WordPress again, click on Appearance>Themes and you will get that list of themes installed on your website. You should see the new one you downloaded in that list as well
  2. Move your mouse over the name of the themes and you will see a button that says Activate – click on this
  3. The new theme will be added to your website. If you want to see how it looks first, use the Live Proview button. This will show you how themes will look on your website, so you can make the final decision before you activate it. Alternatively, activate it and then go to your website.

So, how do you know which themes are right? Simple homework will show you which themes are speed optimized and which are full of bloat.

Bear in mind that some of the more popular themes are packed with features you don’t need, and the developers are liable to keep on adding features purely to generate income. As time goes by, this will all take its toll on the speed of your WordPress site.

To help you out, I have detailed three different groups of themes below, each offering simple themes, optimized to speed things up:

Thrive Themes

Thrive themes are built for SEO and conversion; they are light-weight, include image optimization built-in and plenty of content optimization options too.

The few themes available are all personalized to a specific niche and the image compression is a huge boost to speed.

Landing pages are included with each theme and there is also a full set of conversion tools for all users, including a number of widgets and plugins. Prices start at $49 for an individual theme.

MyThemeShop

MyThemeShop offers a wide range of WP themes, some of them free. With nearly 96 plugins and themes to choose from, there is pretty much something for everyone here, including blog-optimized themes.

Most of the themes are fully optimized for speed and are all coded cleanly, as well as being fully optimized for SEO.

The Lazy-Loading feature is built-in, automatically reducing the time it takes your website to load and prices start at $29 per year for a single theme or you can choose a membership option.

StudioPress Themes

StudioPress themes are owned by CopyBlogger Media, content marketing industry leaders. While most of their themes are aimed at blogging websites, they are all built on the Genesis framework, which is why you will often see them called Genesis Themes.

This framework is coded cleanly, is updated regularly and is one of the most secure ever built. There are loads of child themes to choose from and every theme has been fully optimized for SEO.

Most are light-weight and extremely fast, but the pricing is a little higher than others. However, there are several options to choose from, starting at just under $60 for the framework.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as speeding up your WordPress website, but it is an important place to start.

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Web Design

The case for custom web design

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the case for custom web design

Today I want to briefly make the case for custom web design because it’s something a lot of client’s don’t understand.

I work on large (6 figure) digital positioning and web branding projects for clients. During the pitches for these projects, it’s not uncommon to be asked a question like “why don’t we just buy a WordPress theme and customize it?”

To be fair, it’s not a bad question but it does show that a lot of clients really don’t understand how this whole web thing works.

A little history lesson

Back in the day, web pages were actually hand coded with HTML from top to bottom and the sites looked (and felt) crude, basic and rudimentary. BUT this was early in the cycle and it was just amazing to see a web page and we accepted that.

Next, WordPress came along and made content management sexy and super easy. It allowed content creators to manage the content more efficiently and even add skins (themes) to their websites.

As WordPress evolved and became more powerful, the amount and types of sites you could create grew almost exponentially. In addition, the quality of the themes that you can now find on sites like Themeforest is amazing.

Naturally, when clients see these amazing themes (often sold for less than $70), they wonder why companies like mine would charge them thousands of dollars to build an online brand.

The answer is simple – content should always drive design.

The case for custom web design

A long time ago when I was trying to figure out how to build online businesses, I would use themes and then try to retrofit content and it was always a mess.

It was a mess because doing it that way is executing online business steps in the wrong order.

Figuring out what a client is trying to articulate with their web presence should naturally generate a design brief that has the requirements for just the right website for that client. It probably won’t be a retail WordPress theme.

As a business, you need a custom design for your website because quite frankly, generic sites are boring. You can tell when you see a website that comes from a retail theme.

The navigation and look and feel looks similar to 1000 other sites. Unimpressive.

I believe that websites should be organic, living, breathing, digital objects that reflect their owners brand and personality.

A circus website (done properly) should be fun, bouncy, light and free. A legal website should be serious and conservatively designed.

It’s important to spend time and money designing your website from scratch because it’s the only way to fully articulate the essence of your business.

A fresh unique design is also a really good way to create a memorable experience for your customers because everyone else is using the same old recycled themes.

So who are off the shelf themes for?

Retail WordPress themes work well for bloggers or very small businesses or startups who have very little money for digital transformation. They work only when there is no time or budget for a custom site.

Let me be clear, nothing is wrong with using a retail WordPress theme if that is all you can afford but don’t kid yourself, for a serious business, it is NEVER optimal.

I have made 6 figures with simple WordPress themes before so I am not knocking them but always remember, in general, content should always drive design and never the other way around.

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Web Design

How To Find Out What Theme A Site Is Using?

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Okay, that’s not quite as confusing as it initially sounds! More and more websites are now built with underlying content management systems like WordPress and Joomla.

While this is good, the best part is that many of these websites utilize custom built themes, whether free or paid. Premium ones are developed structurally and systematically, with designs that scale great on desktops or mobile devices.

Responsive web design, as it is called.

But what if you like a particular design and want to see if you can use something like that on your website, or even a webpage — for example that dedicated landing or squeeze page you’re developing?

Luckily, it’s not hard to find out what theme a site is using.

You can peek under the hood, check out for hints by taking a look at the source of your chosen page. But a couple of solutions exist that accomplish this process a lot more elaborately.

And perhaps the best one around goes by the name of WPThemeDetector.

It digs deep and not only provides details and version number of the theme a WordPress powered site is using, but also author or company details of the designer.

This online detection tool also finds and lists any plugins used on the website you input, along with links to download these extensions. A few additional details are also offered — including previous analysis of a given site, where applicable.

Another less fancy site is What WordPress Theme Is That?, and it too provides similar functionality.

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