How’s this a Sunday for you: I redesigned the family blog. If you’re a frequent visitor, you can definitely see the difference. Please let me indulge you on the details.
Wendy and I want to keep this blog going strong, and for good reason. We want to encourage couples to keep love growing in their families. We’ve been blogging for five years about topics that impact families. We want to keep this momentum going!
Here’s a peak under the hood of our website: 3 elements of this site that, we hope, will keep you coming back for more.
1. WordPress Design: Standard Theme
WordPress is the blogging technology we use. It is free, open source and fairly easy to use (though initial setup may be cumbersome to novices). There are other blog technologies that are easier to set up, but none are as extensible as WordPress. Their plugins are incredibly vast (last count at 12,248 plugins and over 13 million downloads), and the development community of WordPress is widespread.
There’s one catch with open source software: standardization is a bit chaotic. Our previous design didn’t fare nearly as well as it should have on search engines, and not all the plugins would work. So, I forked up $99 and purchased the Standard Theme design template. Now our site is updated to industry standards and screams along fine. If you are a WordPress blogger, make sure you get the Standard Theme.
2. Conversation Enhancements
We love the conversations that stir up on our blog. The “comments” field was always easy to use, but the information didn’t load smoothly. So, we implemented the following:
- Gravatars. You have the option to set up a picture of yourself that will display next to your comment. This is optional, but we love it when we can put a face to the opinion. Please set up a Gravatar!
- Reply to individual comments. It was annoying that a reply became a general comment in the previous design. Now everyone can reply to specific commentators. It’s easy and enhances the conversation.
- Open comments. I actually implemented this a month ago, but it’s worth noting here: Wendy and I don’t screen the comments any longer. Some snarky ones have gotten through, but they actually add to the conversation. We’ll only delete comments if they are vulgar or profane. If you disagree with us, you are welcome! But be advised: You may be persuaded by others.
Sounds so capitalistic, doesn’t it? It doesn’t make sense to let a frequently trafficked site go without ways to generate revenue. The two Google ads on the right will lead you to whatever, and we’ll get a few cents for every referral. We hope you don’t mind the advertising, but we’re looking forward to keeping this ministry rolling with the funds from monetizing the site.
Go ahead and give it a try. Click on those links. Get all your friends to do the same! =)
We’ve also created an online store with the plugin PHPurchase. There exists free plugins that would have done the trick, but PHPurchase gave us the ability to control design. We have only 5 products, so our store isn’t too complicated, but we found the free plugins tried too hard to extend their features, making it difficult to control the store experience. I suppose you get what you pay for, and this plugin appears to be doing the trick. Visit their website for a list of features, and of course, visit our store.
There are several other little odds and ends that changed, but I’m not going to bore you any longer. We’ll be implementing more changes over the holidays, every one an attempt to make the site easier to use and helpful to you.
We’re excited for this new website. Thank you for your help in getting the word out!