Can the Free Web Site model work?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now… and I’m wondering whether the Free Web Site model can really work. It was an advert in today’s Crain’s Manchester that got me thinking. It was an all-inclusive single price package for web site design, logo design and SEO work – all for the bargain price of £999. In my opinion, that seems a little steep…

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My Page Order WordPress plugin

What a great little plugin I’ve just found and used. It never ceases to amaze me how there are so many different plugins available to tweak and develop your site; they can do pretty much anything you want and the community involved with WordPress are fantastic at making these available too. My Page Order does exactly what it says on the tin. WordPress, by default, orders pages according to those that were most recently added. I prefer to have things in alphabetical order – and can see that in the future, as my site gets bigger, or I start implementing some of these systems for corporate sites, there’ll be a bigger demand for more static pages. To be able to have such flexible control over the order in which these display is invaluable. Thanks to the author for this one! Link: My Page Order

My WordPress links collection

Yes, there are many sites out there with lists of the ‘ultimate collection of WordPress themes’ or something similar, but there are quite a few of these – so knowing which ones to go to requires some coordination itself. So, that’s what I’ve done – again, it’s as much for my own reference as anyone else’s, because I’m constantly checking through the plugins, themes and tutorials needed to tweak this and the other blogs and sites that I manage. Anyway, the links are:

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Another good plugin: Google Analyticator

Here’s another good plugin that I’ve come across, installed and already have found it to be a very useful addition: Google Analyticator. It’s an incredibly useful plugin for WordPress, especially if you’re trialling different themes, building multiple blogs or managing multiple sites. It does all the hard work or you of adding the necessary code so that Google Analytics can start tracking your site. It also ncludes a handy dashboard feature for displaying visitor and site stats right there on your blog’s dashboard. Of particular interest to me is the ability of hiding Administrator visits from the stats to give a truer representation of visitor numbers – and there are a host of other features that build on this invaluable Google tool.

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How to get your site or blog indexed by Google quickly

There are loads of different web sites out there promising number one listings and rapid submissions to various search engines, some free, whilst others attempt to charge you for this service.

The best way to start, however, is by addressing the issue of being indexed by Google, quickly; after all, the search giant accounts for a huge proportion of the search market so it’s essential that you comply with their rules and guidelines about how to get listed and indexed.

There are many different tips and tricks related to getting indexed, some of which I plan on featuring at a later date – but for having your blog indexed there are four essential steps you should look to carry out first.

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URL problems with WordPress solved with phpMyAdmin

Every now and again it’s sometimes necessary to change the folders, domains or hosting of your WordPress sites and in doing so, it can be quite a headache because the settings within WordPress try to help, but don’t quite go the whole way in terms of doing it all for you and making everything seamless.

On more than one occasion, I’ve had to revert to using my host’s integrated c-panel to access phpMyAdmin to manually change the information about the site myself. It sounds daunting, but a little searching with Google shows there are plenty of advice sites out there about how to do it.

The way, I did it, is as follows:

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Like this design? – part2

Ok – so there are loads of different free themes out there for WordPress and I’ve tried more than my fair share. Thanks to the various lists all over the web, it’s easy to preview and demo countless themes quickly and easily. I did previously make a post about my old theme, Regal (HERE) – but have since come across a different design that I’ve opted for instead.

This one’s called Mystique – and it’s also a freebie theme, given away by the designer. You can download it through the WordPress site HERE or directly from the designer’s site, HERE.

The designer’s summary about the site says: “Mystique is a free WordPress theme that attempts to top commercial templates in terms of design and functionality. Some of its features include 4 theme widgets, page templates for different layout styles and a advanced interface for the theme settings…

I’m still trialling it – but first impressions are good. The theme options don’t seem to be working on my version of IE that I’m on right now, but I’ll test it on Chrome and Firefox later… it certainly isn’t a dealbreaker in any case!

To be fair and fully attribute my sources, I found the link to this theme in this list of “20 of my Favourite Free WordPress Themes in 2009” (link HERE).

Like this design?

09/03/2010 Update – ok, I’ve changed the design now, so this post relates to my old design… it’s still a very nice, clean design but I’ve decided to use this one instead. The new one is called Mystique (available from this designer HERE).

If you like this web site design, you can get it yourself – all for free – from this very generous theme designer, HERE.

It’s called Regal – and in my mind, is a nice, clean design that is extremely usable. If you check it out with the TAC application too, you can see it’s a clean install without any encrypted code or hidden links… well worth it!

The theme is described as having the following attributes:

  • 2 columns layout based template
  • Tableless design and 100% CSS-based
  • WordPress 2.8+
  • XHTML 1.0 Transitional
  • CSS Validates
  • SEF Optimised Layout
  • 3C XHTML 1.0 Transitional
  • W3C CSS 3 Valid

Monetizing WordPress

I found this posting about monetizing WordPress using a Google Search and thought I’d make a permanent record/copy of it, because I could only find it as a cached version on Google. Anyway, not trying to steal anyone’s thunder – the original sourcing URL was: http://www.poweropps.com/creating-multi-million-dollar-marketplaces-for-free – however, it seems that the page has been removed or moved, so I’ve copied and pasted the Google Cached page into this post for reference. I’m yet to try implementing this, but the info seems good and I’ll certainly be trying to use some of these ideas in another site I own and run.

Creating Multi-Million Dollar Marketplaces for Free Posted by PowerOpps.com in MarketplacesJun 15, 2009

This Guide tells you How to Create Multi-Million Dollar Marketplaces for Free.

You can create generic marketplaces or classifieds sites for buying and selling almost anything, or specialized marketplaces for e.g. autos, real estate, boats, art, horses, machinery, bizopps or any other product you have interest in. You can run these marketplaces on your own – free or paid-for listings, or develop and flip them for a profit.

Our foundation for the marketplace is WordPress – that fantastic blogging software that hosts a majority of all the blogs on the Web. It’s free and continues to be developed with newer and improved versions coming out from time-to-time.

We will go step-by-step on converting this wonderful software into a multi-million dollar marketplace or classifieds site that will scale to tens of thousands of postings or classified ads or marketplace listings. You will not need to buy anything from anyone – everything is open source and available for free, legally; no stolen property here. Of course, domain name and hosting would be required to be paid for.

Once you have installed WordPress on your server (we will not go through the process of installing WordPress as sufficient information is available on the WordPress site itself), you may select an appropriate WordPress theme from the hundreds freely available. All of them are good for setting-up the marketplace. You may, however, have a preference for displaying your listings in a particular way; accordingly, select one. You may wish to explore premium paid-for themes, but that choice is yours.

Upload your selected theme and activate it from the WordPress Dashboard. With v2.8 you can select a theme available at the WordPress site and download and activate it directly from the Dashboard.

Here is a list of plug-ins that you will require, each with an explanation on what it will do for your marketplace. Note that there would be other plug-ins with similar functions but we are stating the ones we have actually used and were quite happy with it.

User Roles

User Management function is already built-into WordPress. While setting-up your marketplace, you would decide whether posts or listings will be published directly or you would like to check and approve them before being visible on the site. WordPress has a structured user level system with roles and capabilities of every level defined.

At times it will be necessary to modify these roles and capabilities and rename the pre-defined user levels to suit your own marketplace requirements. For example, you may wish to change the default name Subscriber to, say, Advertiser. By default, a subscriber has no rights to submit posts. You may, however, wish to assign this right to them. Again, by default, Contributors do not have the right to publish their posts – only edit or delete their unpublished posts. You may wish to assign this right to them and, maybe, call them Members on your site.

Similarly, you would need to assign file uploading rights, whether users can edit or delete published posts, etc. All these are best managed by the plug-in Role Manager. This plug-in will let you handle user capabilities to the individual or user group level by simply checking and unchecking boxes.

User Registration

In our opinion, it is a good idea to have users register before they are able to submit posts or listings in the marketplace. Compulsory registration will prevent spam and, should you decide so, give the users the ability to edit their listings before or after (you can decide that too through the Role Manager) these are published. If you decide to have users register first, you will need to send them a customized welcome e-mail including their login and password. Use New User Email Set Up plug-in for this purpose. Customize your message after activating the plug-in from the Dashboard.

Submission Form

Should you decide not to have users register but be able to submit listings just by filling-up a submission form, our choice is TDO Mini Forms. This plug-in will let you customize and set-up a listing submission form – from the simplest to a highly complex one, with image upload if you wish. The data gets submitted as a post or marketplace listing – draft or published per your choice – which you can edit, approve for publication, or delete. You can show the submission form right inside the user’s Dashboard or on the site as a publicly visible page, or both.

You can also use this plug-in to create and show a submission form even when you have user registration made compulsory. The set-up gives you the option to show the form to registered user only when they are logged-in.

Dashboard Form

Additional boxes or fields can be added to the Post Form (add/edit) inside the Dashboard. These additional fields can be shown as formatted data in the listing on the site. You can add a price field, a location field, a URL field, or any data that you wish advertisers fill-up and be shown on the site. The plug-in is More Fields. Instead of adding a submission form via TDO Mini Forms, you can directly customize the Post Form itself.

Draft Notification

You would certainly want to be notified when a new listing is submitted. Use this Draft Notification to be notified every time a new listing is submitted or updated. Note that TDO Mini Forms above has its own notification function. Hence use it only if you are not using TDO Mini Forms.

Redirecting Users

Should you have your listing submission form on the site as a page rather than inside the Dashboard, you would want your users to be redirected to the site homepage or the submission form page. Use Peter’s Login Redirect. You can set-up how different users are redirected to different pages after login. You may use it to redirect users for a reason other than listing submission as well.

User Listings

The default WordPress set-up let’s all users see all the listing titles inside the Dashboard although they cannot open and edit them – only their own. When you have thousands of listings, a user may find well neigh impossible to locate his/her own listings from the crowd. So that users see only their own listings, use Manage Your Posts Only plug-in. All you need to do is activate it. Higher level users like Administrator or Editors are able to see and edit others’ posts.

Listing Duration

You would need listings to expire and delete automatically after a certain period. Auto Delete Posts will do it for you. You can set for listings to be deleted, turn to preview mode or move to another category on expiry – period set by you. Unfortunately, the plug-in provides only a single period to be set uniformly for the site.

Clutter Free

The default WordPress Dashboard is quite cluttered and may scare away novice users. Use these two plug-ins to make both the Admin Dashboard and the User Dashboard clutter free: Dashboard Editor for Admin Dashboard and Clutter-Free for User Dashboard.

Contacting Users

Marketplaces need an e-mail system to enable others contact the advertisers – those who have made listings on the site – without disclosing their e-mail address. There is a Custom Contact Form plug-in available from us PowerOpps.com that does this. It is available on request – send a message using the contact form on the site referring this post to get it for free.

The form has the option for anyone to be able to contact or only registered users being able to contact the advertiser. Uses Ajax to Show or Hide Form in the post. Messages go direct to the advertiser and there is captcha spam protection built-in.

Payment for Listings

You may wish to run your marketplace for free or charge for listings. If you wish to run for free, then everything (well, almost) that you need to build and operate your marketplace is above. Should you wish to charge for listings, the plug-in is EasyPayPal. EasyPayPal will let you charge for listings on subscription basis or number of posts basis. It even has the ability to charge for access to content, should you need this feature too.

Another way to charge for listings is through the TDO Mini Forms mentioned above. In the submission acknowledgement message you can add the code for PayPal button or another payment processor’s code, e.g. 2CheckOut, that will be shown after the user completes the submission. You approve the listing if the user makes the payment.

Source: http://www.poweropps.com/creating-multi-million-dollar-marketplaces-for-free

EasyPayPal is available here: http://www.voiceoftech.com/swhitley/?page_id=129

Dynamic image resizing in WordPress

Some of the WordPress themes I’ve trialled include a dynamic image re-size option, which initially sounded quite good. However, after trying for hours to get the thing to work and searching countless other forums and WordPress guides, I still couldn’t get it to work.

That was, until, I stumbled across a web site (http://ravidreams.com/2009/10/wordpress-automatic-thumbnail-issue-with-hostgator/) that specifically covered by problem – and it wasn’t anything to do with my directory permissions either. It was a bandwidth protection measure from my host, Hostgator!

Anyway, following the instructions on the site (copied and pasted below, for ease) – resolved the issue nice and quickly… and now I have a fully functioning, image resizing WordPress installation!

Here’s what to do:

1. Login to your Hostgator control panel and contact Live Chat Support.
2. Ask the support technician to white list your thumbnail generation file for mod_security . You will need to give your file name and path.  The file name mostly will be timthumb.php or thumb.php. You can find this file inside the WordPress theme folder. An example file path wp-content/themes/theme_name/thumb.php

This is apparently a known issue with Hostgator’s WordPress hosting and all their technicians should recognize your request.

This problem will be solved by them in minutes.