As we transition to a new era of computing where people are getting their information via mobile phones, you are starting to see just about every high profile website or blog making their own iPhone app. But what about the average WordPress user who doesn’t have the time and/or budget to make their own custom iPhone application?
Not long ago I covered a free WordPress plugin called WPTouch which creates a mobile-friendly version of your WordPress blog to display for mobile web browsers. The unfortunate truth, however, is that outside of clicking on a link from Twitter on their phones, most iPhone, Android, or mobile users in general do not use the mobile web to view a webpage. In order to maximize convenience for your readers you really need a custom iPhone application. This is where an app I recently discovered, Wiziapp, comes to the rescue.
What is WiziApp? Wiziapp is a WordPress plugin that automatically turns your WordPress blog into a native iPhone app in real time, giving easy access to the following within the application: Posts, pages, comments, categories, tags, links, images, videos, and audio files. And if that wasn’t enough, Wiziapp even offers a push notification service to notify iOS users when your website has new content available!
Here is a complete list of the features provided by the Wiziapp team:
- Create and personalize your iPhone application from your WordPress dashboard using the plugin’s wizard.
- Deliver all of your blog content directly to your App in real time.
- Notify your readers about new posts via push notification service.
- Your readers can easily read and post new comments directly from your App.
- Your App will display your images and galleries in native iPhone style.
- All the media you have posted will be collected to video or audio libraries.
- Your readers can easily search your blog directly from your App.
- Playing video and audio using Wiziapp’s advanced players.
- Enable your readers to navigate between posts by categories, tags or author name.
- Integrate with your login system.
- Your readers can easily share your posts and images via Facebook, Twitter, Email or SMS.
- Monetize your App by displaying ads using your own AdMob account.
- Your readers can easily save your posts to their ‘favorites’ list.
- We publish your App to the iTunes App Store and save you time & money dealing with an Apple developer account.
- See daily stats of your App visits and downloads.
- Stay up to date with all iOS and WordPress new features.
- Check out the Wiziapp tour here.
Thanks to the huge success of the iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, and other mobile devices, Apps have become all the rage. The problem for many webmasters and WordPress users is that most smaller WordPress websites/blogs can’t afford to have a custom app developed for their WordPress site.
Of course, thanks to beauty of the open source nature of WordPress, WordPress users have access to all sorts of great WordPress plugins. I recently found myself debating whether or not to develop an app for WordPress Hacks and decided that first I would look into what free WordPress plugins were available. My goal was simply to find one which would display a WordPress blog to mobile browsers in a mobile friendly format.
Based upon roughly 2 million downloads plus great reviews, far and away the best plugin I’ve found to accomplish this is one called WP Touch. For those that haven’t heard of WP Touch, this WordPress plugin automatically transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects, and will display this theme when your WordPress blog is viewed from an iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, Palm Pre, Samsung and BlackBerry Storm/Torch mobile device!
The admin panel allows you to customize many aspects of its appearance and deliver a fast, user-friendly and stylish version of your WordPress website to mobile visitors, all without modifying a single bit of code or making any changes to your standard WordPress theme. The mobile theme also includes the ability for visitors to switch between WP Touch view and your site’s regular theme if that is what they prefer.
If you are looking for a more feature-rich product, I discovered that users can also purchase a Pro version of WP Touch which includes a slew of new features like more style, color and branding customizations, themes, 10 languages, more advertising options, web-app mode, and even iPad support.
Ever notice how many features the standard installation of WordPress lacks? YouTube embedding, stats, and even a specialized Twitter widget? Well, if you have a self hosted blog at WordPress.com, these features are all given to you. In fact, many of these features are forced upon you by the sponsoring company, Automattic. Wanna learn how to get all of that “cloud-power” for your WordPress site?
If you are one of the people who would love to have these features at your disposal and already has a WordPress.com account, keep reading. Otherwise, you’re losing out on a great plugin for self-hosted WordPress sites!
Today I’m going to share with you the best WordPress widgets that I would recommend for each and every WordPress blogger. I personally use a few widgets on my blog to help my visitors easily browse all of my blog posts. A nice WordPress blog would have proper utilization of widgets, plugins and footer and header bars.
When I started blogging I had lots of widgets in my blog’s sidebar and never really bothered worrying about the performance of the blog. All I wanted was to make my blog look cool. But one fine day lightning struck me and I decided to delete most of the WordPress plugins and widgets which were not necessary to my blog and were intense on bandwidth and resources. Having lot of plugins and widgets on my blog resulted in too much bandwidth consumption and made my blog sluggish, bringing down my site’s overall performance. So keep in mind, too much of something can be as detrimental as too little. A slow website or blog can equal unhappy visitors and a low score for your site’s search engine ranking. A smaller number of widgets means less content visible on your blog to the visitors, ultimately leading to a high bounce rate and/or low page views. The solution is to find a way to balance the two.
Do not confuse yourselves with widgets and plugins though. WordPress plugins are easy to install and activate which helps you to improve your blog’s functionality. Plugins can include widgets as well. Widgets on the other hand are visible and interactive to your visitors. Usually these widgets are shown in the sidebar, but are not limited to only the sidebar. Fortunately there are many themes available now with widgetized footer and header space.
According to the numbers, over the past 12 months, the number of referrals from social networking sites to blogs has doubled. Social traffic is becoming more important than search traffic according to some. How do WordPress users adjust to this reality and exploit it to your advantage? The core strategy should be to embrace and focus.
Embracing the Social Trend
Some bloggers have shut down their blogs and moved to Facebook fan pages. Others have kept their blog and complemented with fan pages as stop-gap measure. Either way, there is a perceived threat that you are losing traffic to Facebook. It could very well be a real threat unless you embrace the trend and make it work for you.
Focus Your Social Media Efforts
In an effort to please all readers and maximize reach into social networks, bloggers are integrating a plethora of social tools. One favorite is the AddThis plugin which offers some 100+ options for sharing. In my opinion this approach will clutter your site and distract the user. Pick a winner instead. All indicators are that Facebook is becoming the de-facto standard for social syndication.
After their launch of Open Graph in April this year, Facebook has grown from 15% to 35% of all social networking referrals. This assumes that Gawker Media is a good reflection of the industry average. My personal choice will therefore have to be Facebook, however StumbleUpon is another good candidate. Twitter is already prevalent but it is a typically a disappointment in terms of referrals. There are two reasons:
- Twitter is undoubtedly the noisiest channel on the web.
- People in general are not spending any significant time on Twitter.
What are my Tools?
With Facebook, you have some excellent tools. You also have some great plugins for WordPress integration. Most likely you already use several of these tools today. The key is how you use them and how you combine them.
The Facebook Fan Page
The fan page is a great tool for dialog and brand promotion (yes, you are a brand and you should cultivate it):
- Do use the fan page as a personal relationship tool by engaging your audience in discussion and dialog around the topics you are focused on. Use it as a place to share news about you, your brand and your site. The purpose is to create an “exclusive” community where your dedicated followers get the inside scoop on everything you.
- Do not use the fan page to push your RSS feed and manage relationships at the same time. First, your relationship efforts will drown in your content updates. Second, you are creating an intermediate (proxy) between your audience and your blog. Thirdly, the updates are indiscriminatory, lowering relevance which results in fewer revisits to your fan page and web site. Instead use a Like button for your feed (see below)
- Do one or the other of the above.
Get a Like Button for your WordPress Site
In its basic form, the Like button provides a one-time sharing function. There are tools that connect the Like button with your RSS feed, thereby providing a way to connect directly between your site and the Facebook News Feed (no Fan Page intermediary). Explain to the user that you want to connect for updates in conjunction with the Like button. Use a text widget to insert the button HTML on your site. If you want to connect your RSS feed to your fan page instead, Pheedo offers a solution with Dlvr.it.
Get a Like Plugin for my Posts
Let people “Like” your posts. There are WordPress plugins that allow you to automate the insertion of Like buttons. The Like button offers a one-time sharing event. It can also connect with the user for ongoing updates related to the topic of the particular post (a.k.a “Like for Tags“).
We recently did a case study on CNN.com. If they implemented these strategies, they would see 25%-40% increase in page views over time. CNN is already a user of Facebook social plugins but they are currently not using them as described in this article. The increase in page views is significant from a revenue perspective, most likely seven figures.
Note: This article includes opinions of the author based on working with the blogging community to develop social syndication tools. Your reactions to these opinions are greatly appreciated.
This article was contributed by Rikard Kjellberg, a Silicon Valley blogger and co-founder of IngBoo, who works on social syndication solutions for publishers. Rikard also writes on his personal blog (scandihuvians) and on IngBoo’s corporate blog.