I recently listened to a presentation by James Osborne from Google on Modern Content Creation and Strategy. The scoop was his section on Web Stories.
Web Stories are a modern way to engage with an audience who enjoy the swipe style of functionality that is used in Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok. The framework behind the scenes is Amp. The advantage is that they load extremely fast, have ADA compliance built in and are stored on Google’s Servers.
You can easily:
Share your stories, add buttons and use different swipe effects.
Monetize using ads
Track and measure by adding tracking ids between the stories.
They don’t expire and are optimized for performance
Publish and unpublish them whenever you like.
If your site is built using WordPress you can easily create stories from within your WordPress dashboard using a plugin. There are drag and drop tools with 3rd party image and video tools. An additional feature is an accessibility tab on the plugin.
Your stories could show up in Google Search. It is not rolled out to all regions.
Stories appear on mobile in the carousel format on Google Discover, and in the grid view on Google Search.
On Mobile if you do an image or video search, there is a Story section. On an image search, the images can be found as an image card with a webstories icon.
The internet is highly competitive. If creating content using visual tools is something that you enjoy, I would consider using Stories for visibility.
“A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. A WordPress theme provides all of the front end styling of your WordPress site.”
The list of options is so vast that it is difficult to know what to choose.
– Make a list of Essential features or functions that you need.
This may include columns, layouts, sidebars, footers, and navigation bars.
– Consider purchasing a Premium Theme
There are many free themes available for people that are on a budget. Automattic (the makers of WordPress) offer several options. If you pay for the theme, then you can get support from the developers and there is more of a chance of it being properly updated. In some cases the developer will abandon the theme completely. Sometimes free themes contain malicious code when downloaded outside of the WordPress repository.
If I consider purchasing a premium theme vs hiring someone to build something for me, the cost is minuscule. Great Value!
Some themes like Genesis provide a very basic layout and in order to gain the effect that you want, you will need to purchase an additional Child Theme also known as a framework ( for example Genesis by Studiopress).
– Avoid Bloated Themes
A theme that is cluttered with features that you don’t use will slow down your website.
– Pick a Responsive Theme
In search engine optimization (SEO) we build for mobile first since many people will never view your site on a desktop. As we know, Google rolled out a mobile-first update that prioritizes sites that are mobile friendly. Check that your theme looks good on mobile devices. Google even offers a free mobile-friendly testing tool to check whether the theme is mobile-friendly.
– Pick a Theme with Clear Legible Fonts
Some themes come with very small light fonts. Is that something that you can change or will people have to squint to read your site?
– Easy Customization
Is the theme user friendly? The customization options vary from theme to theme and by changing a few features, you should be able to create diverse layouts without any knowledge of coding.
– Pick a Theme that loads quickly
Website speed today is one of the most significant factors affecting conversion rate. Most people abandon a site that takes more than a few seconds to load.
Here’s what I look for:
How long has the company/developer that built the theme been established?
Does the theme have reviews? How many reviews?
How many people have installed the theme?
What does it look like on mobile?
Does it work on all browsers?
View the support forum. Are there responses for the tickets/questions?
Do a preview of the theme if it is available. If not try to figure out which websites are using it.(The support forum might help.)
Check if the theme has a preloader – that is something in lieu of the hour glass that you see on the screen while the rest of the page’s content is still loading. If the theme has one, the site will be slow.
Do a speed test on the theme demo and if possible on websites that use it. If the Home page is extremely long, it may not be the best page to pick.
If you have a copy of the theme, you can download a plugin that will help you test it – called Theme Check
If you need the theme for a specific purpose like a realtor site, either pick a theme that specifically targets your needs or a basic theme that can be adapted to many purposes. (I like Beaver Builder and Divi.) If you have a multipurpose theme also known as a bloated theme, it will take time to load all the elements available on your website that are not being used. For example, if you are not doing ecommerce, do not load Woocommerce.
Translation & Multilingual Ready
NOTE! The basic WordPress installation is free of charge and comes in multiple languages. You can select the language you want to use for your installation.
All the WordPress default themes include all the languages and are free. These themes are Twentyseventeen, Twentysixteen, etc.
If you need a theme in a language that is not English, look for the language that you need. If you need a language that is read and written from right to left look for RTL in the theme documentation. Make sure that you look at an example of a site with the theme in an RTL language. You can check
.mo files for translation: That means the theme is translated and you have control over the terminology used – you can change it.
WPML: That means that you can do the translation.
Some themes don’t have the language in the description, however when you check the support forum, you may find that someone has used it successfully.
A page builder is a plugin or a built in feature of a theme that enables you to quickly and easily set up the page elements or modules without knowing how to code.
Except for Beaver Builder, most page builders leave short codes in the front end of your website if you delete the page builder plugin. There are ways to strip the short codes, and it may be easier to rebuild the pages from scratch depending on the size of the website.
If you own the license to the page builder, you can use the same page builder for multiple themes.
Some themes from companies like Theme Forest come with a group license for their page builder. Everything seems great until the page builder runs an update that is not rolled out by the makers of the theme. I had a site that I could not update for a month because of that. The option is to purchase the page builder plugin separately and install it yourself. It is helpful to budget for that option before you begin and not overly expensive.
Conclusion: Use a page builder!
The theme should have user friendly customization features, particularly with regards to colors, fonts and page layouts.
Sometimes we are looking for customization that is not included, such as emphasizing the Donate navigation tab on a non-profit site.
If the level of customization needed is more than CSS markup, it is necessary to install a Child Theme.
We never make changes to the core WordPress or Theme files on a site. If it is necessary to change PHP coding language for example, we would only do that with a child theme. The reason is because if the files are updated, all the changes will be lost. The child theme is only ever updated by you or your WordPress developer.
Themes that include frameworks cannot support child themes since the framework is the child theme. An option is to not install a framework or use a plugin that will support the changes needed.
I hope this article helped you select the perfect theme for your WordPress site. If you liked this article, then please subscribe.
What are the most important aspects for building a website that you should include regardless of the platform that your site is build on? We build websites in order to promote our content whether it is personal or business related. What are the most important elements to promote site traffic?
Since Google Search Engine created the mobile first index, websites that are not responsive can only be found on the desktop index.
A site that loads within 2 seconds is essential so that users stay on your page instead of moving onto the next search result on the page. One of the elements that can speed up a site is caching. Caching allows you to serve compressed and cached files to your visitors. This reduces the load on your server and your website becomes faster. Another is Image Optimization.
I think my new site should be no. 1 on Google search engine.
How come I can’t find my site on page 10?
When a new prospect tells me “I need a website built for my business”, s/he often loses sight of the goals. They might have an idea in their minds of what their website will look like or have looked at other sites that they liked. Others merely know that they need to have “one of those”. If you are an emerging entrepreneur, of course you have to have a website otherwise you would be left in the dark ages.
The most basic goal of the site is visibility. Do you want to sell your book, get more donations, sell your services or have more people read your blog? In theory you can achieve this goal with an ugly website. I worked on a search engine optimization project recently. The client spent thousands of dollars on advertising and tens of thousands of visitors came to his site. The goal of his site was to go viral, and he did – at 50c per visitor. How much are you willing to spend to have your post go viral? What happens if you don’t have a large advertising budget? Many of my clients are emerging entrepreneurs and they are looking for a budget solution. Maybe they have a good basic website. Is there a way to increase web site traffic fast without spending thousands of dollars?
The answer is no and yes. If you have recently published your website then perhaps your friends and acquaintances will take a look out of courtesy. If nothing changes on your site, there is no reason to go back to it. Your site is like a grain of rice in a sack. There are many, many similar sites attempting to reach the same people that you are trying to reach.
How can you overcome this problem if you have a small budget? When someone is looking for a service or a business like yours, they will first go to a search engine and type in a search phrase. In order to be visible to your audience, you need to optimize you website for the search engines and attempt to match those search results. The more compatible your site is with Search Engine standards, the easier it will be for them to find you.
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)
There are two kinds of search engine results: The first is paid advertising. You will see these results in the top of the search engine results. The second is known as organic optimization. That means that a person who understands search engine optimization has taken specific steps to make that website more accessible to search engine bots. With a small investment, we can provide the search engines with the data they are looking for and improve our visibility chances.
At this point people tell me that their “web designer took care of all of that”. If you want to live in a house, you do not have to be a builder. When your builder has completed your house, you understand a little about tiles, bathroom fixtures and kitchen cabinets. Do you expect your builder to do the landscaping as well as the build the house? In the current budget market few web developers or designers can afford to include more than basic Search Engine Optimization in the price of the site. From a personal perspective, I add the website to search engines and create an account on Google Webmaster tools. Any further effort on my part will raise the cost of the site, and price me out of my market. In looking at some of the basics of search engine optimization, I see that is true in most cases.
How to increase website visibility on Google and other search engines?
Looking at this topic very broadly, we can divide the criteria into 3 main factors:
User accessibility. Is it easy to navigate your website?
Always remember that the site must be easy for humans to navigate. If I am looking for some specific information and I need to click three times to find it, the chances are that I will abandon the site because the next site in the search engine results page (serp) will give me that information immediately.
2. Ranking factors – these may be compared to grades assigned by search engines. For example site speed – the time that it takes for your web page to load.
3. Non – ranking factors – these help you to be found, but the search engines do not grade your site if you have them. For example, keywords. (more…)