As I mentioned last week, as a blogger, you are going to make mistakes and, fortunately, most of them are very minor ones that you can fix and recover from quickly.
That being said, one of the more common and embarrassing mistakes involves screwing up your theme. This can be especially frustrating if you aren’t somewhat experienced with HTML and CSS, but can still be a headache no matter how experienced you are.
Though there are literally an infinite number of ways you can mess up your theme, limited only by your “imagination” in this area, some errors are definitely more common than others and you can probably fix most of the common mistakes quickly.
With that in mind, here are 5 very common theme/template problems and how to fix them.
I’m Getting An Error that Says ___________
This can be the most frustrating problem as it can mean your site is effectively offline. If your site is throwing back an error, either in addition to or instead of your other content, you need to read the error carefully.
The error will, usually tell you everything you need to know to fix it, including what file the error is in, what line number it is at. If your error says that the problem is in your header.php at line 56, you can be pretty sure that the error is in that file and on, or at least near that line.
Go into that file and look for any obvious formatting errors such as forgetting a bracket, a quote or something else. Be sure to look at the line before it to make sure that it wasn’t a formatting error on that line causing the crash to happen on the one after it.
For help with line numbers, you may want to use a source code editor like Crimson Editor that displays line numbers clearly.
All of the Content After Point X is Formatted Wrong
This can happen either within a post or within a theme, but if after a certain point in the page the rest of the content is formatted wrong, you most likely forgot to close a tag. For example, if you open up an H2 tag bug don’t close it, all of the content below it will appear in that format.
To fix it, simply go to where the error started and see if you failed to close a tag. When you find it, add the closing tag at the correct place.
My Sidebar is Below My Content
This is a common problem where the sidebar or navigation of a site appears below the content portion when it should be beside it. This can be especially annoying as it will happen in certain browsers but not others, sometimes making it a tough problem to track down.
The cause of the problem, usually, is a simple math problem. If your HTML you likely have a DIV for your entire body, including both your content and navbar as well as DIVs for those two areas. If the content area plus the sidebar area plus any padding around them is wider than the main DIV, the sidebar will appear below the content, just like text running over to the next line.
The easiest way to temporarily fix this problem is to simply add a few pixels to the main DIV in your site’s CSS file. However, you’ll likely want to keep working at this one to make sure it lines up perfectly in all browsers.
A Function Isn’t Found
This is a specific type of error that is common after disabling a plugin where your site doesn’t load and generates an error saying that a function can not be found. Though WordPress makes it easy to code around this by using the function_exists check, many plugins don’t ask for that when telling users to copy and paste code into their theme.
You can fix this by either removing the line of code that calls the plugin, which should be identified in the error, or reactivating the plugin.
Something Is Causing Loading to Hang
This one might not even be an obvious problem at first but you may notice that your site never really finishes loading or, in extreme circumstances, will hang up in mid-load for a lengthy period of time. This is an annoying problem and, usually, is not one you caused directly.
What is going on is some element, likely from a 3rd party, is loading slowly or not loading at all, holding up your site while your browser either grabs it or gives up.
The easiest way to figure this out is to load your site and watch the bottom of your browser to see what the problem is. If that fails, use Pingdom’s Load Test Tool to see what item is causing your site to come up so slowly. Remove the problem, at least temporarily and your site should fly just fine..
Template and other coding errors are why it pays dividends for a blogger to know HTML and CSS. If you can’t fix small problems with your theme or make minor adjustments, you are at the mercy of your visual tools and those who are willing to help you.
Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of expertise, just enough to make these kinds of adjustments. This is not computer programming and it doesn’t require any truly special skills, virtually anyone who can use a word processor can learn HTML easily with a bit of work.
Once you have that, problems like these go from being major panics to simple problems that take only a few seconds to fix.
4 Uncommon Design Tricks That Improve User Experience 100%
Everyone’s concerned about improving conversion rates. The general consensus is that user experience is the place to start.
There are several ways to improve user experience on your blog. Most strategies center on tweaking the design of your website, but sometimes it’s how you organize your navigation. You’ve probably made basic changes like switching to WordPress or alphabetizing your drop-down menu’s items.
Here are some strategies you may not have tried:
1 – Color-code your menus with matching page color schemes
If you’re like most bloggers, you probably created a workable color scheme for your site and called it a day. If you want to improve user experience, that’s not enough. Consider coordinating the colors between your main menu links and each of your pages.
In an article describing why color-coded, hand-written notes improve efficiency of thought, blogger Kevin Purdy reveals that “color improves recall time for graphs and charts, and can be a very effective performance factor if not overdone.” The article also summarizes the work of Michael Tipper, a speaker and consultant on mind mapping and organizational software. Tipper says that color-coding the branches of a mind map stimulates the creative side of your brain, and visually separates distinct themes (which improves recall).
This same idea can be applied to your website for optimal results. Improve user experience by color-coding your main menu with a matching color scheme for each page you link. For instance, Pioneer Seeds implements color coordination extremely well. From one side to the other, all mega menu drop-downs have a unique background color that matches the color scheme of the pages listed within that particular section. There are no complicated color schemes. Each page presents one solid color.
The continuity of matching colors feels good, it’s easy on the eyes, and it helps people keep track of what section they’re viewing.
2 – Hire a design agency to create a custom design from scratch
The era of templates is here to stay, but not without consequence. Templates are easy and cheap (sometimes free), but they lack the flexibility you need to create an impactful and smooth user experience.
For example, most templates feature a gigantic header that encourages you to create an enormous header you don’t need. The most popular templates today force users to scroll endlessly through horizontal sections containing nothing but large icons with a few words underneath. You can change a template, but not without effort and the frustration of having to settle for “good enough.” This is especially useful for anyone trying to making their mobile site look similar to their desktop experience. This is best accomplished when having a fully responsive theme in place for all platforms.
A design agency can give you exactly what you want from the beginning. When your website design is created from scratch, you don’t have to spend hours tweaking a template only to find out your final tweak – the one that matters most – isn’t going to work.
Men With Pens is a well-known design agency that has created custom WordPress themes for years. They specialize in design, and know exactly how to create a better user experience. Their website embodies their expertise in user experience.
Check out their tips for bloggers and see if you notice anything unique about the page design. The design fills the entire page, and the graphics extend outside the lines and boxes. When you land on the page, you’re engaged right away. Capturing a visitor’s attention is your first priority to improve user experience. If you don’t have a user’s attention, they won’t have an experience at all.
3 – Simplicity
Simplicity never goes out of style. Simplicity in design embraces the approach that “less is more.” It’s a cliché, but it’s true.
Nobody knows simplicity better than Steve Pavlina. He’s been publishing articles on his personal blog for over a decade, and until recently, his site was as plain as plain can be. He recently switched to WordPress, but managed to maintain the simplicity responsible for his success.
Simple designs are easier to read, navigate, and interact with. Less menu items, less distractions on the home page, and minimal or no sidebars is what simplicity is all about. A simple design draws attention to what’s important.
4 – Create a unique design for mobile
Don’t just optimize your website for mobile users. Create a custom design for mobile users based on your original design. When you optimize your existing design for mobile, you often sacrifice important aspects of your desktop design. Using code, you can program your site to display a different design based on a user’s device.
Statistics show that 83% of people say a seamless experience across all devices is important. By creating a custom mobile theme based on your existing theme, you give mobile users that seamless experience. It’s the best of both worlds. Just be sure to include all of your navigation links. Some people suggest limiting selections for mobile users, but that will crush the seamless experience.
How to Best Prepare Your Site for Design Success!
User experience can be improved not just by tweaking your design, but by applying principles of color, navigation, and organization. Instead of chasing the latest revelation in conversion gimmicks, invest your time and money in fact-based strategies that improve user experience. Shift your focus away from the minutia of testing every tiny design element, and toward creating a psychologically-sound foundation for your users.
Fotor Photo Editor – The Perfect Graphic Design Tool for Bloggers
As bloggers and content creators, it’s important to always have visual content built within our best articles and site designs. Infographics, clip art, stock photos and more… but customized and original images will always grab the most attention.
When it comes to actually creating such visuals, you will have many different options to choose from. Whether you are looking for a free application, one that is browser-based, or even if it’s a premium software you need to download and pay for — it’s important to know what’s out there.
Today we are going to be looking at Fotor photo editor which is a free and powerful tool that lets anyone get started with their own graphic design in just a few short minutes.
This tool allows anyone to start using it through a web browser or even with their mobile application. Whether you need to edit a photo, make a collage, or create a custom and original design, it can all be done through the power of Fotor.
The most popular features of this tool are it’s one click filters and fixes that allowed anyone to make their images pop and stand out like never before.
Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits to using Fotor photo editor for your website, blog, or just everyday life.
With most people looking to customize their mobile screenshots on photos with a few simple click of a button, and this is exactly what fotor photo editor will allow you to do. It will also allow you to create custom YouTube banners that can be used to liven up your channel as well.
You can see a few of these examples in the screenshot below.
When comparing Fotor to other graphic design applications like Photoshop, you are going to find many similarities, but it’s also important to note that premium applications like Photoshop are much more advanced, but also more costly in the process. The software is free to use, you can upgrade to Fotor Pro and find even more upgrade and options available.
What makes this design application and tool great for site owners and bloggers, is that it has a unique set of design tools and features — which are what most content creators are looking. In short, it provides users with what they need, while not overwhelming them in the process.
Fotor also offers a nice selection of design templates to choose from, which makes the process of creating new and original content even easier. These template designs scale across the many different design themes, sizes, and concepts on the site.
In addition to everything else mentioned, there is also a nice collection of resources, guides, and tutorials that can be found on their site blog. Such resources will provide users what the information and walk-through processes to get the most out of Fotor.
If you are currently looking for a new design editor to improve the look and feel of visual content on your site, be sure to give Fotor a try.
4 Essential Elements of Web Design (No.3 Will Shock You!)
If you’re a small business owner take note of these four elements of web design. They’re essential for boosting your online presence. Click here for more info!
Have you ever wondered why most business websites tend to look the same? It’s like you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all.
The truth is a lot of business owners prefer the easy route. That means going for a website builder, which offers templated designs.
If you want something different, you’ll have to go custom. But that takes a lot of time. Plus, you’ll have to look for a skilled designer/developer.
Whatever route you choose, you need to understand the elements of web design. After all, it’s your website. If you choose to hire a pro, you need to know what to ask for.
And if you opt to DIY it, then you can steer clear of cringe-worthy web design. That said, here are 4 web design elements that will help boost your online presence.
1. User Journey
You can scroll through countless website design guides and you’ll never see one that says, “ignore what users think.”
Consider mobile apps. Would you download something that’s hard to use and has a lot of annoying ads?
When you design your website, put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. Is your website hard to navigate? Does it load fast?
But how do you know if your user interface is good? Aside from consistency, it has to be simple, intuitive, responsive, and flexible.
This is why it’s good to test different designs first before committing to one. It saves time and eliminates the need for major changes later on.
Designing for the web doesn’t stop when you have a “pretty” website. Sure, your target customers will appreciate nifty graphics and all. But if your content doesn’t offer value, users will leave your website.
Now, this doesn’t mean huge blocks of text that will drown your visitors with information. Opt for conciseness. Give your target audience content that’s easy to digest so they can process it better.
Depending on what CMS you are using, content creation is usually the easy part. This is especially the case when using platforms like Weebly, WordPress or Wix. Since most of these platforms are drag and drop, it’s simply a matter of getting familiar with each platform, and knowing how to create great content. There are no programming or design skills required.
Did you just check the title again? If yes, you may be wondering why this would be shocking. Shouldn’t this be part of any website designing guide?
The thing is there are plenty of websites that use low contrast for text because it’s trendy. But you have to take into account users who have vision problems.
There has to be enough contrast between text and background. And you also need to choose your colors well. You don’t want to alienate color-blind and blind users who use assistive technologies.
Some people approach website design as a separate entity from search engine optimization. But there’s a way to be strategic about the process so that design elements improve the SEO of your site.
The easiest way would be to outsource to an all-in-one design company such as https://www.databerry.com/. When they build your site, they also take care of the backend coding stuff. This ensures your title tags, meta tags, etc work for better search ranking.
Want to Know More About the Elements of Web Design?
Knowing the elements of web design is your first step to a website that looks and functions well. But getting them all right takes a bit of trial and error.
For more web design tips, don’t forget to check out our other blog posts.
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