5 Tricks to Spice up your WordPress Blog

By adding a few lines of code or installing a plugin or two you can add some extra spice to your WordPress blog (or other WordPress powered site) and at the same timeĀ  bring a lot more value to your readers.

Wordpress LogoOf course these tips are dependant on your ability to install plugins/widgets etc and some are also only applicable to themes with certain functionality, but you should see at least one tip here that you can apply nice and easily.

1) Enhance your Sidebar

If your blog has a sidebar (and let’s face it most blogging themes proide at least one) then this gives you prime screen real estate to give extra information to your readers about you and your blog or subject matter. There are many, many plugins out there which cater for all sorts of users and content type.

As you can see on my sidebar I provide a list of events that I’m attending, giving hopefully some more context to the things that I’m interested in. This is powered by the My Lanyrd Widget and as such pulls information from my Lanyrd account.

As I’ve said, there are many sidebar widgets available… so what are you waiting for, go get some!

2) Put Widgets in your Posts

Following on from Step 1 is the perfect tip for adding extra “dynamic” content to otherwise fairly static blog posts or pages… Add your widgets to them!

All you need to do is install the Widgets on Pages plugin and then add the widgets that you want to the newly created sidebars and then place a simple shortcode in your post content and your widgets will be displayed inline. For example I’m displaying my “posts calandar” right here

3) Shortcodes

Shortcodes can be extremely powerful and can provide you with a quick way to add extra content/design to your posts and pages. There are many “shortcode” plugins available and a lot can be downloaded for free from WordPress.org. A simple example is the J Shortcodes plugin which among other things enables you to quickly add styled areas to your posts.

[jbox]This text is in a nice styled box using the J Shortcodes plugin[/jbox]

4) Customise your Feed

A key way to give your readers more is to improve the default RSS feed that goes out to them. This is done by adding some short code to the functions.php file (located in your WordPress theme’s directory). I add the featured image to my articles as well as a short finishing line to thanks the reader for the time and to send them to my blog.

The options here are really only limited by your imagination, you could add links to related posts for example.

The code to add a nice sign off is as follows;

5) Make it Device Ready

With every day that goes by there are more and more Internet-ready devices on the market and these come in all sorts of sizes. And it’s with this in mind that having your blog ready to display optimally on this wide range of fixed and mobile devices you should really start thinking about making your blog “responsive”… or at least mobile phone friendly.

There are various free and paid for ways of getting your site to work well for readers who aren’t just using their PC at home or work, but I’m gonna focus on just 2 here.

Make you Site Responsive

This is the best place for your site to be… it means that your site is future-prrof (ish) for devices of all various sizes to access it. Implementing this generally means having to get a theme tweaked to utilise media queries and various other CSS techniques… but I have a cunning plan for those using the default TwentyTen WordPress theme… the Responsive TwentyTen plugin. This plugin (free) instantly turns your site into a responsive one and means that as the browser window size changes your site re-formats itself to display in the most optimal fashion. Don’t believe me? Just try it on this site.

WordPress Mobile Plugins

There are several plugin available which will server up optimised content for mobiles. A decent review of different plugins and approaches can be seen over at WP Candy.

[jbox color=”blue” vgradient=”#fdfeff|#bae3ff” title=”Get Started”]So what are you waiting for?

Get downloading the great Widgets on Pages plugin and check out check out how to make your site look good on mobiles.[/jbox]