The Big Impact: Navigation

March 04, 2015

Bigimpact

Welcome to our series on making small changes that are guaranteed to help level up your blog's look. Every other week we’ll debut a new post, profiling some great blogs for inspiration that employ Typepad's built-in features. We'll also offer up tips and tricks that can help improve your blog's appeal, gain new readers, and build a more engaged community. Check out our other posts in the series here!

In our latest topical series, discussing how small changes can make a big impact, we've covered custom banners and sidebar headers. Today, we're continuing the discussion by reviewing an often overlooked area: navigation.

The navigation bar, and the content you add to it, is one of the few items that readers see on the first load of your blog. No matter the type of blog, no matter the content, readers need to be able to locate the most important parts of what your blog has to offer. Making the navigation bar the hub for your readers allows them to easily return and find what they're looking for. Examples of how to make certain your navigation bar is easily seen is what we're sharing today.

First, Oh Joy! demonstrates how a simple navigation bar can stand out against a minimalistic design, leaving no room for readers to be distracted and unable to locate key areas.

Oh Joy!

Next, Imagine Childhood highlights specific areas of their blog's content by utilizing custom images, in place of text, to create an eye-catching focal point.

Imagine Childhood

Want to know more about the navigation bar and how to style it? Our Knowledge Base has the answers you seek. Need help turning an idea for your navigation bar into reality? We're a help ticket away from your actualizing what you've already imagined.

All blogs featured in our current series can be found in the Typepad Showcase! If you think you have what it takes to be in the spotlight, submit your own blog today!

Typepad 101: Shaking Up Your Front Page

February 25, 2015

By default, the front page of your Typepad blog will display the 10 most recent posts you've published, with the most recent at the top. This is a very common format, but sometimes you may want to configure your blog a bit differently. In this post, we will look at some of the different options Typepad offers for the front page of your blog.

Ten posts is usually a good number to display on the front page. People who would like to read back in your blog don't have to keep hitting the next page all the time, while at the same time the page doesn't get too long and unwieldy. If your posts are quite long or very short, however, you might want to adjust the number up or down. Or maybe you're doing something very different with your blog - our example photo showcase blog has just one post on each page so that it looks like a photo album.

To change the number of posts on the front page, go to the Settings > Posts page for your blog and look for the Posts to Display section. You can display a certain number of posts or even a certain number of days of posts (we only recommend using the Days setting if you post regularly or on a consistent schedule). Enter the number that you want to display and use the drop-down menu to choose posts or days, then scroll down to the bottom of the page to save your changes.

Posts to Display

Maybe 10 posts is a good number, but you're using your blog to tell a story that you'd like people to read from the beginning. In this case, you may want to have your blog display oldest posts first. Do be aware that if you use this format, readers who arrive at your blog won't easily be able to tell if or when you have published a new post. However, if you're using your blog to tell a complete narrative and won't be adding to it, the "oldest first" display might be ideal for your needs.

To adjust the display order, go to Settings > Posts and scroll down to the Order of Posts section. Choose either newest or oldest first, then save your changes.

Order of Posts

Another way that you can customize the display of your front page is to only display posts from certain categories. For instance, you might want more of a magazine format for your blog and to display only featured articles on the front page. Or maybe you have one or more categories you don't want on the front page, but you would like to display all of the other categories. First, make sure you know how to configure categories for your posts. Also, keep in mind that visitors arriving at your blog may not be aware that you have categories other than the ones that appear on the front page. We recommend displaying a listing of all categories using the Categories sidebar module or linking to categories using the navigation bar.

Once you've got everything set up with your categories, head on over to the Settings > Posts page and look for the section called Limit Recent Posts. When you click on the drop-down menu here, you'll see options to add a new category or to assign multiple categories and also a listing of all the categories on your blog. If you choose one of the categories in the listing, only the posts in that category will appear on the front page of your blog. Set up the category or categories you want to display, then save your changes.

Limit Recent Posts

All of these options are great, but perhaps you don't want to display your posts on the front page of your blog at all. Maybe you want to set up a landing page with important information for your readers, or you want to use your blog more like a website instead of having a stream of recent posts. First, you'll need to create the informational Page with the content for your landing page. If you plan to have posts as well as one or more Pages, you'll want to be sure to provide a link to the recent posts page in the sidebar or navigation bar.

On the Settings > Posts page, look for the Front Page section. Choose the option to display a Page and then select the Page that you want to use. After saving your changes, you will see that the Front Page section now lists the URL for the recent posts page for your blog. Be sure to copy this URL so that you can set up the link in your navigation bar!

Front Page

One other Typepad feature you may want to take advantage of in combination with any of the options discussed above - or just by itself if you want to - is the recently-added auto-generated excerpts option. This is especially helpful if you tend to write longer posts but you want to keep the front page of your blog from getting too long. You can use the split extended entry feature to manually create an introduction for each page, but if that's too much effort, just head on over to Settings > Posts and turn on the Auto-Generated Excerpts option. You can also choose whether or not to include a featured image. We recommend turning on this option to add more pop to your excerpts.

Auto-Generated Excerpts

Here's what your published posts will look like with the featured image option selected:

Featured Image

There you have it - five ways to shake up the front page of your blog. Have you customized the display of your front page? Tell us about it and share a link in the comments!

The Big Impact: Sidebar Header Images

February 18, 2015

Bigimpact

Welcome to our series on making small changes that are guaranteed to help level up your blog's look. Every other week we’ll debut a new post, profiling some great blogs for inspiration that employ Typepad's built-in features. We'll also offer up tips and tricks that can help improve your blog's appeal, gain new readers, and build a more engaged community. Check out our other posts in the series here!

Today we continue our series on how making small changes to your blog can leave a lasting impression on your readers. Besides using the Theme Builder and custom banners creatively, another way to personalize your blog appearance is using images as your sidebar headers.

It is very easy to add an image to your sidebar.  The examples shared today are blogs showing how customizing their sidebar headers using images ties in to their business brand to keep a cohesive look.

First is photographer Violet Short's blog Blythe Ponytail Parades where she applies simple and delicate text images with a thin border around it to tie in to her classic, whimsical design. 

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 4.06.19 PM

Next we have Graphic Designer Amanda Rose Zampelli who keeps a color palette of hot pink and a unique shade of seafoam green to show off her fresh and playful style.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 3.48.02 PM

All blogs featured in our current series can be found in the Typepad Showcase! If you think you have what it takes to be in the spotlight, submit your own blog today!

The Big Impact: How small changes can level up your blog’s look

February 05, 2015

The_big_impact

Welcome to our series on making small changes that are guaranteed to help level up your blog's look. Every other week we’ll debut a new post, profiling some great blogs for inspiration that employ Typepad's built-in features. We'll also offer up tips and tricks that can help improve your blog's appeal, gain new readers, and build a more engaged community.

One smart thing that successful Typepad bloggers do is take advantage of the many features offered at every level, from Plus, to Premium, and beyond. Ranging from simple to complex, these features and tweaks allow our bloggers to make small changes that can have a big impact.

This week, we're featuring two Typepad bloggers who are taking advantage of Typepad's built-in design features by using the Theme Builder, custom banners, and Sidebar elements in creative ways. These blogs feature clean, classic lines and organized content, well-placed images and keen use of color; all elements that work together to ensure an eye-catching, memorable design. Want to level up your blog's appeal, too? Read on.

Second Story Window is the joint effort of Heidi and Emily, two sisters with a love of teaching. Their passion for making education fun is reflected in their eye-catching design, featuring bright pops of color and lots of graphical elements to help you navigate around their blog:

Second Story Window

Check the Knowledge Base for tips on adding your own custom banner, or let us show you how easy it can be to create your own design with our Theme Builder.

Leigh-Ann is the blogger behind Freckled Nest, a Graphic Design & Brand Development company. Her blog is clean and contemporary, focusing on content and drawing the eye with bright spots of color. Swapping the traditional across-the-top banner with a stylish sidebar makes her design unique:

Leigh-Ann

Want to make your Sidebar look smarter? We'll teach you how to add custom content, display a carousel, and easily add images. It's all in our Knowledge Base!

All blogs featured in our current series can be found in the Typepad Showcase! If you think you have what it takes to be in the spotlight, submit your own blog today!

A Year in Review, 2014: the Wrap-Up

January 21, 2015

Year in Review: 2014

What a year 2014 was! We here at Typepad are committed to making Typepad a better service each day, and we've been busy as bees releasing new features and improving the system overall.  This included offering new themes, adding entirely new features, and more, all the while implementing your own feedback and suggestions. 2014 may be over, but 2015 is looking to be an even bigger and better year.

In the past few months we've shared a new series that was all about reminding you of the features we released in 2014. We had a great year last year, and we loved being able to create, and give you, some oft-requested features that helped your blog, your design, and your readers.

We opened with a general review of the features that were released last year–from new themes and layout options to maintenance pushes, as well as responsive features to sidebar widgets that showcase your content. There was a lot to cover, and with our next few posts we did our best to review the items we thought deserved a spotlight.

The first feature we wanted to remind you about was the Spotlight Posts widget. It's a heavily customizable widget to showcase your posts by category, with options for excerpts, thumbnails, or combined selections. It's perfect for highlighting content if you have a multi-focused blog. Make sure to check that out if you missed it before.

The second feature that we thought needed some high-energy fist pumping was our continued efforts to fight spam comments by integrating the Disqus commenting system. What a great way to help build your community by giving additional options to your readers to interact with you and each other. It's a great tool and a great addition to Typepad.

The last two features we shared were the Welcome Message and Signature Module. We know that there are two important things that can help your blog: reaching your readers; and branding. The Welcome Message allows you to give important information to readers, without having to publish a short post, while the Signature Module is a fantastic way to remind readers who the author is and sell yourself as (part of) a brand.

We hope you enjoyed this special topic series, and make certain to check out the Year in Review series–as well as other great series–for inspiration.

A Year In Review: Welcome Message & Signature Module

January 07, 2015

Yearinreviewheader

What a year 2014 has been! We here at Typepad are committed to making Typepad a better service each day, and we've been busy as bees releasing new features and improving the system overall.  This includes offering new themes, adding entirely new features, and more, all the while implementing your own feedback and suggestions.

We've released a lot of great features this year - check out our Year In Review series to learn more! In this post, we'd like to highlight two of the smaller new features that you might have overlooked in the excitement.

First is the Signature Module. This allows you to set up content that will appear automatically at the end of every post on your blog. This could be text, an image, or script code such as for advertising.

To add the Signature module, go to the Design > Content page for your blog, locate the module called "Signature" (it will appear below the "Post Title" module), and click the pencil icon. This will open a pop-up window where you can enter the content you wish to display as your signature. Click "OK" in the pop-up window when you're done, then click "Save Changes" on the Content page itself.

Our Knowledge Base has more information on the Signature Module including tips on adding an image as a signature and on styling the signature content.

Signature module

Second is the Welcome Message. This is a message that will appear at the top of the main content column of your blog, or as a popover (pop-up window), the first time someone visits the blog.

To add a Welcome Message to your blog, go to the Settings > Basics page for the blog. Here you can turn the Welcome Message feature off, or choose whether to display it as a popover or an embedded message. Enter the content you wish to appear in the Welcome Message in the text-entry field. As with the Signature module, you can enter any kind of content, whether it is text, an image, or code such as for advertising or a widget. If you have had a Welcome Message previously, and are updating with new content, put a check in the "New Announcement" box. This will cause the message to appear anew even for repeat visitors to your blog (they will only see it the first time they visit again after this).

The Knowledge Base also has information on the Welcome Message with tips for using each of the available options.

Welcome message

The Signature Module is a great way to add a more personal touch to your blog posts, while the Welcome Message helps you to convey information that you want every visitor to your blog to see the first time they arrive. Two small features that can make a big difference for your blog. Be sure to check them out!

Are you using the Signature Module or Welcome Message? Tell us about your experiences with these features in the comments of this post.

Typepad 101: Tweaking Your Comment Settings

December 31, 2014

We love to talk about the new features we've added to Typepad (be sure to check out our Year in Review posts to learn more about recently released features), but sometimes it's good to take a fresh look at a long-time feature. You might discover options you hadn't realized existed. In this post, we will review just a few of the many settings you can configure in Typepad's default commenting system. You can find all of these options on the Settings > Comments page for your blog.

A big concern for many bloggers is regulating who can post to their blog and what comments can appear. No one likes spam comments, of course, but you may also want to protect your blog against trolls or just take a very active role in making sure discussions stay on topic.

One option that many Typepad bloggers choose is to allow only authenticated commenters on their blog. What is an authenticated commenter? It is a person who has an account with Typepad or another service (many commenters use Facebook or Twitter). They can sign in using their authenticated account. Each time you see their comments, you know what account they are associated with. You can choose to require all commenters to be authenticated, make comment authentication optional, or even turn off this option so that commenters simply type in the information they choose in the comments form.

Comment authentication settings

Requiring comment authentication is the most secure option, but in some cases you may wish to allow people to comment on your blog without having an authenticated account. In this case, we recommend turning on additional security features. There are two options here and you can use one, both, or neither. The first option is to require unauthenticated commenters to enter an email address as well as a name. While some people may choose to enter a fake email address, this setting does allow you to have a better idea of the identities of your commenters. (The email address will not appear on the blog, so your commenters don't have to worry about it being picked up by spammers.) The second option is to require unauthenticated commenters to enter a randomly generated verification code when they submit their comment.

Unauthenticated commenters settings

Even if a person has an authenticated account, that doesn't mean their comments will always be worthwhile. If you feel that you are getting a lot of off-topic comments, you may wish to turn on comment moderation. This means that when a commenter submits their comment, it won't show up on the blog right away. Instead, you will need to review the comment. You can choose to publish it, or delete it if you prefer (or you can just leave it unpublished). Comment moderation may not be the best choice for every blog or every blogger, but in some cases it can help you to ensure that only the highest-quality comments appear on your blog.

Comment moderation settings

A final option that you may find helpful in regulating comments on your blog is auto-closing comments. Many bloggers find that after a certain period of time, only spam and random, off-topic comments get submitted to their posts because the discussion has moved on to their more recent posts. If you notice this happening on your blog, you may wish to close comments on older posts. The auto-close comments setting makes it easy to do this. Choose the period of time after which you want comments to be closed, and Typepad will automatically do the rest for you!

Auto-close comments settings

These four settings - comment authentication, security measures for unauthenticated commenters, comment moderation, and auto-closing comments - can make a big change in how commenters interact with your blog. Each one of these options gives you the blogger more control over who can comment and what comments appear. If you'd like to learn more about these options, be sure to check out our Knowledge Base. And we'd love to hear what comment settings you recommend to other bloggers. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

A Year In Review: DISQUS & Fighting Spam Comments

December 30, 2014

Yearinreviewheader

What a year 2014 has been! We here at Typepad are committed to making Typepad a better service each day, and we've been busy as bees releasing new features and improving the system overall.  This includes offering new themes, adding entirely new features, and more, all the while implementing your own feedback and suggestions.

While keeping your blogs running is our top priority, we also know that building your blogging community and communicating with your readers through comments is important. In our continued effort to fight off spam comments, in early 2014 we added more tools to make commenting easier. 

First, we added the option to require that visitors have Javascript turned on in their browsers in order to leave a comment on your blog.  While most visitors should have Javascript already enabled in their browser, most spam sources do not.  Next we teamed up with Akismet, a backend tool we've applied to the Typepad application which requires no setting changes on your part. In doing so, nearly all spam comments are being flagged correctly and not appearing on your blog.

Earlier this year, we've integrated Disqus with Typepad as an alternative option to our built-in commenting features. Disqus comments is now out of Beta and available to all Typepad bloggers. Want to switch your comments over to Disqus? Simply go to Settings > Comments, and look for the "Disqus Comments" option.

Disqus

Disqus lets you review and respond to your comments right from your Disqus account and even download analytic information for your records.  You also have more control on who to blacklist and whitelist on your blog.  You can easily export your previous Typepad comments to Disqus so there are no comments lost in your history.   We have more information on to how integrate Disqus to your blog in our Knowledge Base.

Disqus is one of the largest commenting programs around - we even use it here at Everything Typepad! Disqus is also designed to increase user audience and user connections which can lead to more traffic for your blog. By tapping into their already established community, your blog posts are available to more viewers and potential engaging dialogue.

Have you added Disqus to your blog? Let us know what you think of it so far!

Typepad 101: Add third-party code for widgets and ads from trusted providers

December 17, 2014

Typepad offers many ways to incorporate third-party widgets, ads, and other tools on your blog. Many third-parties provide useful services to enhance your blog. However, it's always good to remember to only add code from trusted third-parties.

Recently, some Typepad bloggers learned this lesson the hard way when a previously respected website counter, Sitemeter, changed their terms of use and started adding pop-up ads and redirects via the script for their counter without warning to their users.

A third-party script is hosted by the provider, not you or Typepad, which means the script can be changed by the third-party provider any time. Hosting the script is convenient as the third-party provider is able to make improvements and fix bugs without the need for you to update your website with new code regularly. The downside is that the third-party script can be changed in a way which negatively impacts your blog, and you may not be notified in advance of the changes.

To avoid your blog from being seemingly hijacked by a third-party script, we have a few recommendations:

  • Only add widgets which enhance your blog content. Some widgets may be neat but not benefit visitors to your website on a regular basis. Also, a lot of third-party script can slow down loading of your blog. We previously published an article on making sure your sidebar content is relevant with helpful tips.
  • Add code from trusted third-parties only. Not sure who to trust? Ask the Typepad team by opening a help ticket! We look at hundreds of blogs every day and answer questions about various services that other bloggers are using. If we're not familiar with the particular widget or ad service, we'll check it out or recommend a similar service that we know other Typepad bloggers are using effectively.
  • Do some research. Use an online search, like Google, to check out the tool you want to add to your blog. Check out reviews from other bloggers to see if they encountered any issues. Look to see if the third-party provider has a contact information on their website so you can easily report a problem.

The above are just some recommendations to consider before adding code to your blog. Do you have any good or bad experiences with third-party code? Let everyone know in the comments.

If you do have Sitemeter code added to your blog, we would recommend removing it as soon as possible. Instead of Sitemeter, we recommend Google Analytics for getting advanced statistics for your blog.

A Year in Review: Spotlight Posts Module

December 10, 2014

Yearinreviewheader

What a year 2014 has been! We here at Typepad are committed to making Typepad a better service each day, and we've been busy as bees releasing new features and improving the system overall.  This includes offering new themes, adding entirely new features, and more, all the while implementing your own feedback and suggestions.

As a blogger, we'd bet you're always looking for new and unique ways to draw attention to your content. Previously, if you wanted to highlight certain posts in your sidebar, you'd do that manually with a TypeList. With the new Spotlight Posts feature, the work is all done for you. Just give the module a name, select a category to feature, and you're all set. 

Configuring the Spotlight Posts module

The module is great for highlighting any specific content you want to draw readers' attention to. You can use it for new posts that are getting lots of comments, recent posts that have been super popular, or even old favorites that haven't gotten the love they deserve. You can even add multiple Spotlight Posts modules to your sidebar to highlight more than one category.

To see this type of Spotlight in action, check out the "Readers' Favorites" module on Cranks My Tractor. Writer and storyteller BN Heard was looking for ways to highlight his most popular posts. We added the module as part of a Blog Tune-up Service and we think it fits the bill perfectly.

Are you using the Spotlight Posts feature on your blog? Leave a comment and tell us how you're using it - you might just inspire another subscrber to check it out!

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