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Posts from March 2016

Blog Spring Cleaning Part 1: Sidebars

The Spring Equinox is swiftly approaching and with it comes sunshine, flowers and lots and lots of spring cleaning. We recommend taking a break from cleaning out your closets and under the stairs to turn your attention to your blog.

The great thing about Typepad is that we do all of the back end heavy lifting for you but it's still great to take some time to tend to your blog's settings and design once in a while.

Today, we're going to start with a simple checklist to keep your blog's sidebars neat and up-to-date. Let's start on the Blogs > Design > Content page. Here are some items to check:

  • If you have an "about me" blurb, is it up-to-date with a recent photo?
  • If you have a copyright notice, are the dates correct?
  • Are your social media profile URLs correct? Do you have any new URLs to add?
  • Are there any Pages that can be updated or pruned?
  • Are there any outdated Photo Albums that can be dropped?
  • Are all of your third-party widgets in working order? Are there any that can be cleared to reduce clutter?
  • Are there any ads that are under-performing? Can those be moved to a different spot or removed entirely?
  • Do you have any redundant or unnecessary modules?
  • Are there any modules on the Content page that you haven't tried before? We have lots to select from!

Next, take a look at Library > Typelists and check the following for any lists you have enabled for your blog:

  • Are all of the links functioning and pointing to the correct location?
  • Are there any links that are outdated or no longer relevant?
  • Do you have the most recent logo for any affiliations or groups you link to?
  • If you have media Typelists for books or music, are those showing recent items?

That's it! A little decluttering can make a big difference with the appearance and load time of your blog. Keep an eye out for more spring cleaning tips in the coming weeks and feel free to share yours in the comments for this post.


Design Tools: Choosing a Theme Type

Tell us if you've heard this one: great design starts from the ground up.

Any of the available themes offered by Typepad can be the starting point for a great design. There are several different theme types on top of which you can build your vision for your blog. Let's cover what those types are and how to apply them to your blog.

Theme Types

First, we have the Classic theme. It comes pre-designed, with varying layout and color options. The themes tend to be set to a fixed width and do not have adaptable style tools. You can use Custom CSS to make adjustments to tweak it to fit your needs. 

Classic theme - Loft
Classic theme - Loft

Second, we have the Classic Custom theme. It's similar to the classic theme, but offers a customization option like uploading your own banner. You can use Custom CSS with this theme type as well. An example of this theme type is our Mosaic theme.

Third, we have the Styleless theme. It's presented to users completely stripped of any CSS, but you have full access to all layout options. Without CSS, it provides you with a blank template to put your design stamp on, via Custom CSS. A true "from the ground up" option.

Fourth, we have the Theme Builder theme. It comes with a base design, with all layout options. If you're a Beta team member, then you'll also have a responsive option. The Theme Builder is a precursor to the Nimble Design Lab, and allows users to select some basic design features and upload a custom banner. Think of it as being half-classic, half-lab. It's a good choice if having too many options is overwhelming for you when you're first starting. You can learn more about the Theme Builder in the Knowledge Base.

Fifth, we have the Responsive theme. It comes pre-designed, with varying layout and color options, but with responsive widths for mobile-friendly viewing. You can use Custom CSS with responsive themes as well. An example of this theme type is our Gourmet theme.

Responsive theme - Gourmet
Responsive theme - Gourmet

Finally, we have the Nimble Design Lab theme. It comes pre-designed, with varying layout, style, and color options, and is fully responsive. Where it differs, however, is that you can customize it without needing to know any CSS. The lab portion of the tool allows you to set styles for the entire blog. You can, of course, use Custom CSS to make any additional tweaks that aren't yet available in the Lab. The Nimble Design Lab is currently in Beta, and you can learn more in our Knowledge Base.

Nimble Design Lab - Pre-Designed 'Marsala Arabesque'
Nimble Design Lab - Pre-Designed 'Marsala Arabesque'

* note: Custom CSS is available to Pro Unlimited plans and above.
Plus users will need to upgrade if they wish to use the feature.

Apply a Theme

To apply any of these theme types, you must first visit the Design tab for the blog in your account. Once there, click the Choose a Theme button to be taken to the selection menu. You will find a few different options available to you.

  • Customizable
    • This is where you will locate the Styleless, Theme Builder, and Nimble Design Lab starting points
  • Nimble Design Lab
    • You can jump right to this section to see pre-designed themes to use as-is or use as the starting point for your design.
  • Personal; Professional; Simple
    • These options will lead to classic and classic custom themes.

Building a great design doesn't need to be difficult, nor does choosing a theme type. You're not locked into your decision once you've selected a theme or type, so we recommend testing your options out on a test blog before making a choice for the design you'll launch on your blog.


Adding a copyright notice to your blog's sidebar

While copyright law automatically protects all original content you post to your blog, adding a copyright notice to the sidebar can be a good way to remind readers and visitors that your content is your own.

Typepad offers a copyright module that you can easily add to your blog's sidebar. Go to the Design > Content page for your blog and locate "Copyright" in the list of modules. When you click the "Add this module" button, a pop-up window will open. This is automatically filled with the code to display a copyright symbol (i.e., ©) and your blog's name. If that's all you need, click OK and then drag and drop the module to the place you'd like to have it in your sidebar.

Copyright module

If you would like to add more information to the copyright notice, or to replace it with different information, make those changes in the content area of the module, then click "OK" and drag and drop the module into place.

When you check your published blog after adding the module, you'll see the copyright notice in the sidebar where you placed it, reminding everybody who reads your blog that you own your content.


Setting Up Your RSS Feed

So that your readers can easily be updated about new content, we strongly recommend setting up your blog's feed. Using the blog's feed, updates can be sent to subscribers through a variety of ways, including e-mail subscriptions.  It's a great way to make sure your readers are keeping up with your blog!

On a Typepad blog, the feed is the blog's URL followed by atom.xml or rss.xml. Both of these feeds contain the same content and it usually doesn't matter which one you use. Here are some examples to get the feel for how they look:

http://example.typepad.com/my-blog/atom.xml
http://www.customdomain.com/my-blog/rss.xml
http://www.exampledomain.net/atom.xml

To turn on your feed, go to Settings > Feeds, and check the box to publish the feed for Blog Posts, and save changes. You can also turn on feeds for comments on individual posts and pages, and also posts by category.

Feeds

The feed for your blog will update immediately when you publish a new post so that your readers can come and take a look right away. You can learn more about feeds in our Knowledge Base.


Set a Landing Page for your Blog or Website

When visitors first arrive at your blog, you may want to present a single webpage which shares the purpose of your site or information you wish to highlight, instead of the list of recent blog posts. By creating a Page and setting it as the Front Page, you can make the page the first page visitors to your site see.

Why would you want to set a landing page?

  • You wish to create a more traditional website with multiple web pages, like for a business or service.
  • A majority of your existing readers receive new posts via a subscription, and you want new visitors to see options to subscribe via email, social media, and more when they find your site from an online search.
  • You want to let visitors know about a promotion or special event.

To set up a Landing Page, create a Page by selecting New Page from the Compose button drop-down menu. Once a Page has been published, go to Settings > Posts for your blog and scroll down to the Front Page section.

Front Page Settings

Select the Display a “Page” as the front page option and choose one of the published pages from the drop-down menu. Finally, click Save Changes.

If you wish to direct visitors from the Landing Page to the list of recent posts, you can include a link to the blog index in the Navigation Bar. The URL for the blog index will be listed in the Front Page settings after you save changes as mentioned above.

For more details on creating a Landing Page, see the article in the Knowledge Base.