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Facebook Releases Official WordPress Plugin

In an interesting move, it seems like Facebook has released an official WordPress plugin to support sharing from your WordPress blog right into your Facebook page via their OpenGraph protocol.

So far I haven’t had a chance to check out the new plugin as I just saw the release notes. You will be able to publish to people’s timelines by tagging them in your post as well as directly integrate Facebook comments and the like send and subscribe buttons on each post. You also get a few widgets for your sidebar too.

Check out the plugin and the notes over at Facebook’s developer site.

Launching an Updated Website for Team Hälso & Friskvård

We have been working with local personal fitness and training company Team Hälso & Friskvård for several months to create an improved website for them to attract more customers.

Their old website wasn’t bad at all and we have kept the design, which is deeply rooted in their graphical identity and just improved on it.

Our Goals

We had a number of goals that Team HF set for us to make the new website look better. Firstly, it needed to perform better. They had a fairly high bounce rate on the site and were not getting any major leads of their contact us section. Attracting more leads became the lead goal.

Secondly, Team HF wanted to increase the number of people that used their training center and gym by updating its training section with a more appealing page design.

Finally, we were asked to make the site easy to keep up to date with new content and information.

What we did.

Let’s now take a look at what we did to improve their website and make it perform better.

Backend System Change to WordPress & Code Tweaking

The site used to be powered by a .NET based content management system that was custom made by the agency that initially made their website. We suggested that we change the backend system to WordPress for several key reasons:

  1. Extensibility: The custom CMS would be hard to extend with new features, even contact forms.
  2. Ease-of-use: WordPress allows us to make it easier for Team HF to update more of the website themselves which was one of their key requirements.
  3. Security: By choosing WordPress, we can ensure that the site is constantly being updates to patch the latest security threats which would be harder and more costly on the custom CMS.

Team HF Framsida

Redesigning the Frontpage

Team HF’s previous frontpage did not have much information to lead you through and want to explore the site. It was pretty unclear where you should be heading next. To solve this, we created a new design (within their existing layout and graphical identity).

Specific services are immediately visible along with good-looking photos to attract the viewers attention and make them go deeper into the site and become interested in the services that Team HF offers.

Finally, we chose to clean up the page, make the design simpler and make it less cluttered with inconsistent font sizes and families.

Team HF: Standardsida

Introduced Quick Contact Form

To make it easier for them to convert visitors into customers, we added a contact form on each informational page on the site that asks the visitor if he/she wants to learn more, allowing them to painlessly drop their name and contact information. This can be picked up by the team at Team HF to call or email the lead and close the deal.

By allowing users to painlessly contact them, we dramatically increase the likelihood of new customers as Team HF themselves can personally contact the client and sell the products in a more personal way than the website can, without the client having to do much work.

Team HF: Träning

Cleaner Design & New Training Page

As a final part in reaching our goals, we opted to fully re-design the main landing page for the training section to promote the different services that are offered and overall make it more visual instead of the old text based section.

Many of the links and graphics on the old site lacked contrast, making it hard to use and navigate the site. This was improved by altering some of the colors, still keeping it within the main graphical identity.

Conclusion

Even though the new site was only just released we have seen an increase in leads coming through the instant access contact forms on every page of the site. With time, it remains to be seen how much the bounce rate is being affected, but we are confident that Team HF will ultimately gain more customers through their updated website.

WordPress Theme Preview: Lucent

Hey folks. Today I wanted to share a theme that we are working on releasing very shortly for purchase at ThemeForest. We are currently going through the final phases of testing it to make sure it works well in different set-ups and once that’s done, it will be on its way to ThemeForest.

In the meantime, here’s a screenshot of the frontpage. Let us know in the comments what you think about it.

Lucent WordPress Theme

WordPress 3.3.2 Available For Download

Last night the WordPress team released WordPress 3.3.2 which is available for download and update in the built-in updater. The release is a bug fix and maintenance release and includes security updates for the following libraries (taken from the WordPress blog post):

  • Plupload (version 1.5.4), which WordPress uses for uploading media.
  • SWFUpload, which WordPress previously used for uploading media, and may still be in use by plugins.
  • SWFObject, which WordPress previously used to embed Flash content, and may still be in use by plugins and themes.

The release also addresses the following bugs (taken from the official blog post):

  • Limited privilege escalation where a site administrator could deactivate network-wide plugins when running a WordPress network under particular circumstances, disclosed by Jon Cave of our WordPress core security team, and Adam Backstrom.
  • Cross-site scripting vulnerability when making URLs clickable, by Jon Cave.
  • Cross-site scripting vulnerabilities in redirects after posting comments in older browsers, and when filtering URLs. Thanks to Mauro Gentile for responsibly disclosing these issues to the security team.

As always we recommend that you update right away in order to keep your WordPress installation secure and prevent breaches. If you are on our maintenance plan, your site has already been upgraded.

Auto-Generating a Select Menu in WordPress With a Custom Menu Walker

While working on the new website for BestAppSite, I wanted to have the functional <select> drop-down menu for smaller screen sizes, such as for the iPhone. These menus behave nicely and save valuable real-estate when you have many items to present.

Creating the menu itself isn’t very hard in plain HTML. The theory is to add the code for the drop-down underneath the default unordered list menu and then display/hide it using the media queries in the CSS. Couple that with the simple javascript snippet to open a URL from a drop-down selection, the menu itself is no problem. Continue Reading »

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

From us here at XLD Studios, I want to wish you a very Happy Easter!

Hey Photographers, Do This Now To Speed Up Your WordPress Site

Working directly on a photographer’s website, I always want to spend quite some time on the performance side of things, especially since you could argue that the website is so vital to the photographer getting any business.

Unfortunately, many photographers neglect performance when building their own sites in WordPress, so this post is for you guys. Simple instructions on what you should do to speed up your site (if you are running WordPress that is…).

How long will this take you? Probably under 15 minutes! Continue Reading »

Generate Placeholder Images On The Fly

A few days ago I found a new favorite resource when doing mockups. Often enough you need a placeholder image just to occupy some space while positioning elements and not necessarily when showing clients (don’t use these placeholders for that).

Placehold.it is a service that generates nice and tidy placeholder images on the fly (which can be formatted too if you like). By just using the format and their domain as your image URL, you get a nice-looking placeholder, much better than a blank image tag.

<img src="http://placehold.it/350x150">