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Kerning, Tracking, and Leading: A Simple Guide to Effective Typefacing

Kerning, Tracking, and Leading: A Simple Guide to Effective Typefacing

When designing for the web, you have to keep one thing in mind at all times: readability. It doesn’t matter how great the design is, how gorgeous your layout is, or how genius your use of color. If people can’t read the words on the screen (and this is assuming there are words on the screen, of course), the website cannot serve its function. Three of the most important elements of readability for text are kerning, tracking, and leading, though many people either get them confused or simply don’t understand how to use them effectively. We intend to fix that today.

Kerning, Tracking, and Leading

If you boil these three down to the absolute fundamentals, you’re looking at the spacing between characters on both the X and Y axes. Digging in, you’ll see there’s more to it than that, but in essence, you’re looking at the relationship between text characters. It’s important to understand the relationship between these three attributes because good design and readability depend on your using them to the best of your ability.

And that comes with time and practice. But once you start paying attention to them, you’ll notice how kerning, tracking, and leading are used both effectively and poorly on everything you read and see on a daily basis. Let’s dig in.

Adjusting Kerning, Leading, and Tracking (and More!)

Actually, before we dig in, let’s go over how you change and adjust these settings. While most word processing programs have options for adjusting them, most people won’t ever need to when writing copy or typical text. It’s when you’re designing text that it becomes more of an issue, so programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. will have the options you need most.

In the Adobe products, you just have to open up the Text Layer Character Panel, and you have everything you need. The V/A is kerning, the VA in a box is tracking, and the underlined, vertical A’s are Leading. You can also adjust strikethrough, weight, size, super/subscript, and so much more in this panel. It’s worth getting used to keeping this open.

Kerning vs Tracking vs Leading

Just place your cursor where you need to adjust the spacing and go.

What is Kerning?

Let’s begin with kerning.  Kerning is the simplest of the three, really. It’s the space between two side-by-side characters. In a word, you can have variable kerning because the space between the first two letters may be different than between the last two (and so on).

In monospaced fonts, each character takes up exactly the same amount of horizontal space with no overlap. The A is the same width as the B as the J as the K. Adjusting the kerning between these letters tends to be easier than variable spaced fonts, where the letters might overlap as well as print at different widths.

Kerning vs Tracking vs Leading

In the example above, we have three lines that were copy and pasted using the monospace font Courier New. The top row’s kerning is set at 0, which is the default and uses whatever spacing the font designer chose. The second row is set equally between letters (and spaces) at 200. As you can see, the spaces are uniform between characters across the line. Finally, the third line was kerned at random with both positive and negative spacing within each individual word. As you can see, each character can have different kerning on each side.

What is Tracking?

Tracking is similar to kerning, but it’s not kerning. Where kerning is the space between two individual characters, tracking is the uniform space between each individual word or line. Instead of worrying about how things are put together on a letter-by-letter basis as with kerning, you make sure the entire line is uniformly spaced.  Looking back at the earlier example image, the second line could have been done in a much easier way.

Kerning vs Tracking vs Leading

What I did for the kerning was to place my cursor between each individual character and adjust to 200. I essentially tracked the whole line. Which is what you should do. Simply highlight what you need to track and adjust it in the Character Panel.

Kerning vs Tracking vs Leading

Be aware, however, that some fonts and scripts may become unreadable as the tracking is adjusted.

Kerning vs Tracking vs Leading

Handwriting fonts and cursive typefaces are set with specific kerning, and if you adjust the tracking, you will get gaps in an otherwise unbroken line. Or going the other direction to compress the lines, you might simply make the script unreadable.

What is Leading?

With Leading, you’re no longer dealing with spacing between characters. Leading is the space between lines.

Kerning vs Tracking vs Leading

Effectively making use of leading lets you effectively make use of whitespace in your designs. Cramped lines — even with correct and well-done kerning/tracking — can make a miserable experience for readers.

In some places, you might see leading called line height, but they’re roughly the same thing. One good rule of thumb is to make sure that you leave at least a little space above and below your characters. As you can see in the top example, a 40px font has a 48px line height. That means that no matter what, there will be spacing between the letters. If you set that at or lower than the font size, you will get character overlap.

Additionally, this is the height of the line that the characters sit on. This is not the height of the character. Just as kerning and tracking don’t make the characters fatter or thinner, tracking doesn’t make them shorter or taller. It is simply the space around them.

As you can see, however, the options under the kerning/tracking in the Photoshop Character Panel adjust the width/height of characters independently of kerning, tracking, and leading.

Photoshop/Illustrator Keyboard Shortcuts

The only downfall of the Character Panel is that it gets to be pretty annoying when you’re needing fine adjustment. Thankfully, there are keyboard shortcuts that make kerning, tracking, and leading an absolute breeze to use.

These shortcuts are for the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, so they might be different in Gimp or Paint.NET or another program.

  • Kerning – With the cursor between two characters, hold ALT (or Option on Mac) and use the left/right arrows to adjust the kerning
  • Tracking – With the word/line highlighted, hold ALT (or Option on Mac) and use the right/left arrows to adjust the tracking of the highlighted text
  • Leading – Highlight the lines you want to adjust, hold ALT (or Option on Mac) and use the up/down arrows to adjust the space between lines

While you can place your cursor or highlight the text and type values into the Character Panel, the keyboard shortcuts make the whole process much less tedious and time-consuming. Plus, you get more granular control, so you can make better designs that way, too.

(As an aside, if you aren’t using Photoshop/Illustrator/Premier, etc. keyboard shortcuts regularly, we highly recommend learning, as it makes your workflow much smoother, more enjoyable, and more productive, too.)

Wrapping Up

Kerning, tracking, and leading are fundamentals of readable text in web design (and design in general). Learning the difference and how to use each of them effectively will make you a much better designer. It may seem a little odd that something as simple as the spacing between letters and lines could have such a large impact, but once you deal with it for even just a little while, you will never look at websites, advertisements, logos, or billboards the same way again.

7 Best Company Communication Apps

7 Best Company Communication Apps

Whether you work for a small business with just a few people, or a large corporation with branches in multiple cities, communication is important. Without strong communication between team members, it can be hard to stay focused on a common goal and achieve a high level of customer satisfaction. Fortunately, there are several apps that can streamline your communication efforts.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of internal communication for businesses, and talk about how using a communication app can make yours more successful. Then we’ll explore seven of the best company communication apps available.

Let’s get to it!

How a Communication App Can Improve Your Business

A communication app is a platform designed to make it easier for team members to work together. Apps provide a way to centralize information and enable team members to quickly seek additional information or help from others. Some may include other useful features, such as client communication or project management.

When it comes to completing projects successfully, communication is key. Strong internal communication has been shown to help team members stay focused on a common goal, instead of each pursuing their own idea of what the end product should look like. It also helps increase productivity and customer satisfaction.

While email can accomplish some of what a communication app might do, it generally isn’t as efficient. Chatrooms consolidate messages and keep responses in the correct order, making communication more organized and readable than long email threads. Even so, email is still useful for more formal communications, such as client updates.

Additionally, communication apps are useful for teams with remote members. Chatrooms and video conferencing provide fast, real time communication to help remote members feel they’re part of the team. Apps are also useful when people from branches in different cities need to work together to complete a project.

7 Best Company Communication Apps

There are a wide variety of communication apps available, with different features and focuses. We’ve compiled a list a of some of the best, highlighting their unique qualities to help you find the one that best meets your team’s needs.

Let’s take a look!

1. Slack

The Slack website.

Slack is a predominantly chat-based app that was recently acquired by Atlassian of Trello fame. If you were a previous user of their other popular (and now discontinued) tool Hipchat, you might consider looking into Slack instead. It solves many of the problems of email chains by organizing conversations in ‘channels’.

Team members can join or leave channels as they need to avoid receiving irrelevant messages, and easily find old messages for reference down the line. Additionally, Slack enables you to share files, make voice calls, and host video conferences. It also integrates with tools including Dropbox, Google Drive, or even your company’s own software.

Key Features:

  • Creates clear and organized channels you can join or leave at your convenience.
  • Enables you to search messages for relevant information.
  • Provides file sharing capabilities and integration with a wide variety of other platforms.

Price: Free – $15 per month, along with ‘per user’ fees | More Information

2. Basecamp

The Basecamp website.

Providing several communication options in a single app, Basecamp enables you to interact with teammates in a variety of ways. These include Campfire, Basecamp’s real time chatroom, and message boards for organized conversations you can save for future reference. Plus, you can forward emails to the app, and send direct messages to individuals.

Basecamp emphasizes the importance of client communication as well. It enables you to include clients in conversations, and keep them updated via several project management features, including to-do lists, scheduled check-ins, reports, and progress charts. Basecamp will also handle your project calendar and file sharing and storage needs.

Key Features:

  • Provides a vide variety of communication options, and the ability to ‘loop in’ clients.
  • Enables easy progress updates including to-do lists, charts, and more.
  • Includes additional project management features including calendars and file sharing.

Price: $99 per month | More Information

3. Zoom

Zoom's website, featuring two people using a tablet.

If you’d like to have face-to-face conversations with your team rather than use a chatroom, Zoom can provide the next best thing with group video chats. You can host one-on-one conversations or meetings of over 100 people. Private and group chats enable further discussion during conferences.

Plus, Zoom enables screen sharing to make presentations smooth and simple. It works on a variety of devices, including smart phone and tablets. Team members can join conferences with a phone call, and you can still use screen sharing on mobile devices. You can also use cloud recording to save conferences for future reference.

Key Features:

  • Provides high quality video conferencing ideal for teams with remote members.
  • Enables screen sharing on all devices.
  • Offers recording and cloud storage options.

Price: Free – $199.50 per month | More Information

4. Bitrix24

The Bitrix24 website

Bitrix24 not only helps with communication, but also enables task and team member management. It includes both video conferencing and chatrooms for real time communication, as well as the ability to create workgroups for specific assignments. You can pull in emails to create calendar events or tasks, too.

Bitrix24 includes workload management, time tracking, and task boards for managing your team. You can encourage collaboration with calendars, file sharing, and the ability to bring in external users, such as your clients.

Key Features:

  • Includes chat and video conferencing options.
  • Provides team management features such as time tracking and workload management.
  • Enables collaboration with organized schedules, files, and client communication.

Price: Free – $199 per month | More Information

5. Sameroom

Sameroom's Home page.

For those managing multiple teams or working with clients who already have their own internal communication system, Sameroom provides a way to chat without forcing anyone to give up their preferred platform. Instead, Sameroom connects platforms so you can chat with collaborators on other systems.

You can also use Sameroom to connect accounts on the same platform. For example, if you have a Slack channel for a client project, and the client also has a Slack channel for the project, you can connect the two channels so your team and your client’s team can see messages on both channels.

Key Features:

  • Connects chat platforms so you can communicate with other teams without anyone having to switch platforms.
  • Enables connections between different conversations on the same platform.
  • Provides integrations with over 20 chat apps.

Price: Free – $5,000 per month | More Information

6. Asana

Asana

Though generally used as a project management tool, Asana can be adapted for internal communications as well. It enables you to hold group and one-on-one conversations with teammates, and the project boards will help you keep your team in the loop by showing which tasks have been completed.

You can also utilize task comments to inform teammates or ask questions about your progress on specific assignments. This will help you keep communications organized. In Asana you can easily manage your notifications regarding conversations and tasks to avoid receiving irrelevant communications as you would with long email chains.

Key Features:

  • Includes project management features such as project boards that help keep team members in the loop.
  • Provides comments for task-specific chats, and conversations for project-wide chats.
  • Enables you to choose when you receive notifications.

Price: Free – $23.99 per month + per user fees | More Information

7. Wrike

The Wrike website.

Another project management app with communication features, Wrike, enables you to send teammates chats that appear directly in their workspace. This minimizes time spent moving back and forth between sections of the app, and ensures urgent messages are seen and responded to quickly.

In Wrike, you can also add comments directly to images, videos, and documents to provide contextual feedback. You can see your team’s progress on projects with live activity streams, project and team reporting, and workflows. This eliminates the need to ask what tasks have been completed and what still needs to be done.

Key Features:

  • Includes a messaging system that displays chats directly in your workspace for easy access.
  • Enables contextual feedback through comments on tasks.
  • Provides clear updates on project status with reports and workflows.

Price: Free – $24.80 per user, per month | More Information

Conclusion

While email still has a role in the workplace, apps make for stronger communication between team members. The right app can take your business’s productivity and customer satisfaction to new heights by keeping your team focused on a common goal.

In this article, we’ve looked at some of the best company communication apps. Each has unique features to offer, including video chatting with Zoom, integrating client communications with Basecamp, or connecting different apps via Sameroom. You may even find it helpful to combine project management and communication in a single app, such as Asana or Wrike.

Personas: What They Are, How to Make Them, and How to Use Them in Marketing

Personas: What They Are, How to Make Them, and How to Use Them in Marketing

Marketing personas can help you prevent this problem. In this article, we’ll explain what personas are, how to create them, and how to use them in marketing.

Let’s jump in!

 

What Marketing Personas Are

Marketing personas are characters designed to represent sections of your target customer base. They’re used as tools to help understand customer motivations and predict their behavior in order to ultimately increase sales.

For example, if you create a product that you believe will appeal to teenage boys, creating a persona for them is a good idea. You’ll give him a name, an age, and state a problem of his you can solve. You can also note things such as whether he has a car, or an after school job.

This makes for more efficient and effective marketing. When you’re trying to decide how to market your product, personas help you see through your customers’ eyes. By considering their values, you’ll better know how to tap into your customers’ emotions to make your products or services seem more appealing.

Persona marketing is useful in a variety of different situations. For example, it can link with content marketing to help personas for your target readers. They can also help you determine the best way to communicate with your customers, and what kinds of promotional strategies to use. They can even be useful for inspiring new products or services based on your customers’ needs or desires.

 

How to Create Marketing Personas (4 Steps)

Creating marketing personas can be a time consuming process. However, if you put your personas to good use, it will be well worth the time and effort. Let’s run through four steps and discuss how to create a persona!

 

Step 1: Gather Information About Current or Potential Customers

The first step in creating a persona is research. You will want to gather all of the customer information you’ll need to create useful personas. Demographics including age, gender, income, family status, education level, and location are a good starting point.

However, information such as their preferred method of communication matters, too. You may reach teens on social media, but have a better time contacting older people on the phone. Determining which keywords your customers find most engaging will also be helpful.

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to get at the core of what drives your customers to make purchases. Aspects such as their values, biggest challenges, needs, and desires are critical components for your personas. This kind of information will be the most vital for helping you understand your customers’ motivations.

There are several sources you can use for compiling this information. Facebook Insights and Google Analytics are useful tools if you already have a Facebook profile or a website. You can also use customer surveys, interviews, or in-person interactions with customers to bring together the data you’ll need.

Step 2: Find or Create a ‘Persona Template’

You’ll find lots of methods for displaying persona information. Bulleted lists, short first-person narratives from the personas’ perspective, tables, or even a combination are popular options. Any method is fine, so long as it exhibits your personas’ information in a way that makes sense to you.

You could also create comparative personas by including charts and graphs to note information like what percentage of your customer base each persona makes up. Sliders can denote information such as personality traits, or a willingness to spend.

There are plenty of persona templates to be found online. However, if you’re feeling creative you could make your own, or mix and match parts of templates you’ve found. This way you’ll have an ideal template for your specific purposes.

 

Step 3: Determine the Right Number of Personas for Your Business

How many personas you need will depend on your business, and both your current and ideal customers. Persona marketing is most effective when you strike a balance between enough personas to cover your customer base thoroughly, without introducing ‘decision paralysis’ in a given situation.

First, determine how many problems or challenges your product or service solves. If each of those problems applies to a different kind of customer, you’ll need a persona for each. Niche businesses will probably have fewer personas, since they’re targeting a specific market.

You should also consider which types of customers you most want to appeal to. It’s possible that you’ll be able to identify a very large number of personas you could market to, but if you’re really only interested in targeting a select few, create personas for those types of customers and focus on those sections of your customer base.

Step 4: Humanize Your Personas

Giving names to your personas might feel a little silly, or at the very least, inconsequential. However, the opposite is true. Humanizing your personas by naming them – including details like their hobbies and job titles, and even finding photos to represent them – is part of what makes a persona an effective tool.

Persona marketing works best when it’s used to create a customer-centric brand. Rather than being a profiling tool, marketing personas are supposed to help you see through the target customers’ eyes to better understand them.

Humanizing your personas helps to accomplish this by making your personas seem more like real people. Each will have problems that you’re trying to solve with your products or services. In addition, they’ll have their own preferences, desires, and narratives that will play into how you’re able to reach them.

You can use basic tools and assets such as name generators and stock photos to help with this part of the process. You can even take things a step further and seek out the most common names for certain demographics – like age or job title, for example.

 

How to Use Personas in Marketing

The uses of marketing personas are vast and varied. While most people think of them as useful for developing ideas for marketing specific products, they can also help with lead generation and communicating with customers. They can even provide inspiration for new products or services.

Once you’ve created your personas, you can start creating content to attract more people to your business. Through the use of keywords in blog and social media content, you can help your business rank when customers are searching for an answer to their most common problems, bringing new leads to your business.

Personas can also help you pinpoint how best to contact your customers. For example, knowing which social media platforms are most popular among certain demographics will help you ascertain which platforms to use to get in touch with your target audience.

Speaking of target audience, personas are frequently used in content marketing to craft blog posts, social media posts, and even email blasts. Knowing your audience can help you determine the best tone, style, and language to use to speak to your customers.

Different kinds of promotions appeal to different kinds of people. For example, the frugal-minded may wait for sales, limited-time products, or other discount deals. In contrast, contests and giveaways excite more competitive types. Fortunately, your personas can help you determine which promotions are most likely to motivate your customers.

Finally, knowing the problems or challenges that your customers face can point you toward new product and service lines. Ultimately, finding ways to solve these issues for your customers could open new doors for your business.

 

Conclusion

When you’re able to see your business from your customers’ perspective, you’ll better understand how to appeal to them. Personas make customers’ desires and motivations more clear so you can better create content, products, services, and promotions.

In this post, we’ve explored some of the benefits of marketing personas, and how to create and implement them for yourself. Try following these steps to create your own marketing personas:

  1. Gather information about current or potential customers.
  2. Find or create a persona template.
  3. Determine the right number of personas for your business.
  4. Humanize your personas.

The Best WordPress Blogs to Follow in 2018

The Best WordPress Blogs to Follow in 2018

1. Smashing Magazine

Best WordPress Blogs

One of the most consistent and high-quality publications around, Smashing Magazine works as kind of the gold standard for WordPress blogs. Or technology blogs. Or really, blogs in general. Long-form content that dives deep into each subject they tackle is a mainstay, and even when they have sponsored posts, the content is held to the same standards as their day-to-day work and covers useful topics that just happen to pertain to the sponsor’s niche. Whether you’re a WordPress designer, developer, user, or some combination of all of those, you need to read Smashing Magazine. Stat.

 

2. The Pagely Blog

Best WordPress Blogs

You know who understands WordPress? Managed WordPress hosts. That’s just what Pagely is. But their blog isn’t self-promotion at all — it’s a valued resource covering business skills for professionals using WP to make their livings, designers, and more. Their marketing articles touch on topics that many of the best WordPress blogs don’t, so they hit on pressure points you may not even know you need to be pressed. Even their posts on managed WP hosting aren’t tied specifically to them and can be applied to multiple other hosts. All in all, Pagely’s blog is worth a read.

 

3. CodeinWP

Best WordPress Blogs

CodeinWP is, as they put it, a hub for WordPressers. Anyone involved in the pressing of words in any way can find something here. The art of blogging? Check. Business acumen and monetization? Yep. Even productivity tips that can make your WordPressing more…well…productive. They also offer neat downloadables every so often (productivity planners and so on), so they really try to be helpful for their readers. They aren’t just in it for the clicks.

 

4. Cats Who Code

Best WordPress Blogs

While the title absolutely can mean cats in the general folks or people way, this site was named after actual kitties. That’s a major point in its favor. That said, they also provide fantastic resources to WPers, and not only in the WordPress sphere. They cover ideas in general web development, too, as well as design trends. All of the topics, generally, can be applied to WordPress. I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t click into a CatsWhoCode article at least once.

5. Sucuri

Best WordPress Blogs

Not only are they one of the most trusted security plugins in the WordPress world, they also have one of the best WordPress blogs out there, too. When something blows up (not literally of course, but then again you never know with hackers) regarding WordPress, Sucuri will have a blog about it. You should check in occasionally to make sure you’re up to date on the latest threats (and their fixes) to your workspace and livelihood.

 

6.  Wordfence

Best WordPress Blogs

Take everything I said above, but replace Sucuri with Wordfence. (That’s a joke.) You can never be too careful when it comes to website security, and having two go-to publications to stay informed is better than having one.

 

7. WPLift

Best WordPress Blogs

Designed to be accessible, WPLift has a little bit of everything for the WordPress user. If you need to know about plugins, they probably have a write-up. If you want to see about certain themes, again, it’s probably there. They cover security and general tips and even put together guides so that you can be the best WordPresser around. Some of the most lifehack-style WP uses I know came from something I saw on WPLift at one point or another.

8. ManageWP.org

Best WordPress Blogs

Not exactly a blog, ManageWP.org (remember, it’s the .org extension, not .net or .com) is an aggregator of the best WordPress articles that have been published recently. Community submitted and voted on, the best articles tend to make their way to the top across all sorts of different categories. ManageWP is a great way to find some of the best WordPress blogs that you’ve never heard of. They may not be the millions-of-hits-per-day blogs all the time, but if you see it here, it’s generally going to have amazing information.

 

9. Torque

Best WordPress Blogs

Published by the top-end managed host, WP Engine, Torque pretty much lives up to its slogan: all the word that’s fit to press. If it’s worth talking about, you can bet that Torque has either written about it — or will in the near future. Daily posts from some of the WordPress communities top names make this one a guaranteed bookmark in your browser. Or entry in Feedly or whatever you use.

 

10. WP Tavern

Best WordPress Blogs

Free WordPress news. Free podcasts and free commentary. WP Tavern is one of the top news sources for WordPress because they are fast and accurate with what they report. In general, their community is strong and opinionated, and there can be some fantastic discussions in the comments sections. If you want to keep your finger on the beating pulse of our industry, WP Tavern is where to go.

 

11. The Layout by Flywheel

Best WordPress Blogs

If you’ve noticed a trend of managed WordPress hosts having great blogs, it’s because they generally do. Not only is it a great way to give back to their community, but it also helps attract people to their products. Flywheel is managed WP hosting aimed at designers, so their blog, The Layout, targets that same demo. Many of their articles are design best practices, tips to enhance the look and function of your WordPress site, and so on. But they also publish general WordPress tips, too, and a lot are on the technical side but broken down so that non-techies and right-brained people can make heads or tails of them.

 

12. The Yoast SEO Blog

Best WordPress Blogs

Yoast is arguably the King of the kingdom of WordPress SEO. If Google (or other search engines) does it, Yoast is on top of it, too. And their blog then explains it all to you in understandable language with videos and tutorials and infographics. With various series being published at different times, you might see an advice column one day, a use case the next, and then an explanation of why Yoast works the way it does the day after that. There’s a running joke on my weekly livestream that I can’t go a week without talking about Yoast and their blog, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s just too good not to share. So here’s me talking about Yoast’s blog again, sharing it with you, too.

 

13. WooCommerce

Best WordPress Blogs

If you sell things using WordPress, you likely use WooCommerce. If that’s the case, then you should subscribe to the WooCommerce official blog. Not only will you get development updates and know what’s coming so you can prepare your store, they also publish lots of best practices and business tips that have been tested and tend to work really well with the software.

 

14. WPBeginner

Best WordPress Blogs

Pretty much the place for WordPress how-tos these days. If you want to know how to do it in a simple, easy-to-understand, step-by-step way, WPBeginner probably has an article on it. Depending on the problem, their recommended solution may be a plugin to get the job done, while others may be a dive into your PHP files. Either way, when you have an issue, WPBeginner is a great place to see if there’s a solution. And if you can’t find it there…well, you may have just broken the internet.

15. WP Mayor

Best WordPress Blogs

If you can’t trust a blog that has a mascot with a monocle, who can you trust? WP Mayor is one of the best WordPress blogs because it has a little bit of everything for WordPress users. From beginners to advanced users, the team here has something for you. You may find out about a new plugin that makes your life easier or get a tip that increases your ecommerce revenue three-fold. Additionally, they keep a list of WordPress job boards for you, so if you’re looking for a side gig or even a full-time career, you should consider tossing your vote to WP Mayor.

 

16. WPMU DEV

Best WordPress Blogs

You may know WPMUDEV for their great set of premium WP plugins, but did you know they also publish one of the best WordPress blogs, too? Problem-solving is kind of their thing, and if it can happen to WordPress, they probably have a solution for it. And not just a hackey, good-enough solution. But a down-in-the-trenches, in-depth, you’re-never-going-to-worry-about-this-again kind of solution. Their writers will walk you through the steps you need for whatever the task is, and when you’re finished, you can’t not have learned something.

 

17. WPShout!

Best WordPress Blogs

While there are a ton of blogs out there focusing on the everyman WordPresser, WPShout is one of the best WordPress blogs aimed at developers. As you can see in the screenshot, they have quick guides for different topics, free courses you can run through, and they are always posting up new articles with goodies that will keep you clicking. Some of the best posts on WPShout are small commentary blogs that provoke thought and enable discussion, then link out to the article that brought up the idea in the first place. This is a great place to discover so much new stuff that you just have to check it out.

 

18. Ma.tt

Best WordPress Blogs

In 2003, Matt Mullenweg created WordPress. This is his blog.

19. Kinsta

Best WordPress Blogs

Another managed WordPress host putting out amazing content, Kinsta publishes one of the best WordPress blogs. It contains tips on PHP, back-end development, front-end development and design, plugin awareness, marketing, and even ecommerce. Some of the most intriguing content they do, though, is called Kinsta Kingpin, a series of interviews with WordPress professionals like you. While their normal content is superb, there’s something about these interviews that always makes me excited when I see another one posted. I think you’ll feel the same way.

 

20. Post Status

Best WordPress Blogs

Not so much a typical blog as a podcast with really good show notes, Post Status is one of those sites that grabs you and won’t let you go. Run by WP pro Brian Krogsgard, PS has become so much more than just a show or a site. Brian has put together a great community with PS, and he has been publishing and working in WordPress long enough that he has insight into the CMS that many of us only dream of having. He also covers topics that other sites tend to back away from, such as WordPress and Blockchain. Definitely worth a look (and a listen, too).

 

21. Make.WordPress

Best WordPress Blogs

I hesitated to include this one because it is definitely not the typical WordPress blog. But when I was thinking about the best WordPress blogs around, I realized that I check Make WordPress just as often as I do any others out there. You see, make.wordpress.org is the blog where you see what’s going on with WordPress as it happens. You get Gutenberg updates (in their What’s New in Gutenberg? series), team meeting minutes so you can see what was talked about during the latest design team or community building meeting, and that sort of thing. It’s not really a how-to kind of blog, but if you have even a passing interest in the goings-on behind the curtain, Make WordPress Core is going to impress you

 

 

Step-By-Step Guide: How to Start a Podcast

Step-By-Step Guide: How to Start a Podcast

A podcast is a mix of traditional radio format and 2.0 recording technology, all of which is animated by strong values from the Internet and the free-culture movement. Not only are they great alternatives to video if you’re not looking to become a YouTube star, but they are also a great way to engage with your audience. The idea of starting a podcast, a (mostly) audio-only online broadcast, may seem like a novel idea but that might not be the case. While it was in 2004 that the Internet (or the world?) saw the release of the first podcast, since then, they’ve seen a bit of a resurgence. Today, they are a great alternative to a blog if you’d rather vocalize your opinion, well, vocally instead of attempting to become the next Hemingway in a series of blog entries. While they take a bit more work than writing a post, they’re easier for the audience to digest, as they can passively engage by listening to a podcast just about anywhere.

Before you press the record button and publish your podcast to iTunes or your own website, there are a few things to take into account. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to start a podcast:

01. Define your goals

Before you jump into your (makeshift) recording studio, you should be 100% aware of what you’re getting yourself into. The first thing you need to do? Define the goal behind your podcast and go from there. This can be as simple as “I want to entertain” or “I want to inform”. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re passionate about the topic. Take the plunge and do it. Once your ultimate aim is established, you can always go back to it when questioning something along the way: “Does this action help build towards my goal?”

This is also the time to make important strategic decisions, including the primary topics you’ll be covering on your podcast so that your audience knows roughly what to expect when tuning in, as well as the frequency, schedule, and structure of your episodes. If you have a partner or co-host for your podcast, define your roles early as to what will be expected from each of you. For example, one of you is in charge of editing the audio for the podcast and posting it, and the other is responsible for any and all graphic work needed for the episodes. And both of you pitch in to the management of your social media accounts. The earlier you set these goals, the better.

02. Accept hard truths

Creating your own podcast is going to be a lot of fun, especially if you have a passion for the subject you’re covering. That said, you will need to face certain facts that are unavoidable. These hard truths are just something you’ll need to live with in order to move forward, but should in no way discourage you. Here are a couple of examples of what to expect:

  • Sorry, but there’s more than likely multiple podcasts like yours and you will likely be covering the exact same thing in many cases in certain episodes. Still, the podcast world doesn’t have your personal opinion and/or spin on it, so be sure to give it your best!
  • Do it for fun, not for fame. You will end up being disappointed if you’re constantly looking to get a “big break” from one of your episodes. As long as you continue to love creating your podcast, you’ve already won.
  • It will become a job of it’s own and you won’t want to do it sometimes, but you’ll have to. It’s like going to the gym: You don’t have to, but you know you should.

03. Get equipped

Just like most ventures, you more than likely don’t have everything you need to start your own podcast, and even if you think you do, you probably don’t. Yes, it’s true that all you technically need is something to talk about and a recording device, but if you want to take your podcast seriously you’re going to need to invest in some basic equipment. Namely, a microphone and a way to record, mix and edit audio.

Check check, one two: The type of microphone you purchase will largely depend on how you actually capture your audio but USB microphones are abundant in both availability and price ranges. Note: Go slightly above your budget when buying a microphone. Increasing your allocation by $50 or even $25 can get you a surprisingly nicer microphone, especially if it’s your first one.

Recording: Once you’ve settled on a microphone, you will, as mentioned above, need to figure out how you will be recording your audio. There are various ways to achieve this, but one of the easiest is to record directly to your computer using recording software. There are many free options available and most computers ship with (super basic) audio recording programs.

Editing time: After you’ve recorded your audio tracks, you’ll need to find software to edit it to make it sound good. This includes adding multiple tracks together if you have more than one person talking, taking out pauses, silence, adding sound effects and adding background music. There are plenty of softwares you can choose from, but if you’re looking for a robust and free editing software to get you where you need to go, give Audacity a try. When it comes to adding music and sound effects, don’t think you can just throw whatever you want into the tracks. Well, actually, you can, but don’t be surprised if you get hit with a copyright infringement claim. Like stock images, you want to make sure that you either have the appropriate license to use the audio or you’re using royalty free tracks. One of the best resources to find free music is YouTube. Its Sound Library hosts a ton of music for its creators to add to their videos, but it’s also royalty free music, so it can be used anywhere. In addition to this, there are several artists that post their own music to be used for free as long as you credit their work.

Find a podcast host: After you’ve recorded and edited your podcast, you’ll need to upload it somewhere and yes, after a handful of episodes, you’ll probably need to pay. There’s no short supply of options to choose from, but do your research before you settle on one.

Get equipped

04. Stick to your schedule – and plan for your laziness

This sounds like an easy one, but it can be hard. Even if your podcast is simply a hobby, there will still be times you don’t want to do it. A last minute invite to a friend’s pool or to check out that new museum exhibit will pop up at the exact time you were planning to record your next episode. Don’t worry, though. There are ways around it, but you’ll need to plan ahead:

  • Let’s say you release your podcast every Tuesday morning, try not to record on Monday night unless you like that type of stress impressed upon you. Allowing yourself some breathing room between recording and editing can give you a different perspective on how it went and that “thing” you wanted to cut out may be worth keeping after all. Like an artist struggling with a painting, sometimes you need to come back with “fresh ears.”
  • When recording, you want to try to keep your episodes in the same time range. The sweet spot is usually 40 minutes to an hour. No matter how long you decide to make your episodes, keeping them the time length can helps build expectations for your listeners, so don’t have a one hour episode one week and follow it up with a 20 minute episode the following week.
  • In order to stay on track, it’s a good idea to have an outline of what you will be discussing on the episode you’re recording. This is essential to stay on topic and away from tangents. However, we’d advise against fully scripting each episode. No one wants to hear you read to them, unless that indeed is the subject of your podcast.
  • It may take a while, but there will come a time where you “literally just can’t even” with your podcast because you’re too lazy. That’s okay! But have a plan for days like this by pre-recording evergreen episodes. While organizing a second recording session sounds like a pain, especially if you have co-hosts, it’s worth the extra effort. I promise you, you will thank yourself later.

05. Push your podcast on social networks like crazy

You may not have realized it, but you may spend more time on social media than recording your podcast, and for good reason. If you have a weekly podcast, you have one day a week that your listeners will dedicate their attention to you because it’s technically all you’re allowing. By sharing your own original content and relevant content from others on your social channels, you can stay in the game all of the other days that you don’t have a new episode to launch. Obviously, social media is a great platform to push your brand but also to find your audience and interact with fans. Do not skimp on this part. This is where you’ll be when you’re not recording, editing, or uploading your latest episode.

Push your podcast on social networks

06. Submit your podcast everywhere

When you first start setting up your podcast online with your host, you will receive a podcast feed URL. In order to submit your podcast to different directories like iTunes, Google Play or SoundCloud, for the most part, you’ll just need to fill out a form with your podcast name, website, and feed URL. Some submissions have a little extra work, so if you’re stuck, simply Google “How to submit podcast to X” and you’ll more than likely find your answer you’re looking for. Even if you’ve never heard of the podcast directory or don’t think it’s worth your time, think again. You’re looking for exposure with your podcast, so cast a wide net.

07. Showcase your podcast with a stunning website

While it’s definitely a good feeling to be able to search iTunes and have your very own podcast pop up, nothing really beats a dedicated website showing off what your podcast and the people behind it are all about. Not only can you link your podcast to any and all of the places people can listen, but so much more. Your website is your own and you won’t be bound by the styling of of iTunes or Google Play or wherever it can be found. Your website is also where you can share a little bit about yourself and the other hosts, just in case your fans want to know more about you or your team. It also provides a seamless way for potential business opportunities to get in touch with you by creating a designated contact page. Something you won’t find on your podcast directory listing. Think of your website as an extension of your brand. A place to display your logo and all of your other branding elements.