Entries Tagged as 'Tuesday’s Tool'

Tuesdays Tool: Free Font Manager – Font Thing

I have been using a retail version font manager program for some time. I am not sure how I did without out one for so long. I use a lot of fonts when doing any kind of digital designing.

I accidentally installed too many fonts and it has ground my some of my programs to a halt. OUtlook and Photoshop are a mess.
In trying to figure out ways to restore my original windows font folder I stumbled across a very good, free Font manager called Font Thing. It is easy to use and free.
It is an older program but does the job very well.

You can download The Font Thing here

Tuesday’s Tool: Best Flickr Firefox Plugin Add-On is Fireflix

I went through about 6 or 7 different FireFox extensions before I found one that did what it said it would do and worked consistently and didn’t make me jump through hoops to upload or above a photo.
I settled on simple but powerful Firefox add-on to use with Flickr for photo management. Fireflix.
screenshot of fireflix
It works as a sidebar- so when you install in order to access it you need to go to view->sidebar . Took about 30 seconds to set up with my Flickr account.

One of the things I loved most about the add-on is when surfing I can drag images to the sidebar and upload in batches to my Flickr account.
I found Fireflix to work very fast and a breeze to use. I think it is one of the best Firefox extensions available to use with Flickr and I have tried quite a few.

I have also used Picnik to edit and then send to Flick but this saves a step if image requires no editing.

A word of caution about using Flickr in your blog. When you upload an image an give it a “title” in the wordpress image upload, you are giving it alt tags. From an SEO point of view these are important- they can be used for keywords. Think of them as anchor text for images. When using Flickr you are in effect linking out to Flickr with keywords instead using those keywords to pint your own site.
For this reason i would avoid using Flickr as your primary source and host for your images. Whenever possible host your own images.
Wordpress image uploader and manager is AWFUL – especially the new flash version in wordpress 2.5 so it is tempting to got to a third party host.
A hassle- but I host my own images AND upload some of them to Flickr as well using Flickr for the social media advantages rather than as my image host.

As far as I know I have not seen a similar add-on to use with Internet Explorer. If you know f one let me know and I will post.

Install Fireflix Firefox Add-on for Flickr Photo Management

Tuesday’s Tool: Create New Colour Palettes For WordPress Theme at Colour Lover’s

I am addicted to colour. I worked as a floral designer for several years and working with colour and interesting colour combinations was one of my favourite aspects of design. I still work with color as an artist and I can tinker with web palettes for hours.
I spend WAY too much time at Colours Lover’s colour community.

You can use the tools at Colour Lover’s colour community to create a new color palette for your web site or blog. Use any image or create your own color swatches and import into Photoshop or just copy the html hex code.

On the site you can browse through huge archive or search by color. One of the best features is its “inspiration tool” where you can use any image- it will extract colour swatches from the image. You can then create a palette of 5 colours and save in many formats- photoshop ASE files, Photoshop swatch, GIMP, etc ans well as getting plain hex code for html.
Here is an example- one of my favourite paintings by Frederick Leighton:

Using the image it serves up many colour swatches:
colour swatches

Then you can create a palettes to share or save:
Leighton and use in your photo editing program or just use the hex to pop into CSS and change your colour scheme. I wrote about how easy it is to give your site a fresh look by changing color in CSS of your theme a couple of months ago- take a look if you want to change your blogs quickly or if you are limited by skill

All who know me know of my battles to conquer Photoshop- and maybe there is an easier way- but I will also do a screen capture
of the swatch and open in photoshop then use eyedropper tool to figure out the html Hex code for a colour.

At any rate- the tool is great for inspiration when you are trying come up with new colours to make your web site or blog stand out. I use the css that came with the theme I am using on this blog, Networker because it works but I may get around to changing when I have free time.

I really like Courtney Tuttle’s re-design of Modern paper Keyword Sniper theme for WordPress and may change to that in coming weeks and play with colour.

Tuesday’s Tool: Speed Up Load Time and Improve CTR with WP-Cache

Last year my top performing blog started reporting unusual numbers. Adsense click through rates (CTR) went down from about 6-8% to the 3-4% range. I normally do very well on the blog with affiliate marketing and those numbers seemed wonky as well. I chocked it up to slow winter until a few days later I was at another computer and had to make a change on the site.. When I typed in the URL to login I waited, and waited. and waited. I thought for second something was wrong with server and left it but it bothered me all day.

When I was home later that night and had some time I went to investigated more. I used one of many free an online tools to check site load time. BINGO.

My site was talking a long time to load- upwards of 8 seconds. That is an eternity on the Internet where people want it fast and want it now.
A few months earlier I had hard coded all my sidebars ( used static html for my pages and categories) . I had thought about then to install some kind of cache plugin but figured since I hard coded everything it wasn’t a big deal (!) and besides my speeds were fine.

I checked few things before I went into full blown panic. I had a ton of scripts running on the site and other plugins that were hard on sever- like Related Posts , AdSense , Daily Top 10 Posts, affiliate scripts and ads, etc and disabled those those to see if it helped. It did but only slightly. The site pages were stil taking 5-6 seconds to load. This was really bad.

I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try a plugin that cached pages on my site. This means that when a visitor comes to your site instead of the server database working at producing a “new” page every time it will store or caches it as a static html file for next visitors.

I installed the the popular WP-Cache for WordPress. It was simple to install and user friendly. By default it will “store” pages for 3600s or 60 minutes. This will be too long for some sites and you should change it. Also be aware that when you make changes to your site you may not see them because page is cached. You can go into WP-Options and clear cache or if you are making major changes disable the plugin in while you work.

You can also try WP Super Cache which works the same way; however it will not cache files for users who are logged in ( like you, the admin) and users who have left comments. I have not used it but keep meaning to switch over.

Did installing WP-Cache Work?

Yes, instantly. The load time went for 7 seconds to .1 second. A HUGE difference.
Load time is one of the top reasons visitors leave your site. How can they click on your ads follow affiliate links or read your posts if they leave?

I used to think that just hard coding pages would be enough but clearly I was wrong. I installed WP-Cache on all my sites that week. My CTRs went up across the board and affiliate links levelled out and went back to a “normal” range.

In hindsight I should have installed the caching plugin when my traffic started creeping up. The site went from about 1-2,000 visitors to 50,000 visitors that year and was not on a dedicated server. A link to the site as on CNN main web site on week and I had constant sever issues that week could have been avoided if I had wp-cache installed.

WP-Cache is now one of the first plugins I install on a new blog. Great posts and original content will not be read if visitors abandon the site before the page loads.