8 Ways to Freshen Up Your Blog

You keep your blog current by writing new blog posts. As you write more posts, you may decide to change the focus of your blog. Or you want to make some minor changes. What can you do to freshen up your blog?

You can tackle it in two ways: maintenance and tweaking your blog.

Freshen Up Your Blog

Maintenance

As you continue to write and create posts for your blog, your website can start to slow down or links no longer work. You should take this time to do some routine maintenance on your blog.

Broken Links

Websites change their links, remove content or go permanently away. You need to check your site for broken links. If you have WordPress, use the Broken Link Checker to find them. If you are using a different CMS, try W3C Link Checker.

Clean up your sidebar

Is your sidebar working for you? Look at the items in your sidebar and decide if you have links, forms or products ads that need to be updated or removed. You may want to replace them with links to recent or popular posts or a signup to your newsletter.

Clean up WordPress

Your WordPress database over time can get messy. You add, edit and delete posts. You manage comments by editing or deleting spam. This can cause your database to become bloated and slow.

After cleaning or optimizing your database, you should update any plugins and themes that you use. Then, delete any plugins you are no longer using.

Tweak Your Blog

By updating your blog with simple changes, you can help to freshen up the content of your posts.

Update Graphics and Photos

Are your photos and graphics working for you? You may want to change them out for higher quality photos. Pick out pictures that work better for your blog and brand. You can use one of the sites mentioned on the The Badass List of Free Stock Photos Websites for Designers or take your own photos.

Add headings to your posts

When you first wrote your posts, you may not have used heading. Headings are a way to organize and highlight important information. They range from H1 to H6. Headings allow you to break up your post into easily readable and scannable chunks.

Add call to actions

You can use clickable buttons to let your readers know what action to take. You may want them to sign up for your newsletter, contact you or buy a product from you. Adding clickable buttons is a great way to get your readers to engage with you.

Add pull quotes

Create a pull quote to jazz up your design and draw your reader’s attention to an important idea. Use these tips to draw your readers attention with pull quotes.

Summary

Regular maintenance helps to keep your blog running smoothly. By changing photos, adding headings, pull quotes and calls to action, you can update old posts and improve your relationship with your readers.

Photo Credit: http://startupstockphotos.com/

Tools to help clean up your CSS

You have created an awesome website. Over time, you add more pages, content and tweaks to the site. As your website gets larger, so can your CSS. You may add new styles for displaying a landing page, carousel or videos. Eventually, you have unused styles that no one remembers what it was used for. This unused CSS can start to slow your site down.

Tools to help clean up your CSS

Cleaning up your CSS from design changes and other additions can be a hard, time-consuming and tedious task. How do you clean up your website without breaking the site?

Steps to clean up your CSS

  1. Find and fix errors
  2. Identify unused CSS
  3. Validate with W3C Validator
  4. Test your website with the updated CSS

Find and fix errors

Errors can creep in your CSS. You may forget a semicolon, copy code from CodePen or Stack Overflow that solves a problem or another team member added custom CSS to solve a problem.

CSS Lint

CSS Lint analyzes your CSS and tells you what you are doing wrong. You can use it to help clean up your CSS and learn how to write it better.

CSS Lint

Identify unused CSS

As you develop your website, your CSS file can grow. It may contain CSS styles that are no longer used or styles that were abandoned. With a large website, it can be hard to tell which styles are still in use.

Use UnCSS to remove unused CSS

UnCSS is a Node.js powered tool that removes unused CSS from your stylesheets. It created a new CSS file with only the styles that are being used. Want on online options? UnCSS Online lets you test the tool for smaller CSS codebase.

UnCSS Online

Validate with W3C Validator

When you have fix your errors and removed unused CSS, use the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) validator to check your website. It checks to ensure the technical quality of your website. You want to make sure that you didn’t introduce new errors into your cleaned up CSS.

W3C Validator

Test your website with the updated CSS

Since CSS is not easily testable, you want to make small changes and test each change. You want to make sure that the styles you removed or updated don’t break your design.

Cleaning up your CSS code is difficult, time-consuming and tedious. These tools can help to make the task easier.

What CSS tools have you used to make the process easier?

How I make Atom work for me

My new favorite text editor is Atom Code Editor. With Atom, you can modify the editor to fit your needs. I am going to show you a handful of tips and tricks that I use to make Atom work for me.

How I make Atom work for me

Customize Atom

You can customize fonts, font size and themes.

Change font and size

Don’t like the default font? Is the size too small? You can change that.

Atom > Preferences > Editor

  1. Enter a font name that you want to use.
  2. Enter a font size.
  3. Save.

Atom Editor Settings

If you want to go a step further, you can edit Atom’s stylesheet.

Themes

Atom comes with two default themes: Light and dark. If you don’t like them, you can install a new theme. Don’t know which one to install. Use Atom’s theme search to find your next favorite theme.

Atom > Settings > Themes

Atom Themes

Keyboard Shortcuts

Want to work faster in Atom? Use these keyboard shortcuts. Since, I use Atom on my Mac, the shortcuts are for a Mac.

Duplicate a line

When you are writing code, sometimes you have to write the same line over and over again. Instead of copying and pasting, you can have Atom do the copying and pasting for you.

  1. Go to a line you want to duplicate.
  2. Press the keys CRTL + SHIFT + D. It copies and paste your current line.
  3. Repeat for as many times as needed.

Move lines up or down

Have you ever need to rearrange some lines? Move one up from its current spot. Instead of cutting and pasting, you can use this shortcut to move a line up or down one.

  1. Go to a line you want to move.
  2. Press CMD + CTRL + UP (arrow). It moves your line up one row.

If you want to move it down, use CMD + CTRL + Down (arrow).

Comment out code

Different code can use different syntax for comments. You can use a shortcut to comment out your code. It will put the right syntax for comments depending on the language. You don’t need to remember to use the right comment syntax.

  1. Highlight the code that you want to comment out.
  2. Press CMD + /. Atom add comments to your code.

Conclusion

Atom is a great text editor. I like that I can customize it to look they way I want by changing the settings or install optional plugins. Atom’s shortcuts help you to use it even more productively.

5 Ideas for Making a Screenshot Great

You want to include a screenshot of your app on your blog post or website. How do you make it look great? You want your screenshot be apart of the design and attract the attention of visitors.
5 Ideas for Making Your Screenshot Great

What can you do?

Use a colored pattern

Put your screenshot on a solid or patterned background. The background can help to draw attention to your screenshot.Scrrenshot with blue-green background

Place it on an image of a computer or phone

Create a screenshot that shows how your app looks on a desktop, phone or tablet. With a blank template, you can size it to fit. First, resize the computer monitor image to the size you want. Then, resize your screenshot to fit inside the monitor. You may need to crop and resize to get it to fit without looking squished.
Screenshot in Monitor

Add text to the screenshot

Is there a feature or part of your app that you want to show? Take a screenshot that focuses on that area of your app. Then, use your favorite photo editor to add text that describes the features that you are showing.
Screenshot with text

Create Multiple Screenshots

One screenshot doesn’t show the uniqueness of your app. Try three. Layer them on top of each with the most important screenshot on top. Or show it on a desktop, tablet and phone.
Three Screenshots

Add a shadow behind it

Use your favorite photo editor to edit the screenshot and add a background shadow to the image. The shadow can make it look like it is hovering over the background on your page.
Screenshot with a shadow

Your screenshot is an important part of the design. You want to make it stand out. Mix and match one or more of these techniques. You can make it look great by using one or more of these additional design techniques.

What do you do to make your screenshot great?

Finding photos for your programming posts

What options do you have for better photos on your programming posts? You have two options. Use a photo that you found on a free stock photo site or take your own.
Finding photos for your programming posts

Use a free stock photo site

You can find a variety of photos to use on your site. What free stock photo sites do I use?

What do you do if you can’t find a photo that works or need something specific? You have to make your own.

Make your own photos

With cameras on smart phones getting better and better, you can take your own photos. By taking your own photos, you can use them the way you want. You don’t have to be a photographer to take great photos for your blog.

Use screenshots

What is a screenshot? A picture of your screen with an app or browser window open. You can use a screenshot tool or your computer’s screen capture shortcuts. When you create a screenshot, you can show your entire desktop or a specific part of your screen. With graphic software like GIMP or Photoshop, you can add text to provide more details or highlight something specific.

Screenshot Bootstrap Template

Both stock photos and screen shots can help you to add personality to your post. Do you use both or only stock photos?