Survey questions answered and new, upcoming features

I think surveys deserve more credit than they get. Sure, it’s not perfectly scientific and you have to analyze the results carefully but I just think there’s no better way to get feedback than a quick, simple, possibly anonymous survey. To that end, we created one!

This was sent first to our main distribution list. Because, as you might have seen, that system mangles email format, I also asked people to move to our main update list, here. We’ll be sending this out again to make sure everyone sees it but, in the meantime, we got some very helpful responses and some really great comments from people. A big thanks to everyone that took the time to tell us how it’s all working.

This template was created with an idea in mind but it’s become what it is today through our generous and patient users constantly providing feedback. If you haven’t done the survey and have 5 minutes to help us improve this template, we would really appreciate it. As you’ll see below, we take these responses seriously. Take the survey here.

Below are some of the things that we read on the first go-around. These have been edited for length and clarity a bit but you should be able to recognize your question or comment. Need clarification or have another question? Go ahead and comment below!

Problems and “how do I do it”

Make the headlines bigger and place links to stories above headlines.

The size of the text can be adjusted on the Typography tab of the WP-Drudge options page. We’ll be adding the ability to add a block of links on the top left in the next upgrade coming out in a few weeks.

Adjust mobile features, still not sure how or if I did it well, or how i could improve it.

There are a lot of different features you can use and getting it right will require some tinkering and testing. For now, we’ve got a pretty complete overview here that walks through the steps of creating a mobile-friendly version and separate page. It’s on the list to walk through some of the settings and functions better on that page.

I wish the caption would work under photos (but only if it could be small, like 6 pt or smaller) so that it would speed posting our featured post.

Photo captions are coming in the next version. They will be slightly smaller but adjustable via CSS like the other portions of the site.

Sizing images … Sizing feature photos … Getting images for articles to scale uniformly

Image sizes came a few times so let me walk through a little better explanation of how they are handled.

Posted link images an be added one of two ways (covered here): by a link to an external image or uploading to your own site. Regardless of how these are added, they can show up in three places, if desired: as a featured item, as a regular posted link, and on the post page itself. The sizes of these images are controlled on the Images tab of the options page. The number you’re entering there is the width of the image; the height is automatically adjusted. The template has a control to make sure the image does not go beyond the size of the column and cover other parts of the site.

All images in the columns are sized universally but the featured image can be larger or smaller, depending on the setting you choose. You can tinker with the images a bit by uploading the image to the Media Gallery, editing it there, and using the “File URL” in the posted link. Steps are here and I’m happy to explain more, if needed.

Features

Threaded Comments – Right now, it does not seem that the template supports threaded comments

Thanks for pointing this out, it slipped through the cracks. We’re looking into adding this functionality to the next release coming out in a few weeks.

Comment thumbs up and thumbs down

This is not likely to be something we’ll build into the template. There are a number of plugins you can try out, though, and we’d definitely like to hear back if any of them work well for you.

An option to show the “comments” link on the single post. I changed line 304 in essentials.php to allow for this, but it really should be an option so less advanced users do not have to edit the template.

There’s an option to show a “comments” link on the homepage. This will show a link to a page with comments for the link. If you’re altering essentials.php (which, generally, is a bad idea) then this is probably what you are looking for. The setting is “Show link to comments” and it’s on the Other tab of the options page.

The ability for a user to submit a link.

That was the purpose of the Contact Widget but we’ll think about a dedicated way to submit links, that might be an interesting addition. By the way, we also created a Contact Form plugin that works pretty darn well! No widgets yet but it’s a suitable replacement for the contact page template.

Sharing buttons such as twitter, facebook etc. Right now, if you want to share one of the links on twitter or facebook a user has to do it manually or a plugin has to be used.

This would not be difficult to add but the times that we’ve been asked about this, people needed very different things. Some want it on the homepage, some on the post page, some want to share their on-site page, some want to share the off-site link. I would suggest a plugin for now as it will be more fully featured than what could be built in right now.

Automatic shortlinks. This would be incredibly useful for sharing on twitter.

There are two ways to do this (Twitter typically shortens your links automatically, though). You can use the Jetpack plugin to get very short wp.me URLs for your blog. It also has a number of other features like sharing buttons and commenting functions. Alternatively, you can use the post ID (found in the URL when you edit the post) with a “p” query string to keep your domain. For example, this post can be accessed by going to http://wpdrudge.com/?p=150248.

Google fonts

You can actually do this already. I wrote up steps here. Building this directly into the template would be hard to maintain and not necessary for most people using it.

Two column setting

I wanted to get this added a few versions ago but it turned out to be a fairly large project overall. I still have it on the list to take care of at some point.

Ability to change alignment of links to left or right justified

This can be done easily with CSS. I added an extra section on this page under “Centering the posted link blocks.”

Ability to customize link and header colors for each column.

That’s a bit too granular to be able to add it to an options page. You can, however, do this with CSS. Each of the posted link blocks has an id associate with it so styling the header would be that id followed by h2.widget-head and then the color you’d like.

I’d like to ad more fonts( Bold,Black, and All Caps) and some instructions on how to change layout/fonts of headline/masthead to make it stand out for a specific day, for example

The featured section can be changed as often as you’d like and the controls are on the options page. The link color can be changed for each individual posted link using the fields at the bottom of the edit page.

I don’t know if this falls under a plug in, but an easy way to stream tweets. And please charge for this, because it would be totally worth it!!

There’s actually a pretty good module for this already called Twitter Widget Pro. I’ve used it on a few projects and it works quite well. There are a number of other ones you can try out as well but that one was the easiest to use and most reliable.

The ability to add trending stories above the featured story, in the top left column, similar to Drudge Report … a widget for the top left (above feature story) like Drudge has … Something that would address assigning a post or blurb at top left as on Drudge’s site.

This is being added in the upcoming version!

Customizing the anchor text somehow forlink back to original item/article etc – i use this for seo with feeds from my own sites spread across very isolated web

I’m not totally sure what you’re asking but it sounds like it might be helpful for everyone using the template. If you recognize this question, please explain in the comments below.

The ability to add favicon easily without messing with code.

If it’s easy to add, I’ll stick it in the next release. In the meantime, just create a favicon and drop it in the root WordPress installation directory. Nothing needs to be changed on the theme to make this happen.

Auto-capitalize the featured story, so when it moves into the columns it doesn’t stay capitalized or need to be edited.

That can be done via CSS. I added an item on the Additional CSS page.

I would like to see the theme be more responsive, not have a separate mobile site.

The basic responsive CSS works quite well (needs to be turned on) and it’s been tested on several different devices. You don’t need to have the separate site active, the CSS does a good job of affecting the layout. If you have any suggestions or problems, let us know in the comments below.

More styling options would also be great – like upload a background image for example.

Background image uploading is coming in the next version!

I tried to build in enough options to allow users to make their site what they want it to be. The problem with adding too many options is that it starts to get hard to manage and test when new releases come out. Also, it can eventually become a performance issue.

The basic styling options are on the various options page tabs. Beyond that, I add updates to the Additional CSS page often with questions from folks who want a little more customization.

Individual sized feature photo on each post

This would be difficult to work in and the first time I’ve heard it suggested. Still, I’ll add it to the list for a future release if I can figure out a simple way to implement it.

Documentation improvements

Walking through all the settings to make it look as much like DrudgeReport.com as possible. Maybe add this as a specific page in the documentation, just list out every step?

That’s a great idea, actually. I’ll put together a tutorial on this right after the next release.

How to improve SEO, tips

We have a blog post coming up to address this, actually!

A video demo of creating posted and static links. …How-to videos for the custom CSS header and footer

We’ve got video training coming very soon. We’ll start with these 2 and a quick start video for folks just getting started. If they work well for everyone, we’ll get one up for each section.

Nice detailed PDF – i love video but having page beside me it cant compare

I might be able to find a page to PDF convertor and, if I can, I’ll add it here.

I would love to see a user help forum, so I could see others’ examples of sites they created, read their questions and get answers, learn nifty tips and tricks I might have missed in the documentation.

Funny you should mention … we’re working on one right now!

The feedback and questions we’ve been getting through the documentation page comments have been very helpful but can be tough to follow. The information could be useful to people but the current format could make it tough to consume. We’d like to have this resource available for folks in the early part of November.

7 responses to Survey questions answered and new, upcoming features

  1. Scott

    October 16th, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I’m the guy that said this:

    “An option to show the “comments” link on the single post. I changed line 304 in essentials.php to allow for this, but it really should be an option so less advanced users do not have to edit the template.”

    You are correct that you have an option to set a “comments” link for each link I post on the homepage. So for example if I have a static right column, and in that column is a posted link widget, it will show a “comments” link for each link, on each page (category, 404, homepage, etc) EXCEPT on the single post pages. In other words, my static right column doesn’t look the same on every page because of line 304 on essentials.php which removes the generation of the “comments” link for single post pages.

    The fix, is to do what I did and remove this from essentials.php, or if the “comments” link is not going to be displayed the same on every page by checking existing option you mentioned, then an additional option should be added to control which pages the link will be generated for.

    • Josh

      October 19th, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Scott, thanks for the feedback and explanation here.

      If it’s not displaying the right link, that’s a bug I want to fix. If it is but you don’t want it to show on certain pages, it might be better to use CSS to hide it. I’ll take a look and see if there’s an easy way to do this, then post up the result.

  2. Scott

    October 30th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    @Josh – It’s not a bug, it displays what it’s programmed to display. What I want, is for the “comments” link to display under each “posted” link, in the static right sidebar, on all pages. As it is right now, it displays on all pages, except for single post pages. This is because you are using “!is_single”. Removing this fixes the issue. Hope I am explaining it better this time.

    • Josh

      October 30th, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      I see what you’re saying and I’m not sure why that’s in there. I’ll remove it in the next version coming out soon.

  3. WP-Drudge v2.3 Releases Today | WP-Drudge

    November 12th, 2012 at 10:37 am

    […] a few highlights are below. A big thanks to all the users who provided feedback through our recent user survey! We’ve got another response to the latest entries coming soon after we take care of the few […]

  4. josh

    January 14th, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    hey i tried using the contact page to contact you but i kept getting an error saying enter name except there was no place to enter a name. anyways i want to suggest that the search result page has its own options so you can add advertising to it. also maybe you can add the back to the homepage link at the bottom of the search results. thanks
    -Josh

    • Josh

      January 14th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks for the heads up on the form … testing a new version out there.

      We’re adding better advertising management on the next big version change and we’ll try to work this in.

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