Tag Archives: Thesis Theme

How I built a beautiful website in TWO days (with NO programming skills)

What a difference a week makes! Last week, I was completely miserable because I’d downloaded the Thesis theme to create a new site using WordPress open source software, and was struggling mightily with the code. My level of programming skills (basic) ensured that it was going to be weeks before my website was up and running, because I was literally able to do only one thing at a time, before getting onto the forum and asking a question.

I disabled the Thesis theme, asked for a refund, and set about building the best website I could using WordPress.com (the free site) as a platform.

For those of you who don’t know, WordPress.com is famous for being both easy to use and powerful. If you want to add a tab to the navbar (the thingy that runs across the tops of your posts, which usually says things like “Welcome” “About Cynthia” or “Contact”, you just go to add pages, type the title you want, and voila, it magically appears.

Why did I need a new website? What I specifically needed was something that would be more friendly to web spiders and crawlers, because that would make me visible.  I worked on the title of my site, being sure to include my name. (My site now reads Spun Stories, home of Cynthia Sally Haggard, Historical Novelist). A mouthful, to be sure. But it’s full of keywords, which is what you need to get a webcrawler’s attention.

I spent hours choosing a theme that was flexible and easy to use, and had lots of widgets. Why do I need widgets?  To make my site more interactive for the reader. I need a widget so that people can sign up for email notifications of my post. And I wanted a widget so that people can sign up for my newsletter.

If you are one of those authors who know they should have a website, but haven’t yet taken the plunge, take my advice. Sign up for an account on WordPress.com. It’s free. And you don’t have to blog if you don’t want to. Just don’t choose pages that have blog functionality. Let yourself play, and I think you’ll be delighted. I had great fun creating my website, which you are now on!

If you have any questions or comments, or want more information about how to start a website, just leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN  is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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Filed under About Cynthia, How to Publish Your Novel, Promoting Yourself

Why I am one frustrated & disappointed Thesis Theme customer

The problems that I’m having are neatly captured in this screen shot.  My beautiful picture of Castle Raby is obscured by a square picture thingy and two widgets that I don’t know how to get rid of.  Can I just select it and hit delete? Not a chance.

How did I get into this pickle? How did I end up with a website that has so many obvious problems?

I was recently convinced that my web presence needed a complete overhall. I am one of those people that have my website hosted by one provider (in my case, Yahoo!) and my blog on another (WordPress). But at a recent webinar, the person I’ve come to think of as my tech guru, said that all authors should have an integrated website, with blog and site rolled into one.

I have been blogging for about 4 years on WordPress.com, and I’ve been very happy with it. True, there was a learning curve, and I seem to remember that 4 years ago there was an issue loading images. But they’ve constantly upgraded the software, and it’s now so easy to use that I hardly need to think about it. So when I learned that moving over to WordPress.org, i.e. downloading and using the open-source software as both a website and blog, would be easy, I was hooked. Especially as it gave me access to premium themes such as THESIS, which are optimized for SEO (search engine optimization). I’m planning to publish a novel this fall, and SEO will give me the visibility that is so sorely lacking on my current site.

Last Thursday, I downloaded WordPress onto Yahoo. Then bought Thesis, and downloaded that. It was a glorious afternoon, so I yanked myself away from my oblong-eyed mistress and made myself take a walk for a few hours. As I sat on a wall looking over a glorious view of Georgetown, I happily contemplated getting my website up and running that evening.

If you are one of those people who’ve heard about the husband-and-wife team who got their Thesis theme working in a weekend, or about all the praise that is heaped upon Thesis, and have just bought the license for $87 and are trying not to feel stupid because it just isn’t’ working, this post is for you.

I returned home, and happily set about adding new pages. But they weren’t appearing in the top panel. Why not? On WordPress.com, all you had to do was go to the sidebar, click on “Pages”, click on “Add Pages”, type in the name, and voila!, it magically appeared at the thing on the top (which I understand is called the Nav bar).

That didn’t happen. Can you get rid of a picture by selecting it and hitting delete? Not a chance. I spent hours trying to get THESIS to work, and here were the problems I encountered:

  1. I couldn’t find anything. True there was a whole page of stuff, but I didn’t know what it meant.
  2. I don’t have the vocabulary for what I’m looking at. For example, there is a default square picture on Thesis that keeps changing picture. I don’t know what it’s called. I do know I’d like to get rid of it.
  3. There is no indexed Help on the page.
  4. There is no-one on the end of the telephone to help you out. The only people who helped were the ones at Yahoo!, which now has a fabulous customer service.  As a small business owner, I can actually ask them to call me. How wonderful it is to be able to speak to intelligent people who can solve your problems in a matter of minutes. You certainly can’t do that with open-source software.

I was just about ready to throw in the towel, and get my money back. But my tech guru convinced me to hang in there. Why? Three simple letters:  SEO.

So what does my life look like these days?

Build ONE thing on website.

Get STUCK on second thing.

Go to FORUM.

Ask QUESTION.

WAIT.

On Friday, I learned how to get those Nav Bar Tabs (the ones that say “Welcome”  “About Cynthia” across the top of the site) to appear.

On Saturday, I got my images to upload.

If anyone has any suggestions about how to make that square thingy go away, customize widgets for each page, or even how to find the visual web editor so that I can make changes to my font, I’d be most grateful.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN  is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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Filed under About Cynthia, Blogs and websites to watch, How to Publish Your Novel, Promoting Yourself