WordPress Sales & Affiliate Themes
I spent the better part of a week and a few hundred dollars ($300-$400) on various WordPress sales letter and affiliate themes – I came to the conclusion that they weren’t something I would use.
- Some I would class as pretty but lacking substance (polite version of crap)
- Every single theme was designed around the concept that you run a single theme on your blog at a time
- They all suffered from what I regard as a horrible plague – theme option pages – if you need to set up lots of options after you have uploaded a theme, you have lost a sale, unless I can also import and export settings.
- The worst aspect of theme options pages is using them for the content that might appear on a page, because it is a nightmare to set up split testing, and when editing, you really want all the words on the page in front of you.
So I set about creating a solution for myself…
I started of with Thematic which I had already been playing around with for a good 8 months. Themeatic is an offshoot or branch of Sandbox of which I was also a fan, but built upon a grid system that hopefully I won’t totally destroy when I finally get around to theming on this site.
The first challenge was custom CSS for every page, and navigating my way through the maze of which functions initialized at which time within the WordPress core, such that the style sheet used is determined by the page selected in the default custom layout selector.
The end result is only 160 lines of code in functions.php, plus some in individual custom theme pages, and that may well get shorter as I optimize things, but the end result is something unique and useful.
I am a strong believer in doing things once
Once I have created a custom sales page theme for this system, though it is not limited to sales pages, it can be used without any setup overhead other than selecting it within a dropdown list and hitting save.
And of course, everything is created based upon a child theme of Thematic, thus when Thematic has one of its frequent updates, there will be very little if any pain in upgrading.
WordPress Split Testing With Google Website Optimizer
There are a number of plugins that claim to provide support for Google Website Optimizer. Most only work with A/B split testing as the authors couldn’t figure out the best way to add tags to post content.
In addition often the GWO code was placed in the wrong place in the header, it needs to be after Doctype, but before the CSS to effectively fully replace the CSS – I realise CSS is meant to be cascading, and you can force your way through when it doesn’t quite work out, but sales pages are meant to load fast.
So our single CSS file by default no matter what style the page is gets wrapped with GWO selectors by default. The most important element on the page, the post title which most of the time is used as a headline also gets wrapped in selectors by default.
You don’t have to test them all the time, but they are there when you want them.
I eventually selected one plugin solution, from an Italian company who do landing pages. I may end up tweaking things more, moving various thing from functions.php into the plugin, though many of the hooks I have used are specific to thematic, even the one I ended up using within the plugin to get the correct placement of the GWO code in the header.
Whilst I claim that this video would only be 5 minutes at the start, it is actually 8 minutes, but demonstrates the full process of setting up split testing with my current solution.
I am sure you are also curious about how it works, so here is the demo sales page from the video, with split testing currently enabled.
The reason I haven’t yet implemented shortcodes are 2-fold.
- I don’t need them
The PHP plugin I discovered rocks – I tweeted about it a couple of weeks ago.
Implementation for other theme frameworks isn’t immediately planned, and code after some more tweaking will be made available in various ways (for the geeks whose shoulders I had to climb on to get this far), and I will probably package things in some way for those less technically inclined looking for a “solution, along with modified versions of various themes I have rights for.