LearnWebDevelopment.com is celebrating their 10th anniversary of training Successful Web Designers! The secret to their success is constant research of the best training for their students. Take a second and let us show you why we love WordPress and think it’s the best platform for you.
Also, the anniversary celebration is still going on and they are giving away party gifts each day! Get in on the action here.
Not long ago, the idea of building a website with the help of a software that would not need code was not something plausible. Today, not only this idea is possible, but we have a lot of options that keep improving day by day. You can now make your own website for free without ever having to learn how to code. No HTML, CSS or PHP – basically, anyone can be a designer now – even kids. These web builders work just like image editors; you just drag and drop and play with colors. Now it takes just a few minutes to make a website, and whether you’re a photographer, designer or cook, you can give a professional virtual identity to your craft.
So while I was going though all these options I discovered IM creator. What made me stop and test it is that it’s so simple and intuitive, yet it offers such professional features. IM Creator has a large number of sophisticated templates that are suitable for basically anything – from cuisine to photography to acting. If you’re hard to please, you can create your own template with your own images.
After you’ve covered that, you can move on to adding elements to your website. There’s this top menu on the dashboard that has anything you need: images, videos, links, social media, etc. Everything you add will be incorporated in your website in real time. If you miss the old way though, you can code away with a frame element they offer.
The best part about it is that you can use it for free, without registering. The website seemed pretty intuitive, but if you have any problems, you can either read the FAQ section and the PDF manual, watch the video tour or ask the web designers in the support team.
You will be saving a lot of money with this free web builder. They also offer hosting services, and no, they are not trying to rip you off there to compensate for the gratuity part. There is a free, very limited hosting option you can benefit from, and the advanced versions start from $5.95 per month.
It literally takes a few minutes to build a website with IM Creator. Imagine how much money you’re going to save with that and how good it will feel to finally be able to express your own creative ideas without the impediment of programming.
You know I always like to brag on my friends… LearnWebDevelopment.com is celebrating their 10th Anniversary of training Successful Web Designers. They’ll train you on WordPress and marketing your business. They also offer support so you’re never alone in building your web design business.
Everyone is invited to the celebration. To make the party even more exciting they’re giving away free stuff each day! Check it out here.
As a reader of this blog, you’ve probably seen some of my posts about the guys over at LearnWebDevelopment.com, and their Successful Web Designer program. I’m sure you’ve probably thought about starting your own web design business, and in fact, you may have already started one. If you’ve been hesitant to start, or if you’re not getting the results you’d like, you’re not alone. Many people are afraid that it will take a long time to start making money. Others fear that they will encounter roadblocks, and not know where to turn for help.
But what if there were a way to avoid these problems, and get right to building a successful business and making money? What if you could learn how to keep your costs low, begin earning income in a month or less, and have expert one-on-one help whenever you need it?
Well, I have good news. LearnWebDevelopment.com has a program that will help you achieve just that. And this company is one of the largest players in the web design training industry, having trained more than 30,000 students to build successful businesses over the past 10 years.
By taking advantage of their Successful Web Designer QuickStart program, in just four weeks you can:
Get your first client (willing to pay real money)
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And their support is second to none. You’ll work with a Member Ambassador, who will customize the program to match your specific goals. You will have one-on-one help whenever you need it. Whether you have a question about how to work with clients, how to write effective copy, how to code your website, or how to drive traffic, you’ll get an answer from an expert in that field. No more endless hours searching the Internet for answers.
But this is a limited time offer, and they’re closing the doors this Thursday at midnight. To secure your spot, go here and become a member. Don’t miss out on this chance to build a business that will allow you to achieve your goals and live your dreams.
Don’t put off your opportunity to build the web design business you’ve always envisioned. Whether you’d like to build a full-time business, or just earn some extra money on the side; whether you haven’t started your business yet, or already have a business that’s not getting the results you want, you can get the one-on-one assistance you need right here.
After reading a number of posts on Hacker News which seem to emphasize the lack of usefulness in WordPress as a startup foundation, I wanted to write a piece dedicated to launching projects on this platform. I have to agree that when you are looking for something very customized it will be easier to write your own code from scratch. However not every developer wants to do this, nor has the time for this.
It may be smarter and quicker to launch a WordPress website and then customize the backend features yourself. Generally this will take more time as you work to mimic the code affects that you desire. But it also doesn’t take as much time as you would think. I want to present a few ideas towards why you may consider launching a slew of projects under WordPress CMS. The open source PHP/MySQL platform has been around for years and it is only getting better as time goes on.
Possibly the most important aspect of your project launch is security. There are many open source projects out there which use database content and other backend scripts. The key point you should recognize is how WordPress actively pushes for user administration and security in the PHP code. Hackers are often working to exploit loopholes in the codebase, yet they do not last very long.
The WordPress development team is dedicated to keeping this project safe and reliable over the long haul. And I would rather launch a project on WordPress which could idle securely online for 10+ years, rather than use another obscure(or custom) CMS which could get attacked and have the database wiped clean 1 or 2 years down the road.
With me security is the #1 most important characteristic of a CMS. If you are going to put in all this time coding a theme, adding content, and marketing your posts… well it should be worth something for all your effort. And what’s the site worth if it gets taken offline? Also many of the WordPress plugins are frequently updated to match the latest WP release version.
Another big obstacle when learning a CMS is to understand the common settings, code snippets, function calls, etc. But thankfully WordPress has been around long enough to build up one tremendous community of dedicated users. Notably the WordPress StackExchange is full of amazing questions from developers & WP users who are familiar with the backend.
You could search in Google based on almost any issue and probably find helpful discussion threads. Also there are lots of blogs which publish WordPress-related content online. I have been shocked at how easy it is to find answers for some of the most obscure questions. But this is all made possible from years of other people working to solve these problems.
One thing about WordPress is the very basic theming system offers a lot of great support. I fell in love with the plugin system as well, since WordPress outlines the clear objectives for each plugin/theme and what should be required. There are also tons of similar tutorials written about these topics. So the process of customizing your own WP website through the backend has become an extremely simple task.
Developers have the ability to include user voting, user profiles, content submission, and lots of obscure pieces of functionality. Having the knowledge of PHP development can make building a WordPress project 10x easier. Since you know exactly where to get started and how to push forward it will save you loads of time compared to writing your own project from scratch.
Also the theme support for a notable functions.php file allows developers to split up their core functions into various file names. This way you can have theme-settings.php and voting-functions.php which could all be included into the same functions.php file. This splits up much of your included code, plus it will limit all this functionality to only run within a single theme on your site. WordPress plugins and themes can be verbose at times. However they just plain work – and that’s all you need to get a project or business running online.
Drawn Towards Familiarity
What keeps people coming back to the same CMS is the familiarity with their own backend. WordPress has been familiar to developers for over 10 years, and it is not slowing down anytime soon. I think the familiarity is what makes WordPress such a great project management tool for almost any new website launch.
If developers are more comfortable building on Rails or .NET then there are definitely alternatives. It may not be worthwhile to learn PHP just so you can get into coding WordPress development. But it is worth mentioning the inherent value to be found in PHP development, especially for people who are just getting started. WordPress provides the core from which you can build your own functions & classes.
Being overly familiar with something can lead to stagnation if you aren’t careful. I can admit that sticking to projects which you are familiar with can slow progress. Yet when launching a new website or web application, speed can often be a large factor. Ultimately it is your own personal choice and everybody will have a different perspective. My argument is that WordPress can provide an amazingly stable core which is perfect for rapidly prototyping & deploying new Internet ventures.
I have personally worked with a number of other CMS engines which are written over PHP. I do consider WordPress to be one of the safest and easiest solutions to manage. It is also very user friendly to developers who have never worked on top of a WordPress platform before. And it’s these facts coupled with the thousands of articles found all over the Internet which makes getting started in WordPress super easy. It certainly cannot be the solution for everything. But I have a strong belief that we will see WordPress greatly expand over the years to come.
Every week you can find a new collection of free WordPress themes released on the main website. Developers from all over the world like to contribute their works because it helps to grow the community, and it draws even more attention to the popular WordPress CMS. With so many newly-released themes it can be difficult keeping track of the most interesting ones.
I have put together this solid collection of the latest awesome free WordPress themes over 2013. The various design styles often include responsive layouts, fixed navigation, and other trendy website interface features. With so many releases and updates the information can be overwhelming. Check out a few of my examples and see if you can find any themes worth adding into your own WP projects.
WordPress is an excellent system for managing a blog or website online. The security is just one aspect of the whole package you get with this CMS. However many developers and webmasters alike do not consider backing up new changes and keeping a local copy saved just in case of an emergency. It can become a very stressful situation when you are backing up tremendously large WordPress databases.
I want to present a few methods for keeping a local copy of large databases and WordPress websites. It will take some time and effort, but it is all worthwhile if you can manage to practice and keep yourself up-to-date. Restoring a WordPress website is almost easier than the backup process, and it helps if you can backup the entirety of your website from scratch. Then you will have everything copied locally which is a big sigh of relief to those who are concerned about data backups.
Custom Manual Backup
Nothing can beat the security of a manual WordPress backup. This is generally done in two parts where first you download a zipped/gzipped copy of your MySQL database from the server backend. Then you would FTP down a copy of all the files and folders in your website’s public_html. Check out this WP backup guide published on their website.
The process of restoring your website is easier when you have a complete backup to begin with. You would first need to create a new database on the new server and import all your settings as a zipped/gzipped SQL file. Then you should edit the wp-config.php file and update your database settings so it all connects. Then after FTPing your files up onto the new server, everything should run properly and work just like before.
This process only comes with a downside of potentially renaming URLs in your relative install location. I personally have never dealt with this issue, even using sub-domains and hosting on existing accounts. The manual backup process will grant you full access to the most important data and still allows for a mirror image copy of the site to be reinstalled online.
Moving into the realm of WP plugins, UpdraftPlus Backup is a name I have seen mentioned plenty of times. It is free open source and updated to run properly with the latest WordPress 3.6 release. Note that there is a premium UpdraftPlus which you can purchase for $55 USD. It provides cloud backups along with local copies where you can download the database and the actual website files together.
Some of the supported cloud hosting options include Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, even email or SFTP(with add-ons). The number of solutions is amazing for just a small plugin. And you can even restore your website without the plugin by uploading the database and original website files onto your new hosting platform.
The free version of this plugin works perfectly for what you might expect. I have not been using this on any particular projects, although you can always try it out and see how it works. The pro version is certainly worth the money if you like what can be done using the free alternative. But very few similar options will compare with UpdraftPlus.
Another common plugin is BackWPup which allows for scheduled database backups of your WordPress website. This is another free and open source plugin for WordPress users. And similarly this BackWPup plugin does have another pro version which costs $75 for a standard license, limited onto two domains. This is a bit more pricey than other alternatives and it will mostly cater to users who are already familiar with the system.
The additional pro features are really not needed for everybody. They include API keys for various cloud hosting solutions like Google Drive and Dropbox. Plus there are some alternative wizards for users to customize the time of each scheduled backup. I think the free version is more than enough to keep your site backed up and running securely.
The final backup plugin I want to mention is called Simple Backup. Like the others it has a free open source version available from the WordPress repository. And it also has a pro version called Simple Backup Ultra which was originally $50 USD, but as of writing this article it is on sale for $20. You will find many of the same features in the backend, yet the interface design is a whole lot simpler.
Hence the name Simple Backup – an easy solution for people who are not yet familiar with WordPress backups. This plugin is certainly for webmasters who are not comfortable backing up their own database manually. And Thankfully this plugin uses the most common standards for backup files.
This makes the process of restoring your WordPress website a lot easier because the files may be recognized by a wide assortment of Operating Systems. Simple Backup is my go-to choice for handling concise, clean backups without needing to manage the process via cPanel. You still need to FTP down a copy to store locally, but the entire backup and compression process is handled automatically through PHP.
- How to Back-Up Your WordPress Site Consistently and Automatically
- How to Backup and Import a Very Large WordPress MySQL Database
- How To Manually Create a WordPress Database Backup
- Backup & Restore your WordPress Blog using cPanel
- How To Backup Your Site and Move WordPress
There are so many alternative plugins and methods which just don’t encapsulate the feelings of manual backups. Some hosting providers are nice enough to keep backups for you in the event of hard drive failure. But what if a majority of their drives fail, and your backups are lost too? This is when it comes in handy to keep a local secure database copy of your WordPress website.
I hope this guide may be of help to developers who have been in question about WordPress backups. It can take a long time – anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on the size of your website. Moving down files via FTP can be one of the longest tasks. Yet most of it is automated and should not present a major problem. If you have similar experience or questions on WordPress backups, feel free to share with us in the discussion area below.
WordPress Bootcamp: Last Call Early Bird
If I haven’t introduced you to LearnWebDevelopment.com’s WordPress Bootcamp yet, I would like to today. Here’s what you get:
- 42 complete WordPress training videos that you can download and watch again and again.
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If you’d like to quickly become an in-demand WordPress website designer, sign up here now.
Remember, all of LearnWebDevelopment.com’s WordPress Bootcamps come with a risk-free lifetime money-back guarantee. Get the details here.
When you check around Google you can find a large number of marketing services. Many of these products have been online for a long time. And you can surely count on the trustworthiness of a single product to get your marketing plan where it needs to be. However this can take a lot of time and effort, which not everybody has in spades.
Therefore I want to present some of the best resources for improving your website marketing. This will take a bit of finesse, however I think anybody can achieve positive results over enough time. You will need to be secure in your website’s branding and product design. But if you are confident with the product then other marketing resources will naturally fall into place.
Google Webmaster Tools
Almost everyone is familiar with Google Webmaster Tools. It is an incredible dashboard solution for checking analytics and traffic from your websites. The installation process is fairly straightforward and does not require a whole bunch of custom edits to your site. The benefits are tremendous when crafting your own marketing plan.
By analyzing the data of search queries and popular backlinks, you can determine which pages on your site garner the most attention. Then it is worthwhile to plan a marketing segment around your most popular topics. You could purchase AdWords advertising, or even use your own internal advertisers to manage offbeat websites.
Physical Print Work
Numerous marketing ploys follow the beat of printing physical paper materials for marketing. These could be flyers, brochures, calendars, day planners, really anything which could promote your brand. Getting these out to your potential users can be tough. However you may cut down on this process by working with a reliable provider of online print material.
I would recommend 24 Hour Print as a reliable handler for marketing. They can ship your products right to your home or company address within 24 hours of placing the order. It is a wonderful system because you can upload graphics right into their online editor, creating the ideas for your products first. Then place these graphical components anywhere on the page to reorganize the default templates.
Print work is a medium which has still encapsulated plenty of marketers. You can drum up attention by offering free planners and other useful items, which could be sent out almost immediately after the order is placed. Rush printing services with overnight prints are not always very common. And I think 24 Hour Print is a rare service which really does provide great marketing potential for any company.
The number of cloud tools has been growing rapidly over the past couple years. More developers are interested to build out their projects online without delay. I know one of my favorite services in the cloud is SlideShare for online presentations.
You can easily create a PowerPoint-style slideshow with text, images, and other digital media. This is an excellent way to present your branding and also offer some helpful tips to your readers. SlideShare is completely free to join with options to upgrade for a pro account.
You should read up on their features to see more of what I am talking about. It is a fantastic website service with a beautiful product. Both public and private sharing is available on pro accounts, along with video uploads and more leveraged disk space. For anyone who needs a presentation marketing tool I would definitely recommend SlideShare.
To manage your own marketing plan requires a bit of planning and a lot of good ideas. You will want to have a list of services which you may reference during your planning stage. Then it becomes a whole lot easier as you try out new ideas down the road. I think it is worth mentioning these initial resources to get people started. However you should go out into Google and do your own research to determine ideas which could work best for your website.
Registration for LearnWebDevelopment.com’s WordPress Bootcamp is ending soon.
The doors close at midnight on July 11, 2013 so they can give each student live instruction and dedicated 1-on-1 support.
To join this group and learn exactly how to use WordPress to make feature-rich websites faster than ever before, sign up here now.
Why join today? Here’s why…
One of LearnWebDevelopment.com’s students who took the WordPress Bootcamp made $3,500 off this site and it was his first WordPress website! He’s currently working on another WordPress website. The proposal he has written is valued at $4,200. Here’s what Mark had so say about our training, “This excellent WordPress course has already paid for itself many times over.” ~ Mark Borst
Popular vector shapes and background tiles can be used in many different website layouts. Vector graphics themselves are easy to use because they can be scaled larger or smaller without quality reduction. It just takes a bit of work and some time in a graphics editor, but vector shapes may provide some of the highest quality value to your websites.
When you need to find quality vectors I would think there are plenty of resources online. But some designers are looking for specific releases for their logos, icons, or other various interface features. I want to present just a couple online marketplaces for obtaining the most creative and unique vectors online. Check out some of these resources and see if you can use anything on your next web project.
HQ Stock Vectors
There have been numerous occasions where I am building a website and need to fix up the logo design. Often times I am willing to work with other designers and build out the project, or I can mix something together by myself in Photoshop. However premium vector graphics as you’d find on 123RF cannot be overstated. I find that the best quality graphics are hard to come by and you need to have an idea already in mind.
The website itself provides a credit system where you can pay-as-you-go and pick up only the graphics that you’ll need. Or you can pay for a subscription model and have access to the full catalog of graphics, with limitations on the number of downloads each month. I have been quite impressed looking through 123RF and seeing what their website has to offer. Aside from the vector icons you will also find backgrounds and patterns for designing anything from banners to footers and block advertisements.
Graphics on the Web
Another handy resource I would recommend is WeGraphics, which is frequently updated to contain their latest releases. WeGraphics caters to a large number of ideas under web design such as brushes, textures, and icons. But their vector graphics are some of the highest quality and provide an ease of mind to the designer.
I also really like how WeGraphics includes a number of freebies you can download and test out. If you feel the PSD/AI files are not up to code, then you don’t need to spend any money on the paid solutions. This gives each visitor a chance to see what they have to offer. The vector archives go back for 20+ pages and you can find all sorts of amazing goodies in the set!
If you are creative enough to mess around in graphics editing software then it may be worthwhile to download a copy of some other vectors around the net. Plenty of websites and blogs will publish tutorials for creating your very own vector shapes, and then release their files as a download for readers. One of these blogs Vecteezy has been online for years. The site drives a lot of traffic which includes a tremendous database of vector tutorials and downloads.
Check out the site when you have some time and do a search for your related interests. You may be surprised at the kind of releases put out on their website. Vecteezy cannot compete with others in the eCommerce sales market which are directly offering premium graphics, but the quantity is outstanding for just a typical weblog.
I hope this article may provide some use to designers around the world. Thankfully with the modern Internet we are able to communicate 10x faster and purchase items instantaneously. If you need a vector to download and install right away I would have to recommend any of these services. But obviously my collection is not an extensive list, so feel free to share any other links or ideas in the post discussion area below.
Many of us can only dream to purchase a nice house one day. The idea of living in a small mansion can be very exciting! Even the imagery of a nice interior can bring about certain moods in your visitors. Stock photography has come a long way to incorporate all of these various aspects into the mood.
I want to present a small collection of interior design photographs taken by freelance photographers. These are all for sale on 123RF.com which can be used via subscription or by purchasing account credits. Lots of people become attached to an idea of interior design which can greatly sway opinion and even improve conversions.
WordPress is increasingly popular in the world. 20% of all visits on the world wide web are hitting sites built around this great open source technology. Probably the most popular use of WordPress themes is in the technology space. Don’t forgot to check out some of our other recent posts on WordPress themes. Like The 10 Best Selling WordPress Themes of All Time and our post on the Top Mobile Themes. Enjoy!
9. Host Cloud
14. Modern Hosting
15. MyApp Adaptive
19. Planet Hosting
20. Q responsive
21. Quick Host
22. Rackhost Hosting
24. Simple Hosting
A solution to earning money for running your website online is to charge for advertising. This could be through a marketing company which pays you based on user activity such as Google, Technorati Media, Yahoo! Publishers, etc. But there is also the option of directly charging advertisers and managing your own backend advertisement dashboard.
In this post I want to talk about some plugins for the WordPress CMS which revolve around managing advertisements. This is a very popular situation amongst webmasters and the possibilities are nearly endless. However, using a plugin will certainly cut down on your development time, as it will not require direct editing in the theme files. These plugins are all great solutions for practical WordPress layouts which just need to include some advertising banners inside the website.
Simple Ads Manager
The Simple Ads Manager plugin is a bit more complicated than the name appears. I have seen a good amount of content from this plugin and the developer is always on top of the latest releases. As of writing this post the most updated version is for WP 3.5.1 and includes all of the typical functionality you would expect.
Each post will have options for changing the ad code if you have it placed within the content. The backend admin panel will also track the number of ad views and clicks from your users. This is a much better choice than going into your HTML and manually adding the different HTML/JS codes. The advertising sections will each have their own post edit pages, very similar to editing a new blog post.
However these edit pages include default input text areas used for the ad codes, banner type, and placement on the page. The actual number of settings and user options is mindblowing when you first install the plugin. I would have to recommend Simple Ads Manager to anybody who needs a solution without coding in PHP. The basic ad tracking analytics also help to bridge a missing gap which you can’t get from other solutions like Google Analytics.
Ad Manager for WP
Here is a very similar solution as we saw above, however the administration panel is much neater and easier to use. There are far less options to choose from but this helps to keep everything neat and organized. You will not be frozen in awe trying to figure out how to customize each advertisement. Check out the main plugin webpage where you can learn a bit more about the installation process and setting up new ad banners.
Shantz WordPress Prefix Suffix
Although the Shantz prefix plugin may seem a bit strange, this is a better method for some developers who would rather be using a raw code setup. In this way you can quickly append code samples anywhere into your post content pages. Either before or after the original content you can select a shortcode or function method to display your HTML/CSS/JS codes.
This is definitely a more complicated plugin and mostly implemented by advanced users. I would not think this Shantz WP plugin was made solely for advertisements. Especially since there is no main dashboard for tracking analytics. But I know that some devs would rather use a more raw solution and this would certainly be your quickest choice.
The other big plugin I have seen recently is on web design blogs and similar magazine layouts. Common 125×125 advertising squares have risen dramatically in popularity. This allows webmasters to scale their layout to fit a certain ad size, then sell those ad blocks to potential advertisers and directly manage the income. It is a very profitable solution if you have the proper advertisers to work with.
WP125 is completely free to download and use on any number of WordPress sites. It has been updated to run properly with the most recent version of WP 3.5.1 and the backend system is very easy to manipulate. There are timers set on each advertisement which you may create for any set number of days/weeks/months. It is much easier to handle multiple ad sales when you have the choice of updating when certain ad displays can be available. I would highly recommend this solution for bloggers who need a set type of advertisement along with a small backend panel for organization and automatic switching.
Advertising is a tricky beast and does require a lot of good communication. Handling payments and keeping track of orders will be tough. But if you have the time to manage a large network of websites then I would think one of these plugins will be a fantastic addition. Try out any of them in your website and see what you like best. Advertising has always been a more diverse aspect of WordPress management, but with so many plugins you really can’t go wrong! If we have missed any great plugins feel free to share links in the post discussion area below.
If you’re looking for a fast way to learn WordPress, LearnWebDevelopment.com has created the perfect program. It’s their WordPress Bootcamp – a training course that will teach you how to build a fully-functioning WordPress website in just 8 weeks! And, because they give all their students weekly feedback as they go through the course, you’ll never be left alone.
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If you’d like to quickly become an in-demand WordPress website designer, sign up here now.
Remember, all of LearnWebDevelopment.com’s WordPress Bootcamps come with a risk-free lifetime money-back guarantee. Get the details here.
There are a number of great open source plugins for pulling related blog posts. The WordPress core has a set of query functions which make the programming aspect a whole lot easier. But at times you will need different plugins for showing a certain type of related post design, either in the content or sidebar or somewhere else. This will depend on your WordPress theme and how your layout is designed.
I want to introduce just a few plugins which gracefully handle related blog posts. These are all written for WordPress using the most recently updated version. It is possible to install each one of these through the Plugins admin menu and give them a trial run. You can only learn so much from the plugin’s webpage, and often times you will want to see how it behaves on a live website before deciding to keep it.
nrelate Most Popular
This first suggestion is a more offbeat idea which has received a large number of positive reviews from users. nrelate Most Popular is a free open source WordPress plugin used for displaying related posts when viewing a single post page. The design will include text and also a featured post thumbnail when available.
Methods for including the related posts can be written into your content using shortcodes, or even directly into PHP with the nrelate_popular() function. The only problem some users may have is that nrelate does not keep the results local to your own website. They offload the processing to their own servers and then return the results. This can be a win-win if you are happy with the tradeoff. But certainly look for another solution if you want to keep all this data crunching local to your web server.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
There are plenty of mixed opinions with this plugin of choice. YARPP(Yet Another Related Posts Plugin) is also a free download from the WordPress codex. What I like most is their ability to include related posts based on an RSS feed. This seems to be a common feature in other plugins, but their implementation is flawless.
Obviously the typical interface styles of post thumbnails are included within the template by default. The algorithm for pulling related posts will search through titles, post content, taxonomies, and other related metadata. You will be happy to know all the number crunching is done locally right in your own web server. Check out the FAQ page to learn a bit more about their process.
I think YARPP is a great choice when you are just getting started. There is not a lot of requirements to update the template style, and the related posts are easily appended into your current theme. This is a great choice for getting something up on your site to run quickly without a whole bunch of custom edits.
Related Posts Thumbnails
RPT may be my favorite choice for adding quick related posts into your blog. The plugin is free just like all the other choices, yet this one has a very simple codebase which offers a lot of backend customization. Users who are familiar with editing plugin settings will love this Related Posts Thumbnails plugin. The results are displayed right at the bottom of the post as you would expect in any typical magazine.
Each of the featured posts will display using the thumbnail image along with the post title underneath. By default the plugin will display 3 related articles, but obviously you may change this to any number you’d like. There are also input boxes within the plugin settings for changing the color scheme, thumbnail size, and even the publication date range.
If you have a number of posts which are missing thumbnail images do not worry! The Related Posts Thumbnails settings also has a text input for adding a direct URL as the default thumbnail image. This will automatically display for all your entries which are not using the properly sized thumbnail image, or just don’t have one available. All of these options are possible without a single edit to the PHP code. I would personally recommend RPT for any major WordPress project, and especially for magazine-style websites which will be centered around a large database of blog articles.
Each of the plugins from this article are some of my personal favorites. There is not a need for displaying related posts on every website. And honestly there are plenty of custom PHP tutorials for pulling the WP posts yourself. But not every webmaster is interested in developing their own solution. I hope these plugins may provide a great place for getting started in researching for a related posts widget. If you have any similar ideas or questions feel free to share with us in the post discussion area.
It is strange to see how WordPress hasn’t adopted Ajax comments for blog posts. Obviously the system should be built to handle typical PHP requests, and you can always add the Ajax functionality on the frontend. But it does make the process of writing your own custom functions a lot more difficult. Thankfully there are a number of open source choices which you may quickly install and get working on any WordPress-based website.
For this article I would like to focus on ajax comments pages when displaying many discussion posts. WordPress will automatically paginate comments listings beyond a certain number. You can adjust this value in the WP admin area, but the comments pages will always load a new permalink. Google and other crawlers will like this structure but the user experience leaves room for improvement. I hope to share a few resources for helping developers come to terms with Ajax paginated comments.
AJAX Comment Loading
My first plugin of choice is named Ajax Comment Loading. As you may insinuate from the name, this plugin will load all of your page comments through a separate AJAX request. Namely this includes the default page/post comments along with all the other comment pages. It will help to improve page speed because the loading process has been split.
Notably when you first load a blog post WordPress will only pull templates up until the comment form. This plugin will skip all the user comments entirely, allowing your full page to load without comments(at first). Then Ajax requests will pull the user comments and comment pages into view. The installation process requires simply activating the plugin and letting it work. This code was structured around the Twenty Ten theme of comment display, so you might want to edit your own theme to match a similar ID/class system. But otherwise this plugin has been an exceptional choice for loading paginated user comments.
WP Comment Master
General all-around comments may be edited and critiqued by using this plugin. WP Comment Master is also a free download and install for your website. The features include both ajax comment posting and loading ajax comment pages. But the best part is how all the HTML has been written with semantics in mind.
You can still find all the permalinks to each page stored into the anchor links. This means Google and similar web crawlers will be able to locate your comment pagination and still view the results. Only end users will benefit from the Ajax effects. Plus multiple WordPress users have tested this plugin over a variety of themes, and it does appear to be very stable. You can view a live demo from this blog post using the WP Comment Master plugin.
Silk AJAX Comments
The release of Silk Ajax Comments was only in July of 2012, so this is a newer plugin to the repository. But as of this article’s publication the repo has a complete set of 5-star reviews from seven different WordPress users. Silk comments will stop the normal wp-comments-post.php file from handling all of the data submission. Instead it will be handled via Ajax and the page does not need to be refreshed.
Similarly you will notice the user error messages have been redirected without reloading. I think this is even more useful because readers who want to share a comment will take their time writing out a response. When a user submits their comment only to be shown an error on a new page, they might as well just leave right away. Not everybody will go back and take the time to edit their response unless it is very important. Silk is a great plugin for handling this method of user feedback and dynamic error messages.
Yet Another Ajax Paged Comments
Although the original developer has not updated this plugin for a couple of years, I still think the codebase is good enough for testing. I have seen YAAPC plugin but never actually tested in my own website. Actually I have been very surprised at the large support for pagination through ajax, especially for user comments. WordPress developers do like to build these things and release them on the website for free.
From the plugin’s webpage you will notice this version does include a substantial number of features. We can tell the SEO is already written to include multiple pagination links. Additionally you will find meta options for nofollow and dofollow in the plugin settings panel. You can even set the crawler options to not index further comments pages! Definitely a more detailed solution for WordPress users who don’t want to get their hands dirty in backend PHP code. The only problem is that if you run into an issue, very little support is available. YAAPC plugin is worth testing but it may not be the greatest solution for every website.
You can most likely comb through the WordPress plugin repository and find a wide assortment of similar resources. I have attempted to showcase options which are easiest to setup and also offer an extensive array of administration options. Creating your own custom Ajax JS file along with backend PHP functionality would be a more detailed method, albeit a lot harder to manage. Check out some of the resources listed in this post and feel free to share your own ideas in the discussion area below.
I want to offer some tips for customizing your own WordPress comments area. This includes both the comment form and displaying comments. There are a surprising number of features to consider just for a small bit of user discussion. But as the Internet grows to be more dynamic you can expect to see these features as commonplace in most websites.
Obviously the first place to build your codes would be inside your own theme. Typically developers start with a file named comments.php for displaying the WP comment form. It would include all the normal fields for the user’s name, email, web address(optional), along with their full comment. Check out the comment_form() function reference for more details.
One thing you may consider changing is the default HTML code inside your form. Input fields have grown with more support of updated page elements. The HTML5 input fields allow for new types such as email and URL, notably useful in this scenario.
I found an excellent article about styling WordPress’ comment form published on WP Beginner. It has a lot of great code samples useful in your own layouts. Definitely spend a bit of time copying/pasting into your theme and see how you like the changes. Or even search through Google and pinpoint a list of similar resources for designing comment forms.
Using Custom Fonts
One unique feature which many people don’t consider is a custom typeface. The fonts used on your website will influence the design aesthetic, so it is worth attempting different ideas. The easiest solution would be to pick out a family name from Google Web Fonts and see how it looks inside an input field. Sometimes fonts will not always look as good as you would expect.
Consider including other design facets like CSS3 transition properties. Text fades and box shadow effects are common, plus text shadows can look nice when added to the right fonts. Overall the process of designing comments will be a challenge because each code block will be different for various themes. But don’t be afraid of experimenting and trying out new ideas!
Editing User Comments
Normally inside the comments.php file you will find a line that looks like this:
<ol class="commentlist"> <?php wp_list_comments(); ?> </ol>
It basically forces developers to work inside an ordered/unordered list of comments. Not the best method for customization, and even with your own CSS it can be annoying to reposition avatars and timestamps. But an easier way to handle this feature is through a comments callback function. You can write your own function inside your theme’s functions.php and it will handle the markup output for each comment in the loop.
<?php wp_list_comments('type=comment&callback=format_comment'); ?>
In the example tutorial link above on DigWP the code is still working within an ordered list element. Of course you may keep this structure if you like the nesting, especially with threaded comments. But I have also been happy redesigning user comments with div containers along with appending a clearfix class to float user avatar photos. You can find a similar example on CSS Tricks which is using the same callback method technique.
- WordPress Function Reference comment form()
- Customizing Comments in WordPress – Functionality and Appearance
- 5 Funky WordPress Snippets to Customize Your Comments
- The Ultimate Guide to WordPress 3.0 Comment Form Customization
- Custom WordPress comments list template
- How to Quickly and Easily Customize the WordPress Comments Form
Other webmasters may agree that WordPress is one of the easiest CMS platforms to manage. There are lots of security updates and the code is stable enough to build off your own themes and plugins. Namely the comments area is not always of great importance, but it is nice to allow such in-depth customization. I hope this article may prove as a useful resource for coders who are just getting interested in WordPress. If we have skipped over any great ideas please share your thoughts in the post discussion area below.
There was a recent discussion on WordPress about the latest MP6 admin plugin. This is currently released as free open source code for your WordPress site, and it allows webmasters to use a newer updated backend stylesheet. It is still a case study and not recommended for large productions websites as there may still be a lot of bugs not touched upon.
However if there are other forward-thinking WP users then you will likely want to try this out. I just recently installed the MP6 plugin on my own website and I’d like to offer some thoughts on my own opinion. You can download the MP6 plugin right off the WordPress repository or simply search for it by name in your WordPress plugins panel.
After you activate the plugin you will notice changes right away. The admin dashboard will still look almost exactly the same, aside from icons and color choices. Both the sidebar links and the top admin toolbar have blended together into the same darker color scheme. It makes navigation appear more fluid and connected.
I really like the update choices to background colors and links. More shades of blue are being included on darker backgrounds for a nice contrast. My first thought was that it’ll be so much easier reading text on the page when you can quickly scan letters over a darker background. Even form input fields are using a different style of typography named Open Sans, a bigger default font which is much easier to read.
It is funny how all of these updates have been released just around the same time as WordPress 3.6 was announced. The updated core will feature smaller tweaks to the backend admin panel, along with greater support for custom post types. WordPress v3.6 is scheduled to be released on April 29, 2013 assuming everything will go according to plan.
The Greater Details
When it comes to structuring a usable administrative interface sometimes less is actually more. I feel this way about the newer icons used for the MP6 plugin display. The designs are all much flatter than the originals, and so they blend nicely into the page. These icons are no longer basic PNG images, but rather a fancy new icon font created solely for MP6.
It seems that the developers have really gone out of their way to support a fantastic design. And it really shows in this plugin after spending a bit of time browsing the different menus. Sometimes it is the smaller details which really showcase how useful a new design idea can be. For a similar viewpoint check out the media gallery pages.
You will notice each of the rows is zebra striped so you can quickly analyze a single piece of media. This also means you can rummage through titles and tags for posts/pages without struggling to match up the headlines. Smaller details like this are what make up fantastic user experiences.
Colors and Contrast
One other important concept for the MP6 plugin is a greater contrast of background and foreground colors. I have noticed the theme greatly revolves around grey/dark grey and blues. This is typical of many website layouts and I also feel WordPress has been following a great direction.
For example, on the plugins page you will notice that each plugin has a highlighted row color. The very left border color is only blue when the plugin has been activated – otherwise there is no border or colored background. Certainly an interesting concept when we think about UI design! And WordPress has never implemented such an idea for their designs in the past.
The buttons and input fields definitely seem to pop off the page with a more crisp palette of colors. I can’t imagine how the developers will continue to expand these changes, but if they are using detailed color schemes it will be a great success. But don’t just take my word for it! By looking through just a couple of these screenshots you should be able to see a wide variation for contrasting shades of blue and grey.
I know there will be lots of WP users who are all over this plugin. Some people may even install and let this run as the default admin style! Although it is not recommended since the plugin is still being actively developed, I will admit that I have run into zero problems while testing. In fact the design has been nothing but a pleasurable experience.
If you are looking for new updates check out the Make WordPress UI page full of detailed posts. Users and developers will share their thoughts and changes as the plugin progresses, along with any other similar projects related to updating the WordPress user interface. I am sure the creators of this plugin will eventually release it under a full stable codename with support for WordPress 3.6.
But in the meantime you can always run your site on the codes which exist now. Plus checking their MP6 plugin updates every-so-often will keep you on top of the latest changes. This way you can also update your own personal website and determine if you still want to run the MP6 admin or keep the original styles. Personally I have deactivated MP6 but left it installed on my website, just in case it turns out to be an even greater admin skin than I could use at a later date.
- WordPress MP6 Plugin Discussion Thread
- MP6 – Could This Be the Future of WordPress Admin User Interface?
- Preview The Secret New WordPress Admin Design
- How to: Add a New Admin Design with MP6 WordPress Plugin
- MP6 For WordPress Gives Your Admin Console A Modern New Look
I would really like to believe that WordPress is always moving onward and upwards to better things. It has been fascinating to see how the team is creating a new design for the administration panel, all possible via one single plugin. The WP core is a tremendous library and clearly offers a lot of room for developers to build and make it their own.
My thoughts are very positive on the MP6 plugin and I would like to see more stuff in the near future. It isn’t something that I have been using on every website, or even a majority of WP sites. But for experimental users this will be a cool learning experience to understand the possibilities. Additionally if you have your own thoughts on the MP6 plugin feel free to share with us in the post discussion area below.
There are a number of great methods for handling user redirects on mobile. WordPress is one of the most popular CMS brands on the market. So it makes sense to work around these problems by putting together a two-way split for website themes. I want to present a list of ideas and plugins you may utilize for automatically switching between multiple themes on desktop and mobile devices.
It is understandable that WP webmasters will need a different type of theme switching based on their content. I think it is worth analyzing a couple methods to determine which is the safest, and the easiest to install. Typical users want to avoid as much code as possible. And thankfully it will help if you already have two themes installed which are designed to specifically handle desktop and mobile content.
Building with Plugins
Obviously the quickest and easiest method for any theme switching functionality is through WordPress plugins. The newly re-designed WP plugins listing has tons of free open source examples you can download to use in your layout. Be sure and check some related search queries to see if you can find any other similar plugins.
My first and largest suggestion is for the Any Mobile Theme Switcher. The plugin gets frequent updates and currently handles the most recent version of WP 3.5.1. It also has a large number of reviews with 5 stars – and similarly absolutely no bad reviews have been given with 1 or 2 stars! It is safe to say AMTS plugin is very popular with the WordPress userbase.
Features include an admin dashboard settings page where you may choose which themes will be displayed for which devices. Obviously it is most common to select between the same 2 themes you want displaying for desktop and mobile platforms. Where this may differ is on tablet computers, depending on the width of the screen and the width of your website layout. You can view a set of screenshots from the plugin page details.
I have been really content with this plugin since it does not require any major changes to the WordPress backend. It will quietly check a visitor’s browsing device and automatically handle the theme changes. Website performance should still run properly and visitors will not know too much has changed. And since this plugin is frequently updated I would have to recommend this for any general WP users or webmasters.
Another idea for a WordPress mobile theme plugin is called Mobile Smart. The plugin code will detect when a visitor is accessing your website from a mobile device, then automatically implements your chosen theme. You may also use related PHP template tags for determining the type of device. Read a bit more about this function on the plugin FAQ page.
I would say that Mobile Smart is within comparison similar to Any Mobile Theme Switcher. The functionality is a bit easier to use, which is nice for those who are not looking to manipulate settings pages. Mobile Smart is one basic installation which selects a single mobile theme of your choosing. Certainly nothing overly difficult and I would think it will be popular among webmasters who need something simple and efficient.
Ultimately it is your choice and it may be worth testing both plugins to see how you like them. I would argue there is no “right” and “wrong” answer, but merely personal preferences for which plugin handles the functionality better.
Custom Code Edits
An alternative route is to code your very own system for redirecting users to a mobile theme. This should obviously be considered more of a challenge and useful to developers who want a more customized interface. I found this excellent article about redirecting users to a mobile WordPress theme which goes into some more detail.
Writing Mobile-Friendly Content
As a small aside bit I want to share that writing content for a responsive or mobile website should be on your mind. This doesn’t mean you need to ultimately sacrifice pieces of your layout which desktop users would enjoy. But instead, consider removing these elements from the page in mobile themes via CSS display properties.
I think a similar article about ways to create mobile-friendly WordPress content has a ring of truth to all the topics. When structuring a website to handle mobile visitors you want to be conscious of this facet right from the get-go. Plan all webpage content accordingly and be prepared to handle weird bugs as the pop into your themes.
Overall the idea of switching between mobile and desktop themes has been a timeless piece of functionality. It has worked well for so many big corporations and startup launches. And I’m certain that mobile users will appreciate the courtesy of a mobile-centric theme as we look forward into the future as well.
It is worth pointing out that some WordPress developers may be interested to go the way of responsive design. This has been the case for the past two major WP theme releases, and it is very popular among web designers. But using two distinct themes for regular and mobile users can pave the way for a more unique system of managing content. You can organize theme-specific functions and codes to handle any number of different ideas and presentation methods. But if anybody has thoughts or ideas on theme switching in WordPress, feel free to share with us in the post discussion area below.