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Date: Monday, 14 Jul 2014 17:58

During maintenance of a multi-author WordPress site, it can be difficult to make sure that all users are aware of the maintenance. Some of your authors may have been informed and simply forgot or got the date wrong. Luckily there is a way to stop everyone from making any changes to your site by setting up a read only state.

You start by installing the Code Freeze plugin. As soon as you activate this plugin it will set your WordPress site into a read only state where no changes can be made. On every page inside the admin area there is a warning notice to let your users know site is on a lock down.

Set to Read Only

This plugin works out of the box so there are no settings to change. Once it is activated, there is only one thing you (or another user with administrator privileges) can do, which is to the Code Freeze plugin. This is a very easy to add and very powerful plugin for making sure that no changes can be made by any user.

I hope this article helped you keep your site under control during maintenance.

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The post How to Set Your WordPress Site to Read Only State appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 18:42

We are pleased to announce the availability of Charter, our new WordPress theme for lawyers and legal firms.

With its professional look and clear appearance, Charter is designed with law firms and lawyers in mind. It has all the features that you would need to effortlessly build your business website. Here are some of its amazing features:

Fully Responsive Design

Just like all ThemeLab themes, Charter is fully mobile responsive. It adjusts itself to adapt any device and screen size, and looks equally beautiful.

Charter responsive WordPress lawyer theme

Featured Slider

Need a slider on your home page? Charter has a built-in featured slider, which allows you to add multiple images and descriptions to showcase your services. This featured slider is mobile friendly and looks impressive across different devices.

Featured slider in Charter

Testimonials Module

Charter makes it easy for you to display client testimonials on your site. It comes with a built in module that allows you to quickly add client information and their feedback. These testimonials are then displayed beautifully on your homepage.

Testimonials on Charter homepage

Services Module

Charter comes with a built-in services module which allows you to easily add and display your areas of practice. Adding an item in services section is as simple as adding a post. Charter takes care of showcasing your practice areas beautiful on the front page.

Services module in Charter

ThemeLab Custom Widgets

Charter is equipped with powerful custom widgets designed for law firms and lawyers. These widgets allow you to quickly add your business hours, contact form, social icons, subscription box, etc. All these widgets are designed to help you create a professional business site with minimum effort.

Color Variations

There are three color schemes packed inside Charter. You can easily switch color style from the Theme Customizer without writing a single line of code or editing a template file.

Color schemes in Charter

SEO Friendly

Charter is built on a semantically structured markup and optimized for blazing fast speeds. This makes Charter the most SEO friendly lawyer theme for WordPress.

Charter - SEO friendly WordPress lawyer theme

Other Features

Some other cool features packed inside Charter are custom menus, page templates, cross browser compatibility, etc. It is bloat free so there are no complex configuration panels to set up the theme. Like all our themes, Charter works out of the box with no hassle.

Charter adheres to WordPress coding standards and best practices. We have worked hard to make sure that sites built with Charter are fast and secure.

We hope that you will find Charter to be the best WordPress lawyer theme.

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The post Charter – The Best WordPress Lawyer Theme appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Syed Balkhi" Tags: "News"
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Date: Friday, 27 Jun 2014 18:12

Twitter is the web’s most happening space. This is why most bloggers set up WordPress to automatically tweet a new post. It has also become a common practice to quote an individuals Tweet in the media. You must have seen articles in your favorite online publications with actual Tweets embedded right inside the content. In this article, I will show you how to automatically embed Tweets in WordPress posts or pages.

First thing you need to do is to find out the permanant link of the Tweet you want to embed. This permanent link can be found on the timestamp of every Tweet in your Twitter stream. This timestamp is displayed next to the user’s Twitter handle.

Permanant link on a Tweet's timestamp

Now you need to right click and select ‘Copy link location’ to copy the permanent link for an individual Tweet.

Open the WordPress post or page where you want to embed the Tweet and simply paste the URL by pressing CTRL+V.

Adding a Tweet URL in WordPress post editor

That’s all, you can now save your post and then click on the preview button in the post editor. You will see the Tweet automatically embedded into your WordPress post.

I hope this article helped you embed Tweets in your WordPress posts and pages.

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The post How to Automatically Embed Tweets in WordPress Posts or Pages appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Noumaan Yaqoob" Tags: "WordPress Tutorials"
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Date: Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 17:00

When working with WordPress, sometimes you may come across a problem that needs information about your WordPress hosting environment for a solution. Finding this information is not difficult, and you can even ask your web hosting provider for specific information. Like what version of PHP, Apache, and MySQL they are using. In this article, I will show a quicker way to get web host system information in WordPress.

First you need to install and activate the System Snapshot Report plugin. After that simply go to Tools » Snapshot page to view your web hosting environment and system information.

Getting web server system snapshot in WordPress

The plugin will show your server information, PHP configuration, and WordPress configuration. You can use this information to troubleshoot problems specific to a particular configuration setting.

Apart from that, it will also show you information about your WordPress installation. For example, what theme you are using, which plugins you have installed, what permalink structure you are using. etc. This information is particularly useful if you want to get help from someone without giving them access to your website.

You can simply copy and paste this information anywhere, or you can click on Save Snapshot File button to download this information in a text file.

Getting Detailed PHP info or MySQL Configuration in WordPress

If the information you were looking for is not available in the system snapshot report, then you can try installing and activating the WP-ServerInfo plugin.

Upon activation, simply go to Dashboard » WP-ServerInfo and there you will find your WordPress system information.

Getting PHP info and MySQL configuration in WordPress

I hope this article helped you find information about your WordPress web hosting environment.

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The post How to Get Web Host System Information in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Noumaan Yaqoob" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Wednesday, 25 Jun 2014 17:00

By default, WordPress uses URLs like this http://example.com/?p=123. This URL structure is not SEO friendly. This is why most WordPress site owners use Pretty Permalinks, which is a term used for SEO friendly URLs in WordPress. These SEO friendly Permalinks contain post, category, tag, title in the URL, allowing you to use Keywords inside your URLs. In this article, I am going to show you how to set up Permalinks in WordPress and make your website more SEO friendly.

To set up Permalinks on your WordPress site, simply go to Settings » Permalinks. There you will see a number of options to choose from:

Permalink settings in WordPress

Choosing a Permalink Structure

Most WordPress SEO experts agree that the best permalink structure is the one that uses the post name in the URL. The default options allow you to choose from day and name, month and name, and post name URL structure. There is also an option to have numeric permalinks. Numeric permalinks are better than the ugly URLs but they are not considered as good as the URLs with post name.

You need to choose one of the default options by clicking the radio button next to it and save your settings.

Apart from the default options, you can also create your own Permalink structure using special tags. The available tags that you can use are:

  • %year% – Four digit year of post, e.g. 2014.
  • %monthnum% – Two digit month of post, e.g 07.
  • %day% – Two digit day of the mont, e.g. 18.
  • %hour%
  • %minute%
  • %second%
  • %post_id% – The unique ID number of the post example, 123.
  • %postname% – The title of the post sanitized to be used in post URL, e.g. how-to-set-up-permalinks-in-wordpress
  • %category% – Category name sanitized to be used in URL. e.g. wordpress-tutorials.
  • %author% – Author name sanitized to be used in URL. e.g. syed-balkhi.

WordPress allows you to use whatever structure you want. However, you are required to use %postname% and %post_id% for your individual post. These tags are unique identifier that help WordPress locate the post from the database. Same goes for your category archives. They must have %category% in them.

We recommend reviewing which permalink structure you prefer before you start publishing content. Note that if you change your permalink structure at a later date, your post and page URL’s will also change. Therefore if you change your permalink structure in the future, you will need to set up 301 redirect in your .htaccess file in order to redirect users to proper content.

Troubleshooting User-Friendly Permalink Structure

In rare cases, your server may not have this module enabled. In that case you will see a notice in your Permalink settings page informing you that WordPress cannot write to the .htaccess file.

Update .htaccess Now

WordPress Permalinks need mod_rewrite module installed on your web server. WordPress also uses a special server configuration file called .htaccess to use pretty permalinks. All our recommended WordPress hosting providers have set up their servers with necessary configuration to run WordPress. This means your server should already be configure to use Apache’s mod_rewrite module.

The two most common causes for permalinks not working are:

1. Incorrect File Permissions

In correct file permissions stop WordPress from creating or writing to the .htaccess file. To solve this issue you would need to connect to your website using an FTP client. Make sure your FTP client is set to show hidden files. You will see a .htaccess file in your website’s root directory. If you do not see it, then you need to create one. After that simply copy and paste the rewrite code shown in Permalinks settings into your .htaccess file and save it.

2. mod_rewrite Module is Not Available on Your Server

For permalinks to work, you need mod_rewrite module enabled on your webserver. If they are not then you need to contact your hosting service provider and ask them to enable it for you.

I hope this article helped you set up Permalinks in WordPress. It will certainly provide the SEO boost your site deserves.

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The post How to Set up Pretty Permalinks in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Noumaan Yaqoob" Tags: "WordPress Tutorials"
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Date: Monday, 23 Jun 2014 17:00

YouTube is the largest video hosting site in the world. Video content is highly engaging and a YouTube Channel is the best way to build your audience. In this article, I will show you how to show the latest videos from a YouTube Channel on your WordPress site.

First you need to Install and activate the YouTube Channel Gallery plugin. To see the main addition of the plugin go to Appearance » Widgets and there will be a new widget called “YouTube Channel Gallery” to add to your sidebar.

YouTube Channel Gallery Widget

This plugin has a great deal of properties you can change, the main ones to look at are under the feed tab. From here you can choose to show videos uploaded by a user or a particular playlist. The “player” and “thumbnails” tabs allow you to change the appearance of your player and the thumbnails shown should you want to edit those.

YouTube Channel Gallery Page Widget

If you would like to display your video channel on a WordPress post or page, then you can use the shortcode like this:

[Youtube_Channel_Gallery user="list25"]

Change the user to your YouTube username. To show a playlist instead of a channel you will need to change user to feed and instead of giving a user you add the playlist id as shown below:

[Youtube_Channel_Gallery feed="playlist" user="PL3Ikn3SKdJHjIKJXoGeKXAu7LHKcrrSQV"]

These are only a few examples of how the shortcode can be modified, to show how many ways you can edit it the plugin author shows an example in the following code:

[Youtube_Channel_Gallery feed="user" user="MaxonC4D" feedorder="desc" videowidth="500" ratio="16x9" theme="light" color="white" quality="small" autoplay="1" rel="1" showinfo="1" maxitems="9" thumbwidth="90" thumbratio="16x9" thumbcolumns="3" title="1" description="1" thumbnail_alignment="left" descriptionwordsnumber="10" link_window="0"]

I hope this article helps you show your YouTube video wizardry on your WordPress site.

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The post How to Show Recent Videos From a YouTube Channel in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 17:00

If you manage a blog with multiple authors you may be looking for a way to monitor user activity. The main goal of this being if something breaks you can look back and see what went wrong, who did it, and when it happened. I will show you how to gain this ability with the power of a plugin called Simple History.

I will start by installing and activating the Simple History plugin. To be able to use this plugin properly I will go to Settings » Simple History and configure a few settings.

Simple History Settings Page

From here you can choose where to show the history or even use a secret RSS Feed to monitor the history should you want to hide it from other user roles. The plugin will innately show a few predefined actions such as logging in/out, wrong passwords, site changes, user profile changes, etc. If you have development experience and want to add a custom event the plugin allows this as shown on the plugin page:here.

Simple History Page

To save on space, the plugin will clear any history older than 60 days from the database or you can delete something by clicking Clear it now in the settings.

I hope this plugin helps you understand some of the actions that are going on in your site.

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The post How to Monitor User Activity in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 17:00

In the wonderful world of the web there can be incredible people out in your comments and there can be those who are harmful to people’s experience on your site. As a single person it can become difficult with a growing site to ensure all of the bad comments are dealt with in a timely fashion without help. Your users can help you find and remove these types of comments if you add the ability. In this article, I will show you how to allow users to report comments on your WordPress site.

Start with installing Safe Report Comments plugin. After activating it you will go to Settings » Discussion and ensure the box next to “Allow comment flagging” is checked. Below that you can decide how many reports you think should be needed to send a post to moderation.

Allow users to report comments

A link called “Report comment” will now appear below each comment on your site that users can click on to report it. When a comment is reported more times than it’s threshold it will be put in for moderation. From there the site administrator can edit, approve, or delete the comment.

Edit Reported Post
I hope this article helped you moderate your comments.

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The post How to Allow Users to Report Comments in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 17:00

When you watch the news or check out stocks you will probably see words scrolling across the bottom of the screen, this is called a ticker. You may be thinking of starting a news website or simply want a professional looking way to show updates about your site and want to use that style. In this article, I will show you how to add a scrolling news ticker in WordPress.

I will start by downloading and activating the Ditty News Ticker plugin. It will add a new menu item called News Tickers where I can add a new ticker or edit the settings of my tickers.

If you go to your News Tickers section and press the Add New button we can start creating a new ticker. From the top you can enter a title so you know where this ticker should go, then there is the shortcode and direct functions that you can use to add into posts or into your theme file depending on your comfort level. Don’t feel you need to copy those now, they are located in another spot later on.

After those are out of the way we can finally start to customize the ticker. I will go with the default type for now and use ticker mode on scroll.

Add a Ticker Type and Mode

In the Default Ticker Items you can add as many items as you like to this ticker. Each item can have some text, a link to wherever you choose and you can do minor edits such as setting your target to blank or turning on “nofollow” with the check box. To add another item all you need to do is click the + icon on the far right.

Add a Ticker Default Items

For now I will leave the other options alone but should you want to change how the text scrolls or the size of the ticker, you can edit the scroll settings.

Add a Ticker Scroll Settings

With my settings done I will want to publish the ticker and copy the shortcode from either inside the ticker or looking at the News Tickers section in your admin panel. You can now take that shortcode and place it into a widget, page or post of your choice.

I hope this article helped you turn heads with spinning words on your WordPress site.

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The post How to Add a Scrolling News Ticker in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Monday, 16 Jun 2014 17:00

As your WordPress site and your reputation grows there will be new issues to overcome. One such issue that people who send out emails may encounter is someone pretending to be them in the comments section. There are a few ways to prevent this issue but, the one I want to show is one of the simplest ways for users who do not want to edit settings.

I start by installing a plugin called Impostercide and activating it. That is all, there are no settings to tweak or values to enter.

The plugin will stop a user who is not logged in from posting using a registered user’s information. This may cause issues if you have users who refuse to log in to post comments as it will tell them to log in, shown below.

Prevent Comments Impostor

This plugin’s main purpose is to help ensure that there are no false admins telling others to check out a spam site or a spammer pretending to be registered user to post without needing approval. It is a very compact plugin that should not slow down your site and should help reduce moderation needs.

Hopefully this simple plugin helped ensure that your comments are from the real users of your site.

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The post How to Block Imposter Comments in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 17:00

A floating element that stays on the side of your screen is more likely to gain a user’s attention over a static object. You can put your most important content there, like your email list form. In this article, I will show you how to create a floating sidebar widget in WordPress.

I will start by installing and activating the Q2W3 Fixed Widget plugin. After the plugin has been activated I can go into Appearance » Widgets find the widget that I want to make sticky on my page. On all of my widgets there will now be a check box titled Fixed widget I will need to check it and then save the changes.

Checkbox to make a widget sticky

Any widget where this box is checked will now float on the side of the screen even when a user scrolls down. For some people that will be enough but, if you want to style your floating widgets or give them their own custom IDs you can edit the settings under Appearance &raquo Fixed Widget Options.

Floating Widget Settings

Whether you are looking to increase the number of clicks on a link or trying to bring a point across I hope this plugin helps you gain some control over your widgets.

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The post How to Create a Floating Sidebar Widget in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 17:00

Starting out on your WordPress site you may have made a few posts or pages to learn the ropes and wish to modify their category to fit with how your content flows currently. You could also be looking to make a post into its own page or a page into a post. In this article I will show you how to do some of these simple site cleanup tasks.

I will start by making sure the posts I want to edit are posts and the pages I want to edit are pages or change that as needed. To do this I will install and activate the Post Type Switcher plugin. This plugin will allow me to change a post or a page with very little effort.

With the Post Type Switcher plugin active I will go to the All Posts page and use the quick edit option on what I wish to change. This will also work on the All Pages page and inside the object you are editing directly inside the Publish box.

Post Type Switcher

This plugin is also able to edit multiple posts or pages using the WordPress bulk actions. To do so you will need to go to All Posts and check the box next to the ones you wish to edit. Then find the drop-down menu at the top or bottom of the list and change it to Edit and press Apply. This will show you the chosen posts in quick edit mode and allow you to change multiple things including if it is a page or post.

Post Type Switcher Bulk

Advanced Custom Post Type Conversion

While Post Type Switcher is a very simple solution for changing, there are times where you may need a more powerful way to modify posts. In these situations we will want to use the Convert Post Types plugin. After this plugin has been installed and activated you will have a new menu item under tools called “Convert Post Types”. This plugin is quite powerful as it will let you select a piece of content by category or parent page and assign it a category, tag, and format.

Convert Post Types

I hope this article helps you with some website housecleaning and ensuring that your content flows how you want it to.

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The post How to Modify Custom Post Types in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 17:00

When running a multi user WordPress site, you will often need to switch user accounts to see how users see the functionality. This could become quite a chore if you have to do this a lot more often. In this article, I will show you how to easily switch user accounts in WordPress.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the User Switching plugin.

To switch between users you need to go to Users section and you will be able to swap to a different user in one of two ways. Either by hovering over their profile or by editing their profile and going to the User Switching section.

Switching user accounts from the users screen

Switching user from user profile page

Using either of those two methods you can easily switch to a different user and see your site from that perspective. Its a very small plugin that is incredibly useful for testing out any changes on your site. Once you are finished and wish to return to your normal user all you need to do is go to your dashboard and there should be a button at the top for you to click.

Switching back to your adminstrator account

While this plugin is very simple in terms of what it does, I think its an incredible plugin for testing out your site. I hope learning about this plugin helps you test your site more easily than before.

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The post How to Easily Switch User Accounts in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Monday, 09 Jun 2014 17:00

Understanding your website visitors and how they use your website is crucial for your business. There are plenty of tools that allow you to do that. However, the most important one is probably Google Analytics. It allows you to see where your visitors are coming from, what they do on your site, which content is popular, and so on. In this article, I will show you how to install Google Analytics on your WordPress site.

Signing Up for a Google Analytics Account

First thing you need to do before installing Google Analytics is to sign up for the service. Google Analytics is available for free, all you need to do is to visit Google Analytics and sign up with your Google account.

Google Analytics Page

In the upper right hand corner there will either be two links to sign in or create a new account for gmail, or the button shown in the picture above to access Google Analytics. If you do not have a gmail account you will need to create one to use analytics. When you have signed in Google will take you to a page asking you to sign up for the service and you can either track a mobile app or a website so ensure you choose the correct tracking.

Google Analytics Signup

Should you choose, you can edit if you want your site to share data with different aspects of Google for services like technical support and account sprcialists. With the information on this page filled out I will be given a Google Analytics tracking code. This code is important as it will need to be added to my site in one of a few ways.

Installing Analytics

There are a few ways to add this code depending on how you want it to be added and how knowledgeable you are about WordPress.

Installing Google Analytics Code Using a WordPress Plugin

The easiest way to install Google Analytics tracking code on your WordPress site is by using a plugin. To do that you would need to install and activate Insert Header and Footer plugin. Upon activation, go to Settings » Insert Headers and Footers and place the code into the plugin’s settings.

Insert Header and Footer

Manually Adding Google Analytics Code in header.php

A slightly more complex way would be to open your theme’s header.php and place the code right after the <body&gt tag.

Please note that if you add the code to your main theme, then it will be overwritten whenever you update your theme. Using a child theme is the best way to add customizations like this to your WordPress site.

Manually Adding Google Analytics Code in functions.php

If you feel confident in your knowledge of php you can open your theme’s functions.php and add the following code replacing the fourth line with your Google analytics code.

<?php
add_action('wp_footer', 'add_googleanalytics');
function add_googleanalytics() { ?>
// Paste your Google Analytics code here
<?php } 
?>

Using any of those methods you should have added Google Analytics to your site.

Please note, that you will not immediately start seeing information on your Google Analytics dashboard. It will Google Analytics 12 to 24 and sometimes even 48 hours before you can see any data in your Analytics account.

I hope this article helped you install Google Analytics on your WordPress site. Its a great way to optimize your website, plan your content, and grow your business.

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The post How to Install Google Analytics on Your WordPress Site appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Tutorials"
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Date: Friday, 06 Jun 2014 18:00

Email harvesting remains a problem for anyone who publishes their email address online. Many website owners tackle spammers from collecting their email by displaying their email address to visitors using images. A more practical and user-friendly solution is to add a contact form to your website.

There are hundreds of contact form solutions available to WordPress users. Complex contact forms can be created in just a few minutes and most contact plugins have anti-spam tools too. We recommend Gravity Forms. It is packed full of features, records entries in your WordPress database and its functionality can be extended through the use of add ons. Gravity Forms is also very simple to use.

Today I will be showing you how you can configure Gravity Forms and add a contact form to your website.

Please note that Gravity Forms can be used to create large forms with dozens of fields and complex conditional statements (i.e. if field A is completed, display fields X, Y and Z). This tutorial will walk you through how you configure a basic form. For information on how to create an advanced form, please refer to the Gravity Forms support forums or refer to their helpful documentation.

Setting Up Gravity Forms

After installing Gravity forms and activating it, you will see a message suggesting you to register your copy of Gravity Forms. Clicking on the register link or on the settings link, will take you to the main settings page.

Gravity Forms Installed Plugins List

The general settings area features some advanced options for developers such as whether CSS and HTML5 is outputted. The currency form is only used in forms if you decide to accept payments using Gravity Forms.

The support license key field at the top of the settings area is not required for the plugin to work. It is worth entering so that you can automatically upgrade the plugin directly through the admin area.

General Settings

Many WordPress contact form plugins, including Gravity Forms, support reCAPTCHA. The free service will help you stop bots from submitting false email submissions to you.

reCaptcha Settings

The Gravity Forms menu can be a little daunting at first. It lists eight sections in total.

Gravity Forms

Once you become familiar with what each section is for, you soon realise that you will only use one or two sections on a regular basis. The key sections are forms, new form and entries.

  • Forms – Lists all contact forms that you have created.
  • New Form – Allows you to create a brand new form.
  • Entries – Lists submitted entries to your contact forms.
  • Settings – Lists your general and reCaptcha settings.
  • Import/Export – Allows you to export entries and import and export forms.
  • Updates – Allows you to update Gravity Forms to the latest version.
  • Add Ons – Lists all available add ons.
  • Help – A large documentation area that also links to the Gravity Forms support forums.

Note that the documents located within the help section are only accessible if you have confirmed your support license key in the general settings area.

Creating a Contact Form

Clicking on the “New Form” link will bring you to the forms page with a pop up for creating a new form. You need to add a name for your new form. A description can be added too. This is useful for your own reference and can be added above your forms when they are displayed on your website.

Create a New Form

You will then be taken to the form editor. This is the page where you can build your form.

At the top of the page you will see the name of your form and its unique identifier (your first form will have id 1, second form will have id 2 etc). The navigation bar below links to the settings area, entries and a preview link that opens a new tab in your browser with a preview of your contact form. There is a drop down at the right hand side of the navigation bar that allows you to change the form that you are editing. This is useful if you have a couple of forms and need to make changes to all of them.

In the left hand side of the page, Gravity Forms walks you through the steps required to create your first form. Four different types of fields are listed on the right hand side of the page. Standard fields includes single text fields, paragraph text fields, drop downs and checkboxes. Advanced fields includes name, address, website address, email address and file upload.

The post fields allow users to submit a post using your form. They can enter the post title, content, category, tags, images and more. Pricing fields are available to advanced users who want to use forms for purchases or purchase requests. Fields include product, quantity, shipping and total.

Form Editor

To add a field to your form, simply click on the field on the right hand side of the page. This removes the tutorial for creating your first form and replaces it with the field you added.

At the top of the field box is a preview of what will be displayed to the user. In the example below, you can see that the name field requests users to enter their first and last name. Underneath you will find the settings area for the field. The settings area is different for each type of field, however there are many common settings.

The label is the name of the field that is used in your contact form. For example, I could change the label for the name field from “Name” to “Please enter your name in this field”. A description can also be added to each field to help explain to the visitor what the field is for. Fields such as name are self-explanatory, though you will find the description box useful when you ask for other information.

At the bottom of the properties area you will see a checkbox that says “Required”. If you enable this setting, the user is not able to submit the form unless they complete the field. It is important to use this for fields such as name and email address.

Name Field

The advanced tab allows you to configure additional settings. Again, the settings available to you here are dependent on what type of field you are using. The advanced area allows you to create your own error message, style the field using CSS and pre-populate the field dynamically.

One option you may use later once you have more experience with Gravity Forms is conditional logic. This allows you to create complex forms that change according to what the user enters. For example, say you want to ask the user whether they are male or female. If they enter male, you can display one series of questions. If they enter female, you can display a different series of questions. Conditional logic is not something we will talk about in this tutorial, though it is a great feature that it is looking into more closely later.

Name Field Advanced

The beauty of Gravity Forms is that you can create any type of form you want. Many contact form plugins force you to use common fields such as name, email address and message; even if you have no need for them. Gravity Forms can be used to create simple forms with only two fields or complicated forms with thirty fields.

You do not have to worry about what order you add fields to your form as fields can be reordered at any time using drag and drop.

Drag and Drop Fields

Once you have added all the forms you want to add, make sure you click on the “Update Form” button on the right hand side of the page. Otherwise, you will lose the form you just created.

Update Form

The form settings area allows you to customise the look of your form. These settings are unique to this particular form and will not be applied to any other forms you have. There is no need for you to complete this section as Gravity Forms is configured to work perfectly out of the box. If, however, you want more control on how your forms look and function, it is worth taking a few minutes to customise your form the way you want it.

From the settings page you can move the position of the field label and description. Your form button can be replaced by an image too.

Form Settings

Gravity Forms allows you to restrict when the form is displayed. You can deactivate the form after a defined number of submissions or schedule the form to be displayed during a specific period (using day, hour and minutes). You can also stop the form from being displayed to users who are not logged in.

If you are not a fan of reCaptcha, you can enable a honeypot on your form to prevent spam. This sets a trap for bots and stops them from submitting false entries to you.

Form Restrictions and Anti-Spam Settings

Confirmations are the messages that are displayed to users after they have completed your form.

Confirmation Messages

You can choose from displaying a simple text message or redirecting the user to a specified page on your website that confirms their message has been sent. You can also redirect users to a custom URL.

Confirmations List

Notifications can be emailed to you whenever a new message is submitted through your form.

Edit Notifications

Gravity Forms allows you to customise the notification email in great detail. It allows you to change all of the email fields including sent name, sent email and subject. Form fields can be inserted into the email subject or email message too. For example, you could configure your notifications so that the sender’s name is included in the email subject. Conditional logic can also be applied so that the notification email is only sent if certain criteria is met.

Notifications List

Once you have configured your form the way you want, you should preview it. Do not be alarmed if your form is not how you would like it. You can go back to the form editor at any time and customise existing fields and add new ones.

Form Preview

Adding a Contact Form to a Post or Page

Once the Gravity Forms plugin has been activated, an “Add Form” button will be added next to your post editor. It is situated right next to the “Add Media” button.

Add Form Buttons

The form button brings up a pop-up box. Next, select your form from your form list and choose whether you want to display the form title and description.

Unfortunately, the Gravity Forms form pop-up does not seem to function correctly if you are using the WordPress visual editor. If you are using the visual editor, no forms will be shown in the drop down list. This bug has been in Gravity Forms for years and unfortunately, it still exists. Therefore, if you are having difficulty inserting your form using the “Add Form” button, go to your profile page (http://www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin/profile.php) and disable the visual editor temporarily.

Insert a Form

Clicking on the “Insert Form” button will insert the form code into your post or page. It will look something like this:

[ gravityform id="1" name="My Contact Form" ]

If you prefer, you can insert forms directly into your content area using the code above. All you need to know is the identification number of your form.

Forms can also be inserted into templates. The most basic call is to simply list the identification number within the function call. There are, however, several boolean parameters that can be used such as title, description and whether the form is active.

<?php gravity_form(1); ?>

All you have to do now is check your page and see how your contact form looks on your live website. At this point, it is important to test the form by submitting a test message. This helps you to see if settings such as the confirmation message and admin notification email are set up correctly.

Final Form Output

All form submissions will be displayed in the entry section. Submissions can be emailed to you too, however having an archive of submissions is very useful, particularly if any of your admin notification emails accidentally get deleted or sent to your spam folder.

Entries List

Each entry displays the fields that were completed. Also displayed is the time of submission, the URL it was submitted from and the IP address of the user. The admin notification email can be resent from this page too.

Entry Example

A license for Gravity Forms retails for only $39. Considering the powerful features, ease of use, and overall awesomeness, I would say its a bargain.

I hope this article helped you add a contact form in WordPress.

If you liked this article, then join ThemeLab on Twitter and Google+ for more useful WordPress tutorials.

The post How to Add a Contact Form in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Noumaan Yaqoob" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Thursday, 05 Jun 2014 17:00

Things do not always go as planned. Setting up a backup for WordPress is your first line of defense in case anything ever happens to your website. We have talked about how important it is to backup your WordPress site. In this article, I am going to show you the best WordPress backup plugins.

In this article, we have one free plugin and two premium plugins. Whenever you are searching for the right plugin solution, it is always tempting to go with the cheapest option. This is not always the right thing to do when it comes to backups. Losing data is a costly and stressful thing to go through. You obviously have to work within your budget, however you should evaluate all available options and choose the one that suits you best.

Note that all of the plugins detailed below backup your complete website including theme files, plugins, images and your database.

BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy is one of the most popular backup plugins for WordPress. It helps you backup your whole WordPress installation to Dropbox, Rackspace, Amazon S3 or an FTP server. You can even backup your website via email or directly to your desktop.

Restorations are simple using a single import file (importbuddy.php) that will restore your website from a backup file; wherever the backup is located. The amazing thing about the import file is that you do not even need WordPress to be installed in order to use it. Individual files can also be restored and BackupBuddy can be used when you move to a new hosting company.

BackupBuddy

The price of BackupBuddy depends on the number of websites you want to backup. The personal license retails at $80 and allows 2 websites to be backed up whilst the business license costs $100 and allows up to 10 websites to be backed up. Developers can purchase an unlimited license for $150.

BackWPup

BackWPup is a free WordPress plugin that will save your complete WordPress installation. It allows you to backup your website to external services such as Amazon S3, DropBox, SugarSync, Microsoft Azure and RackSpaceCloud. Backups can also be stored in a directory on your own host or on another location via FTP.

BackWPup

The plugin can also be used to repair and optimize your database. Backups can be saved in zip, tar, tar.gz and tar.bz2 format. You can then restore your website using the saved backup file. A premium version of the plugin is available for $75 that offers support, documentation and additional features.

VaultPress

Developed by Automattic (The company behind WordPress.com), VaultPress is a premium backup service that can backup your WordPress websites in real time. It securely backs up your website every day.

Without doubt, VaultPress is the easiest way to backup a WordPress website. There are no options to configure. You simply activate the plugin on your website and your website files will start being backed up on Automattic’s servers. Backups can be downloaded at any time, however the best thing about VaultPress is the way it handles restores. All you need to do is click one button to restore your website to a previous version. You do not even have to restore your whole website. If you prefer, you can just restore themes, plugins, uploads or your database.

VaultPress

There are three VaultPress plans to choose from. The basic VaultPress plan costs $15 per month or $165 per year. That offers realtime backups. This means that your website is backed up around once an hour. The amazing thing about the VaultPress service is that you can download backups and restore your website from the very first day you are using the service. This allows you to download backups from years ago. For example, you could go back to a day 18 months ago and download the backup of your website that occurred at 6.00pm.

A premium plan is available for $40 per month or $440 per year. In addition to all basic plan features, it offers daily security scans and priority support from experienced WordPress developers.

If you are on a tight budget or if you do not need realtime backups, you may want to consider the lite plan. This costs only $5 per month or $55 per year. This plan will back up your website once a day rather than every hour. Backups are kept for thirty days rather than indefinitely. For many WordPress users, the lite plan offers everything they need.

I hope this article helped you choose the best WordPress backup plugin for your site.

If you liked this article, then join ThemeLab on Twitter and Google+.

The post The Best WordPress Backup Plugins appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Noumaan Yaqoob" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 17:00

With social media and word of mouth being incredibly strong tools for marketing your site it is good to know how to use Twitter to announce a new post. In this article, I will show you how to announce your new posts on Twitter with a helpful plugin called WP to Twitter.

Start with installing and activating WP to Twitter. Then go into Settings » WP to Twitter to start configuring.

WP to Twitter settings

Setting up WP to Twitter

As you can see from the screenshot above you will need an api key to proceed. To get this key you will need to go to Twitter’s application registration page while logged in to your Twitter account. This will take you to a page for creating a Twitter application where you will need to enter the name of the application, a description for it, and your website URL for the website and callback fields.

Twitter App Manager

With those filled out it will take you to your app page where you will want to go into Settings and scroll to Applications and change the Access field to Read and Write. Now you are able to copy and paste the APIs and Access Tokens into your plugin.

All that is left to do is to tell the plugin how you want it to send links. Come back to the plugin’s settings page and scroll down to the Status Update Templates section. From here you can choose what URL shortening service you would like to use and if you want the service to post for each event.

Choose how to send your Tweet

You can even edit the message to something more personalized in each field. The options below the Status Update Templates will give you plenty of other customizable settings for you to play with, for adding things like hashtags and allowing other users to use their Twitter account.

Should you be worried about an individual posts and don’t want to Tweet it there is an option in the post editor to have a special tweet or to not tweet that post at all. Should you not see this option be sure to open up screen options in the top right and check the WP to Twitter box.

wp to Twitter post editor metabox

Word of warning if you accidentally publish a post it will still automatically post to Twitter that it was posted. I hope this article helps you gain more viewers with the power of Twitter.

If you liked this article, then join ThemeLab on Twitter and Google+.

The post How to Automatically Tweet a New Post in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 17:00

Spelling errors on a website can cause confusion and may even leave a bad impression on your users. WordPress is used by people from all over the world and is used to create websites in hundreds of languages. Thats one of the reason why WordPress does not come with a spelling or grammar checking tool. In this article, I will show you a few tricks and tools that you can use for spelling check in WordPress.

WordPress Spelling and Grammar Check Plugins

The first plugin that I am going to recommend is called TinyMCE Spellcheck. You need to install and activate the plugin on your WordPress site (here is how to install a WordPress Plugin). With the plugin installed a user who wants to use spell checking would need to go to their profile and choose which options to check for under Proofreading.

Spellcheck Profile Options

Some of the most common errors you may want to check for would be complex phrases, double negatives, phrases to avoid, and passive voice. With your selections chosen you will then need to click Update Profile at the bottom of the page. Now whenever you add a new page or post there will be a proofread button in the post editor that will search for errors in spelling and anything else you chose.

Spellcheck Proofread Button

Spell Check and Suggestions in Google Chrome

Users of Google Chrome may have already seen some spell checking on their post editor, this is thanks to Google Chrome’s built in spell checker. If you are using Chrome the simplest way to activate spell checking is to right click a location where you can input text such as your post editor and clicking “Check the spelling of text fields” in the Spell-checker options.

Spellcheck Chrome Right Click

If for some reason this is not there you can always go into your Chrome settings by clicking the button in the top right of your chrome and going to Settings.

Spellcheck Chrome Settings

Scroll down and open up advanced settings, then click the Language and input settings… button. In here you can edit the language that you are using or spell checking with as well as enable spell checking at the bottom left of the popup.

Firefox

With the recent update to Firefox the process is very similar to that of Chrome. You can right click on an area where you enter text and ensure that “Check Spelling” has a check next to it. The other way would be to click the same drop down that was pressed for Chrome and go into Options.

Spellcheck Firefox Settings

Under the Advanced tab in the General section you will be able to ensure the check-box for “Check my spelling as I type” is checked or unchecked depending on if you want Firefox to check your spelling.

I hope this article helped you ensure the proper spelling of your articles in WordPress.

If you liked this article, then join ThemeLab on Twitter and Google+.

The post How to Use Spelling Check in WordPress appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Plugins"
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Date: Monday, 02 Jun 2014 17:00

For any aspiring blogger out there, gaining the attention of viewers is incredibly important. You can usually best achieve this with images. However, not all images on the internet are free to use as you wish. In this article, I will show you some of the resources I use to find royalty free images. You can use these resources to find royalty free images for your blog posts.

Creative Commons Search

Creative Commons Search

Creative Commons search is one resource that can help search across multiple websites for images. However, the catch to using this site is that you must understand the Creative Commons licenses. Most copyright simply want attribution which can usually be handled by a link back to the source. For the small cost of giving attribution you can get access to a plethora of images from different sources for your site.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a little bit different than Creative Commons in that a large of the images, audio, and video are free to use. There are sill a few items on there that may have a creative commons license requiring attribution, so be sure to check the license information below each image you view.

Stock Photos for Free

Stock Photos for Free Image

Stock Photos for Free is where we get into images that are completely free. They have a very neat and organized library with a great collection of still images. They even take the images from HD videos, the only thing they ask is you register to their site before downloading any images.

Open Clip Art Library

OpenClip art image

If you want an icon or anything clip art, Open Clip Art library is where you want to go. All of the clip art in this library are considered public domain so you can do whatever you want with these images. To make them even easier to use they usually come in both PNG and SVG formats.

Google Image Search

Google Images image

This last one is very useful but the one you have to be the most cautious about. Just about everyone uses Google to do searches but, one thing you may not know about is an option in advanced image search. Its normally at the very bottom called usage rights. While you can set this to search for free to use commercially, Google still tells you to look at the license for each image as they can not guarantee all images being considered public domain.

These are just a few of your options available out there to find royalty free images. I hope this article helped you spice up your site with new images.

If you liked this article, then join ThemeLab on Twitter and Google+.

The post How to Find Royalty Free Images for Your Blog appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Jeremy Roberts" Tags: "WordPress Tutorials"
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Date: Friday, 30 May 2014 17:42

Backing up your website regularly is vital. Every experienced website owner knows this. Unfortunately, many new WordPress users do not take backing up as seriously as they should. This is sometimes down to the assumption that everything will be ok. Others have looked into backing up their files and decided it was either too time-consuming or too costly. In reality, if something with your website goes wrong, you could lose everything.

It is not uncommon for website owners to not take backups seriously until something goes wrong. It is a hard lesson that they never forget. If you are smart, you will get into the habit of backing up your website from the beginning.

In this article, we will look into why backing up your WordPress website is so important.

Server Outages

No hosting company in the world can offer 100% uptime and reliably. Even the best WordPress hosting companies have had severe problems with their datacenters. Customers can experience irregular downtime and problems during this time for days.

There is a number of reasons why a server can go down. In 2007, for example, RackSpace’s power was completely cut off when a truck crashed into one of their electrical generators. Other outages have been caused by things such as software errors, hard drive failures or a change in server structure.

When a server goes down, the hosting company usually (but not always) can retrieve their data. However, even if your website data can be retrieved, you might have to return to a version of your website that is a few days old. Therefore, when your hosting company goes down, you could potentially lose a few days of work.

WordPress Websites are Vulnerable to Hacking

WordPress is by far the most used content management system for publishing content online. This is perhaps why it is targeted so frequently by hackers and spammers. Even if you use a security plugin on your website, there is still the risk of a malicious script injecting malware or a virus onto your website.

You may not even know that someone has infected your website. One common technique hackers use is to overwrite one of your template files with their own code. This allows them to do a number of different things such as using your website to send thousands of spam emails. As a result, your server will be blacklisted by spam monitors and none of the emails you send from your websites will be received.

It Does Not Matter How Experienced You are: Mistakes Happen

Even experienced website owners who have been working online for several years make mistakes from time to time. The wrong files can get overwritten or deleted. Or a simple MySQL command with a small error can cause lots of data to be wrongly updated.

Mistakes are not something that happens every day, but when they do happen, you will be glad of any recent backups you have.

You Cannot Rely Solely On Your Hosting Company for Backups

Many website hosting companies offer daily or weekly backups of your website. In the event of something going wrong, this allows you to get a copy of your last working version of your website. Most hosting companies can roll back your whole website to a point when your website was working correctly. Be aware that shared hosting plans cannot always offer this feature as there are hundreds of other websites hosted on the same server.

Having your websites backed up daily by your hosting company does offer some piece of mind, however it is dangerous to solely rely on your hosting company as your only backup solution. Hosting companies backup systems are always in-house. As noted previously, hosting companies can suffer outages due to electrical problems, drive failures and more. So if your backup is hosted in the same location, your backup may also be lost during an outage.

Be Smart and Back Up Often

It is important to back up your websites regularly. Backing up to your personal computer every day is not always practical, particularly if your website uses a lot of storage. A more practical solution is to use an external service to backup your files.

There are a number of WordPress backup plugins that will backup your a zipped version of your website to your server. There is no real benefit to doing this if your hosting company offers daily backups as the backup file will be stored on your main hosting package. So if your website goes offline, you will not be able to access the backup file.

I recommend using BackupBuddy to backup your WordPress site. It allows you to automatically schedule your backups and store them directly on the cloud.

Do not be fooled into thinking that because nothing bad has happened to your website in the past, nothing bad will happen in the future. Incidents usually occur when you least expect them. When they do, you will find out quickly that they are time-consuming, stressful and costly. Be smart and back up your WordPress website frequently. You will be glad you did.

The post The Importance of Backing Up Your WordPress Site appeared first on ThemeLab.

Author: "Noumaan Yaqoob" Tags: "WordPress Tutorials"
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