WPMU DEV's Blog - Everything WordPress » WordPress Plugins - WPMU.org http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog The WPMU DEV WordPress blog provides tutorials, tips, resources and reviews to help out any WP user Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 How To Create An Awesome Newsletter Signup Popup For Your WordPress Site http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/how-to-create-an-awesome-newsletter-signup-popup-for-your-wordpress-site/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/how-to-create-an-awesome-newsletter-signup-popup-for-your-wordpress-site/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:30:22 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=134485 When it comes to newsletter signups, simply putting a form in a sidebar widget doesn’t cut it. You need to get on the front foot and get your signup form in the face of your visitors.

You need a popup. And not just any old popup. You need an awesome popup that is bold, eye-catching with the kind of entrance that makes everyone in a room stop talking and pay attention.

Here’s how.

Screenshot of the Elegant Themes popup
Elegant Themes newsletter subscription popup is just so…elegant

We’re not too proud on this blog to point out when a competitor does something well: Elegant Themes, we love your newsletter signup popup. From the images to the fonts to the ta-da inspired entry, it grabs your attention without being ultra-annoying.

Chances are that it also converts (like to confirm, ET?) which, when we stop obsessing about the visual niceties, is the bottom line, isn’t it?

So, let’s walkthrough how you can add an ET-style popup to your site, complete with an ajaxy Mailchimp subscription form and a room-stopping entrance.

Building An Awesome Newsletter Signup Popup

This solution is based on a couple of WPMU Dev plugins: PopUp Pro and Mailchimp Integration. If you are WPMU Dev member then download and install them either from their Project pages or via the WPMU Dev dashboard in your WordPress admin interface.

Most of the effort is in creating a custom style for the popup. The Mailchimp Integration plugin simply provides a shortcode that can be added to the body of the popup via a TinyMCE button but we’ll cover all this later.

The first step, after installing the plugins is to configure the Mailchimp Integration plugin.

Configure Mailchimp Integration

You’ll need a Mailchimp API key, so jump into your Mailchimp account and go to Account > Extras > API Keys. If you don’t already have a key listed then click on Create A Key.

When you have a key listed, copy the API Key and then head back to your WordPress site and in the admin interface go to Settings > Mailchimp.

Screenshot of the settings page of the Mailchimp Integration plugin
Insert your Mailchimp API key and select a mailing list

Paste your Mailchimp API Key into the form and click Save Changes which will validate your API Key. Once validated select your mailing list and whether you want members of your site automatically added to that list.

With Mailchimp set up, now we need to create the popup.

Create The Signup Popup

Activating the PopUp Pro plugin adds a new top-level item, Popup to your WordPress admin menu: click on it and then on Add New.

In the edit form, add a PopUp Name and in PopUp Contents add a Heading and Subheading. We are going to embed the Mailchimp signup form in the popup via a handy button in the visual editor’s toolbar which will help us build a shortcode.

Click on the Mailchimp logo (the monkey in a hat) in the Main PopUp Content toolbar and you’ll see this dialog:

Screenshot of the Mailchimp form dialog
Adding the Mailchimp subscribe form to the popup is easy with this dialog

Don’t worry about a Form Title but do add text for:

  1. Text displayed when a user subscribes
  2. Text displayed in the submit button

For this popup we are not worried about First and Last Name (we’ll actually be hiding them later) so don’t check those boxes.

Click on OK and you should find the shortcode has been added to the Main PopUp Content. Complete the content entry by adding an image for the PopUp Feature Image (doesn’t matter whether it is left or right aligned).

Your PopUp Contents should look something like this:

Screenshot of the Popup Contents pane
The completed contents of our popup

Click on Save.

Whilst you can preview the popup in the admin interface, I think it’s better to test it out for real on a test page on the site itself.

Go to Pages > Add New, create a new page called Popup Test and add some default text. Click on Publish.

Back to PopUps, edit the Elegant Newsletter Signup and scroll down to Displaying Conditions. Switch on On specific url and then enter the full url of your test page.

Screenshot of the display conditions with on specific url set and the url of the test page specified.
Setting up a test page allows us to test our popup in the wild

Change the popup status to active and click on Save. Before we take a first look at the popup, there’s one important step to complete.

IMPORTANT! Choosing The Correct Load Method

PopUp Pro’s default method for loading a popup is via AJAX. For the majority of cases this is fine but for some, including this scenario, the AJAX nature of the embedded form conflicts with PopUp Pro’s own handling of forms.

Fortunately, solving the problem is just a case of changing the load method.

Click on the PopUp > Settings and in PopUp Loading Method change Load PopUp using to Page Footer. Click on Save All Changes.

Whenever you have problems with a shortcode in a popup not working as you would expect it’s worth changing the load method: Page Footer is usually the best bet.

The Settings page also contains a handy matrix of popular shortcodes and their compatibility with the various load methods, so be sure to check this out also.

OK, time to test, so navigate to your popup test page. Likely you’ll see something like this:

Screenshot of a popup using the minimal style
Well, the style is called minimal…

A bit underwhelming and nothing like the Elegant Themes popup. We need a popup makeover.

Applying A Popup Makeover With A Custom Style

The best way to give a popup a makeover is to create a custom popup style. Not only does this give far more flexibility but it also makes the style available for other popups as well.

You can create your custom style in the styles folder of the popup plugin but doing so runs the risk that it will be deleted when the plugin is updated. A safer, and better, approach is to put the custom popup style in your active theme and then use a custom filter to add it to the list of popup styles.

Download the custom styles files to your active directory and click on the zip to expand it. Your folder directory should be /wp-content/themes/[your active theme/popup-custom-styles-master/.

Next, go to your functions.php and add the following code:

You should now find a new option, Elegant, has been added to the select list of styles in the Appearance pane on the edit popup screen.

Select it, click on Save and go back and refresh your test page.

Screenshot of the popup using the custom style
Now, that’s an elegant popup. And trust me, it makes a grand entrance.

Making Some Structural Changes

In the popup/elegant folder in your active theme you’ll find three files:

  1. style.css – holds all the CSS for your custom style
  2. style.php – this file is not actually required and can be deleted
  3. template.php – this builds the HTML output for the popup

To make the styling a little easier, the template.php file has been modified slightly to move the output of the PopUp Feature Image out of the content section of the popup

There’s also a small piece of javascript that has been added to the bottom of the HTML output. This just adds a placeholder attribute to the email input box on the Mailchimp form so that we can remove the label.

It’s All About Style

The real work is done, though, in the style.css. I found it easier to remove all the existing style clauses that contain #messagebox and start from scratch and you’ll likely find the same.

It’s worth noting that this style gets injected into the HTML as text – that is the file is not linked. This is because the #messagebox text is actually replaced with a random ID that is assigned to the popover at generation time to enable multiple popovers to coexist.

Rather than stepping through the entire CSS, let’s just look at some of the more interesting bits.

  1. 2 @import statements add the Goudy Bookletter Google Font and animate.css which provides the entrance animation
  2. The .wdpu-msg has a padding of 50px to allow the image to hang outside the body of the popup
  3. The X to close the popup is added to the link using the :after pseudo-selector and the HTML entity value
  4. The name input controls on the Mailchimp form are hidden using the nth-of-type pseudo-selector as the containing divs don’t have unique ids

Making A Grand Entrance

Popups by default are something of a surprise to the visitor, after all they are not the result of a user action, they just appear.

Having some sort of animation can make the appearance of a popup seem more natural and less abrupt. Perhaps even slightly amusing, although that might be pushing it.

The Animate.css library provides a plethora of animations many of which can be easily applied to our popup. I’ve put the animate.css file in the theme root folder to make it easier to import (it becomes theme independent).

IMPORTANT! If using animate.css via an @import statement be sure to remove or move the comments at the top of the file, otherwise it won’t work.

With the all the animate.css animations now available it’s a case of assigning the required animation to the popup when it’s activated.

Whilst there’s no actual class that’s toggled inline with the popup’s status, the body element does have the has-popup class added and removed in line with the popup being opened and closed, so we can use that to target our popup and add an entrance animation.

This CSS clause causes the popup to drop down from the top of the screen and bounce on its final position:

It’s worth going through the available animations on Animate.css to see which you like: it’s then a simple case of changing the animation name in the CSS.

Extending The Solution

We’ve got a very usable custom style now, that not only gives us a great looking popup but also some great animation on initialization with the option to chose dozens more.

That said it’s a solution that could be improved and the first port of call would be to build a custom plugin that:

  1. adds the custom style (so remove from functions)
  2. enqueues the animate.css file (no need to move the comments)

Of course, once you get the hang of this you’ll likely also want to start creating your own styles and play with the entrance animations.

In the meantime, though, you’ll have a great looking popup that visitors to your site won’t be able to ignore.

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Making SlideShare Shine in WordPress http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/slideshare-wordpress/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/slideshare-wordpress/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=133972 When you have a website, being social is kind of mandatory nowadays. Social media rules all and if you haven’t started tweeting, liking, and pinning yet, you’re well behind the curve.

An underutilized social resource is SlideShare, a site dedicated to allowing users to create compelling slideshows with just a few clicks that can then be shared across the Internet with ease. It’s a really useful tool, especially for those in industries who find themselves needing to explain complicated subjects over and over again.

Slideshare
Embedding SlideShare presentations into WordPress is easy. I promise.

Today I’m going to talk about how to best utilize SlideShare slideshows on your WordPress site. I’ll touch on the manual approach but the primary focus here will be on the various plugins you can use to accomplish the task.

Manual Embedding

Adding SlideShare presentations to your site is actually very easy to accomplish manually. This is all thanks to the fact that SlideShare had the forethought to create a WordPress-specific embed shortcode.

With just one line of code, you can embed a fully-functional SlideShare presentation viewer that looks great in your posts and can be utilized directly on your social networks and even in email. We actually have a post about the manual embedding process, so you might want to check that out when you get a chance.

Embedding Slideshows with Plugins

There are quite a few plugins you can use to embed slideshows directly into your site. While there is some functionality overlap here, you’ll find that many of these plugins offer unique features that might be worth exploring individually.

Slideshare for WordPress by Yoast

slideshare-by-yoast

Yoast has a long-running reputation of creating solid plugins, which is why I had to include the company’s SlideShare for WordPress by Yoast plugin on this list. It makes it super simple to embed SlideShare presentations into your posts and pages, with minimal fuss required.

It works by utilizing oEmbed, which allows you to paste the URL of your presentation on its own line within a post and it’ll appear embedded once published. It also includes an embed shortcode for added convenience. It doesn’t get much simpler than this.

HTML5 Slideshow Presentations

html5-slideshow-presentation

Now this plugin kind of sidesteps your need for SlideShare altogether but it’s still totally relevant in my opinion because it lets you create and host presentations on your own site to share in any way you wish. HTML5 Slideshow Presentations includes a presentation template that’s based on html5slides and is best used on the latest browser incarnations.

There are several different slide types included in this plugin. Include a title or don’t. Add segue slides. Add animated child elements, and so forth. You pretty much have total flexibility here. Several layout options are also available. Select from widescreen, faux widescreen, or standard. You can also opt to include a logo on the bottom right of the slide if you want.

Presenting your slideshow is just as easy as creating it. All you need to do is create a dedicated page for it in WordPress then select the presentation from a drop down menu the plugin adds in your post editor. You can use keyboard shortcuts for flipping through the presentation and of course you can enable social sharing to expand your content’s reach.

Sell Media File

sell-media-file

Creating media files like slideshows can take a lot of time. It makes sense then why some would want to monetize the effort. The Sell Media File plugin allows you to quickly and conveniently add a “Buy” button next to each media file you embed into your posts and pages.

Setup is relatively painless. You just need to input some pertinent details about yourself including your PayPal email, currency code, default price for each item, button text or image, and the URL you want customers to be directed to following a purchase.

Once you’re done with that, you just use the provided shortcode to include the Buy button along with your embedded media file. It works with SlideShare, of course, but many other sites as well like YouTube, DailyMotion, Instagram, Photobucket, and Vimeo so you have plenty of options for making moolah.

seoslides

seoslides

This is another plugin that allows you to sidestep the use of large scale social sites and instead keep all of the focus (and traffic) on yours. It effectively makes the content hosted on your site social.

It works by adding SEO notes to each bit of content or media you place onto your site. So each presentation slide can be SEO optimized for the greatest organic search impact. It also allows you to embed your content directly on your site and provides site visitors with the ability to point every backlink straight back to your content—not to third party social sites.

Additionally, seoslides allows for social sharing from within the embedded content.

A paid version of this plugin is available as well. The Pro license gets you even more features including slide management, a Canvas-based slide editor, free art and resources, unlimited embeds at seoslid.es, branding control, the ability to embed presentations in places other than your website, and priority support from the seoslides team. It’ll set you back $200 for a yearly subscription but you may find it worth it if presentations are a vital component of your online presence.

Toggle Media

toggle-media

If you want to add a bit more style to your embedded SlideShare presentations, you can do so with the Toggle Media plugin. It works by adding animations to your content so that once clicked, your text or image opens up with an animated toggle effect.

To make everything work as it should, you just need to customize the provided shortcode to enable the toggle effect on the appropriate element of the content. Toggle Media works with all sorts of media services including SlideShare, SoundCloud, Flickr, Imgur, SmugMug, and WordPress.tv. Again, it’s a plugin that keeps your options open.

Iframely Responsive Embeds

iframely-responsive-embeds

If you want a quick way to use responsive iframe embeds on your site, Iframely Responsive Embeds is a good plugin choice to consider. It works with over 1,500 sites, which means you don’t have to go hunting down the embed codes for content—you can just insert the URL to that content and be done with it. It’ll automatically detect these URLs and change them to the embed codes.

It works just like oEmbeds but has the added benefit of producing embedded content that’s responsive most of the time. That means it’ll resize depending on the size of the viewport in your browser window. You need to be using a responsive theme for this to be truly effective, however.

Iframely currently works with sites like SlideShare, Storify, YouTube, Google+, and Facebook. And you can use it in a number of ways. You can set up the plugin to detect links that you manually shorten through iframe.ly only. Or you can let the plugin detect every link that you post on its own line within the [iframely] short code to be read as embeddable.

Note: If you post a link on its own link without the Iframely shortcode, it will be read by oEmbeds and processed in the default manner WordPress handles media embedding.

Bebop

bebop

If you want to expand the social reach of your BuddyPress presence, you can easily do so with the Bebop plugin. Once installed, this plugin allows you to connect your BuddyPress profile with social sites like SlideShare, YouTube, and Vimeo for easy embedding.

It’s basically a tool for those who like to curate or aggregate content. It helps to automate the process by taking content from these social sites and integrating them directly into your BuddyPress timeline. You can even pull over the RSS feed from your WordPress site if you want.

Now, just because Bebop helps to automate content curation doesn’t mean you don’t have any control over the process. Quite the contrary. You can be very selective as to what content does or doesn’t appear in your activity stream. Which is good if you want to custom tailor the content you aggregate for a specific audience.

And here’s a nifty fact for you: Bebop was developed by the a JISC-funded Open Educational Resources project at the University of Lincoln and is currently used there to help staff and students curate content on their personal BuddyPress profiles. Nifty, huh?

PopupPress

popuppress

A premium plugin you might want to check out is PopupPress. It works by letting you create and insert content in a popup window without detracting from the overall design and look of your site.

You can put just about any type of content in these popups to solicit engagement from your visitors. For instance, you can embed standard text, images, a gallery, video or audio files, or PDFs. Plus, you can embed content from media sites like SlideShare. The popups themselves can be used to display a wide number of things from advertisements to contact forms to alerts to product images.

As a SlideShare user, you might want to embed a slideshow about a particular product you’re selling that offers more in-depth information. This can be really effective at attracting user attention and potentially increasing conversions.

Other features of PopupPress include a slider and a lightbox. It also has multiple execution methods. So, the popup can be triggered by a click, mouseover, on page load, or when leaving the site. It includes a basic stats system too for keeping tabs on the number of views your popups have received, too.

You can expect to pay $17 for a regular license of PopupPress and $85 for the extended license.

Content Embedding jQuery Plugin

media-widget

The last plugin I’ll talk about here today is another premium offering that makes embedding content from a multitude of sources a snap. It’s called Content Embedding jQuery Plugin and it works by adding a simple media widget to your WordPress site for embedding from several sites.

Supported services include SlideShare, of course, along with YouTube, DailyMotion, Metacafe, Scribd, Vimeo, and others. If you paste a URL into your post or page from a supported service, this plugin will detect it and automatically replace the URL with the embed link. As you can imagine, this can be a real timesaver since you don’t have to go searching for those embed links anymore.

This simple plugin costs $8 for the regular license and $40 for the extended license.

Wrapping Up

Adding SlideShare slideshows into your WordPress posts or pages isn’t all that complicated, especially when you have the right tools on hand. Most of the above plugins work with multiple media services but most importantly, they all allow you to embed slideshows wherever you want on your site with minimal fuss.

Now I’m curious: do you use any of these plugins in your daily site operations? If you’re an avid SlideShare user, what’s your preferred method for embedding your presentations? Is there a plugin you love that I missed here? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

Image source: Sylvain Kalache.

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Tracking Your Ranking in WordPress Just Got Awesome http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/track-ranking-wordpress/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/track-ranking-wordpress/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=134114 If you plan on getting visitors to your website via search engines, then keeping track of where your content is ranking can help you determine if your promotional efforts are paying off or not.

Whether you are experimenting with on-site search engine optimization, content marketing, or social promotion and outreach, if you aren’t measuring the rank of your website in the search engines, then it will be hard to know what is working and what isn’t.

In this article we will look at a selection of the best options available for monitoring the visibility of websites in search engines. These options range from free basic online services, to a rank checking WordPress plugin, right through to a premium suite of online tools for monitoring the health of your website and those of your clients and competitors.

If you want to know where your content is ranking for the keywords and search terms you are writing about, then these tools can tell you all you need to know.

SerpLab: A Free Online Rank Checker

SerpLap800x200

SerpLab is a free online service for finding out where your website is ranked in the search engines for the keywords and search terms you are focusing on.

You don’t need to register an account to use the basic service and you can simply provide the address of the website you want to research, and then add up to 10 keywords.

The results are then displayed on the same page, giving you the rank for each keyword, making this a very quick and easy solution. You can also view the top 10 results for each keyword to get a better understanding of the competition.

This is all very basic but it does allow you to almost instantly check the rank of a website for a selection of keywords, all without the need to create an account and hand over any personal details.

However, if you want more functionality, you can register for a free account and then start monitoring a set of keywords to track their movement over time. Once you have created an account you can return to the site, login, and then see the latest ranking information for your website, as well as any of your competitors that you wish to monitor for the keywords you have saved.

Notable Features include:

  • Quick check without creating an account
  • Create and save multiple projects with a free account
  • Keywords checked every eight hours
  • Enable alerts for certain conditions
  • Compare the rank of multiple websites for the same keywords

As a free option, SerpLap is a useful tool to have access to. It’s a little less polished than some of the premium options but it does the job for those on a budget.

SerpBook: Track Your Rank in the Cloud

SerpBook-800x220

SerpBook is another hosted service for tracking the rank of your website in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for the search terms of your choice. It’s one of the most affordable premium services of its type, with prices starting from just $4.95 a month.

SerpBook is also very easy to use and once you’ve added your keywords you can simply login to your account to get an instant overview of where your site is listed in the search engines.

The service automatically updates at set intervals to give you a clear picture of the visibility of your website for the search terms of you aiming to rank for. While the dashboard quickly informs you of recent changes for each keyword, you can also view a graph depicting the movements in the SERPs for individual keywords, over set periods of time.

When it comes to adding domains and keyword combinations to track, it’s as easy as entering the website domain or exact URL you want to track, and then one or more keywords you want to monitor.

You can also set the Google region, and change the tracking location to allow you to monitor the local results as a user based in a certain location would experience them.

As the keyword and domain combinations are by default stored together in your account, you can better organize them by using categories.

Once you’ve added one or more keywords that you want to track the position of, you will almost instantly be able to see its position in Google’s listings, providing the domain or URL is in the top 300 positions.

Notable Features of SerpBook:

  • Google rank updates bi-hourly
  • Bing and Yahoo rank updates daily
  • Track the top 300 positions in Google
  • Track Google Maps and YouTube videos
  • Track number of backlinks and Google PageRank
  • Support for every local version of Google
  • Share links to your reports
  • Schedule report to be sent via email
  • Create white label PDF and Excel reports
  • Export data and charts in Excel and PDF format
  • Custom email alerts
  • Link with your Google Analytics account

When it comes to pricing, SerpBook offers a no credit card required 14-day free trial that should give you enough time to decide if this service is for you. If you do decide SerpBook is the best option for tracking the rank of your website in the search engines, you can get started on the Lite+ plan for just $4.95 a month. This option allows you to track up to 25 keyword and domain combinations.

If you want a very easy to use service that you can set and forget, then SerpBook is a great value hosted option.

Rankie: The Plugin Option

Rankie-800x220

If you’d like to keep your ranking tools in-house, then the premium WordPress Rankie plugin is a one option to consider. Instead of using a hosted service, by installing this plugin on your site you can begin monitoring the rankings of multiple websites for the keywords of your choice.

As you can monitor the position of a website other than the site the plugin is installed on, you can avoid placing a burden on the resources available to your main website, and instead install WP Rankie on a WordPress site created specifically for hosting this plugin.

Once you’ve entered the address of a site and one or more keywords you want to monitor, the position of that website will be checked at regular intervals.

As well as getting a quick overview of the current rank for each keyword on the plugin dashboard, clicking on the individual keywords displays a rank chart and rank report. This allows you to see how the rank of the website for that keyword has changed over time.

You can also generate reports for the websites you are monitoring. The reports include:

  • Which keywords went up or down in the period
  • Position summary
  • A list of all current rankings
  • Line graphs and pie charts depicting movement and distribution of rankings

The reports can then be exported as a PDF document. However they are pretty basic and not the most impressive to look at.

In addition to keyword tracking, Rankie includes a basic keyword suggestion tool which can generate keywords based on an initial entry.

The plugin also gives you easy access to its activity log so you can see when the reports were last updated and what actions were performed.

Notable Features of Rankie:

  • Track unlimited domain and keyword combinations
  • Monitor from within your WordPress website
  • Receive daily email ranking reports
  • Generate reports for each site and export as a PDF
  • Rank distribution charts
  • Keyword movement graphs
  • Monitor multiple sites from one WordPress dashboard
  • Basic keyword suggestion tool

If you don’t mind managing your keyword reporting solution yourself, then Rankie is one way to do so while replacing a monthly subscription for a one-time fee. It’s a little rough around the edges in some places. However, it’s a cost effective solution if you want a tool to monitor multiple websites and keywords that is under your control.

Advanced Web Ranking: The Pro Solution

AWR-800x220

If you are looking for something more powerful and feature packed than the previous options, Advanced Web Ranking is a service that does a lot more than just checking the position of a selection of keywords in the search engines.

Advanced Web Ranking is a service more aimed at SEO professionals and site owners who want access to a range of reports and data relating to the visibility of their websites and those of their competitors.

The service comes in two variations: cloud and desktop. While the desktop software is the more affordable option, available for a one-time fee, you are required to update the reports manually, or at least handle the scheduling yourself.

The web based cloud offering, on the other hand, is available on four monthly subscription plans. However, the service is much more hands off than its desktop counterpart, with updates taking place automatically in the cloud. The reports are also available from anywhere with an internet connection.

With the ability to carry out an SEO audit, as well as social media monitoring alongside the rank tracking features, Advanced Web Ranking is aimed at both website owners and those carrying out search engine optimization work, whether as an individual or agency.

Notable Features of Advanced Web Ranking Cloud:

  • Intuitive dashboard and detailed reports
  • Results from 50+ countries, with custom Google locations
  • Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools integration
  • Monitor competitor websites and compare sites side-by-side
  • Track keywords with special characters
  • Connect to and monitor Twitter and Facebook pages
  • On demand and scheduled updates
  • Monitoring of Google algorithm updates
  • Mobile responsive interface
  • White label reporting for clients
  • Share access to reports with client accounts

While Advanced Web Ranking has more features than the other options covered here, this does come at a price. With the entry level plan available for $49 a month, and the ability to track 2,000 keywords, this option won’t be for everyone.

If you don’t mind paying more for a slicker interface and a lot more features, then Advanced Web Ranking should be on your shortlist. If you’d like to try Advanced Web Ranking, the cloud service is available on a 30 day free trial.

Conclusion

By using one of these tools or services you will be able to keep an eye on where your content is ranked, allowing to measure what effect your attempts to improve the visibility of your website are having.

These services can also allow you to instantly see when your content is starting to lose its position in the search engine results, giving you an opportunity to rectify this before you start experiencing a drastic reduction in visitors, conversions, and sales.

If you have any questions about tracking the rank of your website then please leave a comment below.

Image credits: Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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Create a Multilingual WordPress Website With WPML http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/multilingual-wordpress-wpml/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/multilingual-wordpress-wpml/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=133591 This year has marked the first year that non-English downloads of WordPress have surpassed English language downloads.

As of April, English downloads accounted for just 42.6% of WordPress core downloads. Core developer Andrew Nacin pointed out at WordCamp Seattle, only 5-10% of the world speak English, so it may be just a matter of time before languages like Mandarin and Spanish dominate WordPress installations.

Thanks to internationalization improvements in WordPress 4.0 allowing users to select their preferred language, the platform has further opened up to users who speak languages other than English.

For WordPress users, and in particular websites offering products and services, it’s never been more important to offer a multilingual experience to your visitors. If you’re not, you could be missing out on potential customers.

One of the easiest ways to make WordPress run multilingual is with the WPML plugin. WPML lets authors write content in different languages and translate content. It also includes advanced features for translation management and an interface for professional content translation.

Not only does WPML make it easy to manage the multilingual content on your site, but the plugin can also help put you in touch with professional translators. The plugin then allows you to give these translators direct access to your site if required, enabling them to add their work to your site through the translation dashboard feature of WPML.

In this guide we’ll look at how to create a multilingual site and other solutions for translating WordPress.

Guide to WPML for WordPress-800x220
The majority of WordPress core installations are now in languages other than English.

WordPress Internationalization: What’s the Big Deal?

While the number of websites powered by WordPress is sitting at an impressive 23%, one of the challenges that needs to be overcome in order to see that number rise is improved support for multilingual content, whether that is post, plugin, or theme content, not to mention the core software itself.

At the time of writing, 51 locales of WordPress are up-to-date with the current version of WordPress, while 64 locales do not yet have a package available. The remaining 22 locales are one or more major versions behind. As was pointed out in WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg’s recent State of the Word, there is still work to be done.

By taking the required steps, developers can ensure that their work is translation-ready. This means those plugins and themes can then be easily localized or translated into additional languages by other users and developers. This in turn allows those plugins and themes to be used by the growing number of non-English language speaking WordPress site owners, with obvious benefits for both the developers and end users.

With linguistic rights a very real issue, it’s also important for online publishers to be aware that their audience may well be expecting them to offer their content in multiple languages. If you’d like to increase the potential number of visitors who can consume your content, the WPML plugin which we will be looking to today, is one way to publish multilingual content with WordPress.

Using WPML: An Overview and Guide to Getting Started

After installing the core WPML plugin and any optional add-ons, you are given the opportunity to see a quick overview of the plugin’s features by launching the WPML getting started guide.

When you are ready to get started, you can begin configuring the plugin and starting the process of making your site multilingual. The first step is to select the current content language and then choose the additional languages that your website and its content will be published in.

WPML Select Languagae
Select which languages your site content will be published in

After selecting the languages your website will be available in, you must then determine how visitors to your site can switch between those languages and where you will display the switcher menu.

From the available options you can easily add the switcher to your theme’s widget areas, such as the sidebar, or insert it into one of the menu locations of your site. The switcher can also be set to be mobile-friendly for users that are visiting your site on the go.

WPML Settings-new
The options for language switcher controls

With WPML you can also insert the switcher into a location of your choice by adding the supplied PHP to the appropriate theme file. If you want to personalize the switcher you can follow the online guide covering how to create a custom language switcher by adding custom CSS.

Once you’ve chosen the languages you will be publishing your content in, and how your visitors will make their selection, you must configure how the different versions of your content are stored on your site. The available options include:

  • Different languages in separate directories (domain.com/es/)
  • A different domain for each language (es.domain.com)
  • Language name added as a URL parameter (domain.com?lang=es)

You can also set the default admin language for your site. This is especially useful for those who are administrating and managing their site in languages other than English.

Translating Your Site and Its Content

Once you’ve configured the WPML plugin for your site, the important task of translating your content is next.

While WPML is able to configure your site so that it can easily display its content in different languages, you are responsible for adding that multilingual content to your website.

However, WPML doesn’t simply leave you to your own devices when you get to this point. The plugin makes it very easy to see which pieces of content on your site have or haven’t been translated and, if they have, into which languages.

Through the translation management console on the admin area of your site, you can quickly filter any existing content that is yet to be translated.

The WPML Translation Manager
Filter content by its translation status
When it comes to translating your blog posts and pages, you can either do it yourself, or find a translator to create the content. Thankfully, ICanLocalize, another service from the creators of the WPML plugin offer a translation service, with prices starting from $0.09 per word.

You can even connect with these translators directly from within your WordPress admin area and give them access using the translator user role. This allows them to log in and add the translated content directly to your site, making the whole process a lot more streamlined. You can even enable notifications to get an update when a translation job has been completed.

If you decide to carry out the translation yourself, or at least add the multilingual content to your site yourself, the procedure for doing so is straightforward. The interface for creating the additional language versions of your content can be found on the WordPress post or page editor screen. The WPML plugin adds an options panel to this screen which allows you to set which language the particular post you are working on is written in.

WPML Translation Panel
The translation options panel on the post editor

From this options panel you can also order a translation of the post you are working on by getting in touch with the ICanLocalize translators. However, you can opt to translate the content yourself by clicking on the corresponding button to create the new version of the post.

WPML German Version
The multilingual version of the post being created
Once you click on one of the “plus” symbols to add a new language version for a post, a new post editor window is displayed. From there you can enter the content in the appropriate language.

When creating the new language version, you also get the option of copying the original content into the new post editor screen. This is handy as it gives you access to the version you are creating the translation from as you work.

WPML Published German Post
An example of a published post in another language

Once the post goes live, visitors to the site will then be able to switch versions to see your content in the different languages you have included on your site.

Extensions and Add-Ons for using WPML with Other Plugins

As the WPML plugin has grown in popularity, so too has the number of extensions available, as well as compatible third party plugins. Now it’s possible to combine the multilingual features of WPML with some of the other plugins you might be using on your site. This gives you the ability to offer your visitors a choice of languages when interacting with your content.

WPML Multi-Lingual Import Add-On for WP All Import

WP All Import-800x256

For users seeking a way to batch-import content into their WordPress website via CSV or XML files, one popular option for this is the WP All Import plugin. Users of this plugin can then install the multilingual add-on available for WP All Import to import content in multiple languages, directly into their site, providing they are also using the WPML plugin.

With this add-on you can even import content, such as product descriptions or just regular blog posts in multiple languages at the same time. As long as your posts are using some kind of unique ID, then the plugin will know exactly which item on your site to link the imported multilingual version to.

WooCommerce Multilingual

WooCommerce Multilingual-800x256

The free WooCommerce multilingual add-on for WPML lets you easily create a multilingual online store.

Once installed, the plugin makes it easier to translate store and product pages, allowing your customers to order products and check out their shopping cart in their own language. The order update emails can also be translated, giving you the ability to keep your customers in the loop in their language of choice as they await the delivery of their order.

If you are using any other third party plugins on your WordPress site, such as Gravity Forms, BuddyPress, or Types, you may well be able to find a suitable tutorial on translating them on the related projects section of the WPML website.

WPML Pricing

WPML is a premium plugin and is available on three pricing plans, starting at $29. The main difference between the blog and CMS versions is the latter gives you the ability to translate the core features of your WordPress site, such as custom fields, widgets, and other elements.

If you need to translate every aspect of WordPress then the CMS version is for you.

While the plugin can be used on an unlimited number of websites, apart from the lifetime option, the purchase price includes one year of support and updates.

For peace of mind, the developers of WPML offer a no questions asked, 30-day full money back guarantee if you are not happy with your purchase.

Conclusion

WPML is surprisingly easy to use and makes a seemingly difficult task a lot less challenging. The wide range of compatibility with other WordPress plugins, as well as the add-ons that are available, make it a good choice for those who need to do more than just provide multilingual versions of their blog posts, but also translate all the elements of a WordPress site.

The plugin has been produced by OnTheGoSystems, who, as well as creating WordPress plugins, also manage the ICanLocalize website and app translation service. This should give you a good indication that the developers know what they are doing when it comes to creating and managing multilingual websites.

With prices starting at $29, WPML is a cost effective way to create a multilingual website with WordPress. However, it’s not the only plugin of its type, so make sure you check out our list of the top 6 translation plugins for WordPress.

If you have any questions about this plugin or creating a multilingual website with WordPress, please leave a comment below.

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Free WordPress Plugins For Ratings, Testimonials and Subscriber Counts http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/free-wordpress-ratings-testimonials-subscriber-count-plugins/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/free-wordpress-ratings-testimonials-subscriber-count-plugins/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=133810 Proving your social worth. What do I mean by prove your worth? I’m talking about social proof. Leveraging social proof, specifically. And I know, it just sounds like one of those marketing buzz phrases that’s all over the zeitgeist. And it is! But keep reading!

This kind of marketing is actually a no-brainer, especially with the goldmine of free plugins available. Best of all, implementing social proof as part of your marketing strategy rewards you just for being your awesome self to your clients and customers.

This kind of social media integration goes one step beyond connecting and sharing plugins—that, while critical to your social marketing plan, serve a slightly different role. Back in September, there was a huge round-up of great social media integration plugins on the blog that included comments and options for publicizing your content. You’ll probably want to use that guide as an auxiliary to this one, because together, curating connection and reputation management (social proof) are a more robust way to approach your social media marketing plan.

These plugins will help you collect and display customer reviews and ratings, testimonials, and subscriber count and following numbers to boost your clout, client confidence, and show off that stellar reputation you’ve earned.

Prove Yourself

For better or worse, people are going to talk about your service online. Whether it’s through Yelp reviews, Tweeting praise, writing blog posts, or any of the other infinite feedback loops your clients are engaging in. If you’re good at what you do, you actually want that kind of buzz to build around you. LinkedIn recommendations, for example, can be a powerful form of social proof for job hunters in the corporate world. A testimonial page full of client raves and praise on your website is worth its weight in gold for a freelancer. And hey, since you can’t avoid the impact social media has on your business reputation, you might as well take advantage of it.

WPMU DEV social stats
We proudly display our social stats.

But social proof goes ever farther than product and service reviews. Clout counts for something, and showing your audience that you’ve got a large following is a way to establish yourself as an authority, an influencer in your industry. Unconvinced? Take a peek at those numbers over on the left. Any ideas why they’re so proudly and prominently displayed?

How to Leverage Social Proof in WordPress

You don’t need to spend a dime of your marketing budget to get this arm of your marketing machine up and running. I’ve put together a pile of free WordPress plugins to optimize your customer ratings system, streamline your client testimonials, and getting loud and proud about your social reach.

Five Stars Still Means Something (Ask Anyone Who Sells on Amazon)

The first set of plugins we’re going to look at give your customers the ability to rate products and posts on your blog, and leave reviews and testimonials.

There’s actually some psychology behind the whole ratings system thing. Humans happen to be social creatures and the opinions of our peers matter a great deal to us. Sales between competing products on the ubiquitous retail giants can hinge entirely on the rating–in fact, a product may not even get the clicks if it hasn’t been rated. If you’ve got a shopping cart or ecommerce system set up on your website, and you’re not giving your customers the ability to rate and review products, there’s a good chance you’re leaving money on the table. Depending on the product, service, or experience we’re selling, a five-star vs. thumbs-up/thumbs-down system may be more appropriate.

Free WordPress Ratings Plugins

Yet Another Star Ratings

yasr

YASR spits out a shortcode which inserts a five-star rating system into your posts or pages. After your write the review, YASR gives your visitors the opportunity to vote on a star-rating as well. How might you use this? Well let’s say you review WordPress plugins or themes on your blog. After you very thoughtfully pen an overview and detail your experience, your visitors get to vote as well. Interaction is a form of social proof.

You could absolutely use this plugin to collect and display product ratings from customers also, but to really take advantage of all the features, you’d want to implement a more curated approach to ratings and reviews.

Rating Widget - Star Rating System

rating-widget

Rating Widget – Star Rating System gives you the ability to embed either a stars-system or a thumbs up/down rating in your pages, comments, or posts (even custom post types). It also integrates with WooCommerce and BuddyPress users, activities, forum topics and replies. There’s a functional free version (that includes the developer branding), but be aware that better functionality comes with a monthly premium. While I loved the idea behind this plugin, and thought all the features and functionality was pretty awesome, I was less than thrilled to see yet another premium service sneaking into the free plugin repository.

Easy E-commerce Reviews Lite

easy-e-commerce-reviews

Easy E-commerce Reviews Lite is the free version of a premium plugin (starts at $29 for the single site license), but depending on how complex your ecommerce site is, might be enough to get you started. It works with WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads and a few other e-commerce plugins to give your customers the ability to review (and rate with a star system) their purchases.

It works with the WordPress commenting system to give your users a seamless experience, and according to the plugin page FAQ:

Is it awesome?
Hells bells yes. It’s very awesome.

Thumbs Rating

thumbs-rating

Thumbs Rating lets your visitors thumbs up or down the content on your site–be that a blog post, page, or custom post type, and then gives you the ability to display the highest voted (most popular) bits of content. WHY might you use this? Because highly rated blog posts are yet another form of content marketing that hinges on the social proof strategy–and it works. The binary system of rating (think YouTube) is either more or less helpful than a five-star system, which is why I wanted to find a plugin for this purpose. And Thumbs Rating accomplishes this task in one easy to modify, lightweight plugin.

Free WordPress Reviews Plugins

Beyond leaving a rating, a customer or client might like to review a product or service. What is that old adage? The pen is mightier than the sword? That’s absolutely true and scathing reviews can be difficult to recover from. If you can convince your clients and customers to leave a review or write a testimonial, try to convince them to leave their full, real name. And a photo increases the effectiveness of a review also, making it appear more authentic.

If your ecommerce solution doesn’t have a native customer review feature, here are three free plugins that might fit the bill (also, Easy E-commerce Lite above also has review functions, but I stuck it with the other ratings plugins).

Rich Reviews

Rich Reviews

Creates shortcode so you can include review forms, collect reviews, and display them on appropriate posts and pages within your WordPress site. One interesting feature this plugin has is that it uses the Google reviews microformat so these rich snippets would be included in search, in theory, a boon to local search engine marketing efforts.

Scrapazon

scrapazon

Authors and Amazon affiliates can use this plugin to display Amazon customer reviews for a specific product in a blog post or page via shortcode. You’ll need to join both the Amazon Affiliates program and have access to the Product Advertising API to use it, but it’s totally worthwhile to take advantage of the fantastic feedback your book is getting and display those reviews inline.

WP Customer Reviews

wp-customer-reviews

WP Customer Reviews creates a shortcode you can use to drop in a form for review submission or display product and service reviews on your pages and posts. The form is completely customizable and you can moderate the reviews before they’re live on your site. One feature I liked on this was the ability to add an admin response to the reviews–so you can publicly thank your customers for their kind words.

Free WordPress Testimonials Plugins

Good Reviews for WordPress

good-reviews

Good Reviews for WordPress was designed for restaurants, but is flexible enough for most service and products. Customers can add a star rating, a short review, a photo and link to their website (it increases credibility). Reviews are displayed in SEO friendly Schema markup and can be added to any page, post, or sidebar on your site.

Testimonial Rotator

testimonial-rotator

Testimonial Rotator creates a custom post type for your testimonials and creates a shortcode that outputs a rotator of your cherry picked reviews. In addition to a review, the plugin can create a star rating and display author information–including a headshot. I like this one because you can create multiple rotators with different testimonial categories. Super useful if you do or sell more than one thing.

Clean Testimonials

clean-testimonials

This handy little plugin let’s you drop a submission form into any page via shortcode, edit and categorize the submissions, and creates shortcode to output a specific or random testimonial either on a page or post, or in a sidebar widget. Your clients can decide whether they want to include a photo or contact details. It’s called Clean Testimonials because it doesn’t include any styling–that part’s up to you (and could be a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective).

Testimonials Widget

testimonials-widget

Testimonials Widget is pretty cool because it gives you more sophisticated display options. Create reviews and testimonials and display them in a carousel, fade, or slide format, complete with transitions. You can choose which testimonials to include in each show, or display them randomly with a shortcode or in a widget. The pro version will let you add star ratings and has some more advanced functionality, but for a free plugin, this one does exactly what it says it will do, and does it nicely.

Taking Advantage of Google, Yelp, LinkedIn and More

While you’re actively collecting reviews and ratings from your clients and customers yourself, you also want to make sure that you’re carefully curating the nice things they say about you across the different social networks. And it just so happens there are some clever free plugins to help you with this as well.

Third Party Integration Reviews/Social Proof

Google Places Reviews

google-places

Are your customers leaving reviews for your business on Google? This handy widget gives you a simple plug and play way to display those on a widget. The free version is pretty feature-rich, but if Google is a place your adoring fans are regularly leaving glowing reviews, it might be worth the upgrade to unlock the extra features, including the ability to display up to five reviews and drop them into pages and posts via shortcode.

Yelp Widget Pro

yelp-widget

Yelp Widget Pro is the Yelp version of the above plugin (same developer even!), and it works in a similar way. You can choose any business profile to display as a widget. There’s an upgrade available that has some increased output functionality, and gives you the ability to integrate your Yelp review displays with Google Maps.

WP LinkedIn

wplinkedin

Do you find clients and job prospects on LinkedIn? WP LinkedIn is a pretty handy free plugin that gives you shortcodes to display a good deal of your profile on any page or post–including a rotator of your LinkedIn recommendations. Pure social proof gold for your portfolio or agency page if you’re a consultant, coach, freelancer or jobhunter

Twitter Embed

twitter-embed

Embedding tweets is fairly straightforward anyway. This plugin makes it almost too easy. Once activated you simply drop the URL of a tweet you want to embed into any page or post and voila — it appears as if by magic. All that’s left for you to do is to collect those little endorsements in 140 characters.

Custom Facebook Feed

custom-facebook

I’ll be honest, finding and curating great social proof on your biz page or fan page on Facebook is hit or miss, but if you have a wall that your fans are leaving thoughtful, Custom Facebook Feed will let you display that on a page or post on your website with relative ease. This feature-rich plugin does a ton of other stuff way beyond the scope of this short overview, so it’s absolutely worth taking a look at.

Show Your Subscriber and Share Count

And the last bit of social proof we’ll talk about is what I mentioned at the top of this post–displaying your subscriber and share count on your blog feed and posts. This falls under the category of marketing psychology that appeals to the mob mentality–in other words, if you can demonstrate that a ton of people are reading and sharing your content, your content will have a greater perceived value.

Digg Digg

digg-digg

Digg Digg by the team at Buffer adds a floating social bar to the side of your blog posts. Included with the ability to share across all the big networks, the bar displays a count of how many shares, likes, tweets, etc., each bit of content has garnered.

Tweet, Like, Google +1, and Share

tweet-like-plusone

This plugin outputs a shortcode you can add anywhere on posts or pages to give your guests the ability to share content. You can customize the available networks if you’re trying to focus your marketing efforts in one direction, and it displays that all-important count of how many shares your content has received. Display is inline or vertically (with scrolling support). I like this one because it’s flexible and minimalist, and if you want to embed it into your theme, you can do so via a function call.

Social Count Plus

social-count

This handy, lightweight plugin just displays your social metrics, and updates those every day (or when a new post is published). The output is via shortcode if you want the count in text form, or you can display the count and network icons in a widget. Of all the plugins for this function I’ve talked about, this one is most clearly geared toward proving social reach.

Shareaholic

shareaholic

Shareaholic creates a social share bar at the bottom of each post that includes the number of times the content has been liked, Tweeted, etc. It’s easy to use and customize, and includes a ton of features that don’t necessarily have much to do with social proof–but you might find useful. The plugin is probably overkill for just sharing and displaying count, but it’s worth looking at if you have a more robust content marketing plan of action with your blog.

Wrapping Up

Taking advantage of these free plugins and your already adoring client and customer base only makes smart business sense. When you show your worth and the value of the services, products, or content you put out there, you’ll be more likely to convince those buyers who are on the fence and capture those leads who are looking for the best of the best to work with.

How do you use social proof on your website? Do you have a favorite plugin to automate the process?

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Best Free Plugins for Retouching WordPress Images http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/best-free-plugins-retouching-wordpress-images/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/best-free-plugins-retouching-wordpress-images/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 13:00:44 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=134001 Whether you’re a successful photographer or have created a simple photo blog to captures your memories, there are some wonderful plugins out there to ensure your images look as beautiful as they are special.

In today’s Weekend WordPress Project, we’ll look at three free plugin solutions that work great out-of-the-box.

From sharpening your images and adjusting the hue, to adding cool effects and even creating a meme, these plugins add fun and extra function to your WordPress website.

Get ready to get creative.

ImageMagick Sharpen Resized Images

ImageMagick Sharpen Resized Images plugin for WordPress

In the photography world, sharpening your images after they have been resized is one of the most essential and key steps to editing your images professionally. Thanks to this plugin, you can quickly do this from within your WordPress dashboard.

You can set default settings so that each image is sharpened as soon as it’s resized, when you’re adding to a post or page. And don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking: This plugin maintains the image crops you apply, including your image’s proportions.

This is a wonderful plugin that does a wonderful job, and is easy to use — that is, once you install the imagick PHP module through shell access, if your hosting company doesn’t already have it installed. This can take some doing, but it’s certainly worth it. Your photos will look professional.

Take a look at this example to give you an idea of how well this plugin works. Sure, it’s a little exaggerated, but it clearly demonstrates the power and versatility behind this plugin.

This is an example of the sharpness you can add to your resized images with ImageMagick

The best part of this plugin is that you can also add contrast to your images. This is definitely a free plugin you’re going to want to consider adding to your site, especially if you’re a photographer, or your blog is otherwise centered around your photos.

This plugin will ensure your beautiful photos stay exactly that: Beautiful.

POWr Photo Filter

POWr Photo Filter plugin for WordPress

If you’re looking to add simple image effects to your photos to quickly spruce them up and make them more interesting, then the Photo Filter plugin by POWr is a great choice. It isn’t robust with effects, but it has the most important ones.

You can make adjustments to your photo point-by-point using a sliding bar in the plugin’s settings. You can edit the grey scale, sepia tone, darkness, contrast, brightness, and even the opacity, just to name a few.

And if that’s not enough, there’s also options for a fade-in animation, captions, image re-sizing, and borders. It’s a free plugin that is added through a short code onto any page on your website.

Once the shortcode is added and you view the page, you can edit an image by clicking the little settings icon that appears. You can see an example of what it looks like below:

Access the settings through the button that appears on a page via shortcode

When you click the button, a pop up window appears where you can edit your photo with the settings you prefer, then sign up for a free account to save it. Here’s an example of what this plugin can do.

Before and after photo example of POWr Photo Filter

On the left is the original image, and on the right is the image edited with this plugin. I’ve added a black border, and opted for the sepia tone look.

This may not be an image you’d want to add to your site or blog, but it at least gets the idea across of the awesome settings this plugin features. You can simply brighten, and sharpen your image if you’d like. :)

In the free version, a watermark is placed on your image of the plugin, which you can adjust, but you can get rid of this in the premium version, along with plugin support. Prices for this plugin start at $2.99 per month for one website. There are options for multiple licenses, however.

Overall, this is a great plugin for quickly adding fairly good quality effects right in your WordPress site. It may not be Photoshop, but it’s a great tool nonetheless.

Aviary Photo Editor

Aviary Photo Editor plugin for WordPress

I’ve saved the best for last here. This plugin was by far the easiest to install and use, and it was also abundant with rich photo editing features.

The only thing that threw me off for a few seconds was where the in-line pop-up would appear to edit my photos. Turns out you can edit them right in the media library.

Enable the list view in the media manager to access the photo editor

You just need to select the list view, which you can find on the top left corner, above the list of your files in the media library. When the list view is active, you will see a button appear.

The edit button will appear at the right-end of each file item

On the far right of each listed image in your library, you’ll see a button will appear titled “edit photo”. You just need to click on it to open the in line editor.

Once you’re there you can edit your image’s sharpness, contrast, brightness, add filters, borders, and even correct red eye and blemishes. You can even do what I did in the example below, and create your own meme.

Aviary Photo Editor example in the form of a meme

On the right is the edited image which resulted with the use of this plugin. It’s not the best meme ever, but I think it gets the point across.

I snapped the photo quickly one Hallowe’en passed when I was actually able to put a witch hat on my black cat for a few seconds. Needless to say, it inspired the caption since I know she loves me, but definitely not in this photo.

I selectively colored my cat and myself using the “splash” tool. I also blurred the background with the blemish tool, believe it or not. Finally, I added some text, and was able to choose from quite a few fonts.

All in all, I was thoroughly impressed. It’s not very surprising when you consider Aviary has joined with Adobe for this plugin. It’s still not Photoshop, but as you can see from the additional example below, it’s pretty fantastic.

Brightening and gray scale photo example of Aviary Photo Editor

I was able to brighten an otherwise incredibly dark photo, and add a gray scale effect, just for fun. It’s not perfect, but it’s an impressive transformation considering the quality of the original image on the left was certainly not very good, to say the least.

This awesome plugin is free to use, and was actually built for a multisite installation, although single installations work just as well. It’s wonderful to use just on it’s own, but you can also add premium paid features, if you’d like, as well.

Upgrading to add high resolution output, which is very impressive, costs a pretty hefty $120 / month, per network. It also comes with white labelling, too for a higher price tag of $275 / month, per network.

Overall, this is a really great plugin with a myriad of useful features. It’s definitely worth a spin on your website or blog.

Summing Up

These are great tools to help your images stand out and capture your readers’ attention. You can even use multiple ones at a time if you want to really make your photos pop.

These plugins are certainly not replacements for Photoshop, but they are strong contenders and certainly offer great value since they’ are free.

So have fun being creative!

Image credits: Hans van Eijsden Photography, and POWr. Icons made by Icomoon from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC BY 3.0

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How To Keep Your WordPress Clients Out Of Trouble http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/how-to-keep-your-wordpress-clients-out-of-trouble/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/how-to-keep-your-wordpress-clients-out-of-trouble/#comments Sat, 08 Nov 2014 13:00:50 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=133709 When you’ve created a beautiful WordPress site for a client, the last thing you want is for your client to break it. It’s also the last thing they want. The level of comfort that clients have with operating their new site ranges from confident enough to be dangerous, to being fearful of clicking anything at all.

So from both perspectives it can be beneficial for developers to client-proof their sites. This simply means putting in place a few safety nets that protect the clients from unintended “oopsies” and the developer from the fall-out of those “oopsies.”

Philosophically, I don’t believe in crippling WordPress so much that clients can’t do anything at all. I have a lot of clients that come to me after they’ve been handed a site from their developer, confused as to why they can’t do all the things they’ve read about, such as installing plugins. They have no idea they are not in full control of their site. So I definitely advocate for educating your clients about the steps you are taking and why you are taking them. Be transparent with what you are doing and make sure that if the relationship with that client ends, to return to them full control of their site.

That said, in this Weekend WordPress Project we’ll take a quick look at two plugins that can help you protect clients from themselves and make your life easier. These plugins take a two-pronged approach – firstly, limiting what users can do in the dashboard and, secondly, providing a log of all changes on the site.

Keep clients out of trouble
Keep your clients out of trouble and protect their websites.

Webmaster User Role

webmaster-user-role

Webmaster User Role creates an additional user role called ‘Admin’ that sits between the in-built Administrator and Editor roles. The idea is to give the site owner some more useful privileges than editor, such as managing widgets, but without the ability to manage plugins or change themes.

One of the really nice things about this plugin is its built-in integrations with other common plugins. For example, if you’re using Advanced Custom Fields on the site, Webmaster User Role will prevent clients meddling with your custom field settings. It provides similar protections for some other common plugins like Contact Form 7, WordPress SEO by Yoast, Gravity Forms and more.

The Pro version of the plugin will give you even more fine-grained control over customizing the settings and the dashboard. However, even with the free version you can still fine tune the privileges of the new user role by installing the free plugin User Role Editor.

Webmaster User Role is great if your client is on a maintenance contract with you. If you need your client to be a little more independent and add their own plugins, you will want to tweak some of the default permissions.

Stream

stream

Another great tool that lets developers troubleshoot client-created issues is a plugin called Stream.

Stream keeps a log of all user activities that occur in the backend of the site, such as creating and deleting content, updating plugins etc. This is handy because oftentimes clients will report an issue with a site without letting you know what happened in the lead-up to the problem. Or perhaps they updated some plugins or performed some other tasks but they don’t remember exactly what they did.

Stream will let you see exactly what changes have been made, what plugins have been updated and so on, therefore helping to speed up the troubleshooting process.

Stream used to save the information in the site’s database, which in some cases could lead to some extra database bloat. In the latest version, this have been switched to a cloud-based model, which means that when you activate the plugin you are asked to connect it with your WordPress.com account.

I saw some pushback from the plugin’s users in various online groups about this change, but the process is painless enough and the plugin continues to function as it did before. With the data being kept out of your own database it avoids any potential performance issues.

Image source: Sunset Memories by Florin Gorgan.

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Securing Your WordPress site: Wordfence Security Review http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/securing-your-wordpress-site-wordfence-security-review/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/securing-your-wordpress-site-wordfence-security-review/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=133565 Chances are, you’re here because you love WordPress, and you love the idea of protecting the site you worked on so tirelessly to create. There are a lot of plugins out there to secure your site, but there’s one that’s often overlooked, and perhaps shouldn’t be.

Boasting a feature-packed feature list to stop hackers in their tracks, it’s consistently being updated to help protect against newer threats.

It’s Wordfence Security.

Although it’s still fairly new, having been created in 2011, WordFence Security has quickly attracted more than 3 million users. The plugin’s parent company Feedjit started out as a real-time analytics company before adding the security plugin to its repertoire when one of its founder have his WordPress site hacked.

While the issue was quickly resolved, the ordeal prompted Mark Maunder to donated his code to help protect others and the result was Wordfence.

The plugin and company has since grown, which seems understandable when you consider Feedjit’s founders have a combined 40 years of experience in programming at many high-profile companies such as the BBC, Coca Cola, and Norton Antivirus.

But how does their plugin fare against the harsh realities of the technological world we live in? I tested it out for a lengthy period of time to help answer that question. What follows are my honest discoveries.

Is overlooking the Wordfence Security plugin justified?

WPMU Rating

4.2/5

The Good

  • It has so many features, you can't count them all on your fingers and toes.
  • It's consistently being updated to include protection against the latest threats.
  • There's both a free and premium version of the plugin, and the free one still has a tonne of features included.
  • Both paid and free versions include tech support, so you'll never feel all alone; at least not with this plugin, anyway.
  • Feature suggestions are taken very seriously, so if there's something you want to see, it will be thoroughly considered at the very least.
  • Both free and paid plugins offer a complete firewall, and blocking of brute-force attacks, malware, back door vulnerabilities, and loads more.

The Bad

  • Get ready to wait a while for a response from tech support.
  • This plugin is known to give false positives, which can be frustrating if you're not sure how to use the plugin.
  • There's so many features and options, there's definitely a learning curve going on.
  • Simple misconfigurations can cause the plugin to stop working without warning.
  • Site scans tend to take up quite a lot of memory, which can be a hassle if you're not aware of it.
  • Does not currently include protection from fake sign ups, although it's under consideration for future releases.

Wordfence Security by Feedjit

  • Learning curve / ease of use: 3.5/5
  • Features: 5/5
  • Out of the box: 4.5/5
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Support: 3/5
  • Overall: 4.2/5

The Bottom Line

If you're serious about protecting your WordPress site from all sorts of attacks, you don't mind taking some time to learn the ropes, and also don't mind compensating for a fairly high dose of memory usage, then you may want to consider this plugin. For the plethora of features and protection you get, it's a wonder how this plugin doesn't actually overload your server.

If you're after a simple solution that works right out of the box, this isn't it; at least not the premium version.

There are a lot of paid configuration options, which can be a bit overwhelming, although, the plugin will work well with only a small amount of configuration.

The options are fairly well explained right on the settings pages, so you can figure it out if you take the time to read through the compact explanations. Yes, I did say settings "pages;" because there are more than one. If you want to be protected, I highly recommend checking out Wordfence.

Securing Your WordPress site: Wordfence Security Review

How Much Does it Cost?

There is a free version of the plugin that isn’t just for a trial period; it’s completely free. If you’re looking for a few more robust features, there is a premium version of the plugin, which costs $39 per year, per API key.

If you purchase multiple API keys for multiple websites, bulk discounting is available. For example, having Wordfence on five websites is $23.80 per website. That’s a 39% discount. The discount also increases with each API key you purchase.

Another wonderful aspect is how the APIs work. The clock starts ticking down on them only when you begin to use them, so you can essentially stockpile your API keys for future use. It’s recommend you do this since the folks behind Wordfence can’t continue offering such huge bulk discounts as their plugin improves so rapidly.

If you’d like to play around with their pricing and see how big of a discount you can receive for yourself, their pricing page includes a built-in calculator.

What Do You Get?

You’re not purchasing the plugin but an API key. One API key works for one website for the total number of years you select when you purchase it. One year is the minimum amount of time for which you can purchase an API key.

With each API key comes a slew of features including protection from comment spam, “spamvertising,” malware, back door vulnerabilities, fake Google bots, brute-force attacks, and unauthorized DNS and file changes. With that, you also get the option to run frequent scans, repair files, block IP addresses, or networks, force strong password creation, monitor your disk space, and implement two-step verification with your cell phone. You’ll also enjoy faster support for any issues you come across with their ticket system.

This isn’t even the entire list of features, either. These are just the highlights. You can see the full list of features on the front page of the WordFence website.

How Does It Work?

Once you sign into your Wordfence account, you’ll see the API keys you have purchased by clicking the “Get API Keys” button in your dashboard. From there, you just have to select one of your keys and click to reveal them on the far left of the list.

You can find your Wordfence API key from the "Get API Keys" page on the left of the list.

Then you head over to your WordPress site, and download the Wordfence plugin for free. From the Wordfence tab ,which will appear on your dashboard when the plugin is activated, select “Options.”

There will be a box with your free API key already in it. Erase it and enter in your new key. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of that section and click the button to save.

Activate your premium Wordfence options by entering your API key.

The last step is to choose which options you would like enable from comment filtering and email alerts, to which files to scan and what malicious hacks to search.

Select what to scan from the Wordfence options page.

Once you save your selections, you have other options listed under the Wordfence tab in the dashboard. You can block IP addresses, and even entire countries, set up a schedule for scans, and two-step verification, and even view the traffic on your website as it’s happening.

Once you set up alerts to your email, you’ll also be notified when files have been modified without your permission, critical problems arise, or a many number of options which you have pre-selected on the “Options” page.

Ratings

Learning Curve / Ease of Use

There are so many options to ensure the safety of your site that it can also be your downfall if you don’t pay close enough attention. If you misconfigure your WordPress URL, for example, the plugin will not work, and it will not give you any warning. I learned that the hard way.

If you accidentally enable high sensitivity scanning, you run the risk of having false positives. Similarly, if you set the option too low for locking out users who have too many password attempt failures, you could have a lot of annoyed users on your hands with angry emails in your inbox to boot.

That being said, all of the options are compactly explained, so unless you’re a total beginner, you’ll very likely be able to figure it out without issue. The biggest issue is human error – your error.

Features

Hackers beware! With over 30 features, your site is sure to be safe with Wordfence. Amazingly, there are a lot of options that aren’t even listed on their website. Some of these unlisted features include:

  • Hiding your WordPress version
  • Choosing how much memory Wordfence is allowed to use
  • The option to participate in the real-time Wordfence Security Network
  • Scan for known viruses and vulnerabilities such as the almost recent HeartBleed
  • Scan files outside your WordPress installation
  • Scan image files as if they were executable
  • Automatic updates to newer versions within 24 hours of its release

This plugin’s features definitely go above and beyond. Here’s the list of the scanning options:

  • Scan public facing site for vulnerabilities?
  • Scan for the HeartBleed vulnerability?
  • Scan core files against repository versions for changes
  • Scan theme files against repository versions for changes
  • Scan plugin files against repository versions for changes
  • Scan for signatures of known malicious files
  • Scan file contents for backdoors, trojans and suspicious code
  • Scan posts for known dangerous URLs and suspicious content
  • Scan comments for known dangerous URLs and suspicious content
  • Scan for out of date plugins, themes and WordPress versions
  • Check the strength of passwords
  • Scan options table
  • Monitor disk space
  • Scan for unauthorized DNS changes
  • Scan files outside your WordPress installation
  • Scan image files as if they were executable
  • Enable high sensitivity scanning. May give false positives
  • Exclude files from scan that match defined wildcard patterns

Arguably, the best feature is the fact this plugin is consistently and regularly updated to offer even more new and important features, as well as protect you against new vulnerabilities which may arise in the future.

Out of the box

The Wordfence plugin does work well right out of the box and includes most of the features you want and need. It’s easy to set up, as long as you avoid making any errors along the way.

With as many features that are offered automatically in the free version, you may start feeling like you’re stealing and have the urge to buy an API key. That should give you a fairly good idea of how good this plugin is after a fresh install.

Value for money

Wordfence definitely sets a new standard for value. You get so many features both in the free and paid versions that I can’t help but be left in awe.

For the current price, it’s well worth it. I have been personally using the premium version for just over a year now, and I have encountered no break-ins, no approved spam comments, and no malicious files or vulnerabilities that have not gone unnoticed.

These issues used to run rampant on my website, and it got so bad at one point that I was having spam placed right into my posts, pages, and also in the meta data. This episode prompted me to install Wordfence in the first place.

After being protected for so long now with no issues, I can sleep very well knowing this is the norm. Judging from the 5 star ratings from more than 1,750 people in the plugin directory, a lot of people are experiencing the same peaceful night’s sleep.

This plugin is complete in and of itself, and you will likely not need any other security plugin, with the exception of one to prevent fake logins, for example. However, the Wordfence team are considering this feature for future releases.

It’s difficult to imagine a feature that’s not already included, and paired with a pretty low price tag and steep discounts, you get so much bang for your buck with this plugin.

Support

The only real soft spot I have found with this plugin is its support. Free users are still able to access support through a WordPress.org forum, but it will likely take a few days or more to receive a response.

To be fair, most plugins don’t offer support for their free versions, so perhaps it’s a healthy compromise. As for premium users, you have a slightly better option.

Paid users have access to a support ticket system after logging into the Wordfence website. Ticket times are a bit faster, but it’s ultimately not very efficient since you’re left having to wait for emails to be sent to you.

Also, it’s not terribly helpful that you have to check your account for a response, and when you do you’ll likely have to send many messages back and forth to get to the root of your issue.

The entire process can be very lengthy, but from what I can gather looking through the forum, it seems as though one person is handling all the tickets, so when you get down to it, waiting a couple days to receive a response really isn’t so bad. The responses are usually very efficient, which helps.

Still, if a massive hack is imminent, and something goes wrong, you’ll probably be left vulnerable and your site open to attack for a potentially dangerous amount of time depending on your particular situation.

Final Thoughts

Despite some fairly long support wait times, this plugin is feature-packed to the brim – so much so, it’s overflowing. It’s a strong, efficient plugin at a sustainable price. You’re protected from practically everything, with more protection being consistently added as the need arises.

As long as you’re willing to read the instructions carefully and double-check your WordPress site and Wordfence options configuration for accuracy, you’ll be safe in the knowledge your site is secure.

Wordfence is a security plugin that should not be overlooked. Hackers: You have been forewarned.

Image Credit: Feedjit Inc.

 

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Creating Beautiful and Effective Landing Pages With WordPress http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/creating-beautiful-and-effective-landing-pages-with-wordpress/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/creating-beautiful-and-effective-landing-pages-with-wordpress/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:30:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=133448 Third-party providers like Lead Pages and UnBounce offer a no-tech option for countless landing and sales page configurations. But you’re a WordPress savvy developer, you should be able to guide your clients through a landing page solution.

Today we’re going to look at resources, themes, and plugins you can use to create functional, professional looking, self-hosted sales and squeeze pages.

Landing page
Create a pro landing page.

The Basics

It’s probably safe to bet that the overwhelming majority of WordPress developer and design clients are in business. And the entire point of creating a website presence for any business is conversion, that is, turning visitors into buyers.

Your customers want to see conversion. Think of a landing page as the quintessence of the conversion-driven website. They’re a marketing tool and they exist solely for one reason: to get your visitor to complete one simple task: whether that’s opt-in to an email list, set a sales appointment, or purchase a membership/product/service.

Landing pages are used to sell apps, ebooks, and make coaching appointments. They can be ridiculously effective when done well, just ask President Obama. But if cobbled together as an afterthought, are almost useless.

In marketing, landing pages are a different kind of creature than coming soon pages (although a great coming soon page should include some kind of lead capture).

Landing pages are usually designed separately from the rest of the website and may not include menus, sidebars, footers, or any (or many) external links. Traffic is directed to the landing page from specific sources—Facebook ads, LinkedIn, Google AdWords, a sidebar link, etc. specific to the campaign.

The term landing page is a generic umbrella term that includes sales and squeeze pages, but all these pages are basically created the same way, and this format is proven to work. While only about half of marketers are creating a new landing page for each new campaign, according to Hubspot, websites that are using more than 30 landing pages are also generating 7 times the leads as those with less than 10.

In case you’re still unconvinced, this handy infographic might just be the magic bullet.

Elements of a Good Landing Page

Getting it is only half the battle though, right? Now you’ve got to put it together.

This is where the experts and stats are in agreement on landing page fundamentals:

In case you need a better visual to wrap your head around, UnBounce created a wireframe of a typical landing page for their free ecourse you can find right here.

Technically speaking, you’ll need to be able to embed optin forms, buy now buttons, appointment scheduling, or shopping cart links. Once the page is put together, it’s out of your hands, and up to the copywriter or client to run with it and make it a success.

Your Development Options

You’ve got a range of options to make landing pages with WordPress. Many themes and frameworks are now being built with a landing page template. For example, Genesis by StudioPress has a landing page template, as does Divi, which I reviewed here.

If your theme doesn’t come with it’s own landing page template you can:

  • DIY a blank template to create landing pages with your current theme
  • Use a free or premium landing page creator plugin
  • Use a free or premium landing page theme
  • Take advantage of 3rd party integration with WordPress through a site like Lead Pages or Unbounce

If you’re using a blank page template within your theme, or a theme that comes with a landing page template, you may want to consider a page-builder plugin, or make sure your plugins support shortcodes you can drop into your landing pages for optin forms, videos, etc.

DIY Solutions

If you’re going to code it yourself, you might try making a page template that doesn’t have a menu, sidebar, or footer. You can follow this handy guide to get started, but if you’re going to strip the header and footer, you’ll also need to create corresponding header-landing.php and footer-landing.php files, and pass those names in the header and footer functions.

Here’s a quick and dirty example below that I threw together using TwentyThirteen.

Default template on the left, and stripped-out landing page template on the right. I left the sidebar in to make use of an optin widget, but depending on your theme, you might want to remove that as well.

Of course, you can get as elaborate as you’d like with this and include a custom stylesheet for your landing pages as well.

Landing-pages-in-WordPress

If you’re going to go the DIY route, and you’re handing this off to a client, you may want to have a page-builder installed they can use to drop the necessary elements into.

I’d go into this further, but we already have a great overview of ten different drag and drop page builders.

Landing Page Plugins and Themes

Back in February, Joe reviewed three free landing page plugins for the blogWP Lead Plus Free, Parallax Gravity, Impact Template Editor, and Ultimate Landing Page. Rather than rehash those, I’m going to put a few more free landing page plugins options you can test out there, and talk about some premium plugins.

For the purposes of this article, I’ve focused on plugins created specifically for landing pages (and sales and lead generation, rather than coming soon pages).

The Freebies

The Landing Page

thelandingpage

The Landing Page is an ultralight, minimalist theme that “features” no header, footer, or sidebar. Why bother, right?

Actually, for the purpose it was designed for, it works pretty well. There are a few basic theme options to add social media buttons to the bottom, but otherwise, all the magic happens (or should happen) in the page builder.

Ultimate Landing Page

ultimatelandingpage

Ultimate Landing Page comes with one very, very basic template and no ability to customize it further.

The paid upgrade unlocks another nine templates and some additional features. It was really easy to use though, however basic the results. That said, if given the choice between this and a blank theme template plus a page builder, I’d recommend the latter to my clients.

WP Landing Pages

landingpages

WP Landing Pages is another super basic landing page generator – this one with seemingly less functionality.

It offers a selection of basic templates and allows you to customize the background images and text.

Beyond that, you really don’t have much control over the landing pages you create.

Landing Pages Builder

landingpagesbuilder

Landing Page Builder is another “free” plugin you’ll find in the WP repository. But be forewarned: the free version is essentially useless. Testing it out was promising, but you can’t take advantage of any of the functionality you’d want for a live landing page without the $45/month subscription. *cough*notfree*cough*

WordPress Landing Pages

wplandingpages

WordPress Landing Pages by Inbound Now promises everything you need to run successful landing page campaigns, including a visual page builder, A/B split testing, and monitor conversation rates.

The plugin offers a selection of free templates to get you started, and additional integrations and templates are available to purchase.

Just a word of warning: It would be fabulous if this plugin worked, but after fiddling with it for a few hours, I gave up.

Premium Options

OptimizePress

optimizepress

OptimizePress is a WordPress solution that comes with over 30 great looking and fully responsive themes for landing, sales, registration pages and more.

Using the visual editor, you can drop in common landing page elements like optin forms, Facebook comments, arrows, badges, etc. It integrates with most mailing list providers and also gives you the ability to create secure member portals.

The downside? Pricing starts at $97 and you can only use it on sites you own and run yourself, and you have to purchase the basic package to even get access to the developer licensing, which start at $249.

Thrive Content Builder

thrivecontentbuilder

Thrive Content Builder comes with a suite of slick looking landing page template sets.

It’s a page builder and visual editor, essentially, but the concept of the template sets, which would take a visitor through the entire process of opting in and confirming their subscription is a such smart idea.

Developer license starts at $199/year.

Authority Pro

authoritypro

Authority Pro, by contrast to the two above, looks and feels a little dated, but if you want to see what the quintessential long-form sales page looks like, go no further than their own landing page.

Again, it’s a drag and drop page builder that was created for the marketing-minded individual to use. It looks like pricing starts at $97, but I got lost in the sales funnel before I could find out more about the terms of the license.

Just Landed

justlanded

Just Landed is a responsive theme/page builder that includes all the elements you’d need to create converting sales and landing pages.

Create as many landing pages as you’d like for different products or services, using pre-made landing blocks like pricing tables, testimonials, and more.

At $58, it’s the most economical canned solution, but unless you’re running a theme-switcher, you’ll need to maintain a separate WordPress installation if you want your main website to look and behave differently.

Thinking Ahead

Beyond getting the pages created, a complete landing page solution would involve:

You might also want to look into a more elegant media player solution for video or audio embeds, depending on your clients plan on creating their landing pages.

Bottom Line

Love them or hate them, the landing page trend in online marketing doesn’t appear to be going away. Think about this, 68% of B2B businesses are using landing pages. Clearly there’s a market for landing page development. In fact, there are web developers out there who devote their careers to creating landing pages for clients.

Given the options available, if you’re not willing to create the pages yourself, it’s worth investing in a decent landing page platform when you consider that the fate of any business hinges on the sales.

What do you use for landing pages? Let us know in the comments below.

Image credit: Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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New Plugin: Jobs & Experts, More Than Just a Jobs Board http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/jobs-and-experts/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/jobs-and-experts/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=133146 If your WordPress site sits at the heart of any community then it will benefit from WPMU Dev’s latest plugin, Jobs & Experts. How do we know? Because it’s based on our own Jobs & Pros feature on this very website.

Jobs & Experts makes it easy to connect members of your community who have a need with members who have the expertise. Not only will this benefit the community but it will also help cement your site as the go to destination.

Let’s take a closer look at Jobs & Experts: it’s more than just a jobs board.

Jobs & Experts is like having two highly specialized directories, one for Jobs and one for Experts, integrated into the same plugin, allowing searching, browsing, saving (to a list) and adding of new items.

Experts can also be liked, allowing for social ranking: a key trust-building tool.

All this functionality is available on the front-end via the Jobs & Experts landing page making it a self-contained feature that is easy to integrate into an existing site or spin off into a dedicated sub-domain in a Multisite installation.

Setting Up

When you install Jobs & Experts it will work perfectly well out-of-the-box. The only task you’ll need to do is add the Jobs & Experts landing page – created by the plugin and conveniently titled “Jobs & Experts” – to your site’s navigation.

There are, though, a number of configurations you can make to tailor the plugin to your own requirements:

  • Icon selection – Dark, bright or none
  • Currency – Select which currency job budgets will be listed in, the placement of the currency symbol and whether to use decimal places in budget values

Helpful Tip: Not seeing the icons on a local install?

The icons are all SVG and it may well be that your local server is not set up to serve SVG files.

To fix this, add the following to the top of the .htacces file in the root folder of your WordPress installation:

1
2
AddType image/svg+xml svg
AddType image/svg+xml svgz

Add-ons

The General Settings page also gives you access to a number of add-ons, which bring more advanced functionality to Jobs & Experts.

When you are testing Jobs & Experts then you’ll find the two demo data add-ons invaluable. in fact, I’ve used the demo data to produce the screenshots for this post.

You can also turn Jobs & Experts’ virtual pages into real WordPress pages if you’d prefer (useful if you want to use a page template, for example, or re-structure the page hierarchy) and tinker with custom layouts for Jobs and Experts listing pages.

Another fantastic add-on is the ability for internal messaging between expert and client without having to share email address. This feature also allows you to send attachments with your messages.

The Landing Page

This is the public front door to the Jobs & Experts directories and functions to add new Jobs and Experts.

Screenshot of the Job & Experts landing page showing latest Jobs and Experts
The Jobs & Experts front door showing latest Jobs and Experts

Shortcodes are used to generate the page and can be tailored: the default button labels can be overridden and the number of Jobs and Experts displayed can be specified.

Jobs

Jobs is where members of your community can post jobs that they need completing.

Browsing & Searching Jobs

The Jobs listing displays a paged list of job summaries in a grid, which is configurable if you activate the Custom Layout add-on in the plugin’s settings in the Admin interface.

Screenshot of the Jobs listing page
Jobs are listed in a configurable grid

The Jobs can either be searched with a standard keyword search, or an add-on activated advanced search that provides filters for price (budget) range, job category as well as control over how the results are ordered, for example, by end date.

Screenshot showing the Advanced Search dialog
Activating the Advanced Search add-on provides faceted searching of Jobs

When you click on a Job title, you’ll soon discover that the individual Job entry contains plenty of detail, including:

  • Job budget
  • When the Job listing expires
  • Preferred completion date for the Job
  • Detailed description
  • Skills required
  • Sample and supporting files – these can be any files that can be uploaded to your WordPress site, such as a specification in PDF format.
Screenshot of the Job Details page showing the download dialog for a Sample File
Job details can contain downloadable files such as images and PDFs – perfect for marketing material

The Job details also contains the all important Contact button. Clicking this button brings up a contact form, allowing site visitors to respond to the job poster.

The notification generated by the contact form is fully configurable in the Job Settings with a host of variables provided to embed dynamic information into the notification.

Screenshot of the notifications settings
The notifications sent to job posters and experts can be completely configured

Adding New Jobs

New Jobs can be added both in the Admin interface and in the public interface. In all likelihood, you’ll want to let your community create their own Jobs as the easier the process and quicker the response, the more likely it is to be used and the more popular it will become.

Not that it’s a free-for-all. The plugin will only let members of the site add new Jobs – so you might want to think about adding extra controls to the sign-up process.

You can also choose to approve new Jobs before they are published which, if the number of new Jobs is manageable, might be an alternative to tighter sign-up controls.

Whatever the case, it’s probably a good idea to add some rules about job posting to your site.

Experts

The Experts component enables those in your community to showcase their expertise and to be contacted.

Finding An Expert

The Experts listing page lists gravatars, with a nice mouseover effect that overlays a short bio of the expert along with their total views and likes.

The grid layout is configurable via the Custom Layout add-on.

As with the Jobs listing, there is a basic search function but the Advanced Search (activated via the Advanced Search add-on) provides real power by allowing site visitors to search by location and skill and choose the ordering of the results (name, most popular, most likes).

Screenshot of experts advanced search dialog
Advanced searching lets you find experts with specific skills in a particular location

The Experts details page provides for a comprehensive profile, including skills (with rating) and links to social profiles.

Screenshot of the expert profiles page
Detailed profiles provide bios, skills, social profile links and portfolio

Like Jobs, Experts can also load Sample Files which is an excellent way to showcase a portfolio.

Adding An Expert

Experts can be added in both the Admin interface and on the public site and the controls are the same as for Jobs: only site members can add Experts and site administrators can determine whether they need to approve new Experts before they are accessible.

The Experts profile also has a Contact button which uses the same configurable notification as the Jobs contact form. Something to remember, perhaps, when you are editing the notification text.

Jobs, Experts Or Jobs & Experts?

Whilst the plugin adds two highly functional and usable directories to your WordPress site, there’s actually no requirement to use both. If you just want to utilize one component that’s fine because you have full control over the page design.

Only interested in having a highly functional, searchable directory of detailed Experts profiles for your community? It’s a 2 minute job to delete the Jobs & Experts landing page, remove the Jobs related shortcodes from the page menus and add an Experts item to your main menu.

Whether it’s just Jobs, Experts or both, the Jobs & Experts plugin from WPMU DEV provides the kind of functionality that can turn your site into the domain’s go-to destination.

Why not download Jobs & Experts today? If you’re not already one of our awesome members, join WPMU DEV to download the latest version of Jobs & Experts and get access to 140+ other plugins and themes.

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