WPMU DEV's Blog - Everything WordPressWordPress 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 Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:30:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 8 Effective Plugins for Optimizing Your WordPress Site for Mobile http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/plugins-optimizing-wordpress-site-mobile/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/plugins-optimizing-wordpress-site-mobile/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=131327 More and more people are using mobile devices to access the Internet. In fact, research shows two-thirds of cell phone owners use their phone to go online. On top of that, one third of these users (34 per cent) mostly use their phone to access the internet, as opposed to other devices like desktop and laptop computers.

If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re losing a whole chunk of users on the go who will quickly look elsewhere if your site does’t load on their device.

In order to reach this audience, you need to ensure your site looks and works great on mobile devices. Fortunately, there are many great free and premium plugins that are designed to do this for you.

In this post, I’ll look at the top mobile optimization plugins available for WordPress and offer some recommendations.

WPtouch

wptouch

WPtouch replaces your site with a mobile-only theme and displays your content and not much else. The result is user-friendly, fast and easy to read.

This free version of the plugin offers some great basic customizations, such as language detection, custom code, branding colors, typography, social media in the footer and other styling options.

The great thing about WPtouch is how easy it is to set up – just activate the plugin and your site will be automatically optimized for mobile before you even have to look at the plugin’s settings. The plugin also allows visitors to your site to switch between the mobile-only site and your regular theme.

The pro version of WPtouch starts at $49 for a single site, which includes feature and security updates, cloud themes and support. There are also agency and enterprise packages ($199 and $349, respectively) with even more features, making this an ideal solution for developers creating client sites.

This is an incredibly popular plugin with almost six million downloads.

iThemes Mobile

ithemes-mobile

iThemes’ Mobile premium plugin is a powerful yet simple plugin that allows you to transform any website into a mobile device-friendly site.

Mobile is ideal for a quick “drop and go” setup, rather than extensive customizations. The plugin includes mobile-ready themes and lets you change basic style and color schemes for your mobile theme. It displays the content from your posts and pages.

Features include a mobile theme style manager, a built-in custom header uploader, four mobile starter themes and the ability to create your own, the option to assign different themes for different devices.

The neat thing about this plugin is that it doesn’t just support smart phones, it supports a wide range of devices including handheld game consoles.

The pro version of Mobile starts at $45 for 2 websites, which is suited to single website owners and bloggers. A developer package for $150 is aimed at those creating multiple business sites and allows for unlimited licenses.

Duda Mobile Website Builder

duda-mobile

Duda Mobile creates a mobile-friendly version of your website that you build using Duda’s mobile website builder.

After activating this free plugin, a setup wizard takes you to the Duda website where you can use a drag and drop editor to customize your site’s navigation and layout styles. You can also add features such as click-to-call, maps and contact forms. Unlike some other mobile optimization plugins, this one keeps the look and feel of your original site’s theme.

This is an easy to use plugin and offers basic functionality for mobile optimisation, but its features are no match for the premium plugin options available.

It’s important to point out that Duda displays banner advertisements on sites that use the free version of the plugin. Free users must also use a default URL provided by Duda (that will look something like mobile.dudamobile.com/site/mysitename) and can’t use a custom domain.

Any Mobile Theme Switcher

any-mobile-theme-switcher

Any Mobile Theme Switcher is a very basic plugin that detects the device a person is using to access your site and displays your selected theme. With this theme it’s possible to use one theme for iPhone users, a different theme for Android users and another still for those using Windows Mobile.

There are a small handful of options that allow you to set how long the mobile theme is displayed for and whether to show the mobile-version of the site to desktop users.

HandHeld Mobile Plugin

handheld-mobile

Elegant Themes’ HandHeld plugin works alongside your regular theme, serving as an alternate layout that is only displayed to your mobile visitors.

This alternate design displays your pages and posts in fast and easy to read way that is also user-friendly.

Features include a gallery section, blog layout, AJAX loading, threaded comments and styling options.

You’ll need to sign up for an Elegant Themes membership for $89 to access this plugin.

Mobile Smart

mobile-smart

Mobile Smart lets you choose a design to display from your existing themes whenever a mobile user access your site. Further options allow you to display a footer link allowing users to manually access your site’s mobile-friendly version.

This is helpful if you don’t like the responsive version of your site and want to display a different and more specific one to your mobile device users. It also means you will have to create your own mobile-version of your site since this plugin doesn’t offer any kind of site customizations.

It’s a pretty basic and lightweight plugin. The pro version ($15) supports domain switching (i.e. redirect users to m.yoursite.com), mobile-specific pages, and mobile menus.

WP Mobile Edition

wp-mobile-edition

WP Mobile Edition automatically detects whether visitors to your site is using a mobile device or not and switches between your primary theme (for desktop users) or loads a mobile-specific theme. It also allows users to switch between mobile view and your site’s regular theme and remembers their choice.

Other features include the ability to insert mobile AdSense, social links, the option to display your latest posts or a mobile landing page, and shortcodes.

Currently, there is only one mobile theme provided and it’s not clear when five more than are hinted at in the plugin will become available.

WP Mobile Detector Mobile Plugin

wp-mobile-detector-mobile-plugin

The WP Mobile Detector Mobile Plugin automatically detects whether your visitors are using a mobile device and displays a compatible mobile theme.

There are nine mobile themes provided and you can also enable any of your existing themes to display to mobile users.

When setting up this plugin, you will need to set up permissions to allow it to work properly. This plugin also hasn’t been designed with UX in mind. The mobile themes interface is confusing with text that runs on and the ads for the pro version are obtrusive.

Yes, there’s also a pro version available for $50. It offers a theme editor, mobile ads, the ability to detect different devices, and advanced statistics.

Why this plugin has “mobile” twice in its name I do no know.

Summing Up

Mobile optimization plugins offer a straight forward way to display mobile-friendly content to users who access your site on devices other than desktop and laptop computers.

While responsive themes can make your content look great on smaller devices and often suffice for those who want to cater to mobile users, these themes don’t always load quickly. Mobile optimization plugins – as the name implies – optimises your site for mobile, ensuring your content is displayed in a robust and easy to read fashion.

If you’re looking for a simple solution for displaying a mobile-friendly site to visitors to your blog or single website, the free version of WPtouch available in the WordPress Plugin Repository is a great option. If you want to simply display a different theme to mobile users, Any Mobile Theme Switcher allows you to display a pared-back version of your site.

WPtouch is also a fantastic option for developers creating larger sites. I would also recommend iThemes’ Mobile plugin as another alternative. Both plugins offers extensive features and support.

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Top 8 Best Ways to Set Up a Testing Environment for WordPress http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/testing-environment-wordpress/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/testing-environment-wordpress/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=131319 Testing environments provide an easy and relatively inexpensive way to test themes, plugins and even new releases of WordPress without breaking your live site.

Many site admins take advantage of these environments where they can do thorough testing before committing changes to a site. If you’ve ever activated a new plugin or upgraded to a new version of WordPress only to find errors on your site, you will know the importance of testing first.

There are many ways you can set up a test environment, but the easiest by far are localhost environments or cloning your site on your existing web hosting account.

In this post I’ve put together a collection of some of the best testing environments available for WordPress, including options for both Windows and OS X. Most of the options are for setting up a localhost, but there are also options for duplicating a live site.

P.S. WPMU DEV will soon be announcing a plugin that will join the list below. Stay tuned.

MAMP

mamp

MAMP (which stands for Macintosh, Apache, MySQL and PHP) lets you set up a localhost environment on OS X. Version 3 of the software has been released and there’s also a beta version available for Windows.

We recently published a great guide to setting up MAMP on the blog, which walks you through installing the program, basic MAMP configuration, creating a MySQL database, and installing WordPress. The post includes optional steps for setting up Multisite.

MAMP is free, but there’s also a premium version available multi-PHP, the ability to set up any number of virtual servers, and the option to install WordPress automatically.

XAMPP

xampp

XAMPP is a popular, free and open source localhost PHP development environment available for Windows, OS X and Linux.

We also recently published a tutorial on setting up XAMPP, which guides you through set up, using the XAMPP control panel, setting up a MySQL database, installing WordPress and setting up Multisite.

The Apache Friends website includes a fantastic forum for users who run into trouble and need some help. I ran into a few problems with setting up the software (mostly firewall issues) and was able to quickly search the forums for a solution.

DesktopServer

desktop-server

Desktop Server is so easy to set up it can take as little as 5 minutes to get WordPress up and running on your local machine. After setting many localhost environments, this software has become part of my regular workflow when testing WordPress plugins and themes.

I wrote a guide on how to use Desktop Server recently, which walks you through set up and installing the latest version of WordPress.

Unfortunately, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version of the software in order to set up Multisite. The limited version of Desktop Server allows you just three WordPress installs.

WampServer

WampServer

WampServer is a popular Windows web development environment that allows you to create web applications with Apache2, PHP and MyDQL.

This is another localhost environment I’ve written about on the blog, with a guide on how to set up the software, create a MySQL database, install WordPress and (optionally) set up Multisite.

Duplicator

duplicator

The free and popular Duplicator plugin lets you clone a WordPress site for use in another location. This is especially help if you want to create an exact copy of your site to use as a testing environment on your local machine or on your hosting account.

Creating an exact duplicate of your site will allow you to test plugins, themes and even upgrades to WordPress before making changes to your live site.

Unfortunately, this plugin doesn’t support Multisite.

Instant WordPress

instant-wordpress

Instant WordPress is a complete standalone, portable WordPress development environment that turns any Windows machine into a development server. It’s so portable it will even run from a USB key.

The free software comes with its own built in Apache web server, PHP and MySQL installations that are started and stopped automatically.

Bitnami WordPres Stack

bitnami-wordpress

Bitnami offers a free WordPress stack that is self-contained and will have you up and running with WordPress in minutes. The WordPress stack is available for OS X, Linux, WordPress virtual machines and in the cloud.

The great thing about Bitnami is that the service tracks every release of WordPress and the stack is updated shortly after new releases, including security releases.

After installing Bitnami WordPress Stack, I was surprised I was able to login to my new WordPress site so quickly and wondered if I had missed any steps. It really is easy to use this software to quickly set up a test environment.

Sandbox

sandbox

The Sandbox plugin creates an exact copy of your WordPress site on your existing hosting account, providing A test environment completely independent of your site that’s hidden from visitors and search engines.

This free plugin is best for small sites as it can take a while to replicate a site. I tested the plugin in a Multisite installation and it worked fine, though it’s confusing to know when you’re using the sandbox version of your site, despite the notice at the top of the page.

Summing Up

Setting up a test environment will save you time, money and potential headaches when a plugin breaks a live site.

Duplicator is by far the most popular cloning plugin and I would recommend it for duplicating a live site on an existing web hosting account.

DesktopServer is a fantastic solution if you want to set up a local server environment on OS X or Windows. It is simple and straightforward to set up and you don’t have to worry about setting up WordPress separately as it’s part of the installation process. I regularly use DesktopServer on my Mac machine for testing plugins, themes and new versions of WordPress.

I was surprised at how easy Bitnami was to set up. While I haven’t tested it extensively, I’ll definitely be making more use of this software in future.

How have you set up your testing environment? Let us know in the comments below.

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The 69 Best WordPress Contact Form Plugins Reviewed http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/69-best-wordpress-contact-form-plugins/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/69-best-wordpress-contact-form-plugins/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:00:56 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=131103 A contact form will help readers and customers contact you through your website. Most people would agree that it looks more professional to use a contact form on your website than to simply state your contact email address. It is also more practical.

Displaying an email address forces the visitor to open up their email application or login to their email service in a new browser tab. The visitor therefore has to leave your website in order to contact you; which is not ideal. A contact form is better for website owners too as it stops your email address being harvested by spammers.

When it comes to choosing a contact form solution, WordPress users are spoiled. There are many fantastic free and premium contact forum plugins available. Included features vary considerably; from simple feedback forms to complex multi field forms that use conditional logic to change what information is requested.

Let us take a look at the best contact form plugins available for WordPress today.

Jetpack by WordPress.com

jetpack

With more than 30 different modules, Jetpack is one of the most flexible WordPress plugins available today. Its contact form module allows you to add a simple contact form to your website.

Available fields include name, email address, drop downs, radio buttons, website, and check boxes. Worth checking out if you already have Jetpack activated.

Fast Secure Contact Form

si-contact-form

Fast Secure Contact Form is one of the most popular contact form WordPress plugins on WordPress.org. It allows you to configure multiple forms and modify confirmation emails. Anti-spam measures are also built in, such as input validation, spam checks, and support for Akismet.

All major contact form fields are supported, including useful fields such as attachments, date, and time. Its user friendly settings area makes creating forms a breeze and once you have created a form, it can be inserted into your website using a shortcode.

GuiForm

guiform

GuiForm is a great free contact form plugin that allows you to build contact forms quickly using an Ajax-powered drag and drop form builder. The interface is very easy to use and it supports useful fields such as attachment uploads.

Forms are responsive and their color scheme can be changed via the settings area. You can also change notification emails and record information from submissions such as IP address, time and date of submission, and operating system.

Ninja Forms

ninja-forms

Ninja Forms is a feature packed free contact form plugin that allows you to restrict user input in forms. It includes an anti-spam field and user submissions can be saved, modified, and exported.

A number of premium extensions are available for Ninja Forms. This allows you to add advanced features such as conditional logic, multi-part forms, file uploading, PayPal integration, and email marketing support. Prices for extensions range from around $18 to $49 per extension per website.

Contact Form 7

contact-form-7

With around 19 million downloads on WordPress.org, Contact Form 7 is one of the most used WordPress plugins (only Akismet has more downloads).

It is easy to see why the plugin is so popular. It allows you to create multiple forms quickly and supports Akismet spam control, CAPTCHA fields, and file attachments. What really sets Contact Form 7 apart is its integration with other plugins. There are more than 100 free and premium plugins available that extend Contact Form 7 or work in conjunction with it.

Multi-language Responsive Contact Form

responsive-contact-form

A basic, free contact form plugin that allows several fields to be added to your form. A CAPTCHA field can be inserted in order to reduce spam submissions.

The form can be inserted into your website using a shortcode or using PHP code. As the name suggests, the form looks good on mobile devices and has support for eight languages.

WordPress Contact Form Plugin by vCita

contact-form-vcita

A useful plugin that lets you add one of three basic contact forms: an engagement contact form that pops up from the bottom of each page, a contact form that is embedded into posts and pages, and a widget contact form that can be inserted into sidebars.

It is easy to add new forms to your website, however in order to do so you need to sign up for a free vCita account.

Easy Contact Forms

easy-contact-forms

Easy Contact Forms is a basic free contact plugin that offers over a dozen fields and form entry management.

It comes with several built in anti-spam filters and includes a CAPTCHA form and an option for visitors to upload files. Creating a new form is simple as it uses a drag and drop user interface.

Jazzy Forms

jazzy-forms

Jazzy Forms is a simple free contact plugin that features several field options. Despite there being a limited number of fields, each field can be configured in its own unique way. For example, you can apply a custom CSS class to each field and define a unique error message if a certain value is not entered.

The form can perform instant calculations and has support for formulas. This makes it a good choice for estimation forms and complex calculation forms.

Contact Form by ContactUs

contactuscom

A practical contact form solution that allows you to create professional looking advanced contact forms. It supports Google Maps and allows you to customize the auto responder settings. It also has support for many third party services such as Google Analytics, Google Docs, and MailChimp.

To use the plugin, you need to create an account on ContactUs.com. Their free account plan allows unlimited submissions to one form, but does restrict some advanced settings. Their service will store all of your contact form submissions and tracks statistics of views.

Contact Form Manager

contact-form-manager

Contact Form Manager is a basic yet functional free contact form plugin that supports essential fields such as file uploads and CAPTCHA images.

Multiple contact forms can be created and then inserted into your website using shortcodes. You can also redirect users to a specified page after they have submitted the form.

Simple Contact Form

simple-contact-form

Simple Contact Form is an Ajax-powered contact form that lets you add a simple form that includes name, email, and message fields. A security code can also be requested from users to help reduce spam.

Forms can be inserted into posts, pages, and widget areas. Optional features from the marketing service ReadyGraph can also be enabled to help you increase signups to your email list.

Contact Form Clean and Simple

clean-and-simple-contact-form

A basic free WordPress contact plugin that supports Google reCAPTCHA and Akismet spam filtering.

Form submissions can be forwarded to multiple email addresses and the submission acceptance message can be changed through the settings area.

WP Contact Bank

contact-bank

WP Contact Bank is a free contact plugin with multi-language support that lets you create complex contact forms in minutes. Six standard fields can be selected in the drag and drop interface to create forms. Another nine advanced fields are available in the pro version.

The pro version is available from £11. In addition to advanced fields, it adds widget support, pagination, roles and capabilities, and front end layout options.

FormGet Contact Form

formget-contact-form

FormGet is a WordPress solution that supports over a dozen useful fields such as checkbox, file upload, and CAPTCHA. It can be used to insert stylish contact forms into your website. Many themes are available and each theme can be customized. An integrated helpdesk can also be enabled.

In order to use the plugin, you need to sign up for an account at FormGet, as the WordPress plugin is nothing more than an interface for their service. Their cheapest plan retails at $95 per year. In addition to FormGet Contact Form, the company has also released three other plugins: Easy Contact Form Solution, Sliding Contact Form By FormGet, and Contact Form Integrated With Google Maps.

Contact Form Maker

contact-form-maker

Contact Form Maker is a free WordPress contact plugin that features 10 built in templates, multi-language support, and data validation.

Seven field types can be selected through the easy to use contact form builder. All submissions are stored on your database and can be exported in CSV or XML format.

Contact Form to Email

contact-form-to-email

Contact Form to Email is a free contact plugin that can send submissions to an email address and to your database. Submissions can also be exported in CSV format.

Fourteen fields are available and there are options for data validation and CAPTCHA verification. You can also customize the message that is displayed to users and view reports of the latest submissions by hour and by day.

The developers of the plugin have also released a similar free WordPress contact form plugin entitled CP Easy Form Builder.

Creative Contact Form

creative-contact-form

Creative Contact Form is a mobile-friendly contact plugin that allows you to design colourful contact forms quickly. It offers several field options and a country list of 239 countries. Six stylish skins are also available.

The free version of the plugin is limited to one form and five fields. The pro version removes these restrictions and removes the need to place a copyright link in each form. It also adds support for file uploading and CAPTCHA. A lifetime license is available at €25.

Perfect Easy & Powerful Contact Form

pwebcontact

Perfect Easy & Powerful Contact Form is a responsive drag and drop contact form builder that comes with many different themes. Unfortunately, the free version of the plugin is extremely limited. It only allows you to add a simple tabbed form to the side of your page with only a few fields.

The pro version of the plugin retails from €9.99. It offers more form variations and advanced fields such as headers, calendars, and file uploads.

Slick Contact Forms

slick-contact-forms

Slick Contact Forms is a basic free contact form solution that allows you to create a form with up to three text inputs and one content area. The form can be floated, displayed as a drop down button, or displayed as a sliding tab.

The styling and speed of the contact form widget can be modified. Four sample form skins are also available.

DD Contact Form

dd-contact-form

A simple responsive free contact form plugin that allows you to change the user interface of forms. Custom CSS is also available and there is an option to save location details of users.

CAPTCHA is also supported by DD Contact Form and you can ask people through the form if it is okay if you contact them again in the future.

PROPER Contact Form

proper-contact-form

PROPER Contact Form is a simple free contact solution that allows a few basic fields such as name, email address, reason for contact, and message. A mathematical CAPTCHA can also be displayed to help reduce spam.

A small message can be displayed to users after submission. Alternatively, you can redirect users to a specified WordPress page.

MN Contact Form

mn-contact-form

MN Contact Form is a simple yet stylish free contact form plugin that only asks for a user’s name, email address, and message.

A CAPTCHA field can be displayed to help reduce spam and the plugin will store all submissions in your database. Five form styles are available. Completed forms can be inserted into a post or page, or into a sidebar using a widget.

Nino Contact Form

nino-contact-form

Nino Contact Form is a beautiful, free contact form solution that offers three different styles and six layouts.

It supports three different types of CAPTCHA and four basic fields. Nino is a basic contact form plugin, but the output looks good.

Popup Contact Form

popup-contact-form

A cool WordPress plugin that allows you to display a pop up contact form to visitors when they click on a contact button.

You are restricted to asking for a user’s name, email address, and message. You can, however, choose areas of your website where the pop up message is displayed, such as on your homepage or only on posts or pages.

Booking Calendar Contact Form

booking-calendar-contact-form

A versatile contact form plugin that can be used to organize bookings or be used as a regular contact form. It has full support for PayPal, partial day and full-day bookings, anti-spam controls, and color support for marking dates in the calendar.

The plugin is free to download, however there is a pro version available for $49.99. It adds additional features such as a visual form builder, multiple calendars and forms, and widgets.

Simple Basic Contact Form

simple-basic-contact-form

A basic, free contact form plugin that allows you to add a contact form to your website using a shortcode or PHP code.

To help reduce spam, you can define a challenge question and answer. Success messages and error messages can also be defined and you can style your form using custom CSS.

N-Media Website Contact Form

website-contact-form-with-file-upload

N-Media’s contact form offers ten fields including file uploads, radio buttons, and check boxes. Image thumbnails can be defined for uploaded images.

The pro version of the plugin costs $25. It has some cool features such as creating unique validation messages for incorrect entries and an option to save all submissions as a custom post type. Multiple file uploads are also supported in this version.

First Contact Form

first-contact-form

First Contact Form is a free WordPress plugin that supports over a dozen fields. These include file uploads, check boxes, drop downs, and website.

Forms can be created using a drag and drop interface and the plugin has some anti-spam controls to reduce spam.

BigContact Contact Page

bigcontact

BigContact Contact Page is a simple free contact plugin that is suitable for businesses. It only has a few basic fields such as name, email address, phone number, and “How did you hear about us?”

However the plugin does have some interesting features. It allows users to book an appointment through a calendar and your location can be displayed to visitors via Google Maps. You can also display other contact information on your contact page such as telephone numbers, email addresses, and opening hours.

CB Contact Form

cb-contact-form

CB Contact Form is a simple free contact form widget that lets you request a name, email address, subject, and a message.

The send button text and the success message can both be changed through the widget settings area. You can also decide which fields are visible and which fields are required.

Smart Forms

smart-forms

Smart Forms allows you to build contact forms using a drag and drop interface. It supports many basic and advanced contact form fields. Calculations can be made inside forms in order to complete fields automatically. You can also use conditional logic to show or hide specific fields.

The plugin allows you to send a customized notification email to users and either redirect them to a specified URL or display a message after submission. A pro version of the plugin is available from $24.99 that offers additional features such as file uploading.

Live Forms - Visual Form Builder

live-forms

Live Forms is a beautiful free contact plugin that can save submission entries and provide statistics about the number of submissions so far. Its drag and drop interface makes creating forms a breeze.

A pro version of the plugin is available from $35. It doubles the number of available fields from 10 to over 20. It also adds a template builder, payment collection options, and an integrated helpdesk.

Form Generator for WordPress

form-generator

Form Generator is the front end interface of a form service called JotForm. Their free plan entitles 100 submissions, 10 payments, and 100MB of storage every month. Their premium plan allows up to 1,000 submissions and costs $9.95 per month.

There are many benefits of using their service. The first one being that they have over 6,300 pre-made form templates available to you. You can customize the styling of your forms further yourself using a visual editor.

The service can be used to design advanced forms easily. A huge number of fields are supported including survey tools, payment integration, and widgets.

Cool Contact

cool-contact

Cool Contact is a free WordPress plugin that supports a few basic fields such as name, email address, and phone number. A CAPTCHA field can be requested to cut down on spam and users can request a copy of their message to be emailed to them.

FormBuilder

formbuilder

FormBuilder is a useful free contact plugin that comes with pre-made contact forms to help you add a form to your website quickly. It supports CAPTCHA and Akismet for tackling spam.

Multiple forms can be placed on one page. You can also split forms into multiple pages and display error messages to visitors if they complete fields incorrectly.

WordPress Contact Forms by Cimatti

contact-forms-cimatti

WordPress Contact Forms is a free WordPress plugin that has a lot of great features. It uses a drag and drop interface that lets you create advanced forms in minutes.

Seventeen field types are included and you can customize the submission success messages and notification emails that are sent. Submissions are saved in your database and can be exported in Excel format.

NEX-Forms - Ultimate Form Builder

nex-forms-express-wp-form-builder

NEX-Forms is arguably the coolest contact form builder available to WordPress users. The free version of the plugin is referred by the developers as NEX-Forms Express, while the pro version is available from CodeCanyon for $33.

I tested the free version of the plugin on my test website and found that only seven basic fields are available, but upgrading to the pro version will unlock a total of 35 field types. This includes custom fields, upload options, and advanced fields such as slides and spinners.

Forms are responsive and it comes packaged with more than 400 icons and 1,200 icons. Submissions can also be saved and exported. In my opinion, NEX-Forms is one of the best looking WordPress contact form solutions available.

Very Simple Contact Form

very-simple-contact-form

If you are looking for an extremely basic free contact form plugin, check out the aptly named Very Simple Contact Form. Once you have inserted the contact shortcode into a page, you will display a basic form with name, email address, subject, and message fields. Nothing more, nothing less.

X Forms

x-forms-express

X Forms is a versatile form builder that supports unlimited forms and allows forms to be created using a cool visual form builder. The free version of the plugin, known as X Forms Express, is very limited. It restricts you to just a few fields.

The pro version of the plugin is available on CodeCanyon for $24. It unlocks the full 25 field types and additional features such as columns and color schemes. Anti-spam features are built into both versions.

Calculated Fields Form

calculated-fields-form

Calculated Fields Form is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to create an online calculator. For example, a form can be used to organise bookings or quotes. It can calculate results dynamically once the user has completed the fields.

The pro version retails from $49.99. It unlocks additional features such as PayPal integration, file uploads, and export of entries in CSV format.

WA Form Builder

wa-form-builder

WA Form Builder is a free contact form plugin that supports a few basic fields. Anti-spam controls are also built directly into the plugin. I did not find its drag and drop interface to be intuitive, though the plugin does have some useful features such as saving submissions to your website database.

A pro version of the plugin used to be available, but is no longer listed on CodeCanyon. Instead, the plugin promotes X Forms Pro.

POWr Form Builder

powr-form-builder

POWr Form Builder is a free WordPress plugin that lets you build contact forms and surveys. It has a unique system for constructing forms. You need to first drag the POWr widget onto a sidebar and then go to the front end of your website and click on the gear icon on the widget.

From there you can choose from many form designs, form elements, and form labels. Its unique plugin system makes it a flexible choice for creating forms. Upgrading to the pro version through the plugin costs $2.99 per month. This will remove all reference to POWr and improve loading of times of integrated plugins.

Contact Form Builder

contact-form-builder

Contact Form Builder is a flexible free contact plugin that offers Google Maps support, form styling, and many basic form templates. The form builder is very easy to use and has many useful fields available. There is also an option to block spammers by their IP address.

The pro version retails from $15. It allows you to store submissions in your database and export them in CSV and XML file formats.

Visual Form Builder

visual-form-builder

Visual Form Builder is a versatile free WordPress plugin that allows you to create forms and rearrange them using drag and drop. It includes anti-spam measures and will store submission entries in your database. Entries can be exported too.

Visual Form Builder Pro costs only $20. It adds many more features such as import and export functionality, conditional logic, an email designer, and 10 new form fields.

Formidable Forms

formidable-forms

Formidable Forms is a good free contact plugin that lets you create contact forms using drag and drop. It supports reCAPTCHA and Akismet to help tackle spam submissions. The free version of the plugin is limited to six fields and basic email notifications.

You can upgrade to Formidable Pro from $47. This offers a total of 24 field types, auto responder notifications, form styling, entry management, and four included form templates. 12 add ons are also included in this price. Add-ons include PayPal integration, MailChimp and Aweber support, and a file uploader.

Contact Form

contact-form-plugin

Contact Form is a simple free contact form plugin that supports a few basic fields. All you have to do is activate the plugin and then insert a shortcode into one of your posts or pages. The plugin can work together with the developer’s other plugins such as Captcha and Contact Form To DB.

Unfortunately, only a day after installing and testing the plugin on my test website, I noticed the free version had been removed from WordPress.org (during proofreading this article). Contact Form Pro remains available for only $15. It adds additional features such as field validation, select boxes, and premium support from the developers.

Form Maker

form-maker

Form Maker is a feature rich, free plugin that can be used to build contact forms, booking forms, and surveys. Ten form elements are included for creating forms and there is an HTML layout editor to help you style your forms in a unique way.

It comes with nine example contact forms to help you get started. Advanced fields such as conditional logic are also included in the free version of the plugin. The pro version retails from $30 and adds additional features such as PayPal integration.

Contact Widget

contact-widget

A simple yet functional contact form widget that is available from WPMU Dev for $19. It allows you to customize the message that is displayed to visitors and there is support for CAPTCHA to reduce spam. You can also style your form in a unique way using custom CSS.

Quform - WordPress Form Builder

quform

Quform is a premium drag and drop form builder plugin that is available from CodeCanyon for $28. It supports 15 field types and submission entries can be stored in your WordPress database and later exported.

Conditional logic and data validation ensures that submissions contain the necessary information you need from users. A JavaScript calendar is also available to allow users to select dates.

Ninja Kick: WordPress Contact Form

ninja-kick-wordpress-contact-form

Ninja Kick is one of the coolest contact plugin solutions around. When a visitor clicks on the mail icon on your website, a beautiful responsive contact form slides out from the left hand side. The form only offers a few basic options, but it can be enhanced by installing the free WordPress plugin Contact Form 7.

Three different form themes are available, though you can customize colors in any way you want. You need to see the plugin in action to appreciate how good it looks. Ninja Kick is available from CodeCanyon for $17.

FormCraft - Premium WordPress Form Builder

formcraft-premium-wordpress-form-builder

FormCraft is a feature rich premium contact form plugin that is available for $33. Forms can be created in minutes using a drag and drop user interface and the forms looks great on smartphones and tablets because they are responsive.

The plugin is a great choice for creating advanced forms as it supports conditional logic and mathematical logic. Analytics for submissions can be viewed in the admin area. FormCraft also supports multi-column layouts, multiple file uploads, and integration with email marketing services. Maps, videos and more can all be embedded into forms, too.

Please note that FormCraft is the successor to the developer’s older plugin nForms. nForms is still updated for bugs, but is no longer upgraded with new features.

ARForms: Premium Form Builder Plugin for Wordpress

arforms-premium-form-builder-plugin-for-wordpress

ARForms is a premium form builder plugin for WordPress that produces stylish responsive forms. Its beautiful drag and drop interface allows you to place fields in multiple columns. Forms can be displayed in posts or pages or in pop ups and sticky chat boxes.

Retailing at $36, the plugin supports seven major email marketing services and offers 22 different form elements. These include sliders, file uploads, star ratings, passwords, and HTML. Conditional logic is also supported. It also offers form analytics, anti spam measures, and ready made form templates. It is one of the most professional contact form plugins and there is little it can’t do.

Usernoise Pro Modal Feedback & Contact Form

usernoise

A minimal feedback form that comes with four built-in categories including ideas, problems, questions, and praise. Suggestions can be marked as new, in progress, or rejected.

The form is responsive and it displays other suggestions from visitors. You can purchase the plugin from CodeCanyon for $11.

Form Generator - WordPress Form Builder

form-generator-wordpress-form-builder

Form Generator is a user-friendly contact form plugin that is available for $28. It offers 19 field types, custom email notifications, file uploading, submission entry exporting via CSV, and built in anti-spam measures.

Forms can be inserted into your website using a shortcode or PHP code. Your forms can be styled by selecting from unlimited colors and from over 600 fonts.

AJAX Contact Forms

ajax-contact-forms

AJAX Contact Forms is a simple contact form plugin that is available from CodeCanyon for $11. It hasn’t been updated in close to two years, however the author still actively supports buyers and has hinted at an upgrade soon.

The plugin allows you to add a simple contact form to any post or page on your website. It offers a few basic fields and has support for CAPTCHA.

Wordpress Ajax Contact Form with Attachments 2.0

wordpress-ajax-contact-form

WordPress Ajax Contact Form is a user-friendly drag and drop for builder that lets you customize the look of your forms through the settings area. It supports file uploading and anti-spam controls. Submission entries can also be stored in your website database.

The plugin can be purchased from CodeCanyon for $14.

Creative Unified Forms

creative-unified-forms

Creative Unified Forms is a premium form builder plugin that can be bought for $22. It can be used to create contact forms, booking forms, quizzes, surveys, and polls. Four unique form templates and six color schemes are available for selection.

The plugin includes essential field types, though lacks many advanced options that other forms offer. The plugin does, however, support Google Maps.

Simple Contact Slider

simple-contact-slider

Simple Contact Slider is a premium contact plugin that adds a contact tab to the side of your page. When a visitor clicks on the tab, the contact form slides out.

It has support for 14 fields and comes with 10 different color schemes. The plugin is also responsive so looks great on any device. Popular email marketing services are supported and there are anti-spam controls too.

The plugin is available for $17 from CodeCanyon.

Daisy - Fancy Popup Contact Forms

daisy-fancy-popup-contact-forms

Daisy is a premium contact plugin that can display a contact form to your visitors via a pop up. It retails for only $11.

The plugin features a jQuery powered form builder and comes with six different color schemes. Colors can also be modified through a color picker.

Ultimate Contact Page

ultimate-contact-page

Ultimate Contact Page promotes itself as an all-in-one contact solution. It has many cool features such as Google Maps integration and support for MailChimp. It can also format your physical address so that it is indexed by search engines.

The plugin is available for $11. It’s a good choice for a business website due to its support for maps and addresses.

Ether Forms Builder

ether-forms-builder

Ether Forms Builder is a premium form builder that allows you to place fields into multiple columns. The plugin is available from CodeCanyon for $22.

It has essential fields such as file uploads, ReCaptcha images, and check boxes. Conditional logic is also supported.

Mapped Contact Form Pro

mapped-contact-form-pro

Mapped Contact Form Pro is a useful contact form plugin that can be purchased from CodeCanyon for $9. It allows you to place an interactive Google Maps powered map on a page with many different markers. When a visitor clicks on a marker, a unique contact form for that location will pop up.

Forms can be added to your website using a simple shortcode. It’s a useful form solution for any company that has multiple locations.

WP Form Generator

wordpress-contact-forms-plugin

WP Form Generator is a premium contact form builder plugin that supports file uploading, CAPTCHA images, and multiple recipients for admin and confirmation emails.

A square and round form design are included with the plugin and colors can be modified via a color picker. The plugin retails at $17.

ez Form Calculator

ez-form-calculator

ez Form Calculator is a premium contact form and calculator WordPress plugin that can be used to create contact forms, booking forms, quotes, and more.

Forms can automatically calculate totals once a user has entered values. Unfortunately, the plugin cannot be used to accept payment. ez Form Calculator is available from CodeCanyon for $17.

Clever Feedback

clever-feedback

Clever Feedback is a premium contact form plugin that allows you to add a professional looking contact form to your website. It can be purchased for $11.

The plugin features unlimited color schemes and includes a rating system. Submission entries are saved in your database and can be exported in CSV format. Contact form labels and your form submission response message can also be changed in the settings.

Gravity Forms

gravity-forms

Gravity Forms is one of the most popular premium contact form solutions available to WordPress users. It can be used to create simple or advanced contact forms. Building a form using Gravity Forms should only take a few minutes, however it’s the plugin’s conditional logic options that help distinguish it from many competitors.

The plugin has everything you would expect from a leading contact form solution. Using add ons, the plugin can be expanded and used for a variety of purposes, such as email marketing and eCommerce. A personal license costs $39 while the business and developer licenses retail at $99 and $199 respectively. You will need to purchase a business or developer license if you want access to add ons.

SimpleModal Contact Form

simplemodal-contact-form-smcf

A simple free contact form plugin that lets you add a basic contact form to your website. It only offers a few small configuration options in the plugin settings area.

Quick Contact Form

quick-contact-form

Quick Contact Form is an easy to use, free contact plugin solution that allows several fields to be used. It supports file uploading and allows you style your forms through the plugin settings area.

The plugin allows you to customize the error messages and notification emails that are displayed to users. Submission entries can also viewed in your WordPress admin area and exported in the CSV file format.

You will have noticed that a couple of plugins required signing up to third party services. There are dozens of other contact plugins on WordPress.org, such as 123ContactForm and Formstack Online Forms, that require signing up to an external service. While there are some good third party solutions, I tried to focus more on self-hosted contact solutions.

This article contains a large list of contact form plugins, therefore you may not be sure which contact solution is best for you. My own recommendations are:

I am sure you have been pleasantly surprised to hear that many free solutions offer advanced features, however you may want to consider purchasing a premium contact form plugin if you cannot find a free contact form plugin that suits your needs.

My advice is to try out some free contact form plugins initially. If you like a plugin but find that the free solution is not doing what you need, you may want to consider upgrading to the premium option. With premium contact form plugins, I recommend contacting the developer and asking for access to a demo of the plugin so that you can try it out for yourself before buying.

What contact form plugin do you use on your website? Let us know in the comments below.

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7 WordPress Plugins To Help You Turn The Tables (Into Works Of Art) http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/7-wordpress-plugins-to-turn-the-tables-into-works-of-art/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/7-wordpress-plugins-to-turn-the-tables-into-works-of-art/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=131315 Tables are a pretty common content component but are unsupported out-of-the-box by the WordPress Visual Editor.

Not surprisingly then, there are a number of plugins that solve the table problem from those that make the TinyMCE table buttons live again, to Admin interface visual table builders and pure shortcode plays.

But which is best for you? Which WordPress table plugin will help you turn the tables, into works of art?

An HTML table wrapped in an antique picture frame
Take the tedium and errors out of adding tables to your WordPress content

On reflection, it does seem slightly odd that WordPress doesn’t have table support built in. Perhaps it was part of that initial effort to keep the application as simple as possible or perhaps the thinking was that if a post needed a table then it was easy enough to slip into text mode and add the HTML by hand.

Manually adding a table is, of course, still an option but it’s tedious, laborious and error prone. And there are better, much better options available to WordPress users.

Plugins that provide table functionality are basically split into 3 camps:

1. TinyMCE Enablers

In its purest form, the TinyMCE editor has table support (much like Word) and these plugins make those functions live again.

This provides the best visual editing experience by some margin but at the cost of practically no additional functionality. No sorting, no paging, no filtering.

2. Post Editor Shortcodes

The shortcode-based plugins allow the post author to define the table and its data directly in the post editor.

This is quick, easy (especially if the plugin allows the entry of data in CSV format) and keeps all the content creation in the one place. The downside is that it requires copy and pasting to use the table elsewhere in your site and, of course, can be typo sensitive.

3. Visual Builders

These plugins provide their own interface in the WordPress admin area for building and configuring tables.

Although slower than the free-form shortcodes, this approach is less error-prone and provides visual feedback of how your table will potentially look when published.

So, let’s take a look at 7 WordPress plugins that can help you create tables for your posts and pages.

Easy Table

easytable

A plugin that certainly lives up to its name but doesn’t compromize on features and options.

Easy Table takes the shortcode path to inserting tables into your WordPress posts and pages.

This plugin lives up to its name whilst simultaneously offering rowspans and colspans in an impressive range of features that can be set globally (for all tables) or locally for individual tables and cells.

Table sorting is available (it uses the tablesorter jQuery plugin) although I could only get it working if I set it globally.

Data for the table can be entered in CSV (comma-delimited) format in the shortcode or dynamically pulled in by specifying a CSV file (useful for data that updates frequently or using the data on more than one page).

The plugin comes with 3 themes but adds classes to the tables that enable an easy path to custom styling.

Easy Tables certainly lives up to its name and is a solid (and very popular) plugin with a great range of features and options.

TablePress

tablepress

The replacement for WP-Table Reloaded is a sophisticated plugin that is best suited to sophisticated needs.

TablePress’ downloads are second only to its predecessor, WP-Table Reloaded and is a visual table builder where the table data is input in a purpose-built, easy-to-follow Admin interface rather than in a post.

TablePress integrates with the Data Tables jQuery plugin which elongates TablePress’ impressive list of features to include row and column spanning, sorting, searching, filtering, paging and horizontal scrolling (nice).

Tables are inserted into posts and pages with a simple shortcode (or a template function) that allows for the same table to be easily used across multiple pages. There’s also the option to export and import tables for sharing across sites.

If your needs exceed the simple CSV style implementation, or you like the idea of visually building a table then TablePress is worth a download and play.

Websimon Tables

Example table built using the Websimon Tables plugin

Websimon offers a simple method for visually building and styling tables.

There’s not too many bells and whistles with this plugin but it does a reasonable job of enabling the creation and styling of tables.

The DSV import is labelled as experimental and when I tried to use the file that I created when testing Easy Table’s CSV import, it didn’t work so it seems you are stuck with entering the data by hand.

Websimon’s emphasis is on the styling and it comes with quite a range of themes coupled with the ability to build your own.

This is a simple table plugin that might appeal to those who don’t want all the features of TablePress and don’t want to code data directly in the content.

ULTIMATE TABLES

ultimatetables

A plugin that likes to shout!

Sitting between Websimon and TablePress, another visual table builder that also integrates the Data Table script to provide sorting, filtering, paging and searching.

The building approach is similar to its cohorts although it does operate in a single page which makes it feel a little quicker and more intuitive.

There’s no real styling capability beyond setting a class for the table, so you’ll need to roll your own if you don’t like the default.

Tables are embedded into posts and pages using a shortcode or, somewhat uniquely, in sidebars via a widget.

The widget is a nice touch and the plugin is capable. Ultimate it is not but If you value features over styling but don’t want to get too sophisticated then it might be an option.

OSD Simple Table Generator

osd_simple

A markup-via-shortcode solution that lives up to its simple billing.

OSD Simple Table Generator (STG) relies almost entirely on its markup to provide the simplest of table implementations.

In using | as the default column separator, it’s almost an extended Markup approach, although you can change the delimiter. Curiously, each row also needs delimiting rather than just using the line-break.

There’s no styling (you specify a class on the shortcode) and no integration with either Data Table or tablesorter.

This really is basic table generation but if simple and lean is what you are looking for then this is the plugin.

Visual Table Formatting Lite

visualtableformattinglite

Visual Table Formatting (VTF) Lite brings simple table creation to the Visual Editor.

But not how you might expect. VTF Lite adds its own button to the Visual Editor which opens up a dialog where you can generate a table by hand, by entering the data CSV style (although you can use any delimiter) or by pasting in an existing VTF Lite-generated shortcode.

The editor is pretty nice with the ability to select multiple cells and then apply some simple formatting (bold, italic, underline, color) across them all.

All pretty straight-forward but the shortcode output is not exactly human-friendly so you might find yourself jumping in and out of the VFT Lite editor to make small data changes.

There is nothing in the way of additional features – this is a formatter, after all – and you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version ($18) to get many of the features that the other plugins provide out-of-the-box.

MCE Table Buttons

mcetablebuttons

For a true visual table creation experience and nothing else.

MCE Table Buttons is one of a number of plugins that brings the TinyMCE table formatting buttons to life.

This does give a great visual table creation experience allowing tables to be easily resized, columns added, merged and formatting at a cell, column, row or table level.

There’s even movement between cells using the tab and the cursor keys.

But that’s it. No features beyond formatting at all and you’ll likely still need to do some styling although at least you get to see (and potentially tweak) the table HTML.

Which Is Best?

Well that all depends on what sort of tables you want to build, how much data you want to display, how static that data is, how much control you want over the styling and the features you want.

Several of the plugins make use of the excellent Data Tables or Tablesorter libraries to extend their feature list by providing sorting, searching, filtering and paging on the client-side. Others just go for the bare essentials.

If you want features then the choice comes down to two: Easy Table and TablePress. Both provide excellent features but which to choose will depend on whether you want to add data in the post editor itself (Easy Table) or in a specific interface (TablePress).

TablePress is an excellent plugin but my choice would be Easy Table for two main reasons:

  1. It is quick and easy to enter the data into the post editor with the option always available to cut and paste.
  2. A slight contradiction to my first reason, but the ability to easily use a CSV file as the data source is very appealing – especially if the data is likely to be updated frequently.

As always, though, you should try a variety, see how you get on, see how each fits your personal requirements. Then you can start to turn your tables into works of art.

Do you have a favorite WordPress table plugin?

 

 

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WordPress And H5P : The Future Of Rich Content? http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/wordpress-and-h5p-the-future-of-rich-content/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/wordpress-and-h5p-the-future-of-rich-content/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=131182 H5P is not your average WordPress content plugin: it is a genuinely innovative way to create, embed and share rich HTML5 content via your WordPress site.

Although it’s perhaps aimed more at educational content, there are content types such as image hotspots, presentations and timelines that will be of interest to any WordPress site owner.

So take a peek at what could be the future of rich HTML5 content.

WordPress plus H5P
Does H5P represent a new approach to creating and delivering rich content that is independent of the delivery application?

What Is Rich Content?

Rich content is more than static text or images and goes beyond sliders and lightbox galleries. Whereas the vast majority of content is passive, rich content is active, requiring interaction to get its full value.

Screengrab of the H5P berry image hotspot example
Click to view the hotspot example on the H5P site

In H5P‘s interpretation of rich content, it’s also independent, there’s no reliance on the host application to deliver the content, just to create it. Want to use an H5P content item in another site? Just download the H5P file (really a zip of html, css and javascript) and load it into another H5P-capable site (at the time of writing there are solutions for WordPress, Drupal and Joomla) to have the exact same content behaving in the exact same manner.

And unlike embedding, the content is available for modification.

This is not just custom post types on steroids, this is the delivery of self-contained HTML5 applications.

Creating Rich Content With H5P

H5P allows you to create multiple content types:

Screengrab of H5P content type list
A pretty extensive content type list which will grow over time

Most have an educational bent but there are a number with global appeal, particularly the image hotspot, presentation and timeline types. No doubt new content types will be added down the track.

Somewhat confusingly when you first install the plugin, there are no content types preloaded. To enable creation of a particular type you need to load an existing example (H5P Content > Add New), which seems a little curious but is perhaps to keep the plugin file size down – the presentation content type is 40mb.

Many of the downloadable examples contain multiple content types (presentations, for example), so you won’t have to download them all. An option to import the custom types would save a lot of time and effort.

What’s H5P like to work with? To test the plugin, I created 3 content items, all with a World Cup theme :

  • A timeline of Germany’s World Cup fixtures
  • An image hotspot of the Germany squad
  • A simple World Cup “fill-in-the-blanks” quiz

Unfortunately, and I’ve yet to find out why, there seems to be a couple of issues which have prevented me from embedding the actual H5P examples in this article. No doubt these are just the regular teething issues that every new product experiences.

Example 1 – 7 Matches To World Cup Glory

This is a timeline covering those glorious (if you are German) 32 days across June and July 2014 as Germany battled through 5 matches and cruised through 2 to win the 20th edition of the World Cup for the fourth time.

Building the timeline involved:

  1. create a new date item for each match with the scoreline (title) and the flag of the opposition plus a very short summary (content).
  2. create an era item for each phase of the competition (Group Stage, Round of 16, Quarter-finals, Semi-finals, Final).

Nothing too complicated here and the end result is pretty eye-catching:

A timeline showing Germany's 7 matches at the 2014 World Cup Final. The timeline is showing their first game against Portugal.
This eye-catching timeline was quick and easy to create. Just download the H5P file to add it to your site!

Download the H5P Examples (zip, 2MB) to look at the details of this timeline or to create your own.

If you have the plugin installed you should simply be able to download the H5P file and load it up into your site and use it without modification.

Example 2 – Germany’s World Cup Winning Squad

This example uses the image hotspot content type to overlay a picture of Germany’s World Cup winning squad with clickable hotspots that bring up an overlay with information about the player:

Screenshot of an overlay for Philipp Lahm on the dimmed German World Cup winning squad
Image hotspots are easy to put together – the ability to include more extensive HTML in the overlay would be good though

This simply a matter of:

  1. loading the main image
  2. adding a hotspot for each player
Screengrab of hotspot for Manuel Neue hotspot showing header, text. horizontal and vertical position
Those positions require some trial and error

The coordinates of the hotspot are in percentages (this allows the hotspot position to be maintained as the page responds to a changing screen size or different devices) and requires some trial and error to get it right. I used a rule extension for Chrome to get the actual coordinates for the hotspot and then converted them to percentages based on the display width and height of the image.

My only gripe about this feature is that the HTML that the overlay supports is fairly limited – I couldn’t work out a way to get images in there, for example, and there’s no support for tables. Even if you cut and paste into the textarea, the save process strips out the HTML.

Otherwise, a quick and easy way to create an image hotspot.

Download the H5P Examples (zip, 2MB) to delve more into this hotspot or to create your own.

Example 3 – Test Your World Cup Knowledge

As mentioned previously, the majority of the content types do lean towards educational content, so I picked one of the simpler looking quiz content types, the fill-in-the-blanks type, to create a small (but fiendish) World Cup quiz:

Screengrab of the World Cup quiz featuring questions with blanks that are checked for correct entries and a total score displayed.
A simple but effective way to create interaction – just don’t look at the answers!

The questions are added by annotating text – the answers are bookended with asterisks (*) and alternative answers are separated with a forward slash (/).

For example, here’s the question for the The Best Player:

1
The Best Player was awarded to *Lionel Messi/Messi*.

This will replace the text contained within the asterisks with a blank input text box when initially displayed and allow either “Lionel Messi” or “Messi” as a correct answer.

Download the H5P Examples (zip, 2MB) to play with this example further or create your own fill-in-the-blanks content type.

Is Packaged Rich Content The Future?

H5P delivers impressive functionality, wrapped in a functional, if not entirely pretty, user interface. The 3 examples above are some of the simplest: it can get pretty complicated with question sets and presentations.

H5P provides a simple pathway to producing attractive and interactive content coupled with the ability to easily share, reuse and extend that content across a number of content management systems. A compelling combination.

But there’s more at play here.

The potential of H5P is to revolutionize the creation, delivery and sharing of rich HTML5 content; the ability to create the content in one app and deliver it in another; the capability of sharing that content across multiple platforms without modification.

This is a single plugin that can potentially deliver a vast array of rich content types (14 is not a bad start) – just load up an example and now your WordPress site can create it. Perhaps down the track authoring is removed altogether from the delivery channel and takes place in a dedicated app.

This starts to sound a lot like ecosystems such as Flash, which liberated the content from the confines of the browser. H5P liberates content from the confines of the delivery application but, unlike Flash, is an open source project built on the HTML, CSS and Javascript, and free from the issues of proprietary software.

What it needs is momentum and community. It needs more rich content types; it needs to be supported by many more content management systems (although going with WordPress is a good start); it needs to be able to work standalone; and it needs, perhaps, a dedicated authoring tool.

Plenty of room for improvement, perhaps, but H5P’s current functionality and its ability to help content authors create rich, interactive content means that every WordPress site owner should be giving it careful consideration.

What do you think of H5P’s approach to rich HTML5 content? Does the idea of creating content that is independent of WordPress and easily transferrable appeal to you? 

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20+ WordPress Plugins for Improved User Login and Registration http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/20-wordpress-plugins-for-improved-user-login-and-registration/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/20-wordpress-plugins-for-improved-user-login-and-registration/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=131208 Your user registration and login pages are the gateway to your site, and certainly two areas where you want to impress.

From making user registration an easier and smoother process to ensuring your branding reaches all aspects of your site, there is a plethora of plugins available to help you improve user experience.

This collection of plugins includes free and premium options – including many WPMU DEV plugins – that offers features such as two-factor authentication for a more secure login process, complete rebranding of your WordPress backend, and more simple functionality like login redirects and the ability to replace the image on your login page.

Do you use any of the plugins listed? What plugins do you recommend for better login and user registrations?

Clef

clef

Clef replaces passwords with simple and strongly-encrypted two-factor authentication using your smartphone.

This is how it works: download the app from the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores, and then download, install and activate the Clef plugin from the WordPress Plugin Repository. When you set up the smartphone app for the first time you create a profile on your phone. Clef uses that profile to generate a new digital signature each time you want to login to your site. Rather than login with a password, your login screen will be replaced with the “Clef Wave,” which you will need to sync with another Clef Wave on your phone. The smartphone app will then grant you an hour-long session to use your site unless you increase the session time on your phone.

New User Approve

new-user-approve

New User Approve allows a site admin to approve a user before they are able to login to a site.

Typically, when a new user registers on a WordPress site the user is created in the database and they immediately receive an email with login details. New User Approve adds another step to this process. After a user registers, the plugin sends an email to the site’s admin, who may then approve or deny the request. An email is then sent to the user indicating whether they were approved or denied. If the user has been approved, the email will include the login credentials. Until a user is approved, the user will not be able to login to the site.

Cimy User Extra Fields

cimy-user-extra-fields

Add new fields for users to fill out during registration with Cimy User Extra Fields.

This plugins supports text areas, radio buttons, images, avatars, files and dates.

While this plugin is up-to-date with WordPress 3.9.1, users who have commented on this plugin in the support area of the WordPress Plugin Repository say support is patchy.

Peter's Login Redirect

peters-login-redirect

There isn’t really all that much to say about this plugin because it’s pretty simple – when users login in you can choose to redirect them to a page other than the dashboard, and when they logout you can redirect them again.

Simple stuff, and very handy if, for example, you want to send users to an account page on your site rather than the WordPress backend.

Pie Register

pie-register

Pie Register lets you create a custom registration form, as well as custom login pages, profiles page, invitation codes and more.

You can brand your registration pages with your own logo and color scheme. Other features include the ability to charge users for registration, admin moderation, shortcodes and widgets.

Uber Login Logo

uber-login-logo

Uber Login Logo is a simple and lightweight that lets you change your logon logo.

The developer made the plugin for himself before deciding to upload it to the WordPress Plugin Repository and share it with other users.

Customize Admin

customize-admin

Customize Admin lets you customize the appearance of the WordPress login page and dashboard.

You can upload a custom image for the login screen and specify the link attached to the logo. You can also disabled dashboard widgets and remove the WordPress meta generator tag from the head section in your site’s HTML code.

Theme My Login

theme-my-login

Theme your login, registration and forgot password pages according to your current theme. Theme My Login creates a page to use in place of wp-login.php, using a page template from your theme. It also includes a widget for sidebar login.

Other features include the ability to redirect users who login/logout based on their role, and the ability to customize user emails for registrations and password recovery.

Custom Login

custom-login

Custom Login lets you customize all aspects of your login page, from the background color and image to your logo and where it’s placed. You can also alter the login form and add custom CSS and HTML.

This is an easy to use plugin that doesn’t take much time to set up. There is also a pro version of Custom Login available.

Sidebar Login

sidebar-login

Sidebar Login adds a handy Ajax-powered widget to your site, which you can use to login from a sidebar.

When a user logs in, the plugin redirects them back to the page they logged in from rather than the WordPress dashboard, though this option is configurable.

Scan-to-Login

scan-to-login

Scan-to-Login allows you to login to WordPress by scanning a QR Code with your smartphone, adding two-factor authentication and added security to your site.

The plugin’s creators Zapper do require you to register as a merchant on their website, which allows you to customize the desired login fields.

User Registration Aide

user-registration-aide

User Registration Aide adds new fields to the registration form for new users. New fields include first name, last name, nickname, website, and other information.

The great thing about this plugin is that asking for more registration details can help stop spammers, but also allow you to better manage your users.

Modal Login

modal-login

Modal Login is a well-designed premium plugin that enables you to have model forms on your site.

This plugin also lets you redirect users when they login and logout, customize registration emails, set register passwords and offers unlimited colors.

UserPro

userpro

UserPro offers so many features it’s hard to know where to start. This plugin provides front-end profiles, login and registration for WordPress.

Create unlimited custom profiles fields, and customize your profiles and registration form and give users an automatic assigned role.

This premium plugin also includes social media integration and the ability to create a searchable directory of your members.

Ultimate Branding

ultimate-branding

Ultimate Branding lets you white-label the entire WordPress admin area, from the dashboard and the admin toolbar to the logo on your login page, the information in the global footer, and your favicon.

This plugin is especially useful for re-branding the backend of your site for clients.

Terms of Service

terms-of-service

Ask your users to agree to your terms of service with the Terms of Service plugin. This plugin places a checkbox on your login page along with a scrollable text area displaying your terms.

It’s simple to setup and also compatible with BuddyPress.

Login Image

login-image

Rebrand your login page with Login Image. This plugin lets you place any image on your login page, in turn removing the default WordPress logo.

Login Redirect

login-redirect

Login Redirect allows you to redirect your users to a specified URL after login. We’ve got for a plugin for users who logout, which is called – funnily enough – Logout Redirect.

Remember Me Checked

remember-me-checked

This plugin automatically checks the ‘Remember Me’ checkbox on the login page so your users don’t have to.

Login Message

login-message

Log In Message lets you add a custom message to your login page.

This plugin also lets you disable password reset and add a custom footer message.

Remove Email Verification

remove-email-verification

Help your users get going on your site quickly with Remove email Verification. This plugin alters the registration process by disabling email verification, so users can login immediately and start using your site.

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5 Awesome Free WordPress Shortcode Plugins http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/5-awesome-free-wordpress-shortcode-plugins/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/5-awesome-free-wordpress-shortcode-plugins/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 15:30:46 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130297 Shortcodes provide an easy way to add custom content to your site. Whether you want to add tabs to a page or buttons to a post, shortcodes let you quickly insert elements you regularly use.

WordPress introduced the shortcode API with the release of WordPress 2.5 six years ago. Many themes and plugins (including many of our own) use shortcodes to allow users to customize their sites and display content where they choose.

In today’s Weekend WordPress Project we’ll look at five free options for adding shortcodes to your site.

Shortcodes Ultimate

shortcodes-ultimate

Shortcodes Ultimate is the most popular shortcodes plugin in the WordPress Plugin Repository with more than 780,000 downloads. It promises to “supercharge your WordPress theme with a mega pack of shortcodes” and it delivers.

Easily create buttons, tabs, boxes, sliders, responsive videos and other elements.

This plugin features a shortcode generator, 50+ shortcodes, responsive design, CSS3, custom CSS editor with syntax highlighting, custom widget and rich API.

There are also premium add-ons – extra shortcodes (15+ extra shortcodes), additional skins (60+ skins) and a shortcode creator for creating custom code.

WordPress Shortcodes

wordpress-shortcodes

WordPress Shortcodes is another popular option, with almost 150,000 downloads in the WordPress Plugin Repository.

Create SEO-ready tabs, sections/accordions, buttons, links to content, author cards, lists, layouts and other elements.

Other features include 26+ shortcodes, shortcode editor with instant previews, and customize the looks of shortcodes with custom CSS.

Shortcoder

shortcoder

Shortcoder allows you to create your own custom shortcodes with HTML and JavaScript for use on posts and pages.

This easy-to-use plugin is particularly handy when adding ads to your site, or even embedding videos and other media.

Features into a shortcode editor and the ability to globally disable shortcodes.

Easy Bootstrap Shortcode

easy-bootstrap-shortcode

Easily add Bootstrap style to your site with Easy Bootstrap Shortcode.

This Bootstrap 3.0.3 compatible plugin features 500+ Font Awesome and Glyphicons icon fonts, the ability to add icons to the editor, custom CSS, new sidebar widget and options to give custom shortcode prefix.

Simple Shortcodes

Simple Shortcodes

If you’re after a simple shortcode plugin without the bells and whistles, then Simple Shortcode is for you.

This easy-to-use plugin plugin adds a new icon to the visual editor that lets you insert commonly used elements like notifications, columns, buttons and tabs to your posts and pages.

While Simple Shortcodes was made specifically to work with themes from simplethemes.com, it still works with any theme.

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New Release: Multisite Reader Plugin Transforms Your Network http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/multisite-reader-plugin/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/multisite-reader-plugin/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130302 We’re pleased to announce our second new plugin release in two weeks: Reader.

Reader turns your Multisite network into a community by adding Tumblr, WordPress.com and Edublogs-style “follow” features to your sites.

Modelled on Google Reader, you’ll find many great features similar to Feedly and the WordPress.com reading experience.

Most importantly, Reader encourages your users to engage with sites across your network, without having to leave their site.

Download Reader and let us know in the comments below what you think about the plugin’s stunning features.

Reader: A Beautiful Reading Experience

We originally developed Reader for users at Edublogs.org, where more than 2 million blogs have been using the plugin since early June.

For Edublogs users, Reader is especially useful for teachers and students publishing on multiple blogs. For example, a teacher who manages more than 100 student blogs can easily moderate posts and comments directly from Reader. The teacher can also encourage students to follow their classmates blogs in Reader, right from within the WordPress dashboard.

The beauty of Reader is that it’s not just about encouraging users to stay up-to-date – Reader helps foster community across your Multisite network by allowing users to quickly and easily engage with posts and interact with other users.

Read

View all the latest and popular posts from across your Multisite Network.

Reader offers a beautiful reading experience right from your WordPress dashboard.

Reading experience
Read posts from other sites your in network directly from the WordPress dashboard.

Discover

Built-in search tools allow you to find posts by keywords, titles, tags and author.

You can also browse featured and recent posts.

Reader dashboard
Quickly and easily discover posts by other authors in your network.

Follow

The new “Follow” buttons allow you to easily follow sites you enjoy and keep up with their new posts as they are published.

Reader follow
Use the “Follow” button displayed at the top of a site to subscribe to that site’s posts.

Reader is Highly Customizable

Configure Reader to suit your network. As an admin, there are a number of ways you can customize the plugin:

  • Assign featured posts so you can promote certain content
  • Filter posts by author or site
  • Incorporate or exclude current sites
  • Popular posts
  • Custom RSS feeds for users who prefer a different RSS reader
  • Search
  • Extra user information
  • Custom locations

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

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Introducing Custom Sidebars Pro by WPMU DEV http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/custom-sidebars-pro/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/custom-sidebars-pro/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130617 We’re excited to announce a brand new plugin: Custom Sidebars Pro.

Custom Sidebars Pro lets you to create widgetized areas and custom sidebars on your site, and select which sidebars to display on posts or pages.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this is a premium release of our hugely popular Custom Sidebars plugin. It adds awesome new features like widget visibility rules so you can control who sees what, the ability to clone and synchronously update widgets, and import and export options.

Download Custom Sidebars Pro and let us know in the comments below what you think about the new and improved premium features.

Custom Sidebars Pro Packed With New Features

Custom Sidebars is by far the most popular widget extension plugin in the WordPress Plugin Repository with more than 420,000 downloads.

We acquired the highly rated and popular Custom Sidebars plugin last year and have added our own touches, including a complete overhaul of the user interface for both the free and premium versions.

Our new and intuitive design lets you edit your sidebars directly from the Widgets interface in WordPress, making it even easier and quicker to create your own sidebars.

The new features added to our pro version gives you even more control over your sidebars and what you display to visitors to your site.

Set Widget Visibility

Customize who sees your widgets and display entirely different sets of widgets based on user roles, post or page type, or taxonomies.

You can even use a combination of user and post/page types.

Visibility rules
Set visibility rules for your widgets.

Clone Sidebars

Clone your sidebars and save yourself a bunch of time.

Say you’ve got a social media widget, which takes time to set up due to all its fiddly settings. With Custom Sidebars Pro you can quickly duplicate the plugin along with all its configured settings in a separate sidebar.

You can even link the cloned widgets so they update synchronously, or unlink them and edit each individually.

Clone sidebars
Clone a widget and display its copy in another sidebar on your site.

Import and Export Sidebar

The new import and export settings allow you to easily backup your sidebars, share them or copy them to existing single site or Multisite installs.

Import and export
Import sidebars you’ve previously set up on other sites, or export files for backup or sharing.

Even More Plugins Coming Soon

We’ve got lots more exciting plugin announcement planned for the coming weeks and Custom Sidebars Pro is just the first, so stay tuned.

Our developers are keen to hear your feedback, so let us know what you think about Custom Sidebars Pro in the comments below, or join in the conversations in the WPMU DEV forums.

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

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5 Free Creative Commons Image Plugins for WordPress Compared http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/free-creative-commons-wordpress-image-plugins/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/free-creative-commons-wordpress-image-plugins/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:30:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130481 We all love free images for our posts. That’s what makes Creative Commons or public domain images so handy.

What’s not always so convenient, however, is the process of getting those images off their sources and into your post.

As usual with WordPress, there are some plugins that can help with that.

Below we go over and compare five plugins that will let  you easily search and insert/embed free photos for your site.

Be sure to check out the overview and comparison chart at the end of the post.

1. WP Inject

wp-inject-featured

The WP Inject Plugin gives you a number of handy controls and lets you choose images from either from either Flickr or Pixabay.

This plugin lets you choose your license, give attribution, control the size of the image, and also save images to your server.

In addition, it also gives you easy to use template tags for setting up both your attribution links as well as filenames.

Here’s a look at that.

wp-inject-settings

The plugin works by inserting a new search box below your post editor. Once you search and get results, you can insert images by choosing the S, M, or L link, and you can also automatically set an image to be your featured image (a nice feature).

wp-inject-search

 

One potential small drawback is that you need to go down under your post editor and search for the WP Inject box. Most plugins of this nature put a convenient button beside your Add Media button.

(Edit: a small section of this outlining a “potential negative” has been removed after hearing from the plugin author in the comments.)

This is a very nice plugin with lots of very nice features.

2. Flickr Pick a Picture

flickr-pick-a-pic-image-control-featured

Flickr Pick a Picture plugin is a very nice option for getting Creative Commons licensed images from Flickr into your site.

This plugin gives you a number of nice options, such as choosing an image size, choosing the license type, deciding on how to search for images, and automatically (or not) including a license link in the caption area.

flickr-pick-a-pic-settings

Let’s take a look at how it works.

Clicking an icon on the post editor will bring up a search box. Here’s an example of my search for the term “spain.”

flickr-pick-a-pic-selector

Once you choose an image there, you are taken to another screen that will let you review and change things such as the title, caption, link, size, and alignment.

flickr-pick-a-pic-image-control

Images are saved to your own server with this plugin.

3. Pixabay Images

pixabay-images-featured

The Pixabay Images plugin taps into the Pixabay.com collection of free to use images (without attribution, if you like).

There aren’t a ton of settings, but you still get all the control you need through the upload process.

The plugin lets you choose photos, clipart, or both. It also lets you search for horizontal or vertical images. Although it lets you include an attribution link, attribution isn’t required for Pixabay images.

pixabay-images-settings

The plugin will put a new button next to your Add Media button (if you choose that in the settings). Clicking on it will let you search Pixabay and choose the image size.

pixabay-images-search

 

Once the image is chose, it will take you to another screen where you can edit the title, caption, link, size, placement, etc. – just as  you would with a normal image.

And from that page you insert the image into your post.

pixabay-images-editing

This plugin automatically downloads the image to your server.

4. Compfight

compfight-featured

The Compfight plugin is a plugin released by the compfight.com site. This is a site that helps you search through Flickr images. So, essentially, you are putting a middle man between you and Flickr. This may have advantages some of the time (different images seem to appear for the same searches), but at other times it  just makes things more cumbersome.

One of the things that makes this plugin a little different is its more detailed attention to the size of photos, as you can see below in this screenshot of some of the settings.

compfight-settings

The plugin puts a new button beside your Add Media button. Clicking on that lets you search and then insert the image into your post. You can also set images to be the featured image.

compfight-search

There are a few different potential negatives you might want to take note of with this plugin.

  1. It does NOT download images to your sever.
  2. It also places a link to Compfight as well as to Flickr in your attribution area.
  3. In addition, the attribution links are often oddly placed and they end up running into your text. (They are not placed in the caption area.)

Overall, if you’re looking for images from Flickr, there are better options available above.

5. Getty Images

getty-images-featured

The Getty Images plugin lets you pull in embed links (not actual images) from the humongous Getty Image archive.

Not long ago, Getty made a huge change in the way they treated their images on the web – they opened up their images for free embedding FOR NON-COMMERCIAL SITES only.

The NON-COMMERCIAL label is worth repeating again. If you deal with a site that is commercial in any way, this plugin is not for you.

There are no setting for this plugin. A new button is placed next to your Add Media button, and clicking on it will let you search and then place the embed link into your post.

Embed links must be on their own line, and so wrapping these images with text is out.

getty-images-search

Once the image is embedded, you will see a somewhat large GettyImages logo along with social media buttons that promote Getty (not YOUR site).

getty-images-photo

As mentioned, if your site is commercial, this plugin will not be for you. Of course this is reflection on the plugin itself. Restricted by Getty’s strict guidelines, it can only do what it’s allowed to by Getty’s licensing. (Note: this is the reason for its low overall score. It’s not a reflection on the plugin itself.)

Comparison Table

Here’s a comparison of the main features for each plugin. As it turns out, they look fairly even here, so be sure to check out the Overall Winner section below and the individual write ups above.

WP InjectFlickr Pick a PicturePixabay ImagesCompfightGetty Images
SourceFlickr, PixabayFlickrPixabayFlickrGetty
Choose Licenseyesyesn/ayesno
Attributionyesyesyesyesyes
Control Sizeyesyesyesyesno
Images on Serveryesyesyesnono

Overall Winner

  • WP Inject: 4.5/5
  • Flickr Pick a Picture: 4/5
  • Pixabay Images: 4/5
  • Compfight: 1.5/5
  • Getty Images: 0.5/5

Because the WP Inject plugin allows you to search both Flickr and Pixabay, we will give this one a slight edge over Flickr Pick a Picture and Pixabay Images. Of course if you like some of the advantages that Flickr Pick a Picture and Pixabay Images offer, you could just install both of them.

It should also be noted again that the low score for the Getty Images plugin is a reflection of the restrictive licensing provided by Getty, not of the plugin itself. If you deal with a non-commercial site and don’t mind the somewhat obnoxious promotion Getty does on the images, you can certainly find some quality images to put on your site.

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