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WordPress Weekly Recap – October 1st, 2015

Welcome to October 2015.  If you aren’t sure about the significance of this month … be on the lookout for Marty McFly to come speeding down the highway at 88 mph in an attempt save the space/time continuum. In fact, Amazon Prime is putting all three of the Back to the Future movies available for play for all Prime members. (October 2015 was the date in the future that Marty McFly set in the DeLorean.)

Do you remember where you were in 1985?  Did you have big dreams back then and did you believe you would have accomplished certain goals by 2015? Even if you missed the mark or even haven’t started with some of those goals there is no time like the present to get back on track with some of your life goals.  Take a step in a direction that takes care of YOU during this Back to the Future month of October.

WordPress News

  • It was sad news this past week as the WordPress community lost a long time member Alex King. Alex was around from the beginning of WordPress and was instrumental in bringing about many aspects of the WordPress community arenas.  From building aspects of the first plugin directory to hosting a WordPress CSS competition to being a core contributor, all of WordPress has been touched by Alex’s influences and he will be sorely missed. If you didn’t know, Alex King was the designer behind the famous Share Icon that is used everywhere. So when you see the icon take a moment and remember Alex King.
    shareicon-alexking

    Remembering Alex King

  • Looking for information on how to market your WordPress content? Then you won’t want to miss this wonderfully done infographic that walks through a progression of marketing content.
  • If you currently use the WordPress buttons “Get Shortlink” and “View Post” directly under a Post editor title box then be prepared because in WordPress 4.4 those aspects of the UI are going away.
  • iThemes Sync Pro now lets users schedule reports to be run and then automatically email them out to clients/users.

WordPress Plugins

  • Now you can embed any link/media/content in a beautiful Content Card layout.
  • Do you post YouTube videos on your blog posts but don’t like that there are “related videos” that show up when the video is done?  Use this Hide YouTube Related Videos plugin to take care of the issue.

Web Design Tips & Tricks

In this week’s Tips & Tricks section, I wanted to share a number of useful websites that many may not know about:

  • WebPageTest.org is a free website speed test that has a ton of metrics to give a quick snapshot of a site.
  • CharlieApp is a tool you sync with your calendar and email and then whenever a meeting is scheduled on the calendar, Charlie combs through hundreds of sources and sends you a “one-pager” on the person you are meeting.
  • VisualPing takes a URL and monitors that page and will notify you if any changes occur.
  • Need a little help writing more bold and clear blog posts? Check out the Hemmingway Editor.
  • Visage helps create amazing images to help tell the story of your post.

I also wanted to thank those of you who write me and let me know about plugins, news, tutorials and other pieces of content many of you create. I love adding that type of information to our WordPress Weekly Recap posts. You can also let me know about things you come across by emailing benjamin @ ithemes.com. Until next week … have a great day.

The post WordPress Weekly Recap – October 1st, 2015 appeared first on iThemes.

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WordPress Plugin Roundup – September 2015

This month’s list of 10 cool, powerful and useful (oh, and free!) WordPress plugins include everything from an easy way to clean your WordPress Media Library of unused files to an SSL quality checker. To make this list, plugins must have been recently added to the WordPress.org Plugin Repository.

iThemes Training members can check out the September WordPress Plugin Roundup webinar replay hosted by Nathan Ingram here.

1. Postman SMTP Mailer/Email Log

With the Postman SMTP Mailer/Email Log plugin, you can take control of your outgoing email with a modern, friendly and #1 rated SMTP Mailer for WordPress.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Replaces the standard wp_mail() function
  • Delivers WordPress transactional email using authenticated SMTP which should help to increase deliverability.
  • An excellent alternative to Mandrill, which is no longer a free solution.
  • Uses OAuth 2.0 for connection to Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail accounts.
  • Never asks for your email password like many WordPress SMTP plugins do, and does not store your password in the WordPress database.
  • Slightly complicated setup process, but it’s explained well in the plugin FAQ.

2. Email Popup by Optin Cat

The Email Popup by Optin Cat plugin helps you create an email popup in less than 2 minutes.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Nice simple popover for email subscription offers.
  • Includes a delay trigger and redirect.
  • Works with most major mailing list providers (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, etc.)
  • Requires pasting in the list provider’s generated HTML form for your list
  • Easy to use customizer for colors and text
  • Pro version offers more build in styles and additional features starting at $ 29/year

3. SVS Pricing Tables

The SVS Pricing Tables plugin is a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to create and publish beautiful pricing tables using a wizard and a visual builder.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Quite possibly the best free pricing table creator I’ve seen to date.
  • Several attractive built-in pricing table styles.
  • Super easy drag and drop interface.
  • Nicely responsive

4. Gallery Lightbox

The Gallery Lightbox plugin displays all gallery images into a lightbox slider in just a few seconds.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Just enable the plugin and all standard WordPress image galleries have a nice lightbox effect rather than linking to the attachment page or media file.
  • Helpful how-to video, although the plugin is very easy to use.
  • Works nicely with its companion plugin Image Carousel.

5. Video Grid

The Video Grid plugin offers beautiful responsive video grids with responsive lightbox.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Easy to create a nicely styled grid of YouTube or Daily Motion videos by pasting in the URL. The plugin grabs the video title and thumbnail with a click.
  • Custom thumbnails can be uploaded as well.
  • Videos play in a lightbox, and everything is responsive.
  • Only one grid per site in the free version.
  • Pro Version available ($ 17.13) that adds unlimited number of grids, effects, and support for Vimeo and Metacafe videos.

6. New User Dashboard Widget

The New User Dashboard Widget plugin adds a dashboard widget for Displaying New Registered member in your site.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Creates a dashboard widget that lists the newest users added to your site with date, username and role.
  • Helpful as a bird’s eye view for membership site admins.
  • Just install and activate. No settings.
  • Developer needs spellcheck.

7. Media File Cleaner

With the Media File Cleaner plugin, you can clean your WordPress Media Library and Uploads directory from files which are not used.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Powerful tool to remove media files which are no longer linked to any content.
  • Free version will allow you to delete one media file at a time. To bulk delete, the pro version is required ($ 15 for 3 sites).
  • Be sure to backup ALL THE THINGS first.

8. SSL Quality Checker

With the SSL Quality Checker plugin, you can ensure your SSL certificate is valid and your server is configured for best security practices.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Brings the excellent Qualys SSL Labs test tool to the backend of WordPress
  • Set scans for SSL quality for daily, weekly or monthly interval.
  • Adds a backend notification and sends an email to admin if the quality is below a threshold that you set.
This Month’s Obligatory Google Maps Plugin

9. Responsive Styled Google Maps Simplified

With the Responsive Styled Google Maps Simplified plugin, you can easily display a responsive Google Map (classic map or black & white map) using an incredibly easy shortcode.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • One of the easiest simple Google maps plugins to use. Only requires a shortcode.
  • Example: [resmap address=”Eiffel Tower, France” style=”2″ zoom=”14″ height=”500px”]
    • Address: the address you wish to show
    • Style: “1” for a classic map or “2” for a black&white map
    • Zoom: a number between 1-19 (Google’s parameter)
    • Height: in pixels, for instance 300px, or 400px
  • Commercial version available on Code Canyon with more features, color themes, etc. for $ 16
  • Nicely responsive. Fills 100% of its container’s width and allows manual setting of height in the shortcode (height defaults to 500px).
This Month’s Copyright Infringement Enablement Plugin:

10. LH Add Media From URL

With the LH Add Media From URL plugin, you can surf the web and add content to the WordPress media library via a bookmarklet.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • While this is an interesting plugin concept, it’s a bad idea to add any image to a website unless you are certain you have rights to use it.

WordPress Training

Get More WordPress Training & Tips from iThemes Training

Join the community at iThemes Training today to get access to 500+ hours of professional WordPress training plus weekly live webinars to grow your WordPress design and development skills.

Learn more about iThemes Training

This post is based on the September Plugin Roundup webinar by Nathan Ingram. In this webinar, Nathan covers all 10 of these plugins plus 3 more bonus plugins to add to your free plugin arsenal. Be sure to check out the entire series of monthly WordPress Plugin Roundup posts here.

The post WordPress Plugin Roundup – September 2015 appeared first on iThemes.

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WordPress Weekly Recap – September 10th, 2015

Earlier this week, I was taking my morning walk to a local coffee shop when I started noticing a trend.  I was watching motorists get increasingly angry at having to stop behind a school bus.  I saw people shouting at the inanimate bus, cursing at the time lost on their commute now that schools had started up again, and even saw a driver violently shaking in anger.

Yet just one street away was a clear parallel roadway that didn’t have any buses on it.  How often are we as web site owners so entrenched in our routines that when something doesn’t happen in the manner we are accustomed to we simply get angry?  Why not just adjust our routine and keep the anger towards things we can’t really change out of our daily working lives?

WordPress News

  • This past week there was the rumblings of security issue at WPML (language localization/translation plugin) because customers received an email containing their new password in plaintext. The team at WPML have stated that there was no security issue or breach but rather an attempt to force all their users change to a more secure password. Read more about their response on the WPML blog.
  • After a long discussion took place recently about a proposed change to the WordPress Shortcode API, the team looking into the next version of the Shortcode API has gone back to the drawing board to come up with new ideas and integrate the responses they received.  To get a bigger picture of what has been taking place head over to the WPTavern post on the Shortcode API discussion.
  • Love it or hate it the Jetpack plugin (3.7) has received an overhauled UI to make it more streamlined and simpler.  I appreciate the effort designers undertake to make their administrative interface more user-friendly.
  • Is your WordPress website starting to slow down for visitors?  You might want to check out this blog post on setting up the W3 Total Cache plugin.
  • Are you ready for WordPress and PHP7?  Regardless of whether you are ready or not you should check out the discussion taking place over on make.wordpress.org.

WordPress Plugins

  • Do you run a WordPress site that allows users to register?  You will want to take a look at this new widget that showcases the most recent registered users. New User Dashboard Widget plugin
  • I seem to be always on the hunt for new and unique ways to showcase social media engagement on WordPress websites.  A new one that crossed my desk was the Juicer plugin which aggregates many different social networks into one good looking display on your WordPress site.
  • Do you want to start EARNING MONEY on your WordPress site that has something to do with travel?  Now you can integrate a “booking” system for flights and hotels using the Travelpayouts plugin.

Web Design Tips and Tricks

  • Looking for some reading material?  Check out this free 2015 Web Design Trends ebook.
  • Pantone Factory photos look amazing.
  • Are you looking for an awesome to grow your email subscriber list?  Consider NoiseTrade as a way to “give something away for free” in exchange for someone’s email address.

I also wanted to thank those of you who write me and let me know about plugins, news, tutorials, and other pieces of content many of you create. I love adding that type of information to our WordPress Weekly Recap posts. You can also let me know about things you come across by emailing benjamin @ ithemes.com. Until next week … have a great day.

The post WordPress Weekly Recap – September 10th, 2015 appeared first on iThemes.

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WordPress Weekly Recap – August 20th, 2015

There have been a number of exciting announcements happening on the iThemes blog this past week.  Make sure you haven’t missed the newly announced “Back to the Basics with WordPress” free webinar series, as well as, the release of BackupBuddy 6.3 and a checklist for optimizing your WordPress website.

WordPress News

  • WordPress 4.3 is now out. There are a number of new features you should know about with this latest WordPress release.  Remember to have a backup of your site before you attempt any update to a live production website. Some of the new features:
    • Stronger password enforcement
    • A number of Visual Editor improvements
    • Menus are now in the Customizer (whether you like it or not)
    • And the most noticeable for some people is the new Customizer stand-alone button on the Admin Bar.
  • Are you using WordPress in higher education environments?  You might be interested in this new conference called WordCampus that will focus on those people providing WordPress instruction at the college/university level.
  • Now that WordPress 4.3 is out it is time to start talking about 4.4 :).  No seriously… the time is NOW.
  • For those that love statistics, benchmarks, and infographics, you cannot get much happier with this infographic on statistical benchmarks of WordPress web hosts.
  • An AWESOME WordPress Template hierarchy website is out there for anyone who’s looking to take an interactive look at WordPress templates.

WordPress Plugins and Tips

Web Design Tips & Tricks

The post WordPress Weekly Recap – August 20th, 2015 appeared first on iThemes.

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WordPress Plugin Roundup – August 2015

Each month, iThemes Training brings a list of 10 cool, powerful and useful WordPress plugins that were recently added to the WordPress repository. iThemes Training members can check out the July WordPress Plugin Roundup webinar replay hosted by Nathan Ingram here.

1. Page Scroll to ID

The Page Scroll to ID plugin is an easy-to-use jQuery plugin that enables animated page scrolling to  specific id within the document.

page-scroll-to-id-plugin

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Makes adding smooth scrolling to an ID (or back to top) very easy in WordPress
  • ID must be on the same page
  • To make a link scroll to the target, add rel=”m_PageScroll2id” to the HTML
  • To activate scrolling from the navigation menu, open Screen Options and check “Link Relationship (XFN)” then add m_PageScroll2id in the link relationship field for each menu item you want to scroll.
  • No issues on mobile devices

2. YouTube Channel

With the YouTube Channel plugin, you can show video thumbnails or playable blocks of recent videos from YouTube Playlist, Channel (User Uploads), Liked or Favorited videos.

youtube-channel-plugin

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Slightly complicated setup (necessary for connecting a YouTube Channel, not the plugin author’s fault).
  • Embed with shortcode [youtube_channel]

3. Orphan Word

The Orphan Word plugin will handle the orphan words from: post/page title, widget title, widget text and comment text.

orphan-word-plugin

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Simple install-and-it-just-works plugin for typography nerds

4. Aladdin

The Aladdin plugin is a keyboard quick launcher for your WordPress Admin Dashboard.

aladin-plugin

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Just double press the shift key and type what you want to do
  • Searches the admin menu for options
  • Very fast and efficient

5. JKL Pricing Tables

The JKL Pricing Tables plugin is probably the SIMPLEST Pricing Tables plugin you’ll ever use. Just type an ordered list of ordered lists within the shortcode tags.

jkl-pricing-tables-plugin

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Wrap an ordered (numbered) list with shortcode [jkl-pricing-table]
  • Each line of the list is styled differently
  • Takes a few minutes to get the hang of it, but it definitely beats the cluttered shortcodes and quirky UIs that most pricing table plugins depend on.

6. WP Links Page

The WP Links Page plugin allows you to create a dynamic link gallery with screenshots of each link.

wp-links-page-plugin

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Provides a thumbnail screenshot, link and description of web pages
  • Great for portfolios or a page of links
  • Lots of settings for easy customization and a good help page
  • Drag and drop links to reorder

7. DrawIt (draw.io)

The Drawit plugin allows you to edit flow charts, diagrams, images and more while editing a post.

drawit-plugin

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Adds a simple to use Visio-like diagram creator to the visual editor
  • Integrates with Draw.io for functionality
  • Saves the diagram as an image in the media library when completed

8. Sam’s Modal Login

The Sam’s Modal Login plugin adds a modal login and register forms to your site to suit your style.

sams-modal-login-plugin

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Sam has done a nice job here
  • Add the link with shortcode [modal_login]
  • When logged in, a “Log Out” link displays
This Month’s Creative Site Enhancer

9. WP Konami Code

With the WP Konami Code plugin, you can add Konami code easter egg to your WordPress website.

WP-Konami-Code

Nathan’s Notes:

  •  Up up down down left right left right B A
  • Forwards to a “hidden” page of your choice
This Month’s Buggy Plugin Award Winner

10. Bug – fly on the screen

The Bug- fly on the screen plugin just displays a fly on the screen.

screenshot-1 (1)

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Plugin claims to be “More useless than Hello Dolly”
  • An excellent way to bug people who visit your site.
  • Gives a whole new meaning to “debugging WordPress”

Get More WordPress Training & Tips from iThemes Training

Join the community at iThemes Training today to get access to 500+ hours of professional WordPress training plus weekly live webinars to grow your WordPress design and development skills.

Learn more about iThemes Training

This post is based on the August Plugin Roundup webinar by Nathan Ingram. In this webinar, Nathan covers all 10 of these plugins plus 5 more bonus plugins to add to your free plugin arsenal.

The post WordPress Plugin Roundup – August 2015 appeared first on iThemes.

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WordPress Weekly Recap – June 11th, 2015

WordPress News

WordPress Plugins

  • Sometimes you just need a simple light-box and WP Featherlight might do the trick.
  • If you use the Easy Digital Download plugin you will be happy to hear that the six official themes are now FREE.
  • There is a beautiful pagebuilder plugin called SiteOrigin and now there is a new expansion plugin that opens up a ton of new options. Ultimate Addons.  (Oh and also a great CSS addon as well.)

Web Design Tips & Tricks

The post WordPress Weekly Recap – June 11th, 2015 appeared first on iThemes.

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Freelance Planning Resources for 2015

Our goal is to help you (and your business) go far with WordPress. We know a lot of our freelancer friends are using their holiday break to plan what’s ahead in 2015 for their business.

We’ve compiled a “greatest hits” of our freelancer posts, and if you’re planning for 2015 this week, you’ll want to give these a read.

1. Freelance Business Plan: You Can Plan to Succeed or You Can Expect to Fail

‘Freelance’ is not a euphemism for winging it. It’s not shorthand for lazy person who wears pajamas all day.

Freelancing is serious work—freelancers make up 34% of the workforce—and it demands a serious plan. Do you have a freelance business plan? A road map that shows how you’re going to make your money and not end up broke?

A freelance business plan is big. You need to have one and we can help.

What is a Freelance Business Plan?

More than anything, the purpose of a freelance business plan is to force you to answer all the appropriate questions in running a business. It’s to make sure you’re not taking any shortcuts.

Don’t think of it as burden. It’s not one more thing on your plate. It’s the core of what you do. It’s putting down on paper exactly how you’re going to make ends meet.

A good freelance business plan will answer realistic questions about whether or not you’ll have enough money to buy a computer or how much you need to be charging.

These are questions you have to answer, or you have no business trying to freelance.

Read More About Freelance Planning

2. How to Use Trello for Freelancers: Let’s Get Organized

Freelancers have to be organized. You’re juggling so many things and most of them are closely tied to you getting paid. So you can’t drop the ball. Project management is huge.

Say hello to Trello.

It’s a free organizational and project management system (with the option for premium upgrades).

So What is Trello?

In a nutshell, Trello is a list of lists. You can organize them in almost any way you want, which is the basis of its appeal. That makes it incredibly flexible—it can work for just about anyone, from freelance developers to teachers.

trello_overview

Trello is a visual system based on cards. A card is the primary organizational system and contains all kinds of details—a description, checklists, file attachments, comments, due dates, members, etc.

Read More About Getting Organized

3. WordPress Project Management is Your Friend

Project management is a freelancer’s best friend. You have to be organized and stay on top of your projects. That’s a given. But as a WordPress developer, have you considered doing your project management in the site itself? WordPress project management can be a way to merge your love of WordPress with your need to be organized.

Benefits of Project Management Systems

If you’ve been doing freelance WordPress development for any length of time you understand the need for a project management system. You need something to keep you organized and on track, and generally a post-it note won’t cut it.

Some of the most-loved benefits of project management systems include:

  • Organization – Keep track of what needs to be done when. Don’t let anything slip through the cracks again.
  • Deadlines – Moving a project forward means keeping an eye on the due dates. Juggling multiple deadlines can get crazy, and that’s where project management really shines.
  • Collaborate – Few people work in the same office these days and can share a whiteboard together. Collaboration has to happen remotely and you need an online system to make that happen. Some systems restrict that interaction to your team, while others invite outside clients into the process.
  • Archive – Collaboration is key, but you need to keep track of those conversations. A bunch of email discussions or decisions made in a chat window are great, but it’s hard to find those again when you need them. A good project management system archives those conversations and decisions so you can go back and find them in one place.
  • Reporting – Every client wants to know where a project is at, and a good project management system either lets you know so you can update the client or tells the client directly.

Read More About Project Management

4. Adding Additional Income to Your Bottom Line Through WP Maintenance

11-things-to-do-cover

The feast and famine cycle is a constant struggle for the freelance WordPress developer. But you can break that cycle by selling WordPress maintenance to your freelance clients. You get steady, reliable income and your clients get peace of mind. Everybody wins.

Add WordPress maintenance services to your freelance menu and see how it improves your business.

What’s WordPress Maintenance?

Are your freelance clients seeing notices to update WordPress? As a freelance developer, you know WordPress needs to be kept up to date, but often clients don’t bother. Then you get panicked calls about hacked sites. Or some kind of oops makes a site disappear.

We’re talking about offering a monthly WordPress maintenance package to your clients. You take care of the details and your client doesn’t sweat it. To you they’re relatively minor issues, often automated and simple, but to your clients they’re business-stopping nightmares.

Continue Reading This Ebook

We would love to hear any tips you have for freelancers who are planning out their year. Let us know in the comments or tweet us @iThemes.

Here’s to a prosperous and productive 2015! 

iThemes