Shortcodes Pro Review

Weekly WordPress Plugin: Shortcodes Pro Review

Up this week is our Shortcodes Pro review. I personally use this plugin every day in at least one way, and would hate to try and live without it.

banner-772x250

Shortcodes Pro by Matt Varone

I’m going to get this out of the way now: I LOVE this plugin. It is free plugins like this that made me start using WordPress in the first place. It’s easy to use, and it simply works.

Shortcodes themselves in WordPress allow you to quickly repeat a block of code, sort of like a function in PHP or any other programming language. Even better is Shortcodes Pro allows you to use PHP programming within a shortcode, something WordPress doesn’t normally let you do at all. The place I find the most value of this is creating a specific function for a client, and here’s my real life example:

One of the things I’ve done is create an associate guide site (in WordPress) for a major call center. This site is huge, 250 pages and counting. They had pretty standard requirements: fast, low resource use, and able to be maintained by people with no knowledge of programming anything. Easy! That’s what WordPress IS. What I didn’t know at first is inside of EVERY page would be an iFrame, linking to content from their client’s procedure guide. I panicked immediately when I heard this. iFrames are not the most easy to use code for absolute beginners. I knew I had to make a shortcode, but then I would have to teach someone a shortcode and hope they passed the word along. The only feasible solution was to provide a button in the WordPress Visual Editor. As easy as that sounds, it’s actually pretty difficult without knowledge of JavaScript (mines not the best!).

Continue reading

Weekly WordPress Plugin: Swiftype Search Review

This week we are do our Swiftype Search review. Having a good search on your site is critical, especially once it reaches a good size or you are a few years in.

Swiftype Search Review

Swiftype Search Review

Enter Swiftype Search

Boasting an impressive feature set, Swiftype Search turns the ordinary WordPress search function into an amazingly relevant search engine with autocomplete functionality. This service is available for other platforms as well, but the WordPress plugin turns the install into a 5 minute process.

  1. Add the plugin to WordPress.
  2. Sign up for a Swiftype account.
  3. Create a new search engine on Swiftype (more on this later).
  4. Put your API key from Swiftype into the plugin settings.

That’s it! If all you want is the basics that is. Even the free accounts can do more if you set them up to. Integrating your new site search in to Google Analytics takes a equally laughable amount of time, and gives the added bonus of being able to analyze what data your users are searching for. With this information you can make more relevant decisions on how to name and label your content, improving customer experience quickly and easily. For a total of 10 minutes of setup time, which includes activating your new Swiftsearch account, this is doable for any site. If you need more from your search data feel free to upgrade to a paid plan.

Continue reading

WP BootWithMe - Bootstrap 3 Powered WordPress Theme

WP MetroStrap Cancelled — WP BootstrapMe Started

Today I am forced to share some disappointing news. With my current workload I am unable to continue development on something the size of WP MetroStrap. It was too many elements to try and perfect and at this point is overwhelming. I am scrapping the project. But out of the ashes will rise a  new phoenix:

WP BootstrapMe

I am starting this as a purely (or as close to purely as I can get) Bootstrap 3 WordPress theme. As much as I like the metro design, I have to admit that I am not fully proficient with jQuery, which powers most of the cool effects of metro design. I am however pretty proficient with Bootstrap 3, so I will continue to work on this as a project with plans to release it to the public on WordPress.org free of charge.

WP BootWithMe - Bootstrap 3 Powered WordPress Theme

I plan to have WP BootstrapMe done by the end of September, and will be releasing it into the wild on WordPress.org around that time.

Weekly WordPress Plugin: UpdraftPlus – Backup & Restore

Backup WordPress plugins get a lot of attention.

Think about what you would do if the unthinkable happened. You changed 1 tiny setting and now your site is down, and you can’t even login to the admin area to try and fix it. Sometimes it’s even another WordPress plugin. You could someone like me to fix it, then it’s easy and no problem. Other times, you call your next door neighbor who thinkers in the garage with his computer sometimes, and your website is deleted. When your done cursing under your breath, what do you do?

Enter the mass and backup WordPress plugins. There’s over 10 FREE backup plugins, with countless more paid ones. All vying for your attention. Well having got my first ever WordPress job recovering a dead install, I know how devastating losing a site can be to either anyone. Sometimes hundreds or thousands of hours have gone in to the content, much less the themes and other WordPress plugins you customized. Funny thing about backup plugins, you have to have one installed for it to save you.

You have to have one installed for it to save you.

So take this thing seriously, because it’s a serious matter. On to the plugin!

WordPress Plugins - UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus also has a bad logo… Oh Well.

Continue reading

WordPress, Metro, Bootstrap, WP MetroStrap

WP MetroStrap – A Metro Bootstrap Affair

Metro, Bootstrap, and WordPress… Awesome

WP MetroStrap is going to be our first public WordPress theme. We’re going to be developing it using Bootstrap 3 RC1, and basing it on a metro or flat style (Metro + Bootstrap = MetroStrap!). One of the things I like doing is live building, that is creating a theme and using it on the site while I’m working on it. Sure, it looks ugly for now, and I could just use a one of the thousands of prebuilt themes and do a couple modifications to it, but I want a brand new creation, something mine, something I can work and build on over time. Most of all I want you guys to see it grow. See it come alive and take shape. Heck, even leave a comment for me and let me know what you think needs work.

WordPress, Metro, Bootstrap, WP MetroStrap
WordPress, Metro, Bootstrap, WP MetroStrap

Why Metro, BootStrap, and WordPress?

Continue reading

WordPress

Spokane Web Design Freelancer – The Dawn of 509Tech

Spokane Web Design and Our “Hello, World!”

It’s very exciting to be opening for business now. With a couple clients under the belt, I’d like to take this freelancing web design thing pretty seriously. 509Tech is currently just me, Jonathan Griffith, working mostly as a small business designer. Spokane web design is actually a large culture. For some reason we just have a lot of talented people in the area, and I’m hoping to add my name to the list in a big way.

I specialize in WordPress sites for small businesses, which provides an unparalleled level of customization and an amazing ease of use for years to come.

Spokane Web Design, featuring WordPress
WordPress is the world’s number 1 CMS.

Continue reading

WordPress Management and Web Design