Presenting data to your blog readers as straight text gets boring very quickly and it takes much longer for most people to understand tables and text descriptions. If you have a lot of data, you need to get the point across in an effective way, and charts can help.
Using charts taps into readers’ visual brain, helping them understand data quickly. Using WordPress plugins can simplify the process of creating charts from your data and inserting them in your blog.
This article will review the eight best WordPress chart plugins (split between six well established offerings and two up-and-comers) looking at the pros and cons of each, as well as the most suitable scenarios for their use.
With over ten thousand active installs and a 4.6 star satisfaction rating, Visualizer: Charts and Graphs is the most popular plugin in the WordPress plugin repository for creating, managing and embedding interactive charts into WordPress posts and pages.
Different types of data require different chart types, and Visualizer contains nine chart types to suit your needs, specifically:
Adding a chart to your site is done via the Visualizer Library, which is added under the WordPress Media Library. The data for your chart is pulled in from a CSV file, either uploaded directly or linked to online. The latter allows you to base your chart on a Google Spreadsheet, for example. The data types that are allowed include string, number, boolean, date, time date, and time of day. Once a chart is created, it is added to the post or page with a shortcode.
You can customize the charts to match your website through an extensive set of options, as the plugin is based on Google’s Visualization API. Each chart can also be edited after it is created, and the plugin makes it easy to clone an existing chart.
For users with custom needs, the Visualizer plugin enables you to write your own hooks for chart series and data filters, both global (applied to all charts before rendering) and custom (for specific charts).
Visualizer is a solid option for most charting needs based on existing data. But with the limited data types, you may find that you need more advanced data management, so check out our next selection.
As the name suggests, this plugin does more than just enable you to create charts; you can create manage and display data tables from the admin panel and create interactive charts and graphs. You will however need to purchase the PRO version for $29 to create charts from your tables.
The table functionality of this plugin is fully-featured. Adding a table is a simple matter of entering a title and the number of rows and columns you wish to start with. The plugin provides a spreadsheet-like editor which enables you to easily add rows and columns, enter data in the table (including images, links and formulas) and customize the basic formatting for data cells.
You can preview the tables right from a tab on the plugin screen, and you have access to the table’s CSS to customize the display completely. You can use the settings tab to set up certain features of the tables such as pagination and sorting.
The Pro version of the plugin enables importing and exporting data, but more importantly for our list, creating charts and diagrams from your data. Creating a chart starts by selecting the data in your table and clicking the Add diagram button.
Like the Visualizer plugin, several chart types are available, namely:
This plugin is a great option if you need to manage your data inside the WordPress administration, but the charting functionality is not much different to the Visualizer plugin as they use the same Google Visualization API, so it may not be worth paying for the Pro version is you plan to import your data anyway.
Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer produces feature-rich HTML tables
This next plugin takes a different approach by enabling you to embed data files in WordPress posts or pages as tables or charts. With over five thousand active installs and a 4.5 star satisfaction rating, the Inline Google Spreadsheets Viewer is a solid alternative for your chart needs.
Despite the name, the Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer can also display data stored in CSV files and MySQL databases, as well as data output from a Google Apps Script. Simply pasting the in a publicly available URL for any of the supported file formats (CSV, XLS, etc.) will generate a sorted searchable HTML table.
You can also use this plugin to display live previews of other file types like PDFs and Word docs. To do this, or to display your spreadsheet data as an interactive chart or graph, you use a gdoc shortcode, e.g. [gdoc key=”filename.url”]. The key specifies the document to be used. Other optional attributes include the chart type, chart colors and custom queries.
The types of charts you can generate include:
Custom queries enable you to interact with the data as if it were a standard relational database table. You can also select just the relevant segments of data to pull into a chart. The query language is based on the Google Charts API Query Language and is both powerful and flexible.
This plugin would be ideal if you need to pull in data from various file types for display or if you have complex charting queries to generate.
Up next on our list is amCharts, which has over one thousand active installs and a 5 star satisfaction rating. Though less popular, this plugin has received some great reviews.
Unlike most of the other plugins listed here, amCharts focuses on creating chart code snippets which can then be inserted into WordPress posts and pages as shortcodes. You can use either the amCharts hosted libraries or point the plugin at your local server to use alternate libraries.
The plugin includes the following charts by default:
There is no visual editor for the charts or data, but the code can be edited directly. You can also pass custom parameters into the shortcode and reference them in the chart’s code.
Next is RJ Quickcharts, with over one thousand active installs and a 4.8 star satisfaction rating. Although it was last updated a year ago (and you should approach with caution accordingly), this plugin enables you to create beautiful HTML5 charts which are built and updated as you enter the data.
To use RJ Quickcharts, you first decide the type of chart you want to create. The chart types available are limited to:
You only have a few settings to configure for your chart, like the legend display, titles for the axes and the colors to use in the chart. You then enter your data in the spreadsheet interface below the chart setup.
The plugin does provide some sample data so you can see how to setup your data table. The chart preview is generated and updated dynamically as you enter the data. Hit Save when you are finished and the chart is ready to be inserted via the Add Media button in the post editor.
If you have very simple charts to add to your site based on small datasets, this plugin offers an easy way to get started.
wpDataTables enables you to easily create beautiful interactive charts from your data
The first solely premium plugin on our list, wpDataTables is a strong contender. With over five thousand sales and a 4.5 star rating, at $29 this plugin is definitely worth checking out. They say that over four thousand sites have the plugin in use, so you will not be alone in trying out this complete table and chart manager.
After activating this table, your first step will be to create or upload your data. wpDataTables enables you to use existing data in any one of several formats: Google Spreadsheet, Excel file, CSV, XML, JSON, or even MySQL queries, and has a Query Constructor to fetch custom data from your sources. You can also create the table manually inside the WordPress administration.
The table designs can be completely customized using the settings provided by the plugin, with no need for CSS. You can also set up responsiveness by selecting specific elements for display on different devices.
The data in both MySQL and manually created tables can be edited both in the WordPress administration but also from a front end form you create. User access for editing can be restricted to just the rows a user entered.
Using the Highcharts library (free for non-commercial use), adds the following chart types:
Developers can customize the plugin through provided WordPress actions and filters, so if the plugin is actually missing some behavior that you need (though it is very comprehensive), you can add it yourself.
Considering its flexibility, customization and the wide range of chart types available, this plugin is a great option if you are willing to pay for it.
These next two plugins are not yet widely used, but have a solid number of installs and good reviews, so may be worth considering for your needs.
Create HTML5 animated charts easily with Responsive Charts
The other premium chart plugin we chose to look at is not as popular as wpDataTables, with only 560 sales. But the 4.57 star rating and the beautiful animated charts made us want to take a look at Responsive Charts. For $15, it may be worth considering if the free plugins are not meeting your needs.
Similar to RJ Quickcharts described above, to use Responsive Charts you first create a chart and configure its settings. The chart types available to you are:
Each chart type has customizable styling for labels, tooltips and colors. There is no preview chart provided, so you will need to save your settings and move on to the data before you can view the effects of your customizations.
The main data set for the plugin can be imported from a CSV file, though you can add individual options using text fields provided. Additional data sets can be added manually if you are using line or bar charts. This enables you to show some data comparison in your chart.
Once you are satisfied and save your chart and its data, a shortcode is provided that you can copy and paste into your WordPress pages or posts.
This plugin is a simple way to create charts and is not very expensive, so if you need animated charts, it may be a good option for you.
With just over two hundred active installs, the final entry on our list, M Chart, is not very widely used or well-known yet. But the early 4.7 star satisfaction rating suggests it is not to be counted out. By providing a simple way to add and edit data in the WordPress administration and add the resulting chart to posts and pages, M Chart has a good start.
Similar to the Data Tables Generator we looked at before, M Chart enables you to input your data in a spreadsheet interface from within the WordPress administration. You can then select from the six types of charts offered by M Chart:
Each chart type has options to configure the display, such as labels for the axes.
Instead of entering the data yourself, you can import a CSV file. Additionally, M Chart has export functionality built in, so you can export your data and use in another application, or even another WordPress site.
Charts are inserted into WordPress posts and pages using a shortcode that is generated when a chart is created. You can either copy and paste the shortcode directly, or insert the chart from the Add Media panel when editing a post or page.
M Chart is not as fully featured as the Data Tables Generator plugin, but it is completely free and so may be worth considering if you want to manage your data and charts within the WordPress administration interface.
As we said before, charts are a great way to present data to your audience in an engaging way. Choosing the right WordPress chart plugin will depend on the type of data you’re presenting and the charts you need. Other factors to consider are the data sources you need to work with and how you want to work with the data.
If you have very simple data and don’t need much beyond basic charts, you can start off with RJ Quickcharts. M Charts may be a better fit if you want to instead upload your data. If you are willing to pay for a solution and animated charts will add to your data presentation, Responsive Charts is a good option for you.
If you have more advanced data management needs and want a wider range of data types available to you, Data Tables Generator may be worth checking out. But if you’re going to have to pay for the charts functionality anyway, wpDataTables is a stronger paid option, especially with the advanced features it offers like the front-end data editing and custom actions and filters.
If you have data in multiple files in various formats, both wpDataTables and the Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer are good options, depending on how you want to work with the data. Both plugins offer custom queries to pull data for your charts, so try the Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer first since it’s free.
Plain text or tabular data is difficult for most people to grasp quickly and can be a turnoff for your readers. Charts are a good way to present data in an easily digestible format and get your point across.
Whether you are looking for a simple plugin to insert a one-off chart or you need a more extensive data table manager, you should be able to find a suitable plugin in our list above to make your data come alive for your readers.
We have tried to cover the best options for WordPress chart plugins, but there may be others we have missed. Comment below and share your experiences with these plugins or add any you feel were left out!
One of WordPress’ greatest strengths is its constant state of evolution. A solution that doesn’t exist today may well exist tomorrow. And while it can be all too easy to assume that the best plugins are those that have been in development for years, the latest plugins have a great deal to offer, even if they haven’t attracted a huge number of downloads (yet).
With that in mind, I took it upon myself to trawl through the WordPress.org plugins directory to unearth some of the best free plugins available that were first released in 2015. I was surprised at how easy it was to find high-quality plugins, and I had to cut the list short at 10. In reality, I could have featured far more.
Whether you want to better manage comments, customize WordPress to match your branding, add social sharing buttons, turn your website into a fully-fledged digital media e-commerce store, or achieve something else altogether, there is something for you below. Enjoy!
WordPress comments management is, in my humble opinion, one of the most underdeveloped features within WordPress core. I’ve attempted to tackle that issue myself with Advanced Comments Moderation, and I’m always on the lookout for complementary plugins.
Enter Yoast Comment Hacks. Developed by one of the most reputable WordPress development teams in the world, this plugin offers a number of small ‘hacks’ that are used by the Yoast team in moderating their own site (the following list is taken from the WordPress.org plugin description):
- Cleaner comment notification emails.
- The option to disallow comments below a certain length.
- The option to redirect first time commenters to a thank you page.
- An input field on the comment edit screen to change the comment parent ID.
- Links in the admin comments section to email individual commenters.
- A button in the WordPress toolbar to email all the commenters on a post.
I’m impressed with all of the features, but especially the comment notifications clean-up. That particular feature aside, if you’re involved in comments moderation on a WordPress blog, I heartily recommend that you give Yoast Comment Hacks a close look.
The standard WordPress login screen is functional, if underwhelming:
It’s fine for your average blogger, but if you run a site that requires user/member login, the standard WordPress login screen is hardly going to augment your brand.
That’s where the snappily titled Custom login Plugin-Login Page Styler (shortened above to prevent your brain from imploding) comes in:
This plugin has a flawless five-star rating on WordPress.org, which is no mean feat, especially considering that it is a freemium offering. (Usually you’ll have at least one disgruntled WordPress user marking it one star for that reason alone.)
- Hide or change logo.
- Hide or show the login error message.
- Reposition the login form.
- Edit the login box’s styling.
- Edit the form labels’ styling.
- Edit the Log in button’s styling.
There are plenty of plugins like Custom login Plugin-Login Page Styler available, but it stands out – which is all the more impressive when you take into account that it was only originally released earlier this year.
It can be easy to dismiss relatively new plugins on the basis that they can’t be particularly advanced in terms of functionality, but Portfolio proves otherwise. Just check out the following video:
If that doesn’t impress you, check out any of Portfolio’s varied live previews:
In fairness, you’re not going to get all of the functionality that you might expect from the free version – for example, you only get one layout style, as opposed to the premium version’s three. That said, Portfolio certainly offers enough functionality to stand on its own two feet as a genuinely complete plugin; something that cannot be said for all free versions of premium products. Furthermore, if the developer’s responses to feedback on WordPress.org is anything to judge by – especially this completely unfair one-star review – their support is top notch.
The WordPress core team appear to be hellbent on further developing the WordPress Customizer, in the face of not inconsiderable opposition. As such, it’s hardly surprising that anti-Customizer plugins such as Customizer Remove All Parts have started cropping up.
The developer’s own description says it all really:
[Customizer Remove All Parts] prevents any Customizer scripts from loading and removes all links and buttons to [the] Customizer in the dashboard and admin toolbar.
As you might reasonably expect, the Naked Social Share plugin doesn’t have cover art.
Like Customizer Remove All Parts, Naked Social Share is another fantastic option for WordPress developers, though for different reasons. This plugin focuses on adding useful functionality, rather than removing it.
In a nutshell, Naked Social Share enables the easy insertion of plain, unstyled social sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and Google Plus: You can opt for minimal styling if you wish, which really appeals to my minimalistic leanings.
Think of it as a social sharing buttons framework for you to build upon. It’s a great option if you’re building a theme and want to incorporate social sharing buttons in a specific style.
Five ratings (at an average of 4.8) from less than a hundred active installs (at the time of writing) demonstrates that Naked Social Shares’ limited user base truly appreciates its clean and simple functionality.
With the bare bones covered, let’s now move onto a more bells-and-whistles solution for social sharing buttons.
You might reasonably think that when you’ve seen one social sharing plugin, you’ve seen them all, but AccessPress Social Share is worth a closer look. There are a few things that, in my opinion, set it apart:
- Five different button themes to choose from.
- Efficient API usage (for minimum load burden).
- Caching functionality.
- Responsive design.
- Intuitive settings.
- Proactive support.
There is a premium version of AccessPress Social Share that offers many additional features, which is great news not only if you want that functionality, but also because it vastly increases the likelihood of long-term quality support for the free version.
Yes, there is a huge number of social sharing plugins available, but this arguably looks as good an option as any. And I’m all for championing the underdog
7. Swifty Bar
Swifty Bar is definitely one of my favorites from among this roundup. You can gain a pretty solid understanding of exactly what this plugin does from the above image alone, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be impressed.
Swifty Bar enables you to add the following elements to a ‘sticky’ (i.e. static) bar at the bottom of your WordPress website:
- Post title.
- Post category.
- Author name.
- Social sharing buttons.
- Number of comments.
- Link to comments form.
- Previous/Next post links.
- ‘Time to read’ feature.
In my professional opinion, Swifty Bar pretty damned sweet. It’s definitely a plugin that deserves more than the ~200 downloads it has attracted so far. Check it out.
LearnPress developers – color me impressed. This plugin is a fully-fledged LMS solution for WordPress, with add-on functionality in the same vein as WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads (which I consider to be the best plugin monetization method around).
The breadth of LearnPress’ functionality might be somewhat intimidating to a newcomer, but it’s broken down into the aforementioned add-ons, which helps to keep things manageable. Free add-ons include:
Premium add-ons offer more commercially-minded features, such as:
There are plenty of alternative LMS plugins out there – Sensei being an obvious example – but LearnPress is free to use, easy to expand through add-ons, and developed by a clearly conscientious team.
So a sitemap plugin is never going to get your heart racing, but Simple Wp Sitemap provides a clean and simple solution to a universal requirement among WordPress webmasters. In short, it dynamically generates both HTML and XML sitemaps of your WordPress website. There’s not much else to say about Simple Wp Sitemap – it simply works!
Symbiostock works with WooCommerce to create a fully-fledged e-commerce platform for digital media downloads. It has more features than you can shake a very large stick at, and if you run into any trouble, offers both standalone support forums and a knowledge base.
It’s clear that the developer has gone great lengths to integrate seamlessly with and complement WooCommerce, rather than fight against it.
What is Your Favorite WordPress Plugin of 2015?
We’re past the halfway point of 2015 already, but if the above list of plugins is anything to judge by, there’s far more to come in terms of added functionality for WordPress.
I know for a fact that I’ve missed a whole bunch of great plugins that were released in 2015, so if you have any suggestions as to what should have made the list, please fire away below.
No longer a clunky, text-based interface, email has become a searchable filing cabinet, to-do list, CRM and project management tool all rolled into one. If you’ve ever tried a little productivity app called Rescue Time, you were probably shocked to discover exactly how much time you spend in your inbox. If you haven’t tried it, give it a whirl. I think you’re in for a surprise.
When you first started your WordPress business, you probably felt pretty organized; it’s a natural feeling when starting out with inbox zero. Over time though, your client list grows and with it the questions increase, the support calls multiply and you begin struggling to keep up. Your virtual filing cabinet grows increasingly complex. But, there’s a better way to do things.
Today, we’re going to talk about the importance and benefits of help desk software, and review four potential options. These are solutions that will help you become more efficient, allow you to get more done and potentially remove yourself from the front lines of the support process.
When Should You Introduce Help Desk Software?
In general, the best time to introduce a client to your help desk software is after the client’s site goes live. Depending on your business model, maybe you were responsible for developing your client’s website or maybe you took over maintenance and optimization once the site was complete. Either way, this is a very different phase than development.
The need for regular communication typically decreases and the types of issues that need solving change. Your scope of services will vary, but you might find yourself dealing with small website tweaks, logo changes, setting up new email addresses, backups, posting content and more. Some are regularly scheduled tasks and some will be one-time client requests or unexpected problems.
How you deal with client support requests can have a dramatic impact on the efficiency of your business, and that’s where the advantages of using help desk software just begin.
Three Advantages of Help Desk Software
1. Eliminate the Small Talk
ypical email from a client starts off with friendly banter because it’s the more polite thing to do. How’s your week going? How is the business? What’s new with the family? All perfectly normal questions. And buried at the bottom of the email will be one or two lines describing the problem they would like you to take care of.
Friendly conversations are important when the timing is right. But wouldn’t it be easier if they just cut to the chase? Emails that start out with a slew of personal questions leave you feeling obligated to respond. Imagine the chaos when you have 15-20 client websites to manage. Can you see how your inbox becomes capable of devouring time?
Eventually, the challenge of juggling multiple client support requests becomes unmanageable.
Using help desk software forces both you and your client to focus on the issue at hand. You no longer feel like you need to start and end every conversation with a personal story, as the information your client shares with you can be controlled via a contact form. You conversations become simplified, for example:
- My email isn’t working. Please can you look into it.
- Our logo has been updated, can you change it on the website.
- We added some new services, please add the following information to the site.
Overnight, the small talk is reduced and everyone feels more comfortable limiting the discussion to the issue at hand.
2. Focus on One Thing at a Time
How often do your clients send you a laundry list of things to do in an email? Some items are quickly solved while others take a day or even a week to resolve. This is how your inbox becomes a to-do list.
You’ll find yourself frequently going back to reference the email, replying to the same client multiple times as you cross things off your list. Or maybe your system is more advanced – copying the to-do list into your task management software, checking them off as you go.
By using help desk software, you’ll be able to limit support requests to one or two issues at a time. As soon as you stop allowing clients to send you endless to-do lists in giant emails, you’ll become more organized.
3. Scale Your Business
You can keep your client communications in your inbox if you want – but what happens as you grow your business? What happens when you want to hire someone to help manage client support? Are you going to hand over the reins to your inbox? Probably not. And that’s another reason why help desk software makes sense – if you have plans to grow your business.
The ability to have all of your client support tickets in a self-contained environment means you can hand off control to an employee or contractor at any point in time. No need to change email addresses, forward dozens of emails or notify clients of a contact change.
The Four Best Options for Managing Client Support Tickets
There are more than a few options when the time comes to choose a provider for your help desk software. We’re going to explore four of the most popular options.
Groove has attracted as much attention for its outstanding blog as it has for its helpdesk software. Founder Alex Turnbull has done a great job documenting Groove’s journey from startup to a standout contender. Reading their blog will actually give you a good idea about who they are as a company and what they stand for. Take note, content marketing naysayers.
If you’re on the fence about help desk software in general, the good news is that Groove offers a free version for up to two users and one support mailbox. Great for a small development agency or a developer working solo. As your business grows, the full-featured version starts at $15/user per month – hardly enough to break the bank.
I look at Groove as the BaseCamp of help desk software. It has exactly what you need without too many bells or whistles. It’s easy for your clients as well, as you can integrate both Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms with Groove, creating a seamless experience.
Speaking of client experience, Groove also keeps track of important customer service statistics. You’ll be able to see exactly how quickly you responded to a new ticket, or your average response time for many tickets. Also, how long does it typically take to resolve issues? All these details will be at your fingertips.
Compared to Groove’s website, freshdesk feels more complicated right out of the gate. And with over 65 items in their feature list, it appears this holds true for their software as well. Some features like gaming mechanics are just not necessary for a typical WordPress development agency.
Pricing for up to three agents starts at $0/month for their toned-down “Sprout” account. A more full-featured “Blossom” version starts at $19/month per agent ($16 if billed annually). Depending on your needs, the price goes all the way up to $70/month per agent. With five plans to pick from, their pricing structure is a little more complicated than the competition.
Increased complexities aside, freshdesk still provides the same integration capabilities that Groove does. Using Zapier, you’ll be able to integrate freshdesk with dozens of popular apps. If you offer paid support you’ll be able to integrate with apps like Freshbooks and Harvest, creating automatic invoices.
3. Help Scout
Sometimes it’s the subtle differences that cause a company to stand out. When researching different help desk options, one of the first things you’ll notice about Help Scout is that their about page has the founder profiles mixed among all the other employees. Everyone is described as a “Customer Champion”. It really says something about Help Scout’s overriding philosophy.
Like the other two options above, a scaled down free plan is available. It’s limited to three users, one inbox, and no API access, as well as each email having Help Scout branding. Once you’ve decided that you’re happy with the software, you’ll probably want to upgrade to their $15/user per month plan. Access to their API should be seen as a critical feature, since integration with third party apps like Zapier allow for automation, saving you a lot of time in the long run.
In case you’re dead set against relying on a SaaS option, there just so happens to be a great plugin available that will enable you to use your WordPress site as a help desk. Installing the plugin on a subdomain also means you have your own help desk void of monthly fees.
Following a business model similar to Ninja Forms, the Awesome Support plugin has add-ons or extensions you can purchase based upon your functionality requirements. For around $200 you can add the top five extensions, making this a very different approach from the other choices. You’ll have to think carefully about your long-term needs before settling on this option.
There are some things (such as the need to create an account) that make Awesome Support slightly less user-friendly, but there is no reason why you couldn’t complete that step on behalf of your clients. Another area where this plugin falls short is in reporting. As your business grows, it’s nice to be able to see how quickly you are responding to support requests overall. Although you might not get reporting without going for a paid subscription on the SaaS options, it’s not available at all with Awesome Support.
I can sense the resistance – you’re still feeling attached to your inbox. It’s like having all of your customers in one place. A giant, searchable database of every client conversation you’ve ever had and email threads a mile long.
Help desk software is as much for your clients as it is for you. Sure, it will help you become more organized, more productive and enable you to scale your business more easily. But those improvements also benefit your clients.
Their problems will be solved faster, and you’re both less likely to scan over an important item within a lengthy email. As your business grows, so to do your support issues – the growth of your business should never impact your clients.
If you’re still on the fence, consider this: All four options we covered in this article provide a free version. If your WordPress business is small, that might be all you need. If your business is growing, you might find yourself able to spend less time on support issues and more time building your business further.
Building community on your website is a must nowadays. Outside of traditional comments, you can accomplish this by building a social network. And one great way to do that is to create a forum.
I’ve written before about how to add a forum to your WordPress site. Those forums were brand new and were installed into WordPress as they were born. What about a forum that was born outside of WordPress? Forums have been around for a long, long, time. They’re one of the oldest platforms on the Internet. In fact, the phpBB platform has been around since 1994. Another popular forum platform is vBulletin, which has been around since 2000. This means that there are a lot of them that have been in use for longer than WordPress has been in existence. What if you want to integrate one of these old forums that has dozens, thousands, or even many millions of users and comments—or any existing forum for that matter—into WordPress?
A Note on Forum Integration
Okay, let’s back up a minute. First, what do I mean by integration? I don’t mean connecting them together with a link that takes the visitor from your WordPress site to the forum site. I mean actually bringing the forum into WordPress so that it’s truly integrated. If the two platforms only contain links from one to the other, the users will have to sign in to both independently. And, they will have to go to each platform independently to see updates.
That’s not integration. Integration merges them together so they act as one. Once the two platforms are completely integrated, users will only have to sign in once. It doesn’t matter which platform they sign into; once they’ve signed in to one they’re signed into the other. And, no matter which platform they’re looking at, they will be able to see updates to the forum because they will act as a single platform.
Now, I know this sounds daunting, but please don’t be afraid. If you can create and admin a forum or run a WordPress site you can do this. In fact, if you’re a forum admin you’re already doing the impressive and scary part. So let’s get started.
Some integrations are as simple as installing a plugin. Others—not so much. One problem is the sheer amount of forum platforms out there; and not all of them have easy solutions.
Let’s look at a few, shall we?
The most WordPress friendly forum platform is phpBB. There are many good plugins available to integrate phpBB into WordPress. The platform is widely used and established. The following list are bridges that connect the two platforms for a completely integrated solution.
phpBB to WP connector is a plugin that connects your phpBB forum to your WordPress site. It shares users with WordPress. Users that do not exist in WordPress are automatically created as a WordPress subscriber. It allows users to use PHP login credentials to comment, so it doesn’t require new credentials for current users.
WP-United is another phpBB WordPress bridge. This one has lots of supporting widgets. It is fully modular, meaning that individual features can be turned on and off. Modules include sign-on, theming, widgets, cross-posting, and behavior. These modules add some awesome features to the integrated package. And speaking of features, there is plenty to like here:
- User integration. This includes a single sign-on, it synchronizes profiles with avatars, and includes user management. You can use external registration modules such as plugins for social media logins. It automatically creates user accounts between phpBB and WordPress. And you can easily set individual permissions.
- Template integration. Your phpBB forum appears within your WordPress site, or your WordPress site can appear within your phpBB forum’s header and footer. It analyzes your CSS and makes the necessary modifications to avoid CSS and HTML conflicts. It does not use iFrames.
- Behavior integration. This gives you word-censor features and allows you to use phpBB smilies.
- Cross posting. You can have it automatically—or manually if you choose—to crosspost between WordPress and your forum. It will even sync comments.
WP-United also includes 10 widgets that displays information about the forum. They are configurable and even work with the other modules turned off. These widgets include latest posts, latest topics, current users online, statistics, an integrated login/meta/avatar/profile block, birthday list, quick poll, useful links, top bar with breadcrumbs, and a bottom bar that matches top bar.
BridgeDD is a WordPress bridge that doesn’t bloat or slow down your WordPress site. It automatically handles integrating members between both applications.
This plugin is free to use. For even more features you can subscribe for $40 per year. This gets you access to BridgeDD PRO, which allows you to add your WordPress header, footer, and widgets directly into your phpBB templates. It does this without having to load WordPress and it creates a seamless integration. The subscription also includes supporting CSS, custom plugins, and phpBB modifications.
Bridge WordPress! Is another WordPress plugin that was developed for seamless integration between WordPress and phpBB. When users register in one they are automatically registered in the other. Likewise, when users are logged into one they are automatically logged into the other. This allows users to move from one to the other without having to log into each independently. Users can register on either platform. If they update their password and email address on one platform, the info is updated on the other.
Installing it is easy but it does require some PHP code changes. Well, not really “changes,” just the addition of a single line of code. Once you’ve installed the plugin in WordPress you go to the phpBB side and add a single line of code. You then enter your settings on your dashboard and you’re done. Integrated. It also works with WordPress Multisite.
Speaking of, the coolest thing about this plugin is its multisite feature. It will connect multiple WordPress sites to the same forum. Bridge WordPress! also works alongside the Domain Mapping plugin so forum members can have separate blogs.
This is a premium plugin at $29.95.
Another popular forum platform is vBulletin. This one is a premium platform. There are not as many integration solutions but there are a few that work really well.
vBSSO is a free open source plugin for vBulletin that connects your forum to various other platforms including WordPress. It has two components: one for your vBulletin forum and one for your WordPress site. The vBulletin component creates an interface for authenticating, controlling access, and managing user profile data. The WordPress component creates the interface that allows vBulletin to share data with WordPress.
vBSSO has strong safety features. Data is exchanged using a private security key and it communicates only through the API of the connected platform. It also includes Basic Access Authentication support.
You can log in and out of third party applications through vBulletin using a single sign-on.
vBulletin Connector is a WordPress plugin from CodeCanyon. It connects to your vBulletin database to display comments in WordPress posts. It can be used with your existing commenting system or it can replace it completely. It creates a matching vBulletin thread when you post in WordPress and creates a trackback link in the vBulletin thread back to the WordPress post. The vBulletin post contains a quote from the WordPress post. The posts are placed in forum categories that you choose.
There are customization options for avatars, configurable language settings, and multisite support. It also has BBCode support so it will display QUOTE and URL BBCode.
One downside to this one is that is doesn’t do login and registration syncing. So a new user in vBulletin isn’t automatically created in WordPress.
This is a premium plugin with two purchase options. The first is the regular license. It is for use in a single product and costs $15. It can be used by a client but the end user is not to be charged for it. The second is the extended license. It is for a single product and costs $75. It is for a single product in which the end user can be charged for it.
For some forum platforms there are no currently supported WordPress plugins available. One option is to import your forum data into another platform for use with WordPress. There are a few different options to do this.
bbPress, from the makers of WordPress, allows you to import forum posts from other platforms such as Simple Machines Forum. It also works with many others including vBulletin.
It adds several options to your dashboard for creating and managing a forum. It fully integrates into your site and you can manage forum topics and replies easily with several included widgets.
Visitors can subscribe to the forum itself, to specific topics, and to replies. You can set user permissions individually so they can delete posts, make stickies, flag spam, make edits, and more.
Importing your forum data is simple. You will have to configure the importer, but there are step-by-step instructions on how to do it. Detailed instructions are also given so you can create your own custom importer if your platform is not on the list.
CMS2CMS is a service that will migrate from one content management system to another. It is a great way to migrate your forum to bbPress or WordPress. The migration is done through their website so there’s no coding or software installation on your part. It preserves your SEO rankings and visitors, and it keeps your category and content relations.
Supported forum platforms include vBulletin, myBB, Board, phpBB, Joomla Kunena, Simple Machines Forum, Drupal Forum, ImpressCMS, Simple:Press, and Tiki Wiki CMS.
Migration from one platform to another takes 15 minutes. CMS2CMS will migrate content, users, categories, images, tags, comments, etc., from your old forum to your desired forum. You can try a 10-page demo to see if it will work for you before you move everything over to your new system.
For pricing, there is an easy to use price estimating app on their website as well. It allows you to choose the platform you’re moving from, the platform you’re moving to, and the number of threads, users, and posts. I used the default settings for an estimate to move an SMF forum to WordPress. The default settings were 250 threads, 1000 users, and 1000 posts. I then checked the additional options, which gave me three choices (the rest were grayed out): 1, clear current data on new site before migration (free); 2, migrate images / attachments ($1.00); 3, fix broken relationships in the database (free). I chose all three options.
My estimated migration price was $50. I doubled the number of threads, users, and posts and the estimated migration price was $78. I doubled them again and the estimated price was $98. So for under $100 I could migrate an SMF forum with 1000 threads, 4000 users, and 4000 posts to WordPress. vBulletin was $49, $77, and $97, but migrating images / attachments wasn’t an option.
If you don’t want to migrate your forum to WordPress, and you REALLY want to integrate your forum with WordPress like one of the phpBB options, you can always migrate your forum to phpBB and then integrate the two platforms. FYI: the prices to migrate from SMF and vBulletin to phpBB were the same as migrating them to WordPress.
Adding an existing forum to your WordPress site shouldn’t be complicated. In fact, it’s downright easy if you use the right tools. And there are plenty of tools out there to get you started. Hopefully, this list gets you set out on the right track.
Displaying a video as the background of your website is a sure-fire way to make a strong impact on your visitors. While animated, or video backgrounds aren’t suitable for all websites, if it’s a good match for the type of site you are building, and you execute it correctly, then they can really help create a memorable first impression on your target audience.
As video backgrounds are a web design trend that hasn’t yet reached saturation point, it’s an effect you can still make use of in order to stand out from the crowd and grab the attention of your visitors.
Thankfully as a WordPress user there are a number of ways you can easily add video backgrounds to your entire site, or specific posts and pages, as well as creating full screen video sliders with advanced animation effects. If you’re using the Divi theme, then you will be pleased to know it couldn’t be easier to add video backgrounds to your WordPress website in a number of different ways.
However, there is more to adding this feature to your website than just uploading a video file to your WordPress Media Library and inserting into your pages. If you get the process wrong, then you could have a disastrous impact on the ability of your website to serve its purpose.
In this article we will look at when you might want to use video backgrounds, where you can find suitable files, and how you can go about adding them to your WordPress website.
Should You Use Video Backgrounds On Your Website?
Background videos are best used on websites that are aiming to make a big first impression on their visitors. The video content itself isn’t always the most important aspect, but rather the impact it will have on the viewer when displayed as the background of your site.
As we are talking about background video here, rather than a video welcome message, or other foreground video content, in most cases the exact footage of the video will be obscured. This can work in your favor, as it gives you some freedom in terms of what type of video content you use on your website. The footage doesn’t have to be too tightly focused on the topic of your website, provided the overall look and feel of the video matches the aesthetic of your brand and the overall design your website.
It is possible to add video backgrounds to any part of your website, from the home page, to the individual posts and pages on your site, right down to specific page elements. However, in most cases, it is websites with a static of fixed home page, rather than a traditional blog configuration, which are best suited to full screen video backgrounds.
It might be tempting to dive in and start using this feature on your website just because you can. However, in most cases its best to practice some restraint and truly consider if it’s really the best choice for the current design of your website, the content you are publishing, or your target audience.
However, if you do feel that video backgrounds are a good fit for your project, let’s take a look at where you can find good quality footage for your website, before we move onto how to add them to your website.
Where to Find Videos for Your Website Backgrounds
Shooting or creating your own video footage, for use as a background on your website is a great option. However, not everyone has the skills, equipment, or subject matter on hand, to produce the right type of content for their website.
Thankfully there are now plenty of resources online that offer high quality, royalty free stock footage, all at a range of prices. While your budget will largely dictate the quality and breadth of content available to you, it is possible to find high resolution videos that would work well as a background video, without breaking the bank.
Here are a few places where you can look for content for your background videos:
Free Videos Hosted at YouTube and Vimeo
There are countless videos hosted on YouTube and Vimeo, covering every topic imaginable. Most of the methods for displaying video backgrounds on your WordPress website give you the option of using one of those recordings as the source material.
While you should be able to find any type of video on either of those two large hosting sites, there are some drawbacks of using this content on your website. One is that the video you are referencing may one day become unavailable. This could be due to it being removed by the owner, taken down by the service provider, or many other reasons.
Another negative aspect of using a video hosted by sites like Vimeo or YouTube is that you may end up inadvertently displaying adverts on your website. While some options for adding video backgrounds to your website can overcome this now, this may not remain the case forever. Also, as YouTube displays links to related videos at the end of each item, these could be featured on your website too.
Furthermore, with these free video hosting sites, you often don’t have control over the quality of the video playback. As the quality can drop to quite low levels, it can have a real impact on the impression your video backgrounds make on your visitors.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the Vimeo Pro service is a good alternative to hosting the videos yourself, and it’s something we will look at in more detail in the next section.
Stock Video Libraries
Although there are now many places where you can source free to use, royalty free images for your website, the same can’t quite yet be said for video. However, there are a few places emerging where you can find royalty free, stock video footage for use on your website:
- Videvo: over 2,000 completely free HD stock footage and motion graphics for any project.
- Video Hive: very affordable collection of over 163,000 royalty free videos can be found at this Envato marketplace.
- Video Blocks: large collection of royalty free videos that are ideal for video backgrounds, spread across many categories, with prices starting at $49 and annual pricing plans available.
- Shutterstock: massive collection of royalty free stock videos to suit a range of budgets.
- iStock: more premium, high quality stock video, covering a range of categories.
- Pond5: royalty free stock videos starting at $1, with a free clip of the week.
- Movie Tools: collection of free to use video loops of varying quality.
- Stock Footage for Free: more free to use video clips
As you can see, while you might not be able to find the same quality free to use videos, as you can now with images, there is plenty of content available. With very affordable video files available from sites like Video Hive and Pond5, most projects should be able to justify the cost of including at least one video background.
How to Upload Video Files to Your WordPress Website
If you are planning on using a video file that you’ve downloaded or created yourself, rather than one someone else has upload to a video sharing site like YouTube, then you will need to host it somewhere so that it is accessible by your visitors.
While you might be tempted to upload the file straight to your WordPress Media Library, storing it on your web hosting server, this often isn’t the best solution. As the type of videos you would typically use as a website background are often of a large file size, this can have an impact on the performance of your site.
Depending on the type of web hosting you are using, uploading these large files could see you run the risk of having your account suspended, or incurring extra charges due to the additional bandwidth that is consumed, each time the video is loaded.
For these reasons, it’s recommended that you seek out an external service to host your video content. One option is to use a service like Vimeo Pro. However, Vimeo Pro isn’t the cheapest option around, and other services such as Rackspace might be a better option for most users. These services give you a place to upload your videos, before you embed them on your website.
Other benefits of using a premium video hosting service, is that your content can be protected in order to prevent it being downloaded without your consent.
If you are going to upload videos to your WordPress website, then you many run into an upload limit if the files are over a certain size. Fortunately it is possible to increase this limit (although your web host may have their own limits in place) and you can find the instructions on how to do so here. The free Increase Max Upload Filesize plugin also gives you a quick and easy way to increase the file size limit of your WordPress website.
Now that you know where to find suitable videos, and how to make them available for use on your website, let’s take a look at how you can set them as a background for your content.
How to Add Video Backgrounds to Your Website with Divi
Divi gives you two easy ways to add video backgrounds to your WordPress website. One option is to set the background of a page section to display a video. While the other is to create a slideshow which contains slides that have video backgrounds.
As Divi allows you to create full width sections for your custom page layouts, you can use this feature to easily add full width video backgrounds to those sections. You can also add full width video sliders to your website.
In this part of this guide, we will now walk through how you can use these two main options to add video backgrounds to your website.
Creating a Slideshow with Video Backgrounds
As part of its page builder, the Divi theme includes two easy to use slider tools:
- A regular slider for creating mixed media slideshows that can contain text, images, and videos
- A video slider for creating video slideshows
Both tools make it easy to add sliders to your custom page layouts. However, if you want your slideshow to contain links to the other pages on your website, or to external sites, then using the regular slider tool is the best option.
This is because unlike, the video slider, it gives you the ability of adding text, buttons, and other content to your slides – even those slides that have video backgrounds.
Creating a Regular Slider with Video Background
On the other hand, if you want to display a collection of videos in the slideshow format, then the video slider is a better option.
When creating a new section for your page layout, two of the options available are to add a regular section, and add a full width one. In you do choose to add a full width section, you then get the option of adding a full width slider to it.
The Divi slider tool makes it easy to add slides to your slideshow, and once you’ve created a new slide, you can then add a video to it. There are a number of options for adding videos to your slides, this include:
- Enter the URL of a video hosted on YouTube or Vimeo
- Upload a video file to, or select an existing item from your WordPress Media Library
- Enter the URL of a video file that is hosted elsewhere
As mentioned earlier, using a video hosted on YouTube or Vimeo does have its drawbacks. This includes the possibility of the video being made unavailable at some point in the future. Therefore it’s good to see that you also have the option of quickly adding a self-hosted video the slide instead.
The Divi slider supports WebM and MP4 video file formats, giving you two good alternatives for using a self-hosted video as your section or slide background. However, it’s recommended that you upload your video in both formats, as this will ensure maximum compatibility with a range of different devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and regular desktop computers.
After uploading a video file in these formats to your WordPress website, a content delivery network, or somewhere else, you can create a new slide for your slider. After doing so, you can click on the upload a video button to select the file from the WordPress Media library. If you are hosting the video elsewhere, you can simply enter the URL of the video file instead.
If you want to add any other content to the slide with the video background, such as text or images, you can do so from the same settings page.
Now you will have at least one slide in your slideshow that features a video background.
Adding a Video Background Section to a Page
As well as creating a slider with video content, you can also set the background of a section of your page to display a video.
After creating a new page, or opening an existing one for editing and launching the Divi Page Builder, you can click on the Section settings icon.
Doing so then displays the section module settings panel. As well having the option of setting a background color and uploading a background image for the section, you also have the ability to set a background video instead.
The options for doing so, again includes uploading or specifying the URL of either a WebM or MP4 video file. You can also set the width and height of the background video. Once you’ve specified a video, your section will now have a video background for this part of your custom page layout.
As the above information covers how to set a background for a section, you can also add more content to the section. This additional content will then overlay the background video. This is done by adding one or more modules to the column and row based layout to further build your page and its content.
Once you’ve created your custom page layout, complete with additional modules and custom content, you should now have a page with an animated background.
The Divi page builder tool gives you the ability to add multiple sections to a page. This means that you have the option of creating a page with multiple video backgrounds, which are displayed one after another, complete with optional parallax scrolling.
Plugins for Other WordPress Themes
If you aren’t using Divi, or another WordPress theme that makes it easy to set video backgrounds for your pages, then there are some plugins available that can help.
If you want to use a video from YouTube as a background on your website, then the free mb.YTPlayer for background videos plugin could be just what you are looking for.
The plugin gives you the option of setting a YouTube video as the background image of your home page and blog archive page, as well as on individual posts and pages.
If you do want to display a YouTube video as the background on the home page of your website, you can enter the video URL on the settings page of the plugin. Setting a video background on individual posts and pages, takes place on the edit screens for those item.
When adding a YouTube URL, you can enter the address of multiple videos and the plugin will choose from the list at random, each time the page is loaded. Through the settings you can also set an opacity for the video, enter the points at which the video should start and stop, and set the volume level.
You can also set the video playback to loop continuously, as well as controlling the visibility of the video playback controls.
When testing the plugin, it did a great job of displaying a full screen video background, using a video from YouTube. The only downside is that you cannot set a background video globally, that will be used on every post and page on your site. Therefore, you would have to manually set the background video for each piece of content you publish, in order to create a consistent look throughout your website.
If you are happy to use a video hosted by YouTube, and you don’t mind the limitations of this free plugin, then mb.YTPlayer for background videos does a good job of allowing you to quickly setup video backgrounds for your WordPress website.
Easy Video Background WP
If you want to set the background of your website to display a video from somewhere other than YouTube, then upgrading to the premium Easy Video Background WP plugin is one option open to you.
For only $14, a whole world of possibilities open up when it comes to adding video backgrounds to your WordPress content. The features of this plugin allow you to set a site wide background video, or add the video backgrounds on a page by page basis. You can also apply the video backgrounds to specific containers on your site, such as the post area.
With the Easy Video Background WP plugin, it’s also possible to set the videos to display as fixed backgrounds, or give them the ability to scroll with the rest of your content as the visitor moves down the page. Other options allow you to set a crop ratio for your videos, play them in a loop, enable auto-start, mute any audio, and set a fallback image for mobile devices.
The Easy Video Background WP plugin supports a good number of file types, including MP4, WebM, OCG, and FLV, as well as videos hosted on YouTube and Vimeo. You also get the option of setting an image overlay for the videos, with a custom opacity level.
Unfortunately, the video background wasn’t displayed in the sidebar area of the theme I was testing this plugin with. However, by purchasing this premium plugin, you do get access to the support ticketing system for reporting any issues you may experience.
Now you know the whys, wheres, and hows of adding video backgrounds to your WordPress website. With internet connection speeds getting faster, and the majority of websites yet to embrace full screen background videos, now is a good time to think about using this feature to help your website or blog stand out from the crowd.
Many of the solutions we’ve just looked at for adding video backgrounds to your WordPress website are fully mobile-friendly, and have the ability to not display the video to your smartphone and tablet using visitors.
While video backgrounds won’t work for all websites, for some they can be a great way to not only make a strong impact on your visitors, but also get your message across in a way that text and images alone, often cannot.
Have you ever landed on a web page, started reading the content only to be interrupted by a pop up or distracted by a link to a landing page advertising a free product if you enter your email address? That’s a squeeze page.
It’s called “squeeze” as the customer is intentionally squeezed through a sales funnel to this landing page. Or alternatively, it’s a way of squeezing customer’s email addresses out of them!
Initially the interruption from what you originally went to the site to read can be annoying. But then you see what is being offered to you and it turns out to be totally worth it. All you need to do is give away your email address – usually with the acceptance that you’ll be marketed to – and you’ll get a free eBook, an email series of useful information, or “subscriber exclusive” video content, for instance.
And for the marketer, it’s a really valuable tool. Setting up the free product will take a little bit of time and investment to make sure it’s a worthwhile product to send out. But then the data you get as a return is like gold. Once you have prospects’ email addresses, you can build a relationship with them through your email marketing, leading to the ultimate goal of a sale.
The Squeeze Page Offer
The free product that’s offered on a squeeze page needs to be something that can be sent via email. The whole idea of the offer is that it is an exchange of information and therefore an email address is required to be able to view the product.
A link to a video that’s freely available on YouTube wouldn’t work, since your readers will be savvy and know that they can simply search for it online themselves. They may question why you’re collecting email addresses when it appears you don’t need to use them. Also, sending something via email rather than to a location where anybody can access it gives the product a feeling of exclusivity. This is a great start to a customer-supplier relationship.
Good examples of squeeze page products are an eBook on a topic related to the product or service you sell online; a white paper that gives insights into the industry that your customer is interested in; a report with industry research statistics; a discount; or a series of informative emails that make up a course.
When so much information is free online these days – from written to video content – it’s important to communicate why this product is different and why it’s worth signing up for.
One of the best ways to do this is to go down the series email route. This allows you to send many emails, which will build your relationship as your reader gets used to receiving information from you. Since the content will be sent out over a series, it makes digesting that content easier than if it were all to be sent in one go. This makes email series more beneficial than white papers (however, bear in mind that certain audiences, like businesses, appreciate the hefty amount of information that’s supplied in a white paper).
The Elements Of A Good Squeeze Page
The design of the page needs to focus your reader’s attention on the offer and the offer only. Distracting pieces of content should be avoided. This includes links to other websites or even other pages within your site. You don’t want to navigate your readers away and risk losing them and their sought-after email address.
Instead, the page should make it clear what you want your customers to do. A squeeze page isn’t about tricking your readers; the exchange of information is a transparent transaction. So the content should almost suggest that the reader take the offer or leave it and move to another page. A time limit to the offer can help with this.
However there are some good ways of adding content that will assist in encouraging sign ups. Adding a widget to social media sites is a great way to show who of the reader’s friends are fans of the site, or statistics that show how many people have already benefitted from your product. Both encourage the reader to join too. You can also add a well-executed video explaining the benefits of signing up, rather than letting the copy do the talking.
Keep the sign up form simple and ask for the bare minimum. Asking for too much too soon is a sure fire way to scare readers off. Instead, lead them to a thank you page that asks for more details and let them add this once you’ve safely got their email address. But do try to get the information as the more you know about your customer, the better relationship you can build by sending them more tailored marketing emails.
Squeeze Page Formats
One example of doing this well is through a pop up squeeze page. The reader is forced to click on the X to remove it from the page they were originally reading, thereby giving them the take it or leave it offer.
Just make sure that it is easy to remove with a large and clear X, otherwise the interruption could lead to a negative user experience. This is especially so if your website isn’t responsive (which, by the way, it should be in this digital age), as it’s hard to move the page to where it needs to be to click on the X.
The alternative is to set your homepage as the squeeze page, also known as a splash page, so that users who first come to your site are greeted with your offer. Make sure you make it clear that the splash page isn’t your “real” home page by using a link to go to the home page in case those who aren’t interested in the offer simply navigate away from your site completely.
It’s also a good idea to add a cookie so that regular readers don’t get to your site via the splash page every time.
However you decide to deliver your squeeze page, make sure the reader receives their free product as soon as possible. It’s an unfair relationship if they give and then don’t get something back until later. This is where an autoresponder tool comes in handy, which you can use with many email service providers or plugins.
How To Create Your Own Squeeze Page With WordPress
One option is to use a specific theme for squeeze pages. SqueezeMe is the only one available on the WordPress theme section. It is a one-page site that’s very simple but has full WordPress functionality, so you can add a blog and other bits to the site. However, the example provided isn’t the best example of a squeeze page as it looks rather “salesy” with a dubious product.
Another theme that includes the ability to add squeeze pages is Current. This is a well-designed theme for any website, however it has the extra benefit of featuring a Page Builder integration. This makes building pages incredibly easy with the drag and drop feature, meaning a squeeze page is an easy addition to your site.
The theme was built with app and software products in mind, but it is equally good for simple websites and blogs. It’s selling point is the large header space, which you can use to showcase a product to customers immediately upon opening your site.
Also check out Estate for similar features. Created by Site Origin, it’s the epitome of their extreme simplicity style – it’s essentially a blank canvas on which to build your website. The options available to customize your site means it’s simple, but powerful. Use the widgets to add videos, images, and price tables, for example.
If you’d prefer to stick to your current theme, you can simply opt for a plugin. As with all plugins, this allows you to build your site as you’d like it by having a base design through your chosen theme and picking and choosing what extra bits you’d like through the plugins.
WP Lead Plus Free Squeeze Page Creator is a really good option as it makes creating and editing a squeeze page a breeze. It has a one-page autoresponder feature, so you just need to plugin the code and you don’t need to worry about sending the communications. You’re able to add your logo or choose a background, plus choose one of the 20 stunning template options. You can integrate with Facebook to allow your readers to leave comments. You’re able to check your conversion results through the analysis feature.
The performance of the squeeze page itself is fantastic. You have multiple choices of where to place your pop up across different pages of your website. The pop up can be unblockable and the opt in can be a two-step process, increasing your conversion. Choose to allow the pop up to appear on exit intention or after a specific amount of time.
A similar plugin for the pop up option is Bueno Gato Free Popup Creator. The creator promises to provide pop ups that won’t annoy people, which can be used to build your email list and offer your newsletter. You can set where the pop up will appear on the screen really easily – you edit the pop up as you see it. The pop up won’t get caught by ad filters as it’s unblockable, plus it’s responsive to any screen size.
Other plugins that have been designed for easily building landing pages and are suitable for squeeze pages include MiniMax – Page Layout Builder. It allows you to track the success of the page, create AB tests, and design pages without coding knowledge that work with your existing theme. It’s particularly great for beginners as it has a drag and drop feature. You can add sliders, galleries, drop-down menus, testimonials, and many more options without any coding or html knowledge.
WordPress Landing Pages is very similar but has the added benefit of allowing you to pre-populate forms. The creators are offering a growing number of third-party add ons to enhance your experience even further. If you have some design or developer knowledge, you’ll be happy to know it’s extendable with a number of actions, filters, and hooks available to use. It’s plugin agnostic, so you can choose whichever form plugin you’d like.
Finally, if you want to build your own landing page, using the plugin WP Easy Columns with an existing theme means you can create a grid layout or magazine style website with a huge number of columns. For squeeze pages, this means you can add a newsletter sign up in the column of existing pages.
For whatever page option you choose, squeeze pages are a great addition to your site if you want to build your email list. Email addresses are so valuable and collecting them should be part of your marketing strategy if you want to build a relationship with your existing readers and customers, and for promoting your product or service to new ones.
Encouraging your readers to part with their email address can be tough. They need to choose to do so, and offering a free product in exchange is good start to your relationship. As discussed, this could be a one-off or a series of information – the important thing to remember is that it has to be useful, otherwise the exchange won’t feel equal.
The other key part of this strategy is to make sure your readers see that this exchange is an offer. There’s no use in spending your resources setting up the product and autoresponder if no one sees it! Whether you choose a separate landing page and use a plugin to build the different features of this page, or a pop up from a plugin, make sure it’s appropriate for your audience. You’ll know if it works by the sign up rate, which you’ll be able to see from the statistics in the plugin.
WordPress has so many options for customizing your site, including plugins, so use this freedom to add a squeeze page and see the start of many new customer relationships.
Now I want to hear from you. Do you use squeeze pages on your site? How have you implemented them? I want the details!
Who doesn’t love saving money? We live in a time where pinching pennies isn’t just for frugal moms anymore. Not only do we want to save money, but most of us have to for one reason or another.
But what’s even better than saving money? What about making money from helping others save it? Sounds pretty great, right? Well, you can do that by building a coupon based site or by offering coupon deals on a WordPress site that is already seeing good traffic.
Can Coupon and Daily Deal Sites Be Successful?
Before just jumping in and starting an online business, many people stop and ask a serious question: Is it even a good idea?
The answer to that question is obviously going to vary depending on what your idea is. But want about these coupon-based sites in particular? Are these worth trying to start? Are there other sites that have found success from simply offering coupons to viewers?
Well, yes, quite a few actually. There are sites like RetailMeNot, Coupon.com, Smartsource, Groupon and LivingSocial, just to name a few. As far as coupons and deals go, the one mentioned above are kind of the big kids on the block, but there are others who have niched-down and focused on a smaller audience and become rather well known to those with that interest.
For example, there is MightyDeals and DuelFuel — sites that offer amazing deals on products for designers (web and graphic) and online marketers. There is even the KrazyCouponLady — a site that was started by two women who simply loved to coupon and grew their site into a rather large and popular one.
Now, this isn’t to say that if you start a coupon or daily deals site that you will find the same or similar success as the ones mentioned above, but these examples do show that coupon sites can be successful when done correctly.
Back in the day, building these types of sites was as about as difficult as they could get, but thanks to WordPress, it’s not as hard as it used to be.
WordPress Coupon and Daily Deal Themes
Couponer is a WordPress theme built on Bootstrap, is responsive, retina ready, and it has about all you could want from a WordPress coupon theme.
The theme is nice and easy on the eyes and boasts being easy to work with. It is ready to take on the task of having coupons added and even has a daily deals option with a countdown timer to help prompt buys on certain deals you run on the site. If you’re looking to build a membership base on your site then you’ll be happy to know that the theme has a fully functioning membership system that you can customize in the backend.
It also includes the ever important Blog page so that you can create addition content outside of just offering coupons. Price for this theme is $48 and include free support.
Daily Deal is a little bit more unique as far as coupon themes go. As the name suggests, the theme is built more around the premise of offering deals or discounts instead of just plain coupon codes.
The theme is set up to allow your visitors to submit deals for their own business. After purchase is made for the deal, the money first goes to you and then you take your allotted commission (which you can make whatever you’d like) before sending off the rest to the member who added the deal. You also have the power of listing moderation so that you still remain in control of what is posted on your site.
Designing your homepage and customizing the theme is made easy thanks to the help of the drag and drop feature and ability to make color changes using the WP Customizer.
Price for this theme is only $29 so it’s great for someone on a tight budget.
Deals by ThemeJunkie has a similar overall look to Daily Deals but handles differently.
This theme was built to handle coupon codes (including affiliate one to help make you money), vouchers, printable coupons, and its responsive layout means your visitors can take advantage of deals no matter what size screen they are viewing it on.
The theme is optimized for SEO, Localization ready, has a nice Ad Management feature for helping you earn additional revenue from the site and includes free lifetime support. Price for the theme starts at $49 for 1 year of support and updates, but that price also includes all the themes available there in the shop.
Many popular coupon sites have a certain “look” about them. If you’re going for that simpler type of interface, then the Clipper theme by AppThemes could be closer to what you’re picturing for your site.
As far as functionality goes, this theme seems to offer more than most. Not only can you input coupons in the WP Admin area, but you can also allow visitors to add coupons themselves. They even have an area on the site where they can go and manage all the coupons that they have placed on your site.
The theme has plenty more to offer including 5 color layouts and monetization options using plugins that help you make money by placing affiliate coupons on the site.
Price for the Clipper coupon theme is $99, but you can use on as many sites as you want and you get a lifetime license so it’s a pretty great deal. Clipper is a top notch theme that is sure to make quite a few happy.
What this theme lacks on the initial visual side of things it makes up for in features. The theme — aptly named, Coupon — is a responsive template that can be used for building an affiliate based and/or printable coupon site.
Classified as a Directory styled theme, the theme authors behind Coupon also offer more than 30 different child themes so that you can find a look to your site that is closer to what you may be searching for.
Outside of the free child themes (which I consider to be a huge plus), the theme offers membership options, visitor submissions, easy visual and color customizations, revenue options built right like banner placement and much more.
As far as features go, this theme is my favorite thus far and it’s priced at $99.
WordPress Coupon Plugins
Some of you, however, may not be looking to build an entire site for the coupons and deals you wish to offer, but would instead like to offer deals through your current site.
If you’re looking for this option, then using a WordPress coupon plugin is probably a better choice for you.
Coupon Code Plugin
Don’t you hate when you lose out on income from an affiliate link? Anyone who has done or who is doing affiliate marketing knows the pain that this can bring.
The Coupon Code Plugin helps to eliminate that pesky drawback by masking your affiliate link while still allowing your users to click the link that will automatically take them to the site and apply the code. This results in them getting the discount and you gaining the commission. (Yay!)
The plugin offers coupon management and reporting, and is easily customizable so that your coupon page fits your site’s design.
Price for the plugin is $37 for a single license with lifetime support and updates.
This plugin allows you to create coupons and then display them via a shortcode on a page or in a post or widget.
Add the content of the what you want the coupon to say, style it to your specifications, set a time and date when the coupon will expire, and upload an image to use for it. It’s a free plugin so even if you’re not sure if it is what you’re looking for, you can still give it a test run before you opt to purchase a premium plugin.
It’s a free plugin so even if you’re not sure if it is what you’re looking for, you can still give it a test run before you opt to purchase a premium plugin.
Social Coupon for WooCommerce
If your site uses WooCommerce and you want a way to offer discounts to your products while boosting exposure and gaining traffic all at once, then you’ll probably do a little happy dance when you learn about this plugin.
The Social Coupon for WordPress is an extension for WooCommerce that offers customers the incentive to gain a discount on items in your shop if they share your page on one of their social media profiles. Since people are always up to getting a deal on things that they are already planning to buy, this is an excellent way to build traffic while keeping your current customers happy. Price for this WooCommerce extension is only $22.
This coupon plugin has yet to hit the WordPress market yet, but it is sure to be one that many people have been looking for but have been unable to find thus far.
The CoupineWP plugin creates a new section in your WP Admin Menu for coupons and will allow you to add content like a blog post, insert your coupon code, place links to where your affiliate link is meant for, and lets you place a nice featured image to capture attention.
You can get an idea of what the plugin will do on the link below, or you can go to the plugin’s landing page to sign up for the update of when the plugin is going to be launched.
Magic WP Coupons Lite
Want a plugin that offers a similar layout to the themes mentioned above while still saving yourself some cash? Then this last plugin on the list is a winner!
Magic WP Coupons comes with quite a few options for creating, filtering, and displaying coupons on your site. For example, you can easily create the coupon and then use a shortcode to display that coupon at the bottom of a review post so that your viewers can quickly click over to the affiliate site you linked to and make the purchase.
It’s a free plugin so why not try it out?
Have any themes or plugins for coupons that you like to use? Be sure to comment below.
Companies have worked on building their brand for as long as companies have been in existence. We recognize brands just from their logo or colors. We visit their websites and social media networks. We even share their content with our own networks.
Building a brand isn’t just for business. In fact, we all have a personal brand. Just like any brand, building a personal brand is something that will happen online with or without our input. But you can take control of your personal brand and turn it into what you want it to be. How? Using the same tools and techniques that businesses use to build their brands.
Materials used for brand-building have included brochures, business cards, Facebook and Twitter accounts, LinkedIn, and of course websites. Building a personal brand is just as important as building a company brand. This is true even if you build your company’s brand apart from your own. What do I mean by this?
Let’s say you’re a writer that writes tutorials about WordPress. You have a website that focuses on WordPress tutorials and the site is known by its tutorial branded name and not by your name. If you guest post on another site, the post will be more important and valuable to readers of the site if they are familiar with you and your work. Not just “a gal that writes on that site,” but you… they know you by your name. You have your own platform; your own brand.
You can use your WordPress website as your hub to the world. Visitors might connect with you on one site or network, find your website, and then connect with you on other networks. And using WordPress is a great way to build your personal brand. This article will look at how to do this with the purpose of promoting your work and services. However, aside from a portfolio and services, these ideas work just as well even if you don’t provide services. Let’s take a look at what’s involved in building your personal brand, and then we’ll take a look at how to build your brand using WordPress.
Elements of a Personal Brand
When you think about your brand, think about how your potential clients will interact with it. Think about how they will recognize your brand and share your information. Here are some of the ways they can learn about you and your brand:
- Your name and URL
- Your services
- Your connections
- Your portfolio
- Your social network
- Your contact information
- Your website
- Your “About Me” page
- Your email URL
- Your bio
Use Google and other search engines to audit your online presence. Knowing your current status (or the current status of others with the same name as you) will give you a starting point in building your brand. Keep a check on what others are saying. Use alerts so you know when others mention you. If you do come across a situation that needs to be addressed, respond and resolve issues as quickly and professionally as you can.
Your Personally Branded WordPress Website and Email
Building your personal brand is about promoting yourself. Your URL should be your name, or at least a variation on your name that is available. Try to get a .com. This is important even if you use a different website to work from. Why? Because you can use it as your email address–even if you just use the URL as a redirect to your primary site. If I got an email from an address like firstname.lastname@example.org telling me they could improve my SEO I’d delete it straight away. Your email address should look professional and send your clients to the website you want them to go to.
Your Website’s Design
Use a theme that looks and works well. You want to look professional. Use colors and fonts that match your brand. Use images and categories that portray the kind of work you do. Elegant Themes’ portfolio themes do this nicely.
A logo is one of the most identifiable branding elements. Clients will recognize it instantly. WordPress lets you take advantage of your logo by letting you place it front and center on your website.
Develop a sharp logo that stands out and is easily identifiable. Think about Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Did their logos come to mind? You can picture them in your mind and you recognize them immediately. They’re simple, yet identifiable. They’re distinguishable. They look great on mobile devices.
Your logo should tell your story without much effort. If possible, hire a designer to create your logo for you. Hire a designer that gets the foundational message of your mission (you don’t have to pay that much). If you have to create your own, draw pictures that relates to your mission and will connect you with your readers.
Just like your logo, the colors you use say a lot about your brand. You want to use colors that your clients can associate with your brand. For example, when you think about Barbie, you think about a specific shade of pink (Barbie Pink – for real). You can do the same thing with your WordPress site. Use your color-pickers and specify color combinations to represent your brand. When readers see those colors they will think about you.
Produce Relevant Content
When you own a blog you have the ability to produce any kind of content you want. Resist. Resist the urge to publish anything and everything that crosses your mind. Resist the urge to rant about the cab-driver that took you the wrong way, or that guy that pulled into your lane without looking.
Produce content on your specific topic that others will want to read. Produce content that others will want to share. Give readers a reason to come back to your website. Create in-depth articles and reviews that your readers will find helpful.
The same goes for sharing content. Share content that will add value to your followers. Associate yourself with strong brands in your topic. Give good and proper links to other quality sites and articles. Don’t plagiarize. Cite your work and give proper references.
Your Portfolio – Samples of Your Work
The work you do tells your readers a lot about you. Even if you’re not trying to sell through your site, your WordPress site could include samples of your work. This can be a page that includes a gallery, a list of samples with links, and an image in a widget in your sidebar. You can feature a sample on your home page using your featured slider. You can do this with a portfolio theme, or you can use a plugin that adds some nifty features.
Divi includes a portfolio module that’s super easy to use. Just create a page using the page-builder and add the module. Then select which categories to use in your portfolio and then show them as either a carousel or a grid. You can make as many portfolios as you want. You can also build a filterable portfolio.
Divi is part of the $69 per year Personal plan that includes access to all themes, perpetual updates, and premium support.
This free plugin lets you add images (which can be screenshots of your samples), and then place links on each one. You can determine the thumbnail and image sizes and choose how many images to show. You can sort them by date, titles, random, etc. It will show text that includes information about the project, a link, and more. It adds a portfolio tab to your dashboard. You create the portfolio details just like you would create a post. You then create a page and select the portfolio template in the page attributes. It’s simple to use and looks great.
Services You Provide
Along with your portfolio will be a page that tells the types of services you provide. You can so this by writing your services on a page, creating graphics, using a theme with this built in, or using a plugin.
ET’s theme Divi has modules that let you create pages to show off your services in a neat table complete with pricing and features. You create a layout using a module called Pricing Table. You then fill in the details. You can even add images, links, HTML, and more. You can make the table featured if you want. And you can have as many pricing tables as you want.
This free plugin lets you create services in the same way that you create a post. It provides icons that change size as you mouse over them. You can choose from two different templates and customize the font sizes and colors. You choose how many services to display and the text for the link. You can have as many services as you want. You can place the list of services on any page or post with a simple shortcode. The result is clean and elegant and it’s responsive.
Your Social Network
One of the most important tools you have at your disposal is your social network. Make your social network activities visible so other can follow and connect with you.
Monarch is ET’s social media plugin that was designed to get you more followers and shares. You can place it in five different locations on your site, on images and video, and have it to automatically pop up or fly in based on three different triggers. It has several different icon styles and you can customize your own colors. It includes counts of shares. It even has a dashboard where you can adjust your settings and see your stats. You can import and export your data.
Monarch is part of the $89 per year Developer plan that includes access to all themes, plugins, layered PSD files, perpetual updates, and premium support.
You should place your bio at the end of any content you write. Spend some time and write a great bio that rocks. It should establish who you are, what you do, and tell if you are available for hire. It will let you hype and sell yourself as a professional in your field.
Notice that my bio appears at the bottom of this article. It shows my picture set apart from the rest of the content, then my name as a large title. Then there are two sentences about me. The first tells what I do and where I am from. This establishes my credibility as a professional. The next sentence is a little about my lifestyle and hobbies. It shows that I am a real person that you can relate to, making me personal. You know from this that I like coffee and sci-fi. It’s more interesting and even has some humor, giving potential clients and followers a better idea of what to expect if they reached out to me.
I have a real personality and this personality will show through in my writing. Sonic screwdriver. (I just proved my point, in case you were wondering what I just did there). I’ve always wondered what would happen if a DeLorean drove into a Police box doing 88 MPH. Talk about not needing roads…
You can use the little bio section in your WordPress profile, but a by far better choice is using a plugin to create a fancy bio.
This free plugin will show your photo, your name, your bio info, provide social media links so your fans can follow you, and has a tab with your latest posts. It was designed to be pretty and capture the attention of your readers. It will use the bio info that you’ve placed in your WordPress user bio. You can place the bio in your posts and as a shortcode in widgets. You can choose its size, position, and one of six themes. Plus, it’s very easy to set up and use.
You can also place bio information in any post or page using ET’s shortcodes. It adds a button to your visual editor called Add Author Bio. You simply click the button, supply a URL for the image, choose whether or not to allow resizing, add your bio information, and click OK. It will add the bio after the post.
ET Shortcodes is part of the $89 per year Developer plan that includes access to all themes, plugins, layered PSD files, perpetual updates, and premium support.
You can easily create an About Me page that includes some good information about who you are and what you’re all about. You can take this a couple of steps further by including widget in your sidebar, such as those that come with many ET themes or an About.me widget.
The ET About Me Widget lets you title the widget, place a link to the image you want to use, and write a short bio. It’s a quick and easy way to display your bio in your sidebar. You can even include HTML if you want.
One more thing to consider is integrating your About Me page from a social networking website called About.me. About.me is an interesting site for self-promotion that anyone can, and should, use to the greatest extent. Once you’ve set up your About.me account and filled in all of the information, you can integrate your page into a widget on your WordPress website.
This free plugin will include your photo, your text with URLs, and your social media links. You can customize how the information displays within the widget. You can choose between background photo, bio photo, or to not show a photo. You can choose how large your name displays, or to not display it. You can choose to whether or not to show your headline, bio, and apps. It is very simple and easy to use. Once you make changes at About.me, those changes are made on every site that you use this widget. This allows you to change information in one place and it is reflected everywhere you need it.
Rather than just a contact page (which you should have) you can also display your contact information on your site. You can easily do this by using text in a widget. Another way to do this is by placing it in the header with something like GC Message Bar or a theme that has this function built in like Divi.
Divi lets you place a bar in the header that keeps your phone number and email on the screen at all times. As visitors scroll down the page, the header will shrink slightly but remain on the page. This places your contact information within their line of sight and keeps it there without it being disruptive to your content. It also includes links to your social networks and RSS.
This free plugin lets you place a message bar at the top or bottom of our screen. You can customize the message any way you want, so you can use this to place your phone number and email address on your site. It has a button that can lead to any URL you want it to (such as your contact page). The bar remains in place as visitor’s scroll up or down, so your information is always available to them. It has many styles to choose from and you can customize it to match your site.
Whether you’re doing business or not, WordPress is an amazing tool for building your personal brand. With just a few tools and techniques your WordPress site can help you build a personal brand that is recognizable and one that others will share and follow.
How about you? Have you built your personal brand with WordPress? Did you use the plugins and techniques that I mentioned here? Did I leave out something that you would like to add? I’d like to hear about it in the comments below!