How to Create Different Widgets on Different Pages Using a Plugin

In a previous post My Favorite Things to Use with WordPress Part 2 at the top of my favorite’s list was the plugin Display Widgets. This plugin allows you to display different widgets on different pages, thus allowing you to have custom sidebars on your WordPress site. Today, I am going to show you how to use it.

widget plugin

photo credit: bobbigmac via photopin cc


How to Install the Display Widgets Plugin

1. Login to the dashboard of your WordPress site

2. Locate the plugins area on the left hand side and click “add new”

3. Type Display Widgets in the search box and click search plugins

4. You will then see a list of plugins matching your search. Locate Display Widgets and click “install now”

5. It will ask you if you are sure you want to install this plugin. Click “ok”

6. After it installs you will come to next screen click “activate plugin”

7. Let’s use thing thing!

 

How to use the Display Widgets Plugin

There are no additional settings for this plugin. It is simply plug and play.

1. Go to appearance then widgets

2. Once in your list of widgets, select the widgets you want to only be on a certain page or pages. You can do this by clicking the arrow in the upper right hand side of the widget you select.

3. Once the widget is expanded you will see a new area beneath the normal widget options. The first item to select is “show/hide widgets”. You can either hide a widget on a particular page or only show it on a particular page. I found showing it on a particular page is most effective since the rest of your widgets will show on all pages unless you indicate otherwise. This is of course if you just want to hide a widget on 1 or 2 pages. Up to you.

4. For demonstration purposes I will use “show on checked”. So, select ”show on checked”.

5. Select which page(s) you want that particular widget to show on then click save.

6. If you selected for the widget to only display on the about page, then check it by going to any other page you have widgets and you will see it is not appearing on those pages, just the about page.

That is it. Pretty simple and self-explanatory.

Useful Ways to Use the Plugin

I will use myself as an example since I use this plugin a lot with other clients. In my use of the plugin, I have a lot of services that I offer and I break them up into pages. If you look at the page WordPress design services, you will see in the lower right hand corner it says “Other Services”, and you will see links to WordPress Development and Consulting & Traning. If you go to the WordPress Development page you will see in the same corner WordPress design and Training & Consulting, so that if you go to a particular page it shows other services that I offer but does not include the particular service of the page you are on. This way you can make it look slightly more custom to showcase other services and not have a link to the same page your user is on. It is just a nice touch. To do this, I just set up about 6 widgets and set up my different variations with WordPress design on particular pages and so forth and so on with all the other links. You can of course code this straight into the site using conditional statements, but I’m not above using a plugin and I can easily just go in and edit it and change it. Same applies if you are using this plugin for a client and they want to add more services. It is a nice way for them to edit it themselves. If you want to do additional links and things too an easy way for you or a client would be to just make a custom menu and use the menu widget. That way they do not need to write any html.

My Favorite Things to use with WordPress Part 2

In my last post I discussed some of my favorite things to use with WordPress. After posting I realized I wanted to add a few more plugins to the list. A common misconception is that you should only have the bare bones minimum of plugins. This isn’t necessarily true. If the authors are keeping their plugins up to date then the more the merrier. The WordPress Codex actually has implemented a new warning if you are searching for a plugin. If the plugin is out of date it will let you know it hasn’t been updated in x amount of years. Look for plugins that have been recently updated, have good support, and are compatible with most recent versions of WordPress.

Enjoy!

Display Widgets Plugin 

This plugin easily allows you to display different widgets on different pages just by easily selecting which page title you want it to appear on. I’ve tried out a few others like Widget context, but this one is much better.

Ultimate Maintenance Mode Plugin

If you are launching a clients site and are not ready to flip it on yet, or you need to work on a clients site. This plugin takes an actual screen shot of the live version if the site and niceley displays a custom message. In essence it is actually creating a custom maintenance mode image in seconds. You can upload your own custom message, but why would you?

Gravity Forms MailChimp Add-On

In my last post I talked about Gravity forms and Mailchimp separately. Well, this add-on plugin allows them to integrate easily. Perfect for a form widget.

“The Gravity Forms MailChimp Add-On gives you an easy way to integrate all of your online forms with the MailChimp email marketing service. Collect and add subscribers to your email marketing lists automatically when a form is submitted.”

WP 125 Plugin
If you have affiliate ads and want to display them in your sidebar then this plugin is for you. It tracks clicks, and set expire dates. You can also upload a custom ad like a “You ad here” image and have it link to a form to contact you so people can contact you about purchasing ad space on your site.

Security Ninja Plugin
My top recommendation for security is keep your plugins and WP up to date, but if plugins are your thing Security Ninja will make you feel warm and fuzzy.

    perform 27+ security tests including brute-force attacks
    check your site for security vulnerabilities and holes
    take preventive measures against attacks
    don’t let script kiddies hack your site
    prevent 0-day exploit attacks
    use included code snippets for quick fixes
    extensive help and descriptions of tests included

FontPress – Font Manager Plugin
Woo themes comes with all Google fonts installed and Genesis utilizes Typekit, but if you aren’t using one of the two then this plugin is great for editing fonts if you don’t feel comfortable editing your .css.
“With FontPress you can easily customize any text of your theme by using any font you want.”

WordPress Events Calendar Plugin

Want to display events? WP events calendar creates posts out of your individual events and even includes Google Maps.

Akismet Plugin

This one is often left of peoples list because it already sits in your dashboard. It is a free spam filter for your site and it works. Activate the key and keep your site spam free!

What are your favourite WordPress plugins? Please leave a comment below!

My Favorite Things to use with WordPress

You’ve seen the show. You’ve seen the hype, and you have certainly coveted missing being an audience member on the day Oprah tapes her “Favorite Things” show. Well with WordPress we can have favorite things all year round, and here are some of mine.

 

Framework


Woo Themes – Woo is my all time favorite framework. Not only do they make stunning themes straight out of the box, but they also have built a bunch of really cool plugins that correlate with the theme and integrate nicely. Some themes even have them built in. Don’t want to use that part of the theme? No problem. Most themes allow you strip them down and it still looks nice and runs smooth without then. From sliders, to featured areas, and fancy fun shortcodes I can’t get enough of Woo. We build most of our child themes with the Woo framework. As a developer signing up for the developer license is a must. Then you have access to all themes, and all psds. A really nice touch to tell your clients you are including the cost of the theme in the price.

 

Theme

Simplicity – Naturally since Woo is my favorite framework I am of course going to choose a Woo Theme, and that would be Simplicity. Canvas is Woo Themes flagship theme, but I have to beg to differ. Simplicity is what it is called…simple. We have customized the crap out of Simplicity and made completely different looking themes which because I am a geek is super fun. Some of the different child themes we created using Simplicity are :

You can see how there is a lot to do with Simplicity, and the possibilites are limitless.

Backup Plugin

Backup Buddy- Often times when people setup backups on their site they either do one or the other files or database. Well this one does both. It is especially useful to use to migrate clients sites from your developer server. It also has a cool feature where it will do a Malware scan on the files too to make sure you are uploading a secure and safe version of the clients site.

SEO Plugin


WordPress SEO by Yoast - I used to be a big proponent of All-In-One SEO pack and Platinum SEO pack, but after switching to Yoast I never looked back. It also killed two birds with one stone by being able to create my XML sitemap with one plugin instead of having to install a 2nd plugin, Google XML sitemaps. I really like it’s setup for page settings as well. Woo themes comes with an SEO portion integrated, but I always recommend using a plugin for this because you will always end up with a different theme down the road.

 

Social Sharing Plugin

Twitter Facebook Social Share-  TF Social Share for short this plugin includes the top social sharing items even Pinterest. It has counters and non counter icons if you want to keep it plain. It also has some styling items included which let you do a border and background color. It isn’t that popular, and I consider it my little secret.

 

Slider Plugin

Nivo Slider- I LOVE NIVO!  If you are not using a theme that already has a slider integrated then Nivo is your best bet. It has some cool features for background options and is super simple to install. It allows for linking to any page or post, and you can even add text to it.

 

Forms Plugin


Gravity Forms – Gravity forms is the…well, you know what. It rules. It integrates with a bunch of payments processors. It allows for front end post contributing and is hands down the nicest and easiest form plugin to use. Sorry Contact Form 7, you lose. It’s super nice drag and drop ability allows you to create a form in minutes, and adding it to a page is just a simple shortcode. It has fancy drop downs, calendars, and even does multi page forms which can make your payment checkout look super sweet. Again, this plugin has a developer license so it allows for that perk of telling your clients it is included. Gravity forms also has a MailChimp add on so you can hook it right up.

 

3rd Party Email Marketing System


Mail Chimp – Not only does Mail Chimps website and branding  just simply blow Aweber out of the water, so does their functionality. Mailchimp also seamlessly integrates with Woo themes and their dashboard. It easily connects all subscribe forms on the site to Mal Chimp and all you have to do is insert your Mail Chimp email address into your Woo dashboard. It has way better looking forms too if you aren’t using Woo. Have you ever tried to build a form in Aweber? I rest my case.

 

Want to ask me what my favorite thing is beyond my top list above? Do you have any favorite WordPress plugins? Feel free to leave a comment and ask!

6 Types of Clients You May Not Want to Work With, and How to Deal with Them

More than likely we all come from humble beginnings as workers on the web. We were eager beavers as well we should have been, and took any client that came through our email inbox. Our eyes were definitely on the prize and had tunnel vision for the final payment or building our portfolio. Then, it happens. Almost out of nowhere. The unhappy client. We sit and ponder to ourselves, ” I made them 20 design revisions,  they finally approved the design, developed the site to their 30 page scope of work, uploaded the site to their host ,cross-browser tested it even after they broke that plugin, gave them private training,  continued to edit the design, development,  cross-browser tested it again, and they are still charging me back the full amount in Paypal…WTF!!??”.

The bad news is sometimes there is no avoiding the potentially bad client. We can edit and email to the tenth degree and it still won’t be enough. Then again sometimes bad clients don’t come in just angry form. Sometimes they are as sweet as can bee but your email conversion will say 80+ emails and you haven’t even gotten to the design phase yet. The good news is we can pick who we decide to work with, and if we do work with them how to deal with them.

Let’s look at the 6 types of clients you may not want to work with and tips on how to deal with them:

#1 They Don’t Know What They Want or They Don’t Have a SOW ( scope of work)

At first this type of client is very easy going. In fact they can come across as a perfect client because they are all ears when it comes to your ideas and your imagination can run wild with ideas.  They are just as eager as you are and can be putty in your hands…in the beginning. However, indecisiveness can quickly turn into frustration and with it, revisions. Which can lead to “cha-ching” in your online invoicing system, but not something this type of client wants to hear. This client also has the potential to just all of sudden know what they want and this typically happens once you are over budget. You more than likely will spend most of your budgeted hours in the beginning part of a project not leaving enough to actually complete the project. The clients fire and excitement can turn to hostility as they have a tendency to think you may only be after their wallet when you have to confront them on budget. I find I never even charge enough for all my project management because they like to send A LOT of emails and it is hard to just turn on your timer for every email.

Tips on how to work with type of client: When quoting their project quote a number typically double of what you normally do. This can leave room in the budget to deal with all their indecisiveness and ever growing scope of work. This will save you in the long run and avoid any miscommunication. Try, if you can to write your own clear scope of work. That way when they start changing and adding new things you can always point back to the agreed scope of work.

#2 No Circle of Trust ( They have been wounded by a previous designer/developer)

As with any good relationship trust is a key component. Obviously this type of client you are going to get more often than not, because as is the nature of this line of work. They are highly suspicious of any ideas, edits, and ESPECIALLY your invoice. They will doubt you from beginning to end, and our site- sabotaging. Meaning, they sometimes doubt so much that their finished product can wind up looking less than portfolio worthy.

Tips on how to work with type of client: Score some brownie points by starting small if you can. Do a small project for them first for them to instill some trust in you and go over the top for them. They will need hand holding and lots of details. Keep very good records of your invoice details and revisions as they will want proof.

#3 High Expectations

This particular client comes in all forms especially nice and mean. Maybe they fell in love with you because of your portfolio but they want you to “wow them” too. These types come in amped about your work and expecting you to do ten fold for them because like the title says they have extremely high and more often than not unrealistic expectations. They will always expect that their project comes first, you have no life, and if you do not email them back within 1 hour you must be slacking. Sometimes this type of client has such high expectations that when you send over a first draft and it isn’t what they were expecting instead of working through revisions they become deflated and defeated and lose trust in you instantly turning all sweetness into sour. This client can be a real red flag when it comes to getting paid and a high Paypal chargeback rate.

Tips on how to work with type of client: Google them. Seriously! I had a client like this once and I didn’t Google him. Turns out he had previously been disbarred as a lawyer from working in any state in the United States. That was a learning experience! Check out what type of person they are and what their working history with other designers is. Maybe they have burned through 3 previous designers and developers and now you are their next victim. Try to gauge their personality and not just their project. Their personality will determine whether you can deal with their over the top expectations. Sometimes these projects can turn our beautifully because they can really push you as a designer and developer, but be aware it may be difficult to get there and it may not pan out.

#4 I Need it Yesterday

Ready, set, GO! This client needs a custom design, custom theme, ecommerce, SEO, migrate their site, plus all redirects done ASAP. You think, “ok, I’m up for the challenge!”. But wait, what was that little sentence at the bottom of the email? They need it in 1 week. You think “Cha ching”! I’ll just charge an expedited rate and no big deal. This my friends is a losing battle, because while this client seems like they have their ducks in a row that scope of work will undoubtedly change, and that ETA you both agreed on just got blown out of the water and now it is YOUR fault. This may fall into the high expectations clients, but they are different because they only have one goal in mind….Going Live.

Tips on how to work with type of client: Bend their deadline into something realistic and you can both agree on. Even in they say they need it in a week suggest you don’t want to sacrifice your quality of work, and that the quickest you can do is 2-3 weeks. Which brings me to the next point. Do a date delivery range that way when they come back with edits you can give yourself more time. If they do add to the scope of work just tell them immediately this will effect the deadline and get their approval before moving forward. Open communication with this type is crucial

#5 Tight Wallet

This type is a tough one. I myself am a fru-gal , but there comes a point when frugality can become flat out cheap . Big hat no cattle with this one and they will even try to barter or let you in on being a part of their new hip company. I did bargain once with a lawyer for services actually to deal with the guy from #3, and it was the the best deal ever, but 9 times out of 10 that won’t work out too well. Sometimes they even have the grand idea of making you do a sample for free to see if they want to hire you. In that case I point them to my portfolio.

Tips on how to work with type of client: Stick up for yourself, and tell yourself you are worth your rate. Emphasis your quality of work and let them know if they want to work with you then select a service they can afford. You will not do as good of a job if you know you are not getting paid what you are worth. If they want to work with you they will come up with the money, trust me. For every person who can’t afford you there is a person who can, so remember they are not the only work out there.

#6 Verbally and Emotionally Abusive

You may laugh at this types title, but really this does exist. Abuse in any form is not ok, and it can be draining. Sucking the life out of all the other projects, and can really strike down your creative ability. I had a client one time when I submitted a proposal answered back with the most vulgar email cuss words and all. I was quite shocked and I emailed her back ( yes, it was a woman!), and asked if that email was meant for me because it was uncharacteristic. She apologized and said she was having a bad day, but if I did that when I was having a bad day I wouldn’t be in business. I quickly withdrew my proposal and decided not to work with her. She begged me to work with her but I referred her somewhere else. Just imagine this was the very beginning stages. Just imagine how she would be once you were actually working together.

Tips on how to work with type of client: RUN!!! Honestly, don’t even put up with that type of behavior. Most people don’t act this way right off the bat, but there can be signs. Look again at their personality and Google them. If you  happen to have already started working with them you can always give them an ultimatum that if they act like that again you will discontinue work and keep the money you have already worked. This will do 1 of 2 things. #1 it will make them respect you and they will stop, or #2 they will freak out. Normally #2, but it can be a blessing to not have to continue working with them even if it costs you money, because it can keep you from working on other clients projects.

Conclusion:

If you may have noticed the theme in all my tips really boils down to honesty and communication. Something I talked about in my last post, How to Succeed with your WordPress Company. Just having clear scopes of work, communication, and honesty can help you avoid conflict with all these types of clients. Don’t beat yourself however if all your best efforts to resolve an issue fails. Sometimes you cannot please everyone, and that is ok.

Now, have a good laugh and read some client stories on Clients from Hell.

 

 

Let’s Talk WordPress Plugins – Less is More!

WordPress is an amazing platform with an equally outstanding and generous community built up around it. There’s not a single other platform out there that matches WordPress for ease of use and extended functionality — the WordPress plugins and theme repositories are two of the biggest draws to the platform.

WordPressGood Reasons to Extend WordPress with Plugins

Plugins help you to extend your WordPress installation. You can use them to include functionality that’s useful to your business, the search engines and to your audience. You might want to use them to:

  • Back up your WordPress installation
  • Install analytics tracking
  • Implement social sharing
  • Turn your site into a multi-author blog with additional workflow functionality
  • Assist with your SEO efforts
  • Foster better engagement by making the commenting system more social media friendly and attractive to your visitors
  • Set-up a store front to sell your products

It’s All Too Easy to Go Plugin Mad!

There’s no doubt that plugins are a useful addition but a word of caution is necessary. Nearly every WordPress or marketing expert publishes a list of their favourite plugins. These lists are usually great resources but there are issues with implementing every list of plugins published:

  • Not all plugins play nicely with each other or with the theme you have installed. I’ve had to rescue more than my fair share of blogs that have become inaccessible to their owners because the mixture of theme/plugins has crashed the site.
  • Not everyone needs the same plugins; you must tailor the plugins to the needs of your business and audience and then choose the best in class for your business purposes.
  • Generally speaking, the more plugins you have, the slower your website speed will be. This is not good! Both visitors and search engines like sites that load quickly. See more about that [here].

Choose and Add the Right WordPress Plugins

  • Think carefully about the functionality that you need and what your audience wants to do when they visit your site.
  • Note down the categories that you need to implement — backup, social sharing, membership section, e-commerce, site optimization and so on.
  • Carry out research into the different plugin options available for each category. Check the plugins’ support forums. Google to see if there are any issues with the plugin. Visit your theme’s support forum and see if there are any known compatibility issues. You should also ask people in your various networks to see what experience they have with a particular plugin.
  • Draw up your preferred list of plugins from this research.
  • Ideally, you want to test the plugins before adding them to your live site. Running a copy of your website on your local machine is always a good idea and allows you to play around with your settings without the danger of crashing your live website! It’s easy to do, and there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube to help you get it done.
  • If you’re not testing locally, make sure that you can access your website via FTP or cPanel in order to disable the plugin, if needs be. Here‘s how to do that if you have problems.
  • Add each plugin one at a time, activate and configure, and then test to see if your site is working as intended.
  • Once you have everything installed and configured, give the site a thorough look to make sure everything is working as it should be.
  • Once you’re satisfied that everything works the way it should, you can add the plugins to your live site.

Once you’ve got your website up and running with all the additional functionality you need, remember to be discriminating about what else you decide to add further down the road. You don’t need to be cutting edge; don’t jump on every bandwagon. Pick and choose the changes you make to serve your customer better — not just because you can or to keep up with the latest trends.

A final word: always make sure you update to the latest version of your WordPress plugins. Update them automatically, one by one, checking that your website is still working properly between each upgrade.

Are you plugin mad or do you manage to stay restrained? It can be quite hard to resist the latest releases. Share your WordPress plugin experience in the comments section.