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The 10 Best Slider Plugins for WordPress


We’ve all seen a quality slider when shopping online, but what is it that makes sliders appealing? To start with, a great slider is responsive and works well on just about any tablet or smartphone. Other must-have features include:

  • Smooth animated effects
  • Parallax layers
  • Quick image uploading
  • Stylish fonts and buttons

Some of these features help site owners, while others create an appealing visual experience for site visitors. Not all of these features are necessary on every site, but they’re all worthy of consideration.

Are you currently using a slider on your website? If not, you’re in luck, because we’ve compiled a list of the best slider plugins for WordPress. A few are premium and a few are free — but each one of these has what it takes to make visitors to your site say “wow.” Let’s have a look.

Nivo Slider

Nivo Slider example showing one animated image sliding into another.

Nivo Slider is a premium plugin with almost all of the functionality you’ll need to create some incredible effects. While this plugin is a little pricier than others (starting at $29 for a single site license), it could be well worth the investment. Its intuitive interface makes it easy to create sliders and add them to your site using shortcodes.

This plugin has numerous transition effects on hand for you to showcase your imagery, enabling you to display stunning visuals that will enchant visitors. In addition, you can easily control which images to display by taking advantage of a range of slider types, and the automatic image cropping feature will save you lots of time editing your slides.

Finally, Nivo Slider is purposely lightweight, which offers minimal impact to your page load times. It’s a great option for adding a slider to your website.

Slider Revolution

Revolution Slider Premium WordPress Plugin

The Slider Revolution plugin is one of the most popular slider plugins on the market — and justifiably so (it’s even one of the two premium slider plugins included with Total). It provides stylish, full-width sliders that are extremely responsive. You can implement the slider on any website since it looks remarkable on any device.

The plugin also comes prepackaged with animation loops, ensuring that your customers aren’t left with a frozen slider if they linger on your homepage for a while.

Slider Revolution’s parallax layers are fantastic, and the timeline view slide editor displays an intuitive outline of how your images are going to show up on the slider. Besides all of that, the plugin provides a drag-and-drop editor that enables beginner webmasters to produce professional media sliders. It’s a slider plugin that’s packed with goodies, from multilingual support to full-screen YouTube and Vimeo video support.

Soliloquy

Soliloquy Sliders Premium WordPress Plugin

This one is definitely premium. The Soliloquy slider plugin starts out at $19, but the pricing can go all the way up to $249, depending on how many sites you plan on using it for. If you can’t stand working with some of the free WordPress slider plugins because of their confusing interfaces, this option provides a reprieve. It’s responsive, and it gives you the power to quickly import and export previously created sliders, cutting down on time spent transferring to other sites.

The building interface is extremely easy to use as well, and it seems to never slow down or lag on the front end. One of the more unique features is the independent slider option for dropping individual sliders anywhere throughout your site.

Cyclone Slider 2

Cyclone Slider 2 Free WordPress Plugin

Cyclone Slider 2 — a free option — includes a drag and drop interface for even the most inexperienced designers. The responsive slide system works so that every independent slider is unique, pulling from templates and helping designers create something different every time. Transition effects are customizable for individual slides so that you can have a new animation for every slide in your sequence.

With the ability to display an unlimited number of sliders anywhere on your site, the Cyclone Slider 2 plugin offers a powerful free alternative to the premium slider options. I particularly enjoy that this plugin supports videos, testimonials and custom HTML, building on the fact that Cyclone is designed for ultimate customization.

SlideDeck

SlideDeck 2 Lite Responsive Content Slider Free Plugin

The SlideDeck plugin has both free and premium versions, but I’ve found that the free option includes most of the tools that the average web designer uses. For example, the lite version offers responsive viewing on all devices. You can place both videos and images in the sliders, and the design process is rather intuitive, with easy insertion for posts and templates.

This is an affordable and simple slider if you plan on connecting to platforms like YouTube, Flickr and Pinterest.

EasyRotator

EasyRotator Free WordPress Plugin

The EasyRotator plugin serves as another free slider tool, and its primary advantage lies in its simplicity. Just upload a few videos or photos, click a few buttons and you can view a stylish slider on the front end of your site within seconds.

The plugin comes packaged with 45 flexible templates, making it easy for people at all levels of experience. And with mobile support plus SEO settings, a slider like this works well on any site.

Slider Pro

Slider Pro Premium WordPress Plugin

Slider Pro comes in at $29, but your money goes to good use. Elegant designs, quick creation tools and responsiveness are all included. You can connect the plugin to your Flickr account to automatically pull your content and serve it up on your website. Touch-swipe capabilities work well for users on iPads or tablets, and the animated layers help you grab user attention and bring them in to sell more products or push more content.

LayerSlider

LayerSlider Premium WordPress Plugin

The LayerSlider plugin is $20 (and is the other premium slider packaged with Total)– but it doesn’t only offer sliders. You’re also able to add image galleries and slideshows, forging the ideal multimedia experience.

LayerSlider provides over 200 2D and 3D transitions, and you can build your own custom transitions with the slide editor. A powerful drag-and-drop editor comes with the plugin for seeing real-time previews, as well as importing, exporting and moving components in a timeline view.

You can even generate dynamic sliders that connect to your WordPress posts and pages. This enables you to send folks to your most enticing content without much work on your end. With over 13 skins to choose from, the opportunities for branding your website and making it look different from the other people who buy this plugin are endless.

Oh, and did I mention that the slider is SEO friendly?  This gives you a step ahead of the competition, since not too many folks know how to optimize their sliders.

Easing Slider

Easing Slider Free WordPress Plugin

The Easing Slider is another free slider plugin, with full responsiveness and bulk image uploading for placing a large amount of images into a single slider. This easy-to-use interface includes a visual editor for customizing some of the more basic styles. Actions and filters are packed into the plugin, and you can always expand the slider functionality with some of the many available extensions.

Smooth Slider

Smooth Slider Free WordPress Plugin

The developers of Smooth Slider claim that you can implement a stunning slider, with links to recent or featured posts, within just 50 seconds. That’s a tall task, but it seems to be completely true. The interface is rather simple to use, and there really aren’t many buttons or settings to wrap your head around. This is another one of the free slider plugin choices, and it’s fully responsive.

The slideshows you create are search engine optimized for bringing new people to your site, and the Settings panel provides full control over the way your sliders look on the front end. I particularly like that the free plugin comes with six transition effects, which is more than some of the less appealing premium slider plugins (we didn’t include any of those on this list).

The key to this plugin is that you don’t need any coding knowledge to make something look professional. Slides can be placed or removed in a single click — just go to the Sliders admin panel. It’s a neat option well worth checking out.

Conclusion

The ideal slider displays what your company does and it grabs user attention to push them toward your most important content. You can link to your top blog posts or even send people to seasonal specials in your online store.

Whatever you use your slider for, take a look at the best WordPress sliders we’ve mentioned here and consider implementing one on your own site. Is one of these plugins your personal favorite? Did I miss your favorite plugin? I want to hear from you in the comments!

Article updated from original post on May 11, 2015



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100+ WordPress Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2016 Coupons & Deals


We’re back with an all new mega list of the most amazing WordPress deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all the days in between! Get your credit cards or PayPal ready – there are literally over 100+ deals this year that you’re going to want to check out. Save big on themes, hosting, plugins and more. Just be sure to check the dates each coupon is valid and enjoy!

WordPress themes are the best way to change the look of your website, and right now you can get your favorite themes at rack bottom prices! Hurry up and get one, two or all of your favorite themes from these awesome theme stores.

Elegant Themes 25% Off

Elegant Themes if offering 25% off all purchases, plus exclusive flash deals, bonus prizes and layout packs. No code needed. Offer valid November 25-28, 2016.

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Array Themes 30% Off

Save 30% on all WordPress themes and theme memberships from Array Themes through the end of November with code BLACKFRIDAY. Offer valid through November 30, 2016.

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aThemes 50% Off

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CR3ATIV 30% Off Themes

Save 40% on the Gutenburg 2, Kingdom Church and Conference WordPress themes by CR3ATIV this weekend only! Offer ends November 30, 2016.

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Gorilla Themes 15% Off

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We’ve done our best this year to round up the most possible deals for WordPress that we could find, but we know that there are lots of awesome theme and plugin stores we’ve not discovered yet. If we missed a deal leave us a note below and we’ll get it added to the list so you can get the best WordPress Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals.



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How to Tell If a Site Is Powered by WordPress


Do you often see a great looking site and ask yourself “does it use WordPress?” Sometimes the answer is simple – footer says it all, but more often than not you have to do a bit of detective work. With more and more webmasters hiding the fact they use WordPress we’ll teach you different ways to confirm if a site uses WordPress or not, discuss why some feel the need to hide the fact they use WP and show you a neat trick to find out what theme a site uses.

What’s With The Hiding?

We’re sure that in one context or another you’ve heard about people hiding the fact their site uses WordPress and how that’s a good or a bad thing. So let us clarify a few things.

You should never be ashamed of using WordPress! In fact, you should proudly tell everyone your site is powered by one of the best pieces of open source software ever created. Hiding the exact version of WP you’re using is a whole different game. Due to ever growing risk of being hacked that is a wise thing to do as exposing the exact version number can expose you to greater risks of being hacked.

Most “Hackers” Are Lazy

Young hacker

When bad people try to take down as many sites as possible in the shortest period, they utilize a principle called the “low-hanging fruit.” It’s just a fancy way of saying “hack the most vulnerable sites first.” They either find a new WP vulnerability or choose an older one that’s already patched in the newer versions but exists on many sites because people don’t update WP often enough. By using Google, they get a list of thousands of sites using those specific versions and then perform an automated attack that takes all of those sites down using the same vulnerability.

Your site might still be using that specific (problematic) version of WordPress, but if you make just a tiny effort to hide the version it uses, it’ll mean you won’t be hit in that first wave as you are not a “low hanging fruit.” That won’t help you if someone is targeting your site specifically but it will with these automated attacks.

With that out of the way lets look at some of the methods you can use to find out if a site is powered by WordPress or not.

1. There’s A Service For That

There's A Service For That

As with most things on the Internet if you need some service that automates a simple task chances are it already exists. If messing with code is not your thing head over to WP Loop’s Is it WordPress tool enter the sites URL, and it tells you if it uses WordPress. If you’re not satisfied with the results or want more technical info BuiltWith can help you. Again, just type in the site’s URL and click search. You can also utilize specialized services like What WP Theme is That? to find the theme powering a site. But please bear in mind that all those sites use the methods described below. There’s no magic to them.

2. Starting Off Easy – Just Read

Many sites are, as we’ve already said, proud to use WordPress so if you just scroll down to the footer, you’ll probably see a “Powered by WordPress” line. If you happen to be on a blogger’s site chances are you can find out a lot more by visiting the about, how it was made, technology stack or some similar page where an up to date list of all plugins and tools used to create the site is shown.

3. Digging Into The Source – The Dreaded Generator Tag

code

For this method and a few following, we’ll need the HTML source of the site’s home page. Actually, any page’s source will do, but let’s stick with the home page. Right-click somewhere on the page (that’s not an image or a link) and choose “View Page Source.” If you’re on Chrome, Ctrl+U will also do the trick.

Now that you have the HTML hit Ctrl+F to bring out the search field and type in “generator.” You’re looking for a line that looks like this:

<meta name="generator" content="WordPress 4.6.1" />

No such line? Read on; there are plenty other methods to confirm if a sire is on WP or not.

Did you found it, but it doesn’t look like that? That’s possible too. One often seen variation is just “WordPress” – that means the webmaster doesn’t want to disclose the exact WP version (which is, as we’ve already discussed a good think). Another possibility is that the site isn’t powered by WP so the generator can be something else, like Joomla.

4. Still In The Source – Some Often Used Paths

You should still have the source open along with the search field. Just change the search string into “wp-content”. Found a bunch of lines with that string? Great – the site is undoubtedly using WordPress.

Want to know what theme they’re using? Search for “wp-content/themes/”, and you’ll probably get a few hits. Now look for the line that ends in “style.css” or “style.css?v=x.y” – that’s the main theme’s CSS file. Click that link to open it or copy/paste it into a new tab. The whole URL will look something like “http://domain.com/wp-content/themes/twentysixteen/style.css?ver=4.6.1”. First ten-ish lines of that file will give you enough data to find the theme on the web.

No luck with this method? It seems somebody doesn’t want us to know they’re using WP. No worries. Let’s continue with our detective work.

5. WP Specific URLs

Try opening readme.html file in the site’s root, i.e., “http://domain.com/readme.html.” If it worked, you’ll get something similar to this. No luck? Then try http://domain.com/license.txt it should look like this sample file. Still no luck? Give http://domain.com/wp-admin/ a go and the WP login screen should pop up.

Wrapping Up

If none of the methods above worked then somebody invested a lot of work into hiding the fact they use WordPress or, as said as that is, they are just not using WordPress. Tell them to switch 😉

Have you tried any of these methods? Or do you have another to add? Tell us in the comments below!



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How To Create A Simple WordPress Theme Options Page


While we are a huge fan of the WordPress customizer for adding theme options some people prefer a simple admin panel for their theme or are looking to incorporate a basic admin panel in addition to the Customizer. In this post I’ll show you how you can easily create your own admin panel using the WordPress native settings API via a simple class that can be easily extended to add more options. This is not so much of a tutorial but more of a starter code that you can use to create your admin panel so you should know your way around code before getting started 😉

Creating The Theme Options Panel

Below is a class you can use to create your admin panel. The class will add a new theme options panel with 3 different settings for an example (checkbox, input and select). Simply insert the following code right into your functions.php file at the very bottom or create a new file and then use the require_once function to call it into your functions.php file (preferable).

Screenshot Of The Theme Admin Page

Before showing you the code I wanted to share with you a screenshot of what the admin panel you will create look like.

simple-wordpress-theme-options-panel

The Admin Screen Code

Here is the code you need to create the admin panel and include the helper function to getting the values of any setting:

<?php
/**
 * Create A Simple Theme Options Panel
 *
 */

// Exit if accessed directly
if ( ! defined( 'ABSPATH' ) ) {
	exit;
}

// Start Class
if ( ! class_exists( 'WPEX_Theme_Options' ) ) {

	class WPEX_Theme_Options {

		/**
		 * Start things up
		 *
		 * @since 1.0.0
		 */
		public function __construct() {

			// We only need to register the admin panel on the back-end
			if ( is_admin() ) {
				add_action( 'admin_menu', array( 'WPEX_Theme_Options', 'add_admin_menu' ) );
				add_action( 'admin_init', array( 'WPEX_Theme_Options', 'register_settings' ) );
			}

		}

		/**
		 * Returns all theme options
		 *
		 * @since 1.0.0
		 */
		public static function get_theme_options() {
			return get_option( 'theme_options' );
		}

		/**
		 * Returns single theme option
		 *
		 * @since 1.0.0
		 */
		public static function get_theme_option( $id ) {
			$options = self::get_theme_options();
			if ( isset( $options[$id] ) ) {
				return $options[$id];
			}
		}

		/**
		 * Add sub menu page
		 *
		 * @since 1.0.0
		 */
		public static function add_admin_menu() {
			add_menu_page(
				esc_html__( 'Theme Settings', 'text-domain' ),
				esc_html__( 'Theme Settings', 'text-domain' ),
				'manage_options',
				'theme-settings',
				array( 'WPEX_Theme_Options', 'create_admin_page' )
			);
		}

		/**
		 * Register a setting and its sanitization callback.
		 *
		 * We are only registering 1 setting so we can store all options in a single option as
		 * an array. You could, however, register a new setting for each option
		 *
		 * @since 1.0.0
		 */
		public static function register_settings() {
			register_setting( 'theme_options', 'theme_options', array( 'WPEX_Theme_Options', 'sanitize' ) );
		}

		/**
		 * Sanitization callback
		 *
		 * @since 1.0.0
		 */
		public static function sanitize( $options ) {

			// If we have options lets sanitize them
			if ( $options ) {

				// Checkbox
				if ( ! empty( $options['checkbox_example'] ) ) {
					$options['checkbox_example'] = 'on';
				} else {
					unset( $options['checkbox_example'] ); // Remove from options if not checked
				}

				// Input
				if ( ! empty( $options['input_example'] ) ) {
					$options['input_example'] = sanitize_text_field( $options['input_example'] );
				} else {
					unset( $options['input_example'] ); // Remove from options if empty
				}

				// Select
				if ( ! empty( $options['select_example'] ) ) {
					$options['select_example'] = sanitize_text_field( $options['select_example'] );
				}

			}

			// Return sanitized options
			return $options;

		}

		/**
		 * Settings page output
		 *
		 * @since 1.0.0
		 */
		public static function create_admin_page() { ?>

			<div class="wrap">

				<h1><?php esc_html_e( 'Theme Options', 'text-domain' ); ?></h1>

				<form method="post" action="options.php">

					<?php settings_fields( 'theme_options' ); ?>

					<table class="form-table wpex-custom-admin-login-table">

						<?php // Checkbox example ?>
						<tr valign="top">
							<th scope="row"><?php esc_html_e( 'Checkbox Example', 'text-domain' ); ?></th>
							<td>
								<?php $value = self::get_theme_option( 'checkbox_example' ); ?>
								<input type="checkbox" name="theme_options[checkbox_example]" <?php checked( $value, 'on' ); ?>> <?php esc_html_e( 'Checkbox example description.', 'text-domain' ); ?>
							</td>
						</tr>

						<?php // Text input example ?>
						<tr valign="top">
							<th scope="row"><?php esc_html_e( 'Input Example', 'text-domain' ); ?></th>
							<td>
								<?php $value = self::get_theme_option( 'input_example' ); ?>
								<input type="text" name="theme_options[input_example]" value="<?php echo esc_attr( $value ); ?>">
							</td>
						</tr>

						<?php // Select example ?>
						<tr valign="top" class="wpex-custom-admin-screen-background-section">
							<th scope="row"><?php esc_html_e( 'Select Example', 'text-domain' ); ?></th>
							<td>
								<?php $value = self::get_theme_option( 'select_example' ); ?>
								<select name="theme_options[select_example]">
									<?php
									$options = array(
										'1' => esc_html__( 'Option 1', 'text-domain' ),
										'2' => esc_html__( 'Option 2', 'text-domain' ),
										'3' => esc_html__( 'Option 3', 'text-domain' ),
									);
									foreach ( $options as $id => $label ) { ?>
										<option value="<?php echo esc_attr( $id ); ?>" <?php selected( $value, $id, true ); ?>>
											<?php echo strip_tags( $label ); ?>
										</option>
									<?php } ?>
								</select>
							</td>
						</tr>

					</table>

					<?php submit_button(); ?>

				</form>

			</div><!-- .wrap -->
		<?php }

	}
}
new WPEX_Theme_Options();

// Helper function to use in your theme to return a theme option value
function myprefix_get_theme_option( $id = '' ) {
	return WPEX_Theme_Options::get_theme_option( $id );
}

Using The Options In Your Theme

Using your options is very easy especially with the included helper function in the code above. Here is an example on how you would use the helper function to get and display the value for the dropdown field which has an ID of “select_example”.

$value = myprefix_get_theme_option( 'select_example' );
echo $value;

More Info On Creating Admin Screens

I have seen TONS of admin pages all created in very distinct ways but I personally like the method I showed you above. It’s very simple and straight to the point. There is no need to get so crazy with your theme options! If you need more information for creating admin screens you will want to check out the Administration Screens Codex.



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Tips to Declutter Your WordPress Website for Better Performance


Each individual wants to be organized in his life with everything in control and in consistent manner. You always remove unnecessary items from your home to keep it clean. The same applies to your workplace, especially if you are running a WordPress website for your business. To make it clean, you must put efforts to remove everything which is of no use.

Being precise, users comes to you for availing some sort of product or service, and they really don’t care about everything else you have put. So, your website must possess a purpose and stick to it for each page. Putting irrelevant data with no reference to your niche is just a useless effort, which is only degrading your brand value.

Steps To Clean Up Your WordPress Installation

There are various tactics which you can employ in your WordPress site to make it user friendly and ultimately to maximize visitors engagement.

1. Remove Unnecessary Plugins

Although plugins are one of the most important elements in any WordPress site, keeping plugins that aren’t active or are poorly coded can cost you site speed which is not a smart move. Simply uninstall or deactivate plugins you aren’t using.

Moreover, consider replacing some of your current plugins with ones that service multiple purposes (Jetpack is a great example of a single plugin that offers many functions). Focus on your requirements and cut the list accordingly (don’t be a plugin hoarder).

2. Make Navigation Uncluttered

Mega Menu

Give a clean look to your navigation. Remove excessive categories and be sure to use appropriate parent and child categories for smooth search. Make sure you navigation features your most important pages, you can use tags and category widgets to offer your readers access to more content.

If your site requires many links then consider adding a mega menu. Mega mens offer visitors to your site large lists of information while allowing you to keep your main navigation simplified. Plugins such as Uber Menu, Mega Main Menu and Hero Menu all offer fantastic mega menu capabilities that work great with most WordPress themes.

3. Organize Site Content

If the content of your site is immense, organize it in a structured way by bundling in paragraphs. Also remember to use proper headings. Your posts and pages should have H1 titles, and then you should use H2, H3, etc nested within your post (our post uses an H2 for the “Steps to Clean Up Your WordPress Installation” heading, followed by H3 headings for each numerical point). This improves readability and user experience by keeping visitors away from unreadable wall of text.

Putting some emphasis on basic formatting can produce noticeable results. This includes using headers, lists, quotes, buttons, links and even different font styles to help make the flow of your content more intuitive.

4. Keep a Check on Relevancy

When using images, video or other media in a blog post of your WordPress site, it must relate to the subject. Moreover, you should not keep media that is irrelevant to your point. Periodically updating old content and it’s related media is also a good way to be sure you have no broken images or links.

5. Run Updates Regularly

Update WordPress

Make sure to keep your WordPress installation, themes and plugins up to date. If you haven’t updated in a while, do it. Using the current version of WordPress is must to ensure that you are getting the latest security patches for WordPress as well as compatibility with plugins and themes for your website.

Before updating we always recommend that you make a backup of your WordPress site. This is an important precaution incase one of your plugins breaks when you update so you have a way to revert your website to it’s former state. TO make backups easier consider any of the best backup services and plugins for WordPress.

6. Monitor Your Site Speed

Pingdom Tools

If your site is taking too long to load, you have to find out the cause which might be obstructing its smooth run. Pingdom Tools is a great way to check your WordPress site speed.

Using a fast hosting service is a good option for better website speed, but some people are also employ shared hosting as it offers great value for money. But no matter what, always make sure to use a hosting plan that is adequate for your web traffic – with shared hosting you’re actively sharing your server’s resources with any number of other websites, and with managed hosting you’re often only given a set amount. Make sure to choose a plan that’s right for you.

You should also take a look at your theme and active plugins as well. Some WordPress add-ons (themes and plugins) are resource heavy (such as some of the big slider plugins) and poorly coded ones can definitely slow down your site. Test the live theme demos’ site speed before you download and install them, and research plugins before adding any new ones.

7. Freshen Up Your Admin Panel

WP Optimize WordPress Plugin

To work only on you front-end is not enough, that’s like only keeping your face clean while putting clumsy clothes on – it’s not a good sign. The back-end or admin area of WordPress website is just as important as its front view. There is so much hidden inner-workings which can be optimized.

  • Remove themes which are no longer in use. A default WordPress site comes with plenty of themes, but all of them are not required. Practically, you are not going to change your theme that frequently. So, dump your old theme and move ahead with less burden.
  • Delete pending and spammy comments. This gives a negative impression from SEO point of view. Use the Empty spam button to clean out these comments with just a single click, and it regularly for better results. You could also try the Antispam Bee plugin which is specially meant to preserve your legitimate comments while preventing spam.
  • Empty the trash bin frequently. Posts and pages of your WordPress website which you put in trash will take your space until they are deleted permanently. WordPress has the option to permanently delete the posts in your trash bin so use it.
  • Work on broken links. Links that don’t work give a very bad impression to visitors and search engines. The primary step is to find such links and then to fix them. Use plugins like W3C Link Checker to find broken links. Thereafter, either update them manually or perform 301 redirects ( you should also checkout our article on how to remove broken links as well as our guide for updating permalinks).
  • Clean your database. The database is an indispensable part, or rather heart of your WordPress website, as most of the necessary data is stored in it. So it requires to be keenly managed. This clean up can include deleting temporarily used disk space, post revisions, spam comments and other items present in trash, and also the leftovers from plugins and themes. The free WP-Optimize plugin is a very useful plugin that you can help you optimize your database in this way.
  • Disable elements with less need. This is also an easy way to trim the useless elements present in any WordPress visual. Click on the tab called screen options in the top right corner of your WordPress dashboard. From here you can enable or disable various features by merely checking or unchecking the relevant boxes.
  • Taxonomy must also be cleaned. If your website possesses unused taxonomy, get rid of it. When there are tags and categories which you are not using, remove them manually. Because taxonomies exist for each post type (which could include blog posts, portfolio, staff, testimonials, etc. depending on the theme and plugins you have active) you will need to go to each to check for unused items.
  • Unused media must be vanished. In WordPress, there is a separate folder, named uploads which includes all the media files that you have uploaded to your website. In long run, this can lead to a massive storage and thus needs to be trimmed. Plugins such as Image Cleanup can find and delete such media files.
  • Trim widgets you don’t use. This applies to your dashboard widgets as well as the widgets you see on the frontend of your website. For your dashboard widgets (seen on the main page when you first log into your WordPress installation) open the screen options tab at the top of the screen to enable and disable the avaialbe boxes. Widgets on the front end of your WordPress site in your sidebars and footers can be found under appearance > widgets. Simply drag and drop to replace or reorganize them.

It is not necessary that your WordPress website would be lacking all of the above points. But still, keep an eye out to check for any flaw, even small changes can produce fair results.

Conclusion

Your WordPress website can be transformed in few hours by cleaning it thoroughly. Decluttering can give it a more interactive view by removing all the irrelevant elements and arranging the rest in a better way. In simple words, you need to remove the unnecessary fat from your website. Just grab what is necessary and dump the remaining.

Keep a keen check on things that are not useful but still occupying your space, and moreover, giving your readers a haphazard user experience. And your dashboard admin panel is equally important as the external appearance of your website on the web. A thorough check is required for both front-end and back-end of your WordPress site periodically, and in the long run this will make your website better. The result will be a faster loading site along with the improved user experience.

Do you have any other tips for decluttering WordPress? Or have you tried ours? We’d love to hear your experience!



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Best WordPress Plugins to Improve Your Blog Pages


There are numerous ways to improve your blog pages. Interesting content, eye-grabbing headlines and stunning images are a great start. But if you are really looking to enhance your blog, you should consider installing some relevant WordPress plugins.

In this article, we will discuss the different plugins available to help you improve your blog pages and posts. You might be looking to improve the design of your blog, encourage visitor engagement, or get your content shared on social media. Or maybe you want your blog to collect more emails, drive more traffic, or increase its revenue.

Whatever your goals for your blog, this post will introduce some plugins that can help.

Use a Slider to Grab Attention

Use Soliloquy slider to Improve your blog pages

Using a WordPress slider is an effective way to grab your visitor’s attention. Bold slider images related to a specific article will help upgrade your content, illustrate your story, and pique your reader’s interest. This should all help encourage your audience to read the article.

There are numerous free and premium WordPress sliders available, so it can be difficult to make a decision on which one to install. Soliloquy is a responsive premium slider plugin that is extremely easy to setup and use.

Its features include a selection of slider templates and a drag-and-drop builder that enables you to create beautiful sliders in just a few clicks. Importantly, Soliloquy’s sliders don’t dramatically slow down your site’s loading times, thus enhancing, not sabotaging, your user’s experience.

Looking for something with more features? We recommend Slider Revolution. This plugin uses a drag and drop interface with tons of options for fully responsive sliders, carousels, hero blocks, social media feeds and media galleries. Create unlimited custom sliders with options for font options, color options, custom animations, timers, slide navigation options, slide layers, custom links and much more. Even better, this plugin is included for free with our Total WordPress theme (along with three other premium plugins).

Integrate Your Blog with Social Media

There are many ways to integrate your WordPress website with social media and get your content shared. With WordPress, one of the absolute easiest ways is with a WordPress plugin.

Social Sharing Buttons

monarch-plugin-review

Social sharing buttons are a must on all blogs, but the location of said buttons are the key to getting your content shared on a large scale. Make sure you position share buttons at the end of each post, not just in the sidebar of each page. If a share button is immediately available when a reader finishes a post, then they are more likely to share it. Monarch is a good option if you’d like full control over your social share buttons.

Click to Tweet

click-to-tweet

Adding Click to Tweet quotes is another great way of encouraging readers to share. Display a quote from the article in a Tweetable boxed area within your writing. This gives viewers a helping hand, enabling them to quickly Tweet the key information they are reading about.

Pinterest ‘Pin It’ Button

pinterest-pin-it-button

The Pinterest ‘Pin It’ Button allows you to add a Pinterest button to images in your articles. This makes it easy for your readers to quickly pin your images to their Pinterest boards, thus sharing your content and brand with a wider audience.

Add an Author Bio Box

author-box

People like to know about the writers who have produced the articles they are reading. Visitors trust well-known authors and often seek out their work online. Regularly publishing content from popular authors from your industry or niche is a good way to build up a regular following for your site.

Use an author bio box under each post to show who has written the article. This helps promote the author and keeps your audience coming back for more. Author bio boxes will also help legitimize your site, and show that the writers, and your content, is authentic. We use a customized version of the Fanciest Authorbox plugin which you can see below.

Upgrade Your Comments Section

comments

To engage with your audience and grow a large interactive community, you should look at upgrading your comments section. Not only will your comments section look better, but it will also run faster and smoother. There are numerous plugins available to help you improve your comments, so do your research.

Depending on your needs, you can create subscriptions, integrate with BuddyPress, or allow readers to comment on your posts via Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Used correctly, a comments plugin can really help build your audience.

Display Related Posts

YARPP Plugin

Displaying a related posts plugin on a blog page will help keep readers on your site for longer. When people finish an article you want them to choose another post from your blog and carry on reading.

By displaying related posts, you are showing them where they can find similar posts to the one they were originally interested in. This helps them make a decision on where to go next, and may well stop them leaving your site. The longer a visitor stays on your site, the more likely they will convert to your goals, whether that be joining your email list, making a purchase, or taking some other action. One of the most popular free options is YARPP, however many premium themes include built-in options for related posts too.

Add Custom Sidebars

custom-sidebar

Another suggestion is to create custom sidebars that can be displayed next to specific posts. Custom Sidebars is a free WordPress plugin that will allow you to do just that. With this plugin, every page or post of your site can show different widgets.

By creating and displaying different custom sidebars, each with their own widget, you can show links and adverts specifically relevant to a particular post. This will help to increase click-through rates and drive revenue for your blog.

Display an Email Opt-in Form

opt-in-form

Building an email list is still an essential task for all aspiring blogs. Straight after reading a post, if they have liked what they have seen, visitors will be keen to sign up to your mailing list. So make it easy for them by adding an email opt-in form.

OptinMonster is an impressive email list building tool. It enables you to create a variety of opt-in forms to help maximize your conversions. From popup lightbox opt-in forms, to slide-ins and sidebar options, OptinMonster has something that will appeal to your customers and get them signing up.

Optimize Your Content with Yoast SEO

yoast-seo

Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that will help optimize your site, and individual blog posts, for the search engines. Yoast SEO is quick and easy to set up. It will help each post rank prominently in the search engines, as well as help you create a readable article that will appeal to your viewers.

Use a Page Builder to Create Some Custom Layouts

Visual Composer Page Builder

If you are worried that your blog isn’t holding the attention of your viewers, or isn’t standing out from the crowd, then maybe you should consider altering the design.

Using a WordPress page builder plugin is a great way to add that extra wow factor to your blog. A page builder will enable you to create custom layouts for your blog pages. You can produce designs that fit with your brand and appeal to your visitors, giving them a great user experience.

There are many easy to use drag-and-drop page builders available, so have a look around to see what best suits your needs.

Install a Shortcode Plugin

A simple alternative to a page builder is to install a shortcode plugin. A shortcode plugin will let you insert some simple upgrades to help improve your blog pages. Add columns to a page, attractive buttons, or a call to action. Even small extras like this will help improve your page, impress your visitors, and bring your site closer to its goals.

Final Thoughts

By improving your content with these plugins, you should be able to create an extremely engaging and user-friendly blog. Each plugin adds value in a different way, so think carefully about your blog’s goals and what it would benefit from most. Then make the appropriate changes.

Which plugins will use to upgrade your blog posts? Please share your thoughts below.



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How to Setup AMP in WordPress


Welcome to the second part of the AMP Guide for WordPress. In our last article, we learnt about the importance of a mobile-first web strategy and how AMP can be a potential game-changer. In today’s guide, we’re going to learn about:

  • How to integrate AMP with WordPress
  • Best WordPress plugins for customizing AMP
  • Do we really need to implement AMP in our WordPress site?

Let’s get started.

AMP for WordPress Video Guide

Picking up where the last posting in our series left off, you can follow along with WPCrafter’s video on how to easily setup AMP with your WordPress website. Adam’s video walks you through each step of our guide – enjoy!

How to Setup AMP for WordPress

amp-plugin-wordpress-hero

Setting up AMP for WordPress is a very simple process. All you need to do is install the WordPress AMP plugin developed by Automattic and the rest will follow.

  • Head over to WordPress Dashboard > Plugins > Add New
  • Search for “AMP”

Select the plugin and click on Install Now

how-to-install-amp-wordpress-plugin

Upon activating the plugin, all the post URLs on your site will have an AMP version. You can go to any post’s link, append /amp/ to the end of the URL and you’ll get to see the AMP version.

Let’s take a look at the normal version of the webpage.

test-site-no-amp_rz

And this is the AMP version of the same page:

test-site-amp_rz

That’s it – you’ve successfully setup AMP in WordPress. Hard to believe it’s that simple, isn’t it?

However, if you do not have pretty permalinks enabled, you can get the amp version by appending ?amp=1 to the post’s link. For example, the post’s link would be:

  • Normal Version: http://example.com/2016/01/01/hello-mobile-web/
  • AMP Version: http://example.com/2016/01/01/hello-mobile-web/amp/
  • AMP Version (with Pretty Permalinks disabled): http://example.com/2016/01/01/hello-mobile-web/?amp=1

The AMP plugin adds a standard meta tag in the head of your “normal” HTML pages that makes it possible for Google and other search engines to recognize the AMP version of the pages exist. It uses the site’s logo that you can set in the WordPress Theme Customizer.

It is important to note that the plugin only supports conversion of posts into AMP versions. According to the plugin’s description accessed on 1st November 2016, support for AMP version of WordPress pages is under development and coming soon.

Measuring AMP Performance Impact

We decided to measure the performance impact of the AMP version of the page in Pingdom. The results were dramatically different. Keep in mind that our WordPress setup was in a shared hosting environment using the default Twenty Fourteen theme with no caching or optimization plugins installed.

Following screenshot shows the performance benchmark of the basic version of the page:

test-site-no-amp-pingdom

And this is the result of the AMP version of the page:

test-site-amp-pingdom

The results are strikingly apart.

Each of the components experienced a tremendous improvement:

  • Page size decreased by 70%
  • Loading time decreased by 35% to under 900 milliseconds
  • No of requests were reduced by almost 60% from 17 to only 7!

All of this was achieved by AMP, while maintaining the content of the page. The following table captures the details of the test for your reference:

Factor  Normal AMP Improvement
Page Size (KB) 563.8 167 70%
Load Time (sec) 1.42 0.929 35%
No. of Requests 17 7 59%

Looking at these numbers, it is evident that getting AMP is a no brainer. Not only will it help improve your SEO scores, it also provides a beautiful, uncluttered user experience.

What’s more you can also include tracking mechanisms in the AMP version of the page. We’ll cover that in the following section.

Extending Capabilities of AMP

While optimizing your content for readers is a good practice, it is also important to maintain brand consistency. This means that even the AMP versions of your existing content should follow your brand’s colour scheme, fonts, and the general user interface.

The AMP WordPress plugin does not have the options to make such changes. Its aim was a provide a quick and easy way to make your entire existing WordPress content compatible with AMP – a job which is does pretty well.

Enter, the AMP for WP – Accelerated Mobile Pages plugin.

amp-for-wp-plugin-2-hero

This free plugin extends the capabilities of AMP in WordPress by offering additional functionalities such as:

  • Google Analytics integration
  • Support for AMP WooCommerce Pages
  • Related Posts below the post
  • Recent Comments list
  • Custom logo upload
  • Social sharing bar
  • Support for embedding rich content including videos and content from content platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, etc.

As a prerequisite, the plugin requires you to install and activate the AMP plugin to function properly. As usual, you can install this plugin similar to the way we installed the AMP plugin at the beginning of this post.

amp-for-wp-plugin-2-install-activate

Once activated, you are ready to configure the various options the plugin has to offer. Head over to WordPress Dashboard > AMP to access the settings.

Out of the many settings the plugin offers, we tried out:

  • Turning on Comments
  • Adding Related Posts
  • Adding a Navigation to Next/Previous posts

Here is a screenshot of how the AMP version looked after saving the changes:

amp-for-wp-plugin-2-hero-test-page-500-px

And here’s the performance:

amp-for-wp-plugin-2-speed-test

Here’s the screenshot of the vanilla AMP page for comparison:

test-site-amp-pingdom

The load time further decreased by another 7.4%. It is interesting to note that although the page size and the number of requests increased slightly, there was an improvement in the overall Performance Grade (3-point increase).

All in all, this plugin is excellent if you’re serious about pushing harder toward AMP and make your content, ads and analytics work well with the platform.

Conclusion

Given the explosive growth of mobile phone usage over the past few years, it is no longer an option for online businesses to go mobile-first. It is an absolute necessity. The Accelerated Mobile Pages project is an ambitious effort toward that goal and more and more media houses are adapting it rapidly.

While it is simpler for newer blogs to incorporate AMP, blogs with thousands of pages of content might certainly find it particularly challenging. The reason is simple – not everyone follows the proper standards when publishing online. Organizations evolve. Even the web technologies that were “hot” five years ago are obsolete today. While AMP tries its best to build on top of existing web technologies, there could be multiple cases where some incompatibility/errors exist. And these errors could adversely affect your SEO scores.

Ideally, businesses should measure their incoming traffic sources – what percentage of that is coming from a mobile device? How many of them come from mobile search? What is the bounce rate of mobile visitors? These are the questions you should ask before considering AMP.

If you are convinced that your website’s content is technically structured according to the latest standards, then by all means – go ahead with AMP! You’ll only boost your SEO.

However, if you know that there are a lot of internal misconfigurations, broken links and errors, it would be best to address (and possibly resolve) those issues before proceeding with AMP.

What are your thoughts on AMP? Do you use it to consume content? Have you implemented it in your website? We’d love to hear from you!



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Introduction to Google AMP for WordPress


Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a disruptive new technology designed to make the web more mobile-friendly, significantly faster and reliable. This post series is dedicated to exploring Google AMP and how to set it up in WordPress.

Here’s a list of things that we’re going to cover over in this post series:

  • First, we’ll take a quick refresher on current mobile web trends – justifying the need for AMP
  • We’ll also take another small overview on how page speed impacts our businesses and see how AMP can help
  • Next, we’ll learn what is AMP, see some real-life examples of what is can do.
  • That would mark the end of this article. In the next article, we will learn how to setup AMP for WordPress

Let’s begin.

Google AMP

Before digging into the information about AMP, you can follow along with the WPCrafter video guide that ties into our post.

According to the 2015 Internet Trends Report published by consulting firm KPCB, the average adult spent 5.6 hours a day on the Internet in 2015. Of that total, 2.8 hours was spent on a mobile device. This is a significant increase from 2010, when an average of just 0.4 hours a day was spent on the Internet via mobile device.

average-daily-internet-usage-by-device

Source: Ezoic

The average mobile internet usage grew by 600% between 2010 and 2015

emails-opened-by-device

Source: Ezoic

A study published in the U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report found that over two-thirds of emails were opened on a mobile device, with 52% being opened on a smartphone and 16% being opened on a tablet.

digital-media-usage-time

Source: Ezoic

A 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report published by comScore found 90% increase in the total time spent on mobile devices by US adults between 2015 and 2013.  The same report also stated that mobile apps account for 54% of the total time spent consuming digital media, and mobile browsers account for another 8% of total time.

All in all, 62% of digital media usage time is spent on a mobile device.

So yes, a mobile-first strategy is very important. Now let’s talk a little bit about speed.

Loading times matter – they matter a lot. It is that one critical factor that can impact other important factors such as revenue, bounce rate, time on site, search rankings and performance across almost every other digital marketing channels.

Since revenue is the end goal in any business or website, here’s an interesting fact from a 2014 research study “Site Speed Is Hurting Everyone’s Revenue”, conducted by digital marketing firm Protent. The highlight of the study was that faster pages make a lot more money.

website-speed

Source: Protent

The dollar per page view (let’s call it DPPV) increases by 20% when reducing the loading time from 8 to 5 seconds (37.5% reduction).

But the real win comes when page load time is under one second or less. Going from two to one-second load time results in 2x boost in the dollar per pageviews.

Not only revenue, site speed also effects the social sharing performance. The guys over at Protent conducted a not-so-exhaustive experiment where they sent 100 paid clicks (from Facebook Ads) to two pages.

Page A loaded in 2 seconds and Page B loaded in 4 seconds. Guess what? Page A got 10 shares whereas Page B got only two shares. Although the sample size was too small to validate the hypothesis, but it does tell a significant story!

Witnessing the mobile Internet market’s explosive growth, the demand for faster Internet access, better web technologies in terms of speed, accessibility and reliability came to paramount importance. Pioneers like Google quickly realized that a lot could be done to feed this growing demand, and thus Project AMP was born.

What is AMP?

amp-example

Source: BusinessofApps.com

AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages is an open framework for building a faster, standardized and more responsive mobile web. The beauty of AMP is that it works right on top of existing web technologies and dramatically improves the mobile user experience. Which is why Google prefers AMP webpages and rank them higher in SERPs.

How does AMP improve Speed?

website-speed-vector

AMP’s open framework was designed to take advantage of the existing web technologies and build on top of it. Which is why, it works right out of the box in content management systems like WordPress.

AMP follows a standardized framework to build web pages and ensures that all existing webpages can adapt to that framework. In slightly more technical terms, it allows only asynchronous scripts, disallows render-blocking external mechanisms, allows only inline CSS and a lot more.

In a nutshell, AMP first renders the layout of the webpage (almost instantaneously) and loads content on a priority basis. It removes any waiting for resources and severely minimizes the number of requests. When all these factors work in perfect harmony with each other, you get a blazing fast website that loads almost in an instant.

Check out the following speed test compiled by PenguinWP, which shows the “AMP effect”. Using AMP, they were able to:

  • Increase the PageSpeed score by 3 points
  • Reduce page loading time by 72% from 5 to 1.4 seconds!
  • Reduce page size by 80% and the number of requests by 82%

Here’s a table sharing the numbers:

PageSpeed Score Load Time Total Page Size Requests
Original Version 92 5 1024 118
AMP Version 95 1.4 206 21
The AMP Difference 3 -3.6s -794KB -97
Percentage Improvement 3% -72% -80% -82%

Content Preservation

AMP was designed to make the web beautiful and more responsive for mobile devices. It did so by removing some non-essential features of the existing web technologies.

That doesn’t mean that all the cool features of the modern web are taken away. No. It simply migrates all those rich content features into a standardized framework with minimal wiggle-room.

AMP fully supports image carousels, maps, social plug-ins, data visualizations, and videos to make publishers’ stories more interactive and stand out.

Case Study: The Washington Post

wapo

Source: AMP Project

Let’s look at a case study of Washington Post with AMP. After implementing AMP, The Post saw an increase in returning users from mobile search by 23%. This needs a bit of an explanation.

Nearly 55% of The Post’s traffic come from mobile devices – which is again in sync with the statistics shared in the beginning of this article. If the data doesn’t load within 3 seconds, people start to leave.

Traditionally, 51% of mobile search users return to The Washington Post within 7 days. For users who read stories published in AMP, this number jumps to 63%. Thus, with AMP, the retention of mobile search traffic increased by 23%.

Not only this, the page loading times average to 400ms which is an 88% improvement after AMP. Today they push over 1000 articles via AMP.

Great. How to I access AMP?

You can access the AMP version of any website by appending “/amp” to the URL of any web page. If the site does not support AMP or runs into an rendering error, it is designed to gracefully degrade to the original mobile responsive version of the website.

Content Distribution

content-vector-graphic

“Also known as free CDN for AMP articles”

Better known as Google AMP Cache, this free service from Google enables publishers to host their content while allowing for efficient distribution through Google’s high performance global cache network. In other words, it is like a free CDN for AMP sites.

Great. How does it work?

Webpages that are made compatible with AMP are given special attention by Google. When you start indexing AMP version of your website’s pages, Google stores them in something called an AMP cache. You still own the content, Google simply lends a hand in serving it to distant corners of the globe. In terms of cached content updation, here’s what Google has to say:

“Each time a user accesses AMP content from the cache, the content is automatically updated, and the updated version is served to the next user once the content has been cached.”

How do we access it?

Well, let’s see. If you have a URL of a webpage, you first need to check if AMP is enabled. You do that by simply adding “/amp” to the URL. Here’s a quick formula on how to get the Google AMP Cache URL of any AMP-lified website.

  1. Get AMP version of webpage by appending ‘/amp’ to URL. If it is valid, proceed to next step. Else stop.
  2. If a 404 page appears – that website hasn’t implemented AMP.
  3. If you see content loading up, then AMP is installed.
  4. To fetch the content from the Google AMP Cache, simply append https://cdn.ampproject.org/c/ to the beginning of the AMP URL, excluding the “www” part.
  5. Start with the main domain name (excluding ‘www’) and copy the AMP URL of the webpage.
  6. Append https://cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/ to the URL and that should give you the Google AMP Cache URL.

Let’s take an example of a Forbes article and put the above formula to test.

  • This is the original Forbes article’s URL:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2015/10/24/10-great-paid-wordpress-themes-of-2015/
  • To get the AMP version, we simply add /amp to the original URL.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2015/10/24/10-great-paid-wordpress-themes-of-2015/amp/
  • Now, to get the Google AMP Cache URL, we first copy the AMP URL starting from the main domain name, i.e. excluding the “www” part, right to the end. That gives us:
forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2015/10/24/10-great-paid-wordpress-themes-of-2015/amp/
  • Next we add https://cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/ to that URL to get the Google AMP Cache URL of the same page.
https://cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2015/10/24/10-great-paid-wordpress-themes-of-2015/amp

Check it out, it’ll work!

Smart Ads

online-ads

Creating quality content requires significant resources. Ads help fund free services and content on the web. The AMP was designed to incorporate this idea and has partnered with over 75 of the premier ad-networks.

AMP supports a comprehensive range of ad formats, ad networks and technologies. Any sites using AMP will retain their choice of ad networks, as well as any formats that don’t detract from the user experience.

Analytics

seo

Publishers also need to understand user behaviour when they are interacting with their content. Which is why AMP also works well with over 25 of the top analytics solution providers such as comScore, Google Analytics, Krux and more.

analytics-platforms-supported-by-amp

Analytics providers supported by AMP as on 1st Nov, 2016; Source: AMP Project

Conclusion

Leading content generation, aggregation and analytics platforms have started to implement AMP in their websites. Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress.com, Chartbeat, Parse.ly, Adobe Analytics and LinkedIn are among the first group of technology partners planning to integrate AMP HTML pages. Google also plans to make Google News a AMP-first platform.

It is interesting to see how this ambitious project would evolve change the future of the web.

I personally love the concept of AMP pages. They are a pleasure to read, consume much lesser data than mobile-ready website counterparts, and displays ads in a completely unobtrusive manner.

Reading, consuming and sharing content is so much more simpler and fun with AMP. In the next article, we’ll learn how to integrate AMP with WordPress.

What are your thoughts on AMP? Is it going to pick up?



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25+ Awesome News & Magazine Style Themes for WordPress


Did you know that nearly 50% of all Americans use the internet to read the news each and everyday? That means that there’s never been a better time to start your own online resource for the latest and greatest in news, gossip, fashion, DIY or anything else! Don’t worry though, we’re here to help. This roundup is for 15 pretty awesome WordPress themes that you may want to look into if you’re interested in starting up a news blog or an online magazine. Cheers, hope you can find what you are looking for.

Status

status-worpdress-theme

Status is a stunning theme design specifically for magazine, news and editorial blogs. This modern theme includes tons of great customization options within the live WordPress customizer for 1-4 columns, right or left sidebar (or none at all!), custom site widths, unlimited colors (just use the color pickers), 700+ Google fonts, customizable blog entries and more. There are even built-in ad spots so you can start monetizing your website right away!

Newsdesk

Newsdesk WordPress Theme

Newsdesk is a clean and modern news style WordPress theme perfect for sharing your thoughts with your readers. This easy to use theme includes a flexible layout with 14 widget ready areas for elements such as recent posts, popular articles, ad banners, categories and more. Plus Newsdesk includes tons of easy customization options in the live theme customizer where you can choose from custom colors, styling, Google fonts and more.

MightyMag

8

MightyMag is theme that can serve people looking to create not just news publishing websites and magazines but also review websites. This theme can be used alongside WooCommerce for montentization purposes. The review system can be used to help rate articles of a media house based on popularity.

Spartan

7

An unlimited color palette, left/right sidebars, awesome ad banner management features and a live customizer to help track changes live are a part of what makes this theme a powerful outlet for any news/media publishing agency.The theme is also loaded with an easy to use registration form making it possible to accept new contributors to your website with little effort. The theme makes it easy to put up videos, audio, pictures as part of posts. And guess who created it- us! If you ever have a hitch, we’ll always be there by your side to help you!

Sports News

Sports News WordPress Theme

The Sports Magazine is a premium WordPress theme created by MH Themes that is perfect for blogging about your favorite pro MLB or NFL teams, collegiate teams, fantasy leagues and more. This theme includes beautifully styled elements such as a stunning content slider, custom theme widgets, a sliding carousel, custom footer, unlimited color options, Google fonts and much more.

Gazette

6

The Gazette is a lightweight WordPress theme with a relatively complex, yet easy to use user interface. Unlimited sidebars, custom widgets and a highly adjustable layout enable customization of this theme.

MisterBlogger

5

If you need to send emphatic and impressive messages on your news publishing website with great photography, then you should check out this theme. It can also be used for personal blogs. Minimal theme with support for all media formats, a minimal theme ideal for the media publisher with an inclination towards use of exquisite of photography.

Food Magazine

Food Magazine WordPress Theme

Create your own FoodNetwork like website with MH Magazine D5 – Food Magazine WordPress theme. This beautiful theme includes stylish features for creating your own food focused news and magazine style blog. Add your recipes, food reviews, interviews with chefs, nutritional guides and more using this theme’s options for layouts, colors, fonts, content slider, custom widgets and much more.

Wine Masonry

4

Not quite the name you’d expect for a news/magazine blog but don’t let that fool you! The theme provides fly-out navigation for mobiles and tablets a great feature to have in these era of portable smart devices. 8 custom widgets, a live search feature and a review system add value to this theme.

ScopeMag

3

ScopeMag is a modern, minimal theme for blogs, news and magazine websites. The theme is available along with 2 blogroll styles and 3 header post styles. The gallery of this theme is powered by PrettyPhoto image gallery.

Multinews

2

Multinews can be used for an online newspaper, magazine or blog, it provides the visitor with a flipping layout feature. Multinews is WooCommerce and BuddyPress integrated. It comes loaded with a mega-menu, multiple layouts and MailChimp integration which is an awesome feature to have if you intend to use newsletters.

Noticia

10

Excellent theme ripe for monetization given its advanced ad banner management features. It allows room for some customization with 3 custom post types, a drag drop homepage and child theme support.

Video Magazine

9

This is an awesome theme for a news/magazine looking to publish video content exclusively. Not to say that you couldn’t use it for the normal stuff but it make for a great portal to put together news videos or documentaries hosted on YouTube, Vimeo or Dailymotion.

Marroco

1

Blogs, newspapers and magazines would work well with this theme providing the structure to display content. The theme provides a fashionable portal to present your content. The homepage layout can be easily modified with the the drag and drop builder provided with this theme.

DialyMagazine

11

A mega-menu to display latest posts, featured articles and categories, it helps the visitor to browse through a maze of information. Again, this theme helps handle you ad space with banner management and provides WooCommerce support as well.

NEUE

12

Mega-menu display with 4 possible places to put it for the best possible reader experience. An integrated review system and a built in likes and views counter helps a visitor navigate to the best content on your website.

Revival

13

Revival has 4 beautiful layouts and full width/right sidebar variations for any page on your website be it the homepage or archives. It makes it easy to customize with 33 widgetized areas making it possible to add functionality to any part of your magazine or blog.

Osage

14

A versatile news magazine theme that can be modified to display news on a variety of topics. Fly-out navigation for mobiles helps generate more traffic as more people switch from viewing it on computers to viewing it on mobile devices.

Agazine

15

Agazine is a premium WordPress theme for online magazines and it comes with 3 header styles, 5 layout options and 3 different blog styles. There is a breaking news ticker for websites that constantly update their website feed throughout the course of a day.

Tribune

Tribune WordPress Theme

Tribune is a classic style news WordPress theme that is perfect for an old school style news website. If you’re into politics, tech, finance, world events or something similar your readers will love the clean and familiar layout of Tribune. Theme features include an advanced options panel, responsive layout, video widget, live customizer, carousel widgets, color & font options plus more.

Gamezone

Gamezone Gamer Magazine WordPress Theme

Gamezone is a bold magazine style WordPress theme perfect for gamer and tech fanatics. This high contrast theme is perfect for writing about what you’re interested in. Use the built-in color pickers and font options to style the theme to fit your brand, add impressive sliders with custom animations, include an events calendar for upcoming tournaments or release dates and with the included page layouts it’s easy to create your main pages quickly.

News Agency

news Agency WordPress Theme

With the News Agency WordPress theme you can create a bold news blog style website in no time at all. This theme is packed with features for bloggers, journalists, magazines and more. The News Agency theme includes options for 3 homepage layouts, viral article promotion via social integration, an easy to use drag and drop page builder, contact form, custom widgets, styling customizations and more.

Science & Research

Science & Research Magazine WordPress Theme

The Scientist is a modern news and magazine style theme created specifically with those in the science and research community. This theme features a clean design with a high-tech recent posts section on the homepage. With options for unlimited colors, fonts, icons, responsive design, custom widgets, page and post layouts, social sharing, Instagram feed, RTL and more the Scientist has been perfectly formulated for your to share what’s new in your field.

Newsy

Newsly WordPress Theme

Newsy is a lovely little news and editorial style WordPress theme with the perfect amount of options to start your own content sharing website. Use options for 11 different layouts, 2 sidebars, a header slider, footer slider, 10 beautifully styled theme skins, custom widgets and more to design a news site that your visitors will enjoy reading and sharing.

Extra

Extra News WordPress Theme

Extra is a lovely news and magazine style WordPress theme powered by the Divi Page Builder. With Extra it’s easy to create a custom looking news style website using the built-in category builder, post and page builder, responsive layout, ratings and reviews feature, e-commerce support (use WooCommerce to sell products you review or recommend) and elegant styling options.

Journalist

Journalist Magazine WordPress Theme

Journalist is a clean and simple blog and magazine WordPress theme created for writers who want to share their thoughts with the world. The theme includes elegantly styled homepage layouts built with an intuitive drag and drop page builder, support for retina images, custom widgets for your posts, a flexible mega menu, a clever reading progress bar and more.

Wrapping Up

There you have it – 15 great options for your next news, magazine or blog style site. All of these premium theme make it easy for your visitors to read and browse your content, plus many of theme feature great custom widgets or post formats specific to magazine and news style website. If you’ve tried one of these themes, let us know your thoughts in the comments below!



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Easy Digital Downloads Beginners Guide & Recommended Add-ons


So you want to sell a product online. We think that’s awesome! Now all that’s left is to decide how. Lucky for you WordPress makes it easy to start your own online store, and if you’re selling a digital good you can’t do better than Easy Digital Downloads – the free e-commerce WordPress plugin that makes selling digital goods easy.

Easy Digital Downloads Features

I’m sure you want to know what makes Easy Digital Downloads (EDD for short) such a great choice for WordPress, and why you should choose it over other e-commerce options. There are many reasons why your individual store might want to use EDD, but there are a few reasons that apply to everyone.

Free

First and foremost it’s free, meaning that the core plugin certainly fits into anyone’s budget. Don’t let the nonexistent price tag throw you off, EDD is a well maintained plugin with regular updates and security patches to ensure a safe shopping experience. Plus there are many free add-ons and extensions available directly from EDD as well as from third parties on WordPress.org.

Quick & Easy

The plugin is also easy to use. Even if you skip the documentation (although we do recommend using it for help if/when you need it) you can get your Easy Digital Downloads powered store up and running fairly quickly. The interface and options are all very intuitive and settings for the plugin are all clearly labeled.

Simple & Extendable

Lastly, EDD keeps things simple. There aren’t a ton of product options built-in like other e-commerce plugins. This makes EDD a much less overwhelming option when first getting started with your store, but it also means that there are endless possibilities for developers looking to extend the plugin. With less options to style developers can focus their attention on the features they want to add or highlight to create truly custom stores.

Easy Digital Downloads Setup Guide

Easy Digital Downloads Setup Guide

Ready to get setup with Easy Digital Downloads and start selling your own digital goods? The process is simple and won’t take you longer than one afternoon. There are only a few resources needed, so without taking up any more of your time let’s get started.

Pre: Requirements for Creating an Online Store with Easy Digital Downloads

Wait just one second! Before getting started you will need to have a self-hosted WordPress installation. Self-hosted WordPress is managed on your own domain and hosted with your own web hosting plan (not to be confused with the free blogs offered by WordPress.com, you can learn more about the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com on our blog).

For your self-hosted WordPress installation you will need the following (of course, the brands and companies mentioned are simply our recommendations but you do still need each of these regardless of where you chose to purchase them):

  • Hosting plan
    Since you will be setting up an online store we strongly encourage you to purchase a good, managed hosting plan that can support the traffic your website will be receiving. Managed hosting comes with WordPress already installed, so once you pick your plan WordPress is already on your server ready to go. We highly recommend WP Engine – it’s what we use, and we’ve never had a problem. They take care of your servers for you, and if you browse our website or any of our WordPress theme demos you’ll see that it’s blazing fast. Plans start at $29/mo and offer plenty of resources for a new online store.
  • Domain name
    This is your actual URL, and if it’s not included with your hosting plan you’ll need to purchase it from a domain registry (we also recommend adding privacy, especially to avoid all the annoying spam if your email address is public). We use GoDaddy for our domain names (where you can get your domain for just $0.99 for the first year), but other popular registries include Domain.com and NameCheap. Once you have a domain name you’ll need to point it over to your server. Cross-reference your domain registry’s help docs with your hosting company’s instructions for guidance on how to do this.
  • SSL certificate
    If you’re selling something you’re going to need to billing personal information from customers. This means that your website absolutely must have a SSL certificate. You can get a free SSL from Let’s Encrypt, however these need to be renewed every few months and don’t offer the same protections as their premium counterparts. Save yourself the stress and simply purchase a certificate at the same time you get your domain. GoDaddy offer’s SSL certificates at a reasonable price (and with this GoDaddy SSL coupon you can save up to 28%, costing you as little as $49.99 per year), and if you follow their guide it’s fairly easy to setup. You can also use our free SSL guide if you’re using a host that doesn’t yet support Let’s Encrypt.

Once you have your domain name, SSL and hosting all ready you can start building your website and your store with EDD.

WPCrafter Easy Digital Downloads Video Guide

Adam of WPCrafter.com has put together this fabulous video tutorial to walk you through the process of setting up Easy Digital downloads for the first time. He covers all of the steps we talk about below. We recommend watching the video and using our guide to follow along with key points. By then end you’ll be an EDD pro! Also make sure to check out all of Adam’s other WordPress tutorial videos too – he covers tons of helpful WordPress tips, tricks and tweaks with new videos out every week (so subscribe to make sure you never miss out!).

Step 1: Download & Install Easy Digital Downloads

WordPress really does make everything easy, and installing EDD is just as simple as installing any other plugin. First, log into your WordPress installation. From the main dashboard navigate to Plugins > Add New.

Easy Digital Downloads WordPress Plugin

From here search for “easy digital downloads.” The very first result should be Easy Digital Downloads by Pippin Williamson. Click the Install Now button and then Activate.

Easy Digital Downloads WordPress Plugin Installed

You should see a confirmation page similar to the one above. This adds a new dashboard option called Downloads. This is where you will be able to manage your online store and all of the digital goods you add for sale.

Step 2: Easy Digital Downloads Store Settings

Before adding products we feel it’s important to have the core options of your store set. There are of course tons of awesome options built-in so you can optimize your store however you’d like. We’re just going to touch on the options that we feel are most important, but that shouldn’t stop you from throughly reviewing all the settings to be sure the match up with your needs.

Easy Digital Downloads General Settings

To get started click on Downloads > Settings. This will take you to your general settings page. When you install EDD your checkout, success, fail transaction and purchase history pages are all automatically created and assigned for you (easy right?). On this page all you have to do is add your Store Location: Country & State. Then click to save.

Easy Digital Downloads Currency Settings

Next click on the blue Currency Settings link under the General tab. By default EDD will use standard US Dollar settings for your currency. If that’s what you use then no changes should be needed, but for any other currency edit the settings for your currency, currency sign position, thousands and decimal separators. Again, remember to save.

Easy Digital Downloads Payment Gateways

Now select the Payment Gateways tab. This section is where you can enable the payment methods you want to accept. By default EDD includes Paypal and Amazon, but it does support a number of other gateways including Stripe, BitPay, Braintree, NETbilling, Authorize.net and more. These gateways are all available as premium gateway add-ons for EDD for $49 per year.

NOTE: This is also where you can enable test mode. We recommend using test mode when first setting up your store to be sure you’ve correctly configured your gateway(s).

Easy Digital Downloads Paypal Standard Settings

If you’re using PayPal, click on the PayPal Standard option under the Payment Gateways tab. For many stores PayPal is an easy and efficient way to accept payments. The setup is fairly straightforward. You’ll need to add your PayPal Email, API Signature credentials and then save.

If you’ve added additional gateway add-ons now’s the time to configure those as well. Each gateway will have different settings so reference each add-on’s documentation for help.

Easy Digital Downloads Email Settings

The next section to review is the Email Settings. EDD includes a default email template, so if you’re happy with that just add your custom logo and save. You can of course add your own custom template or use the Email Templates Add-on (which includes 12 email templates for just $15) instead.

Easy Digital Downloads Email Example

You can also click to Preview Purchase Receipt to see the email sent to your customers. If you want to make any changes use the options under the blue Purchase Receipts link under the Emails tab.

Easy Digital Downloads Styles

With your emails prepped, click on the Styles tab to select a default button style and color. If you’re using a WordPress theme without styling options this is a quick and easy way to make sure your shop at least fits the color scheme for your business.

If you want to really change the way your EDD store looks we recommend using a WordPress theme specifically designed for and integrated with EDD. This way you know there won’t be any compatibility issues and you’ll be able to style your store without much effort on your part.

If you’d rather tackle some custom CSS on your own make sure to check the Disable Styles buttons in this tab and click save. Then use the directions in the EDD help doc for customizing the plugin to get started with your own custom CSS.

Easy Digital Downloads Tax Settings

The Taxes tab is very important, and as much as we would love to give you free advice for this we’re not accountants. How you setup EDD taxes is going to depend on the regulations and rules that apply to your own individual location. Make sure to do your research, enable your required tax settings and then save your changes.

Easy Digital Downloads Checkout Settings

Moving on to the Misc tab, click on the Checkout settings. The most important option is to enforce SSL on Checkout. This encrypts website data sent between the customer’s browser and your server. As an online merchant accepting sensitive billing information it’s important to use reasonable security measures to protect your customers’ data, and that means using SSL for your checkout page.

Easy Digital Downloads File Download Settings

If you want to set limitations for how many times your products can be downloaded go to the File Downloads section to enable the File Download Limit option. This way you can specify if an item can only be downloaded once, twice, unlimited, etc.

Easy Digital Downloads Accounting Settings

For the love of your accountant please enable the Sequential Order Numbers option under the Accounting Settings in the Misc tab. This will make keeping track of your financials and the reports associated with them much easier for your numbers person.

Easy Digital Downloads Terms of Agreement

Lastly go to the Terms of Agreement section to create your terms that customers should agree to before checking out. If you need help creating your terms you can do a quick Google search. One resource we found is TermsFeed which has a great article on legal agreements for digital products. Check it out to learn more about the different policies, terms and conditions you should create when selling digital goods.

Woohoo – your settings are all ready and you can now move on to adding product downloads to your store.

Step 3: Adding Easy Digital Downloads Products

With EDD installed and setup you can it’s time to add your downloads. The first step is to click on Downloads > Add New. This will open a brand new product page for you to add all of your download info.

Easy Digital Downloads Product

You can look at the screenshot above to see what your product might look like when you’re done adding in your content. You’ll want to fill in most of the sections.

Starting from the top you’ll need to add a product Title and a Description, as well as select any applicable Categories or Tags if you’ll be using them for your store.

Moving on down the page you should see a metabox for adding your Download Prices. This is where you enter your price, or enable variable pricing if you want to offer more than one download format (such as difference product licenses, different file sizes, etc.).

Next select your Product Type (default or bundle) and then upload your file(s) to the File Downloads section.

Lastly, you have the option to override the global Downloads settings you applied earlier, such as download limits and button options. You can also upload a featured Download Image if it makes sense for your products.

When your all done, publish your download and then repeat the process for all of your other products!

Step 4: Creating Your Main Shop Page

You’re almost done creating your shop! The last step is to create your main store page that showcases all of your products. EDD uses shortcodes to make inserting your products on any page easy.

Easy Digital Downloads Shop Page

Just create a new page and inset the EDD “downloads” shortcode. You can see what we used in the image above. There are a ton of different shortcode parameters you can use to change how the downloads look when you insert theme (options for hiding the buy button, number of columns, showing the full item description, and more). We used the options for number of downloads per page, number of columns and for added pagination.

Easy Digital Downloads Shop Front End

And this is what our shop looks like on the front end. Note, this is with the default WordPress 2015 Theme. The only tweaks we made were uploading a custom logo for our Cool Store (which can be added from the WordPress Customizer under Appearance > Customize > Site Identity) as well as changing the default thumbnail cropping (which can be changed from your WordPress dashboard under Settings > Media).

Customizing Your Easy Digital Downloads Store

Want an awesome looking EDD store without having to code a bunch of custom CSS yourself? Easy – that’s what themes and add-on plugins are for. With a good theme and a few helpful plugins you can create an awesome e-store with all the features you need for your business.

Easy Digital Downloads WordPress Themes

The quickest way to change how your EDD shop looks is with a theme. Theme developers have taken the time to target all the CSS elements throughout the e-commerce plugin so you can have a beautiful shop. While there are many great EDD themes available on the web and these are just a few of our favorites.

Vendd Free Easy Digital Downloads WordPress Theme

The Vendd WordPress Theme by Easy Digital Downloads is no only free, but also designed and developed by the same team behind EDD. This means you don’t have to worry about any compatibility issues as each and every aspect of the theme works seamlessly with EDD. There are plenty of built-in options for colors, backgrounds, page templates for front-end submissions, 3 page layouts and more.

Checkout Premium Easy Digital Downloads WordPress Theme

Another great option is the Checkout WordPress Theme by Array, which includes elegantly styled options for creating a digital store or marketplace. Added theme features for a team page, pricing tables, testimonials, custom Typekit fonts, custom colors and more make it easy to create a one of a kind storefront design.

Olam Premium Easy Digital Downloads WordPress Theme

If you’re looking for a flexible premium theme then you should have a look at the Olam WordPress Theme by webNesters. Olam is an excellent option for creating an online store with WordPress as it supports multiple e-commerce plugins, including EDD. The theme also includes the Unyson page builder to you can create custom pages in addition to you powerful EDD store.

Squarecode Premium Easy Digital Downloads WordPress Theme

Lastly, if you’re interested in starting your own marketplace then the Squarecode Marketplace WordPress Theme by Cr3ativThemes is a great choice. This theme is fully compatible with all of the EDD marketplace add-ons and includes easy options for custom colors, backgrounds, logo, favicon, boxed or full page layouts, staff, portfolio, careers and much more.

Easy Digital Downloads Add-ons

Depending on what you’re selling, if you want to have affiliates, or if you want to be able to sell memberships there are tons of awesome premium add-ons available on the EDD marketplace to help you add more features to your digital store. Currently there are more than 150+ free and premium add-ons to choose from. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Product Reviews Easy Digital Downloads Add-On

The Reviews Add-on for Easy Digital Downloads makes it possible for your customers to leave ratings and reviews for your downloads. This is a great way to show proof that you make awesome products, and the add-on even includes an option to send your reviewers a coupon code as a thank you for leaving their opinion.

PayPal Pro/Express Easy Digital Downloads Add-On

For a more professional checkout experience you should consider the PayPal Pro & Express Add-on for EDD. With PayPal Pro users an make a credit card purchase without leaving your site, and PayPal Express offers additional layers of security so your customers’ information stays safe.

Social Discounts Easy Digital Downloads Add-On

Give your customers a reward with the Social Discounts Add-on for Easy Digital Downloads. With this add-on you can offer discounts when users share your products on various social networks. But you can also disable the discount feature, and use the add-on as an easy way to add social sharing buttons to your product pages.

Dropbox Easy Digital Downloads Add-On

The Dropbox Add-on for Easy Digital Downloads makes it possible for you to host your downloadable files on Dropbox instead of on your website. This can speed up the download processes as well as take a huge load off of your server, saving you money on hosting or transfer fees.

Recurring Payments Easy Digital Downloads Add-On

Want to offer your downloads as part of a premium membership? The Recurring Payments Add-on for EDD makes it possible for you to setup recurring payments that get charged to your customers on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc basis. Combine this with the Content Restriction Add-on to create members-only areas for your subscribers.

Build Your Own Starter Pack Easy Digital Downloads Add-Ons Bundle

For many new stores the Easy Digital Downloads Starter Pack Bundle is perfect. You have the option to select all the add-ons that you want at one time. And when purchasing 5 or more add-ons you’ll instantly save 30% on your purchase. You can’t beat that deal!

Marketplace Easy Digital Downloads Add-Ons Bundle

If you’re planning to build your own marketplace then the Easy Digital Downloads Marketplace Bundle is a must. This pack of 8 premium extensions includes all of the add-ons you’ll need to all members to submit items for sale, manage commissions, collect customer reviews, offer rewards and more. Plus you’ll save $170 by purchasing all 8 add-ons as a bundle.

Core Extensions Easy Digital Downloads Add-Ons Bundle

Lastly, if you simply want all the add-ons then get the Easy Digital Downloads Core Extensions Bundle. This includes and unlimited use license for each and every one of the premium add-ons currently available from EDD. This bundle is the most expensive, prices at $495, but if your a web developer who will be using many add-ons multiple times it’s a great deal (you”ll save nearly 80%).

Wrapping Up

There you have it – our full, in-depth guide on how to setup Easy Digital Downloads for the first time, as well as a collection of our favorite WordPress themes and EDD add-ons. Hopefully we’ve helped you hone your EDD skills so you can start selling your own digital products online.

Have a question that we didn’t cover in this article? Or more tips for new Easy Digital Downloads users? Leave us a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!



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