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The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Image Management


Visual impact is one the most important features when it comes to an impactful content marketing plan. Welcome to a brand new post series – The Ultimate Guide to Image Management in WordPress.

It is designed to give you the tools necessary to manage you image assets in WordPress – right from technical optimizations, SEO, CDN integration, and library management. In this multipart guide, we will only recommend those methods, tutorials, plugins and themes that we have tried or are recommend by industry experts.

We will also avoid blindly suggesting plugins that have a high usage in the WordPress repository.  Rather, we’ll recommend the ones that strike the perfect chord between value proposition and performance optimization.

You might wonder how we’d go about doing that. 24,000+ downloads of our Total – Responsive Multipurpose WordPress theme in ThemeForest might not be a great indicator.

Well, we’ve scoured the best blogs from the industry-leading WordPress hosting companies (such as WPEngine and Pagely) and learned what they learnt when serving billions of pageviews across thousands of high-profile clients. We’ve compressed all this information for you into tiny paragraphs and bullet points for your online success. Now let’s get started, shall we?

Technical and Performance Optimization Tips for WordPress Images

There are quite a few image optimization options available in WordPress that do not put unnecessary load on the web server. We’ll look at some of the most common image optimization tips that everyone should follow, along with a few others that come in come in handy in special occasions.

JPG or PNG? Using the Correct Image Format

The very first step in image optimization is a good start. They say a job well begun is half done. That’s exactly the case when it comes to image optimization in WordPress. It all starts with choosing the right image format. JPG and PNG are the two most common image formats used online in content marketing.

The trick is to understand which format to choose for each type of image. Picking the wrong one causes a monumental increase in image size. Here are the rules.

When to use PNG format?

For flat images – such as vectors, illustrations, fonts, logos, banners, shapes, banners, etc. – anything that is created in a vector format such as EPS or Adobe Illustrator (.AI) format, use a PNG. You’ll end up getting an optimized image with almost zero quality loss. If you use a JPG in this case, you won’t compromise on size, but might run out on quality. In fact, at higher resolutions, the PNG would be lighter without quality loss. The JPG would suffer.

Take his example. We’ll create a flat image at 5000px and save it as a JPG and PNG.

Sample image used for test

Flat Image
JPG 233KB
PNG 42KB

In a nutshell, the JPG image was 455% higher than the PNG for the same resolution.

When to use JPG format?

For everything else, use a JPG. Anything other than a flat or vector image, use JPG. Photos of people, places, things, etc. – use JPG. Almost all stock photos under this category use JPG. If you use PNG in place of a JPG, you would run into some serious performance issues.

You need to be extra careful in this case. If you use a JPG in place of a PNG, there would be little or no damage. However, if you use a bloody PNG in case of a JPG, you create a lot of room for damage. Take a look at this example.

Setup: I’ve downloaded this image from Shutterstock, which weighs around 10.3MB at a resolution of 6149×4562 – essentially a 28MP stock photo. Unless we’re preparing something like a print-ready brochure, we won’t be using full resolution of the photo in our blogs. Let’ say we have a fixed max image size of our blog of 1600px.

Experiment: We’ll resize the source image to 1600px and create four versions – two for PNG format and two for JPG. For each format (JPG/PNG), we’ll use the (a) recommend compression settings and the (b) maximum compressions settings.

Sample image for JEPG experiment

Results: Here are the results in a nice chart for you to follow:

Original Image (KB)

10870
Target Resolution 1600px
Format Settings Size (KB) % Reduction
JPG Progressive, Quality = 85 231 98%
Non-Progressive, Quality = 85 239 98%
PNG Compression = 0 5575 49%
Compression = 6 1852 83%
Compression = 9 1750 84%

From a first glance, one might think that 84% compression of PNG is good enough versus the 98% achieved in JPG. That’s not entirely true. If you take a closer look at the image sizes, you would see that the PNG weighs a little over 1.7MB whereas the JPG is 0.22MB. Which means, the PNG is 8 times heavier than the JPG version of the same image at the same resolution. In other words, for the same image and resolution, the JPG version is 700% lighter than the PNG!

For the same image and resolution, the JPG version is 700% lighter than the PNG!

As a rule of thumb, use PNG for flat images and JPG for everything else.

Checklist for Uploading Stock photos in Blogs

There are tons of blogs where editors directly upload the full resolution version of the image in their blog posts. Here are a few pointers for uploading stock photos to blogs. I use a free software called IrfanView which has a lot of awesome features. I’ll illustrate each one for you.

1. Resize your Image

First off, you need to decide a max resolution for all your images in your WordPress site. Any image above that dimension would be resized, unless of course it is smaller.

IrfanView has a Batch Conversion feature (press B after launching the app) which can apply a list of functions to a bunch of images in one go. For our purposes, the functions include resizing, cropping, adding a watermark, etc.

2. Remove EXIF Data

Photos clicked on a regular camera have a lot of embedded metadata – which is nothing but tiny (but useful) bits of information about the image. Examples of such info include GPS coordinates of place were the pic was clicked, ISO settings, camera model, etc.

EXIF info of a random photo clicked on my iPhone

Unless we’re photo-blogging, we generally don’t want such info in a blog post’s image. When you save or batch convert images in IrfanView, EXIF data is typically removed. This helps in preserving your privacy – especially your physical location. The size difference for most photos is about 200-300 KB per image.

3. Save as Progressive JPG

IrfanView saved JEPGs as progressive by default

A progressive JPG image loads the image layer by layer – thereby speeding up the load time. Content Delivery Networks such as KeyCDN have started automatically converting JPGs to progressive JPGs to speed-up image delivery and optimize storage.

4. Set the DPI to 72

DPI or dots per inch is a measure of quality of the image. A high DPI value is used for print material. For the web, a value of 72 is perfect.

Okay, so summarising the above, following are my settings. I run this feature once I’ve compiled all the images for my blog post – before uploading the images to WordPress.

Batch conversion settings in IrfanView for a typical WordPress blog

5. Optimize your Images

No matter whether you’ve used JPG or PNG, you need to optimize your image. There are a lot of seriously awesome online tools that help you optimize your images and save a lot of space.

I’m talking about services such as TinyPNG or TinyJPG that simply optimizes your PNG/JPG images with some advanced algorithms.

Optimized images in TinyPNG

To be honest, I don’t know how the algorithms work, but they do and I’ve always been able to get a reduction of 50-70% no matter how best I save them.

You can also buy the pro version of the service as a Photoshop plugin for $50 USD. Both Windows and Mac versions are available. For my purposes, the online version (coupled with the Save to Dropbox feature) works best.

Image Optimization Plugins in WordPress

So far, we’ve learnt the steps of getting started right. What if you’ve stumbled upon this post now, and already have 100s of images uploaded? Well, here are some plugins to help you with that:

EWWW Cloud Image Optimizer

This plugin is a fork of the original and wildly popular EWWW Image Optimizer plugin. Amassing over 500,000 download, this image optimization plugins allows you to optimize images as they are uploaded to WordPress.

What sets it apart from the competition is its ability to optimize existing images in your database, which results in a huge performance bump. It also saves significant bandwidth costs since most of your traffic come from old articles. You can also optionally choose to enable lossy image compression (which is barely visible to the naked eye) but can save a lot of space and bandwidth. In terms of optimization technology, it can use TinyPNG or TinyJPG’s API to optimize new and existing images.

But here’s the problem. A lot of hosts (including WPEngine) do not allow the EWWW Image Optimization plugin since it puts a lot of additional load on the server. If you somehow manage to bypass the server restrictions, you might risk your account getting suspended due to policy violations.

This is where the EWWW Cloud Optimizer plugin comes to play. It offloads all the computation required to optimize the images to the cloud and simply replaces the unoptimized images with the optimized ones. Since virtually zero CPU power is used for compression, there is no additional load on the sever. This is valid for all new and existing image conversions in your WordPress site.

Plans & Pricing: As one would expect, the plugin is not free since the developer must pay the cloud computing bills. However, the pricing is extremely reasonable costing $9 USD for 3000 image optimizations for a prepaid subscription.

The EWWW Cloud Optimizer plugin is designed beautifully. The media scanner tells you how many images you need to optimize prior to making a purchase. Based on your server’s images, you can purchase a relevant prepaid plan.

TinyPNG WordPress Plugin

This another great image optimization plugin that integrates directly with the TinyPNG/JPG service. It automatically new and existing images uploaded to the WordPress media library. This plugin offers a free plan of 100 image optimizations per month.

Freddy had compiled a list of image optimization plugins a while back – give it a read if you’d like to know more on the topic.

Conclusion

This brings us to the end of the first post in this series. In the next article, well learn how some lesser known image optimization tips and tricks such as preventing hotlinking, fetching images from remote servers and the like. Do you have some tips under the getting started right category? Let us know in the comments below.



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20+ Essential Steps For Your WordPress Maintenance Checklist


Whether you are beginner or a seasoned webmaster, WordPress maintenance is one area you must focus on for the betterment of your site.

You simply can’t build a WordPress website and just let it sit; you need a proactive approach to maintaining your website(s) as well as other online properties. And while a WordPress management tool such as ManageWP or InfiniteWP will help you with most tasks, there are areas that go unnoticed.

Which is precisely why you need a WordPress maintenance checklist to ensure each and every part of your WordPress machinery website is oiled. Otherwise, things will get cranky and you will lose big time especially if this webbing thing is your livelihood.

But first, why WordPress maintenance?

Why WordPress Maintenance?

Managing a WordPress website is a full-time job as opposed to the popular opinion that you simply need to set it and sit. Things break at unexpected times, and it’s your responsibility to make repairs. You need to create backups, update your website and simply keep the business going.

If your WordPress website is your livelihood, you cannot afford to let things go unattended for long periods. This is where a WordPress maintenance checklist comes in. You definitely don’t want to lose your site to hackers, or lose out on business because your design scares away prospects.

WordPress Maintenance Checklist Vitals

If you made it this far, great. Now, let’s discover a couple of vital items for your next WordPress maintenance checklist.

1. Visit Your Website

Recommended by Mitz, visiting your website like a visitor allows you to spot errors when they crop up. It’s a shame most of us get stuck within the admin dashboard, and rarely have time for the front-end. Well, guess what? Your visitors don’t see your admin dashboard.

Ideally, visit your website daily and preferably on different devices to quickly spot problems with the design layout, content and much more. This you should do long before you think of other aspects of WordPress maintenance. Come on, it will just take a minute.

2. Create a WordPress Child Theme

If you want to make significant changes to your WordPress theme it’s important to build out your website using a child theme. If you haven’t already, please create a child theme at your earliest convenience. Simple reason being you can preserve your custom changes when you update your parent theme.

While doing my usual rounds, I found this guy, I think his name is Grey or Gary – I can’t remember, in a conundrum since he was afraid to update his parent theme. Apparently, he had made huge, and I mean huge customization to his parent theme, but was afraid to update the same for fear of losing the styles.

Now, I bet his website is vulnerable to attacks and he is having a headache over this. So, just start off with a child theme. Here’s a detailed WordPress child theme guide for thy pleasure.

3. Update WordPress Core

Seeing as we just touched on the sensitive subject of site security, how about making sure the bad guys have an extremely hard time breaking into your site? Remember, WordPress maintenance encompasses everything from security to design, SEO and much more.

To keep your WordPress site healthy, updating to the latest version of WordPress is your number one priority. Lucky for you, pretty much most of it is automatic. Whenever there is a major update, you get a nag message in your dashboard. Just update to the latest version of WordPress already.

4. Update Themes & Plugins

If you have a child theme in place, there are no qualms when it comes to updating your theme. Just hit the update link and you’re done. Same goes for your plugins; keep everything updated. This bolsters the security and performance of your website.

In addition, get rid of all useless themes and plugins on your site. Nevertheless, deleting themes and plugins isn’t enough, you must optimize your database using the WP Optimize plugin afterwards. Note, optimizing your databases is an item for your WordPress maintenance checklist in itself.

Aside: A WordPress management tool such as ManageWP vs InfiniteWP help you to update everything on multiple websites with a single click. Optimizing your database is all you, so pull your weight and get things done.

5. Optimize Page Load Speeds

Since we’re talking about optimizing stuff, can you spare a few minutes for your page load speeds? There’s one thing people don’t have time for, and that is slow loading websites. Regularly check how your website performs using tools such as GTmetrix, Pingdom Tools and Google Page Speed Insights.

These tools usually offer you suggestions on how to fix whatever is slowing down your website. However, some of the solutions are only for the tech-savvy amongst us. For the rest of us common folk, let’s reduce the size of our images using WP Smush.it, choose WPEngine’s awesome hosting and use content delivery networks (CDNs) such as StackPath (formerly MaxCDN).

Interested in improving the speed of your WordPress site? If so, discover more with this page load speed guide that offers actionable tips on reducing the time your content takes to load. Speed is good, and Google wants speed now more than ever.

6. Create Regular Backups

Seeing as I didn’t have a WordPress maintenance checklist when I started, I left a couple of sample sites unattended and as a result got hacked. And since the sad sod had complete access, they easily moved from the sample sites to my professional sites.

I said I left things unattended, meaning I had an unreliable backup strategy. All my backups were on my hosting server, and when the hackers hit, shit hit the fan. Long story short, I had to build my websites from scratch. How I hungered for a reliable backup solution back then.

Nowadays, there are a couple of reliable backup solutions out there including blogVault, VaultPress and BackupBuddy among others. Please keep backups because you don’t need the help of a hacker to break your own website. If you know it happens, then you know how frustrating it is to lose everything.

7. Check for Broken Links

You’ve probably gone a century without checking your WordPress site for broken links. If you’re guilty, worry not, you’re not alone. Yet, broken links are a real and incapacitating problem. Broken links means link rot, and link rot means lost SEO and UX points. To the uninitiated, UX means user experience.

Checking for broken links manually will fry your brain, which is why you need tools such as the Broken Link Checker plugin and W3C Link Checker among others. I also use a plugin known as Velvet Blues, which “…updates all urls in your website by replacing old urls with new urls.”

8. Create/Modify Your 404 Page

With broken links comes 404 error pages, which are pages meant to tell your readers whatever they were looking for is unavailable. Yet it’s unthinkable letting this user go. Come on, the user was showing some serious intent here boys and girls, so get them while they’re still hot.

How? If you’re using the default 404 page that came with your WordPress theme, you’re probably working with a hideous page that turns away readers. Incorporating options such as links to other pages, a sitemap or a search box can incentivize the reader to venture further.

Your 404 error pages needn’t be where the conversation goes to die. It’s a great avenue to capture the reader who experienced problems while navigating your site. Looking around in Google will serve you all the inspiration you need to create 404 error pages that win big.

9. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

My favorite part of this WordPress maintenance checklist, a great search engine optimization strategy will help you to shine in Google search results. SEO is many things, probably why most webmasters shy off. Yet, you can easily take care of most basic SEO using a plugin such as Yoast SEO.

We ventured far and unearthed many SEO treasures. We cover these adventures in posts such as:

Just remember SEO is easy regardless of what most gurus will have you believe. You can easily rank for your keywords using optimized SEO content. Quality outweighs quantity here and we can’t emphasize this enough.

10. Posts Regularly

Activity is good, don’t you think? Establish a regular posting schedule, but concentrate on quality since it’s no use filling up your blog with useless junk. At the time of writing, Brian Dean of Backlinko has created a post per month since the time he started and updates his posts on a regular basis too.

To add some weight on that quality thing we just mentioned, he has (at the time of writing) 34 blog posts in total yet he scores great SEO ranking for some competitive keywords. If your blog goes stale, you can expect your rankings to tank and customer inquiries to dwindle.

11. Choose a Great Host

If you got suckered into a shared hosting package thanks to highly-discounted offers and the promise of unlimited everything, it’s alright, you can still move your site to a new host. Note, however, that managed WordPress hosting isn’t for everybody, but if you’re serious about your business, it’s a prerequisite.

We use and absolutely love WPEngine for their efficient and cost effective managed WordPress hosting. They take care of most of the technical stuff including backups and security, so we can concentrate on running WPExplorer and building awesome themes.

If you’re looking for a budget host for a personal blog, perhaps you’re just trying out the waters, we recommend SiteGround or Cloudways. Both offer high power and secure packages that are simply a bliss.

12. Implement Security

On average, I get about 60 login attempts each month and I don’t even pull that much traffic. Look, my business model doesn’t operate on pulling large volumes of traffic, nope. Yet, my login forms get bombarded every week like nobody’s business.

Without a security solution such as iThemes Security (or Sucuri) in place, bet I would have to contend with many intruders. That’s not all, they also track file changes on my website and notify me whenever anything changes. This means you can get the culprit before they do massive damage.

13. Use Unique Username & Strong Passwords

The worst yet most popular password and username – in that order – are “12345” and, you guessed it right, “admin”. There’s something known as brute force attack guys. Malicious hackers will lob a huge database of known user-password combinations at your login form until something gives.

Guess what happens when you use “admin” and some weak-ass password. That’s right, you get dethroned and some fluke can sell Viagra on your beloved website. WordPress ships with a password strength indicator, meaning you can create military grade passwords but you’re just lazy.

And hell no, don’t ever use “admin” as your admin username. If you already use “admin”, just login to your WP dashboard and navigate to Users. Create a new user with administrator roles. Attribute all content to this new user. Logout and log back in with the new user. Delete the old “admin”.

14. Test for Responsiveness

Responsive web design used to be the future of web design. Today, responsive web design is basically what we call web design. You need a fully responsive and mobile-friendly WordPress theme that looks and works great on multiple devices.

You know, something like our very own Total Responsive Multi-Purpose WordPress theme. We call it Total for a reason; it’s the only theme you need for your diverse needs. Away with shameless plugs, you can test for responsiveness using a tool such as Am I Responsive? or Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

15. Test Forms

Forms are meant to work, and if they fail in this, why have one to begin with? They don’t serve any aesthetic purpose, nope, not at all. Forms are meant for visitors who would like to reach out. You simply can’t create a form, line it up on your website using a shortcode, and then leave. Test that thing boys and girls.

In the process you might notice your site doesn’t send out mail, which is as common a problem as these other 15 WordPress errors you need to fix. Ensure you can receive email from your website whenever a prospect contacts you. Engineering a contact form is as easy as pie. Use a nifty plugin such as Ninja Kick forms and Gravity Forms among others.

Moreover, update your admin email after you make changes. Once, I made changes to my website. I moved my website to a new domain name but forgot to update my admin email. Not to mention, my old admin email was defunct immediately I dropped the old domain.

Long story short, I could not receive any notifications including the password recovery link. I had to login to phpMyAdmin to edit my database, which – I must admit –  isn’t for the perfect beginner. You can easily change your admin email in the settings tab within your admin dashboard.

16. Link Your Website to Google Search Console

Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console is a great source of search analytics for your website. The tool is a lifesaver I tell you, since you gather a lot of info including incoming links, crawl errors, top queries, top pages and security issues among others things.

Couple this with the information you gather using Google Analytics, and you have a solid foundation for your next marketing campaign. You can gather a lot of information about your target audience from your traffic analytics. Google Search Console and Google Analytics it is.

17. Create Social Media Profiles

While this has nothing to do with your WordPress site technically speaking, it’s important to treat social profiles as an extension of your brand. Show me a website that has no social media presence and I will show you an entrepreneur who is leaving money on the table.

Join a couple of social networks and create profiles for your website. Then build a community on these platforms. Go with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn although you can create as many as you can manage. Keep things conversational, funny and/or exciting – don’t go for the sale.

18. Add Social Sharing Buttons

Along with social media profiles, ensure you add social sharing buttons so users can easily share your content with their friends and communities. We have covered a couple of social media plugins for WordPress to make the process incredibly easy for you Your Royal Highness.

Do you know how to create a viral post? Me neither. That’s why you need an engaged community that swallows your content hook, line and clincher. It is this engaged community that will send your posts viral, no matter the topic. By all means, you need to invest huge in your content for your social media strategy to work.

19. Add Newsletter Subscription

You should aim to create a mailing list long before you launch. If you launched without a mailing list like many of us, please understand all is not lost. You can add newsletter subscription easily using a number of plugins. My personal favorite is MailChimp for WordPress, but that’s because I use MailChimp.

There are many other email newsletter services at your disposal. We are talking about solutions such as MadMimi, GetAResponse, AWeber and Constant Contact among others. Remember, email marketing is your most effective strategy. Truly, as the old adage goes, the money is in the list.

You can even subscribe all prospects who contact you. You can do it automatically or manually, the choice is all yours although automated sounds better. So add the Newsletter WordPress plugin that adds a checkbox to your forms allowing prospects to subscribe automatically.

20. Validate Your Website

After building your website, it’s vital to ensure everything works as expected. This involves validating all the resources that make up your website. This means checking HTML code, CSS and all other scripts that run your website.

You can easily validate (and consequently repair) your website using a tool such as W3C Markup Validation Service. A markup validation tool allows you to pin point all errors in your markup. It highlights a lot errors that could impair your website’s design and functionality.

21. Create a Sitemap

A sitemap is the gateway to your content as far as search engines go. There’s great value in having a sitemap that outlines your pages. Creating and submitting a sitemap means your content gets found and indexed faster. You can take advantage of the Yoast SEO plugin or Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

Go further and create a sitemap for your video content as well. This ensures that search engines can decipher video content on your site as if it were text content, which means all kinds of awesome things for your video SEO efforts. After creating your sitemap, always remember to submit them to search engines.

Submit sitemap to:

Undoubtedly, there are many other items, albeit minor, to include in your WordPress maintenance checklist. But these tips are all a great place to start!

Final Words

WordPress maintenance is part and parcel of the job. Provided you run a WordPress website, you cannot escape the responsibility of keeping things in order. While there are many WordPress management tools, you need to keep an eye on things to ensure you’re not leaving out vital areas.

The above items serve as reminders of some of the things you need to actively take care of in order to run a successful website, hence business. Have ideas, questions or suggestions regarding this post? Please don’t hesitate sharing in the comment section below.

We always look forward to your feedback. Thanks in advance!



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How to Choose a Color Scheme for your WordPress Project


Choosing a color scheme for your WordPress project can be a very difficult and time-consuming task. The right colors will help create a beautiful and attention grabbing website, appealing to your visitors and encouraging them to return again and again. But get it wrong and your repeat visitors numbers, sales, conversion rates, and business may all suffer.

Lucky for you many top selling WordPress themes include built-in color options. The Total WordPress theme for example includes color pickers for almost every page builder module as well as tons of built-in options in the live WordPress Customizer. So with the right theme you can fully implement your color scheme.

In this round up of the best color generators, we will look at a variety of tools to help you choose a color scheme for your WordPress website. The selection of color generators mentioned in this article offer numerous features between them. So whatever your design experience, you will be able to find a color generator tool that suits your needs.

Adobe Color CC

Adobe Color CC

Like all Adobe products, Adobe Color CC is an advanced solution that will involve a bit of a learning curve if you want to get the most out of its features. Choose from pre-generated color palettes or create your own based on a color or an uploaded image of your choice.

Adobe Color CC lets you select your own color rules, or manually adjust colors yourself. If you are looking for a basic and quick color generator, this isn’t the software for you. On the other hand, if design is your thing, and you enjoy exploring the complexity of color palettes, Adobe Color CC will be right up your street.

Coolors

Coolors

Coolors allows you to quickly create beautiful color schemes, that always work together. Lock in a color you’d like to use, click the spacebar, and then Coolors will generate an appropriate color scheme. If you are basing a color scheme around an image, simply upload the image and let Coolors find the best colors to match it.

Colors can be customized by adjusting temperature, hue, saturation and more. Palettes can then be organized and saved in the Cloud, allowing you to access them from any location.

ColorHexa

ColorHexa

ColorHexa is a free tool that will generate a color palette for any color of your choosing. Once you have selected a color, ColorHexa will produce detailed information about that specific color. This includes the percentages of colors that make up your chosen color, and stats on hue, saturation, brightness, and more.

A number of color palettes are generated, as well as alternative options, alterations on shades and tones and previews of colored text and borders. All in all, ColorHexa is an extremely in-depth tool which will empower you to create the right color scheme for your WordPress website.

Palettr

Palettr

Palettr is an interesting color generation tool. Instead of basing a color palette on an individual color, Palettr selects a color palette around a theme or a place. Simply type in a word, or words, that best describes a theme or a place. Then wait for Palettr to find the appropriate colors.

Palettr works by finding images linked to your words and then generating color palettes around those photos. Without a doubt, Palettr is a clever concept. And a great way to find inspiration if you are struggling to find the right colors for a project.

Pictaculous

Pictaculous

If you’re looking to create a color scheme set around a particular image or a series of images within the same color scheme, then Pictaculous is the tool you need. Simply upload an image and then let Pictaculous do the hard work. It is worth mentioning that images need to be saved as PNG, GIF or JPG files only, and be smaller than 500k.

Pictaculous will create one five color palette for each image you upload. However, it also displays palette suggestions from Adobe Color CC and Color Lovers, giving you a selection of exciting options.

Colorfavs

ColorFavs

Colorfavs is a neat little tool that will produce a range of color palettes and info for the colors of your choice. This website will generate beautiful color palettes from URLs, images or to match a specific color. Colorfavs will display complementary colors and color conversions. These include a range of color schemes, gradient shades, hue pallets, and more.

You can also choose from Colorfavs many pre-selected color palettes. Like your favorite colors and palettes, and create collections of palettes that you can save and reuse for a variety of WordPress projects.

ColorLovers

ColorLovers

ColorLovers is a community site, aimed at providing Creatives a place to come together, share their work, and find inspiration for their next project. Here you can explore a range of colors, palettes, and patterns, discuss trends and articles, and interact with the whole colorful community.

ColorLovers contains a few different design tools. PHOTOCOPA is an image inspired color generator. Simply upload your photo and PHOTOCOPA will come back with six color palettes pulled from the image.

COPASO is an advanced color palette tool from ColorLovers that finds color palettes to match your chosen colors, or again from an uploaded image. COPASO is one of ColorLovers more powerful tools, which is reflected in its more advanced interface.

Material Design Palette

Material Deisgn

Material Design Palette is an extremely straightforward, if a little basic, color generator tool. Simply select two colors from Material Design’s color options, and it will generate a color palette for your WordPress project.

Helpfully, Material Design labels each color it suggests in the generated palette as how to best use it. For example, it will select one color to be best used as the Primary Text color, one as the Secondary Text color, and so on. This is particularly helpful for those will little design vision and that really need guiding through the whole process of selecting and using colors that work together.

Palettable

Palettable

Palettable is another great tool for those who are looking for a quick and easy color generator with no frills. This solution works by suggesting colors, which you can then choose to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’, allowing you to either keep the color or pass on it. More colors that match the original colors are then added, enabling you to create a complete color scheme of five colors.

There are two big pros of Palettable. One is the full-size screen display of the colors, which enables you to get a good insight and feel of how the colors work together. The second is the ease of use, enabling you to select and customize colors with just a few clicks of a button.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right set of colors is an extremely important part of any project (almost as important as choosing the best WordPress theme). As you can see there are a plethora of tools available online to help you get it right. When first starting out, try using a couple of different color generators. This will help you to see which one best suits your needs and experience. Then sit back and watch your projects come alive with the new dynamic color schemes you have created.

Which color generator catches your eye? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.



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What Nobody Told You About WordPress When You Started


WordPress is gaining in popularity and a number of website owners are adopting it as their Content Management System. I’m writing this post to share some pointers with folks who are just starting off with WordPress or are using it for a short while now, to help them avoid many common mistakes. I’ll lay out some facts, hope to clear up a few misconceptions, and offer a few tips to help you along.

Facts About WordPress

First off, here are a few facts about WordPress to help reinforce the awesomeness of this particular CMS.

WordPress is the single Most Popular CMS.

Let’s start with this indisputable fact. WordPress powers 30% of the websites on the internet. Corporates, celebrities, blogs, creative artists, online stores and others use WordPress as a platform for their websites. So you can see that WordPress is hugely popular.

WordPress is free.

And that’s a fact. But that’s not the whole story. The piece of software that is WordPress is freely downloadable. But there are other essentials like hosting, domain name, themes and plugins that can all add up to the cost.

In addition, if you’re not a Do-it-yourself types, you’ll need to pay a developer to smooth out any troubleshooting issues or to customize WordPress to suit your needs. To have a clearer idea of how much it’s going to cost you to build a website with WordPress, check out this post.

There’s a plugin for (just about) everything.

Think of any function you want for your website. Chances are that a search for a plugin for that function can throw up multiple options. Plugins are wonderful and give you the freedom to add a range of functions to your website. There are close to 50000 free plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory.  If your choice is for a premium plugin for the better support that these plugins enjoy, look within CodeCanyon.

Good Hosting is extremely important.

When you get right down to it, all hosting is of two types – Shared hosting and Dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is what you see commonly over the internet. It’s quite suitable for small websites or blogs with low visitor count. For larger websites that handle heavy user traffic, shared hosting simply will not do. These websites can opt for dedicated WordPress Managed Hosting services or any other hosting service that can allocate sufficient resources to the website on a dedicated basis. Remember, when it comes to hosting, it pretty much comes down to what you pay is what you get.

Premium themes typically offer better support than free themes.

Generally, premium themes are better maintained, regularly updated and enjoy greater support from the authors. Many of the better rated premium themes released in the recent past have clean code, flexible structure that you can build upon and terrific functionality. And all this is in addition to good design. But as with anything in life, be sure to do your research before you purchase a theme. Marketplaces like Themeforest, Creative Market and Mojo are made up of thousands of individual developers so the support and updates you receive will vary from product to product.

Misconceptions About WordPress

When you first research WordPress, there are a few common misconceptions you might run into. But don’t worry – we’re here to help clear them up a bit and elaborate so that you can have a better understanding of WordPress as a whole.

WordPress is easy.

True, WordPress is easy. But this doesn’t mean that you download WordPress and then sit back and watch your website take shape magically. No, you’ve got work to do too. What’s easy with WordPress is that by following the instructions, you can have a barebones website in place in no time at all. From that point on, you can pick up WordPress knowledge hands on and flesh out the website as you wish. Since it’s free, you can install it locally and create any number of test sites and try out your knowledge freely.

As a user, you need to be proactive and become familiar with the way WordPress works. That’s not too hard given the number of tutorials, courses, training videos, podcasts and blogs that can guide you through your WordPress journey. Thereafter, you can learn just as much as is necessary to run your website or go the whole distance and pick up some development skills too. It’s totally up to you.

Updating WordPress is just a click away.

You may have heard this many times – Updating WordPress is as easy as a single click. But it’s not quite that simple. The first thing you should do is check out what’s being changed by going through the changelog. And if you have no need for a feature, you can skip that update. However, it’s best to carry out all security updates on your WordPress install.

By default, all minor updates to the WordPress core are carried out automatically. But with major updates, you’ll see a notification on your Dashboard that you’ll need to click to update. When it comes to themes and plugins, automatic updates is disabled. You must choose to update on receiving notifications on your dashboard.

If you wish to have more control over what’s being changed in your WordPress, you can make simple changes to the wp-config.php file or add filters to the functions.php files of the themes and plugins. You can choose to enable or disable automatic updates for each individually. Check out this Quick Guide to Updating WordPress to know more about updates.

WordPress generally refers to WordPress.com.

Most newbies fall for this one, not even being aware of WordPress.org. WordPress.org is the organization that offers the free open source software that you can download and install anywhere and use to build your website. WordPress.com is a service that uses the same software and offers server space and other services for your blog (if you want more details, checkout our guide to the differences of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org).

With WordPress.org, you enjoy total freedom to manage your website and monetize it. When you build a website with WordPress on a server of your choice, you own the website and can do pretty much anything with it. On the contrary, you have little control over a blog on WordPress.com. It’s important to be aware of what you want, before setting up your website – the freedom that WordPress.org offers or the convenience of WordPress.com. Shifting a long running blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org can get quite messy.

WordPress is not for smaller devices.

Last year, traffic from mobile phones overtook the traffic from traditional desktops. If your website is not accessible from mobiles, you’re going to be losing much of the traffic. WordPress has been quick to respond to the trend and over the last few years, WordPress themes have evolved to adapt to any screen size perfectly. One great example is our Total drag & drop WordPress Theme which features a fluid responsive design that is common to most well coded themes today.

WordPress is not secure.

This one is more scaremongering than real truth. WordPress is no more or no less susceptible to security threats than any other CMS. Given that no piece of software is ironclad, WordPress ranks up there among the top when it comes to security. The fact is that WordPress is so much more widely present on the internet that it becomes a the target of choice for hackers. Don’t forget, WordPress is open source software that has a large active community that reports bugs continuously and rectifies them almost immediately.

WordPress is just for blogs.

This was true more than a decade ago when Matt Mullenweg conceived it as a personal publishing platform. However, WordPress has today evolved to cater to a wide range of websites and today, celebrities, music houses, tech blogs, news centers, fashion magazines, design studios, portfolios and online stores, all have their websites on WordPress. Moreover, there are hundreds of WordPress themes that cater to every niche. This makes website building easy across multiple categories.

Too Many plugins can slow down your site.

Take this one with a grain of salt. The question here is more about the quality of the plugins you install. So long as the plugins are cleanly coded, regularly updated and you’ve enough server space for them, you can install as multiple plugins without affecting website performance.  However, you should skip a plugin that adds too many HTTP requests, increases database queries or consumes too much processing power. One plugin with bad code can bring down your site. Plugins can also be an entry point for malicious software. So it’s important to screen plugins for quality and test them, before activating them on a live site.

Some Basic WordPress Tips

Now that you know a bit about what to expect from WordPress, here are a few key tips to keep you on the right track when using WordPress.

Use plugins ONLY when necessary.

It’s not necessary to reach for a plugin whenever you need to add a function. WordPress has many built in functions that you should explore to see if it fulfills your needs. Your theme can also pack in some functions. Many more functions are possible with simple codes. Check out these options before reaching for a plugin.

Inactive plugins are a security risk.

If you’re not going to be using a plugin for a while, it’s better to delete it entirely from your WordPress, not merely inactivate it. So long as a plugin is lying within your WordPress, it can be susceptible to malicious software, even though it’s inactive.  It makes sense to keep track of your plugins and delete those that you really have no need for.

Look beyond content.

While it’s true that content is a key traffic generator for any website, creating great content for your website is only a good start. As any SEO expert will tell you, getting Google to find you easily and put you at the top of the search results page is extremely hard work. The Yoast SEO plugin will help you get your posts right for search engines. You can also make it a little easier for search engines to find you by submitting sitemaps to Google. Take a step further and sign up with Google Analytics to gain insight into what you’re doing right and wrong when it comes to website traffic. You can also use the Google Search Console to help you understand how your website is interacting with Google search engine.

Always make the changes you want in Child Themes.

Do not mess with the default themes while making changes to the theme. Always work with a child theme for carrying out any change you want. That way, when you update the default theme, all the customizations will not be lost.

If you’re up for it, learn all about hooks, filters and actions.

When you’re more familiar with WordPress, take some time to learn about hooks, filters and actions. This can help you interact more comfortably with WordPress. Find out more about it here.

Stay calm when you face issues.

At some stage or the other, you’re likely to run into some issues with WordPress like database errors, white screen of death and the like. Remember that many other WordPress users have faced these issues before you and posted solutions online. Basic WordPress troubleshooting solutions can easily be found online. You just need to stay calm and search for appropriate solutions to your specific situation.

That’s Not All

There are more ground rules that you need to pay attention to such as:

  • Backup and security is important.
  • Start building your email list from day one.
  • Use Categories and Tags for posts and pages right from the start.
  • Use a favicon.
  • Optimize the website for speed and performance.

But let’s keep it for another post. There’s really no end to the learning with WordPress!



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How to Build a Landing Page with WordPress from Scratch


A landing page is a web page that’s designed primarily to capture a visitor’s attention and their details—like an email address—via a lead form. They are designed to target a specific audience depending on the product you are marketing.

A landing page can also be a squeeze page used to redirect traffic to the main website. You can have as many landing pages as you want on your site. In fact, the more landing pages you have, the more leads you are likely to get.

For instance, if you are marketing a new product via an email campaign, you can redirect traffic from your targeted email campaign to a specially designed product landing page. The same applies to any promotion you do via email or other means. The key thing is to create a unique landing page for every campaign you launch.

Landing Page Basics

There are no written rules as to what a landing page must have or look like. However, after years of experimenting with a range of landing page styles, I have come to the conclusion that certain key aspects should be considered when designing landing pages. Here are the top four:

  1. Specificity: When designing a landing page, be specific about what you offer. You should also know what’s in it for you. For instance, if you offer free info when a user signs up on your landing page, how are you going to benefit?
  2. Benefits: The best marketing lingo can get a visitor’s attention, but if you don’t clearly explain how they are going to benefit, your conversions may be thin. A good landing page must be clear on how the user will benefit from the offer.
  3. Urgency: The wording on your landing page should create a sense of urgency. Explain why a page visitor should take your offer now not later.
  4. Conversion: Now that you’ve grabbed a visitor’s attention and managed to convince them about your great offer, how do they get it? Your landing page must make lead conversion as simple as possible.

Creating Landing Pages With WordPress

WordPress offers plenty of ways to build stunning landing pages. I’ll discuss two options you can use to create your landing pages, as well as a third options we recommend only for developers or advanced WordPress users with coding knowledge.

How to Create a Landing Page with a WordPress Theme

There are a ton of WordPress themes specifically designed for creating landing pages. These single page themes often include great features such as local scrolling, eye catching sliders, features boxes and more to make building you own landing page easy. You can checkout lots of great options that we’ve added to our Single Page WordPress Themes category, but here are a few of our favorites:

Once you’ve decided on your favorite theme – install and activate it! To add a new theme go to Appearance > Themes > Add New and then browse for an awesome free theme from WordPress.org repository, or click on the Upload link to install a premium or free theme from somewhere else.

In this example we’ll be using Zerif Lite by ThemeIsle, which you can get from their website or from your WordPress dashboard. Simple install and activate the theme to get started.

Activate A Landing Page Theme

Most single page WordPress themes use a “home” page template to make getting started easy. To use a a template go to Pages > Add New, give your page a name and then select the page template from the Page Attributes section in the sidebar. In Zerif this is the Frontpage template. Then publish your page.

Landing Page: Use Homepage Template

With your Home page published you’ll need to set it as your front page in order for it to be shown when visitors come to your URL. Just got to Settings > Reading and select the page you just created under Front page displays > A static page. Then save your changes.

Landing Page: Homepage Reading Settings for Front Page

Now you can start customizing your landing page content. Zerif Lite uses theme options in the Customizer under the “Frontpage Sections” option (which can be accessed under Appearance > Customize). You can also click on the blue pencil icons to quick edit some of page content as well. When you’re done just save and you’re landing page will be ready to go!

Landing Page: Homepage Template Customizations

Not all landing page themes will use the WordPress Customizer for your front page options. Some themes use custom post types which will show up in your WordPress dashboard (typically near your posts, media, pages etc options), some include built-in drag and drop elements just for the home template and others include page builders (which we’l be talking about next). If you have any questions about how to use your theme consult the documentation, or if it’s a premium theme contact support.

How to Create a Landing Page with WordPress Plugins

Themes are great, but one of the easiest ways to build a landing page with WordPress is by using a plugin. There are plenty of landing page plugins out there of both the free and premium variety. They all work more or less the same way: typically, they offer a collection of landing page templates for different purposes.

After installing and activating, you can manage page customizations using the plugin’s settings page. Some plugins allow for third-party extensions where you can add further customization and functionality to your landing pages using hooks, filters, and actions. There are a few notable WordPress Landing Page plugins to consider:

But we also recommend considering a general page building plugin such as Visual ComposerBeaver Builder or Elementor. Our personal favorite happens to be Visual Composer which happens to come free with our top selling Total WordPress theme.

To use a page builder plugin you’ll first need to install and activate a compatible theme. You shouldn’t have any trouble with most themes, but it’s always better if you can find a theme that was specifically created or tested to work with your preferred plugin. In our example we’ll be using the Visual Composer with the Total theme, which will prompt you to install and activate the recommended plugins.

Install WordPress Theme and Activate Plugins

If your theme doesn’t include prompts, check the documentation to see how to install any included plugins. Or if you’ve purchased a page builder on your own go to Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin to install and activate.

Once your page builder plugin is active, go to Pages > Add New to start building.

Total Landing Page Template

Total happens to include a special option for a “Landing Page” page template. When building your page this template will remove the header and footer sections for you (which makes sense because these area are better suited for multipage websites where you’d need to navigate between pages). Just make sure to save your page if you want to select a template.

With your page ready to go it’s time to start building. If using the Visual Composer you’ll now have the option to use the backend editor or the live frontend editor. Total fully supports the frontend editor and we highly recommend using it since you can see each element as you’re building. Just be sure to Update or Publish your page once you’ve finished editing. If you want to learn more about using this specific page builder, have a look at our Visual Composer guide.

Total Frontend Page Building

Next, you’ll need to set your front page to the page your just created (this step should sound a bit familiar since most themes require you edit this setting). So go to Settings > Reading > Front page displays > A static page and select your new homepage.

Oh, and if you are using the Total WordPress theme there’s also the option to import a pre-made landing page (or a multipage site design) to get started. Total includes a ton of imports in the Theme Panel > Demo importer.

Total Theme Demo Importer

Click to begin importing. Total will even prompt you to install and activate the plugins required for the specific demo you want to import.

Total Demo Importer: Install and Activate Plugins

From there you’ll have the option to import the XML content, images, theme customizer settings, widgets and even sliders (if applicable). Once the import finishes you can edit and customize your page(s) to your liking. It really doesn’t get much easier!

Other Online Tools

Like plugins, there are many online tools for creating landing pages (just do a quick Google search and you can see for yourself). These basically work like WYSIWYG website builders, allowing you to select and use user interface components to whip up a landing page in no time. They have their limitations though and some are not flexible. A properly designed and hand-coded page is often much superior and infinitely more flexible.

How to Build a Landing Page with WordPress Page Templates (Advanced)

If you are a developer or a knowledgeable/advanced WordPress user you can edit your current WordPress theme to add custom page templates for your landing page. Many commercial WordPress themes come with a host of page templates each with a specific purpose. A theme can have one or several templates, but high quality themes offer several pre-built landing page templates for various purposes.

That said, you can create your own landing page from a blank page template if you have some CSS skills and an eye for design. For illustrative purposes, I’m going to build a simple landing page using a blank page template in the TwentyThirteen theme. I’m just going to put a big catchy heading along with a big button on a blank page template.

Please note that this method is ideal if you are building a landing page that’s going to have a dedicated domain – i.e. it is not going to be part of your main website. Multisite does not give you much flexibility in design but a dedicated domain gives you freedom to dismantle the theme anyway you want without worrying about other pages.

Note: We only recommend this option for developers or advanced WordPress users who are knowledgeable and experienced coders. If you’re new to WordPress we strongly suggest sticking to themes and plugins when building your landing pages.

1. Create a child theme folder

Since I’ll be making changes to another theme it’s important to start by creating a child theme. This way any changes to the theme won’t be lost when the core theme is updated.

To get started you’ll first need to connect to your website via FTP and create a new folder for your child theme in your wp-content/themes directory. We recommend adding “child” to the end of the theme you’re editing (e.g. twentythirteenchild or something similar you’ll recognize). This is where you will add new files to make changes to your core theme.

2. Create a new style.css file for your child theme

Open the child theme folder you just created and add a new file named style.css (this will be your new stylesheet). Next, in your WordPress dashboard go to Appearance > Editor. In the editor window, you will see the theme’s default stylesheet open.

Twenty Thirteen Theme Files

Using the original theme file as a guide, create the heading section for your child theme’s style.css file you just created, which might look something like this:

/*
Theme Name: TwentyThirteenChild
Theme URI:
Description: A child theme for the default Twenty Thirteen WordPress theme
Version: 1.0.0
*/

With your new stylesheet ready the next step is to load the parent stylesheet by enqueuing it.

3. Create a functions.php file for your child theme

When you activate your child theme your website won’t load any styling so you’ll want to load your parent theme’s stylesheet. To do this create a new blank file named functions.php in your child theme folder. Then add the following code:

<?php
function my_theme_enqueue_styles() {

$parent_style = 'twentythirteen-style';

wp_enqueue_style( $parent_style, get_template_directory_uri() . '/style.css' );
wp_enqueue_style( 'twentythirteenchild-style',
get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . '/style.css',
array( $parent_style ),
wp_get_theme()->get('Version')
);
}
add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'my_theme_enqueue_styles' );

This will load your edited child theme styling after your parent theme stylesheet. You now have a functioning child theme for the TwentyThirteen theme – time to make changes!

4. Customize your styling

With your child theme ready to go you can start customizing your landing page. First you might want to remove the main navigation since you’re creating a landing page. To do this add the following code to your child theme style.css file (Note: your navigation element name might be different from ours. To find the element name you can use your browser inspector tool or check the header.php file):

/*
Theme Name: TwentyThirteenChild
Theme URI:
Description: A child theme for the default Twenty Thirteen theme
Version: 1.0.0
*/

/*Custom styling for landing page*/

body .navbar { display: none; }

Now when you view your site, the navigation is gone. Instead we’re going to insert a big CTA button that will redirect to a registration page and later to the main website.

Next we’ll simply customize the site header (h1) in the stylesheet by changing the font size. The site header is identified by the class .site-title (again, double check your own theme to see what element name your header uses since it may be different that the one in the example). To enlarge the font size add the last line of this code to your child theme’s stylesheet:

/*
Theme Name: TwentyThirteenChild
Theme URI:
Description: A child theme for the default Twenty Thirteen theme
Version: 1.0.0
*/

/*Custom styling for landing page*/

body .navbar { display: none; }

body .site-title { font-size: 90px; }

Save and refresh your page. You should see a bigger title:

page14

=================================

5. Create a blank page template and name it front-page.php

In the WordPress editor, click on Page Template (page.php) to view its code. Copy the first lines up to get_header() which should be similar to this:

<?php
/**
* Template Name: My Landing Page
*
* This is the template that displays all pages by default.
* Please note that this is the WordPress construct of pages and that other 'pages' on your WordPress site will use a different template. 
*
* @package WordPress
* @subpackage Twenty_Thirteen
* @since Twenty Thirteen 1.0
*/
get_header(); ?>

Open a code editor and create a new file called front-page.php  Paste the lines you copied in the previous step. Save this new file in your child theme folder.

Why front-page.php? Since this is going to be a static front page, you want to ensure that it is always selected and displayed first and front-page.php has the highest priority in the WordPress template hierarchy). Also, you may or may not insert footer (using the get_footer() function) in your template file. I’ve omitted it.

Remove the first line in the comments section and replace it with the template name – we called ours My Landing Page.

Save the changes. If you try to view your site now, you’ll be greeted by a blank page with only your modified header. That’s the front-page.php template being displayed. It is blank as we’ve not put any content as yet.

6. Insert custom content markup for the landing page

Now that we’ve edited the header and created a blank page template, it’s time to put the actual content in our landing page. All that’s left is to put our big button into our new front-page template. Just paste this code into your file and save. It’s just a link wrapped in a div and that’s all.

/**
* Template Name: My Landing Page
*
* This is the template that displays all pages by default.
* Please note that this is the WordPress construct of pages and that other 'pages' on your WordPress site will use a different template. 
*
* @package WordPress
* @subpackage Twenty_Thirteen
* @since Twenty Thirteen 1.0
*/
get_header(); ?>

<div class="landing-page">
<a href="#" class="button"> Big button here</a>
</div>

When you view your site, you will see the heading we’ve just inserted into the content part of the page along with the link text for the button:

Landing Page Example

Now it’s time to give the page some life with CSS styling. Go to Appearance > Editor. Click on Stylesheet to open the style.css file for editing. Paste this code and save:

/*
Theme Name: TwentyThirteenChild
Theme URI:
Description: A child theme for the default Twenty Thirteen theme
Version: 1.0.0
*/

/*Custom styling for landing page*/

body .navbar { display: none; }

body .site-title { font-size: 90px; }

.landing-page {
width: 80%;
margin: 0 auto;
text-align: center;
}

.button {
display: block;
width: 50%;
background: #FF6600;
border: 2px solid #FF8533;
color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.55);
text-align: center;
font: bold 3.2em/100px 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
margin: 100px auto auto auto;
-webkit-border-radius: 15px;
-khtml-border-radius: 15px;
-moz-border-radius: 15px;
border-radius: 15px;
text-shadow: 0 3px 3px rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.2);
}

a.button { text-decoration: none }

a.button:hover {
color: #fff;
background: #FF8533;
background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #FF8533, #FF8533);
background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #FF8533, #FF8533);
background: -o-linear-gradient(top, #FF8533, #FF8533);
background: -ms-linear-gradient(top, #FF8533, #FF8533);
background: linear-gradient(top, #FF8533, #FF8533);
}

Your page should now look like this:

Landing Page with Button

Congratulations! You just built a custom landing page using WordPress. You probably won’t be using it in real-life as it’s very basic, but the idea was to show you how to do it using a page template. You can edit any page of any theme and create a custom landing page this way.

Conclusion

We’ve looked at three common ways to build WordPress landing pages. We really recommend using a theme or plugin, but if you want to go the DIY route make sure to brush up on your coding skills first.

Are you using landing pages for your marketing campaigns? Can you share your experience, successes, or challenges you’ve found along the way? I’d love to hear all about it!



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WordPress Plugins to Make More Money from Your Blog


One of the main reasons that WordPress is so popular, is it’s vast plugin library. The WordPress plugin directory has close to 50000 plugins. Besides, there are thousands of free and premium third party plugins. With little or no coding skills, you can get a plugin to add a function to your website easily.

There are many reasons why you may want to add a plugin – to speed up your website, to optimize performance, to help with backup or security and more. In this post, we’ll take a look at WordPress plugins that help you make money and contribute in some way to revenue generation. For instance, eCommerce plugins can help you set up an online store to sell products and services. Similarly, there are plugins that help with advertisements, collecting donations, marketing or subscriptions.

AdRotate

Ads on your website are a double edged weapon. They not only divert attention of readers away from your page, they also make you look less than classy. You’ll also find ad blockers working against you. However, for some websites ads are a major stream of revenue. To be able to keep all the money you earn from ads and not share it with any third party, you need to take ad management into your own hands. And that’s where ad management plugins can help you.

If all that you need is a simple ad in the sidebar, the default setting in WordPress will do the job. For anything more than that, plugins can take on the task of managing ads on your website. These plugins save time and put you in control of your ad space. Remember that ad management plugins will only help to maximize ad space utilization. You still have to do a load of work to get advertisers to flock to your site.

As with most plugins, AdRotate is available both as a free and a premium plugin. It creates ad zones on your websites where advertisers can choose to display their advertisements. But that’s not all, you can manage the size of the advertisements and the display period by adjusting the settings in the plugins. Payment by the advertisers can be tracked and you can keep tabs on how the ads are performing. You can use ads from referral sites like AdSense, DFP or Double Click or create your own ads ads using basic HTML or JavaScript. With the help of widgets, PHP and shortcode, make banners of any size and place them anywhere.

AdRotate WordPress Plugin

With the premium plugin, purchasers can mask ads to evade ad blockers and also receive notifications by email or mobile. Many more features like live preview, device detection, Geo Targeting, scheduling ads for specific date/ hours, advanced analytics (including Google Analytics), network activated cross site adverts are included in the premium version, which starts at $29.

Affiliate WP

One of the most common ways in which websites earn revenues is affiliate marketing. Affiliate WP, a favorite in this category, allows any person to sign up as an affiliate on your website and instantly begin to refer customers to your site. When a customer makes a purchase using the affiliate link, the affiliate website earns a commission.

Easy to setup, the plugin tracks referrals accurately. You can add any number of affiliates and allow them to access resources on your website. It allows you to manage affiliates, track coupons and view payment logs. It’s also possible to send customized emails and export data to a CSV file to streamline your affiliate marketing program. Affiliates can set cookie expiration, generate their own referral link and have their own dashboards to track and manage their performance.

The annual payment for Affiliate WP depends on the plan you pick and can vary between  $99 to $499. While that may appear steep at first, weigh it against the fact that a single sale of any medium or high end product can return the investment to you. Moreover, activating the plugin serves as an incentive to sellers to link to your website and promote your products and services. To put it another way, even if you do not make any sale, the links that it establishes for your website can improve SEO and may work out to be worth the investment.

Sumo

There’s a whole lot of truth when digital marketers insist that it’s all in the list. Collecting emails is a first step towards increasing conversions. Email marketing is cheap, easy to setup and there are a great many WordPress plugins that help you grow your subscription list. Further, it helps to segment your audience and target them precisely.

Sumo is available in both the free and paid version, and currently has over half a million users. The plugin helps you capture leads and increase conversions. A welcome mat to create a great first impression, a scroll box that adds a popup in the least intrusive manner and a sticky reminder can all help bring in more inquiries. Social shares and image sharing features can draw in more traffic. That’s not all, heat maps help to analyse traffic and understand your visitors’ interests.

The free version offers almost the full range of features, however it comes with branding. To benefit from the full potential of each feature, it’ll be necessary to sign up for the premium options that come in the range of $29 to $119 (per month) and more. You can read up more about Sumo in this post.

Give

Receiving donations is yet another way to collect money on your WordPress site. Many generous readers are willing to support quality blogs or websites with their contribution. Besides, many non-profit organizations rely totally on voluntary contributions from donors. Fundraising plugins can lend a hand and help collect funds for any good cause.

Give is a highly rated fund raising plugin that can optimize voluntary giving on your website. Preparing featured reports to provide an overview of the projects and viewing statistics and reports is possible with Give. Customizable donation forms are also included. The plugin integrates well with many third party gateways and services.

In any fund raising campaign, donors need to be handled with sensitivity. Managing donors is easier with Give customization options. While there’s no charge for the core plugin functions, add-ons come at a premium.

OptimizePress

Sometimes, it helps to create specific landing pages for specific campaigns. It’s a place where you can capture a lead and convert it into a profit. A landing page is a single webpage intended for a single purpose – to get your visitor to do something you want. Every bit of content on this page is geared to interest the visitor to take a particular course of action. This can be anything, right from filling in subscription forms or providing contact details to purchasing a product or introducing a friend.

As is the case with most functions, there are many quality WordPress plugins that can create beautiful and effective landing pages for your website.

Optimize Press will help to establish, grow and convert an online audience. It does not merely help in building landing pages. It also helps to secure content for subscription members, create sales or marketing pages or operate authority blog sites. It’s helps create sales funnels and a whole set of tools designed to increase conversion. It’s a great option for website owners with little technical knowledge who want to improve conversion rates.

Restrict Content Pro

A website that creates great content can make money by allowing access to the content in exchange for a fee. Authority blogs, online libraries and similar subscription based websites can generate revenues in this fashion. By making excerpts or summaries accessible to all readers, you can interest them sufficiently to sign up and pay for premium content on the website.

Restrict Content Pro helps you build membership sites where only paying members can unlock premium content. It’s simple to set up and create any number of membership packages, including free and trial subscriptions. You can easily manage members and send out mails to them. Flat rate or percentage based discounts are possible. Not only that, it allows you to generate reports that keep tab on performance and generate and export CSV files.

In a Nutshell

There are other plugins as well which help to monetize your website in other ways. For instance, you can create business directories, or job boards, setup review sites or send out newsletters. And there are plugins that can help with each of these functions. These plugins are not indispensable, but they can make your work a whole lot easier. Paying up for a premium plugin may not make sense if you view the cost of the plugin in isolation. Instead, you need to view it more as an investment which has a fair chance of adding to your revenue down the line.



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Should You Make an App for Your WordPress Business?


This question comes up quite a bit, and it completely depends on your answers to a few additional questions.

Making a mobile app just because you think it’s the new business trend is not a good idea. Not only can mobile apps get expensive, but quite often you’re only making the process more difficult for your customers.

For example, a restaurant might already have a Coupons page and booking link on their mobile website. So what would be the point of forcing customers to download an app that does the same thing?

So, should you make an app to complement your WordPress business? Let’s take a look.

You Should Already Have a Responsive WordPress Website

If you’re not currently working with a mobile responsive WordPress site, now’s the time to get one. This basically means that your website snaps into place and makes more user-friendly buttons, images, and font sizes when viewed on a tablet or smartphone.

If you’re not sure if your website is responsive, go to the Google Mobile-Friendly test, paste in your URL and hit the Run Test button. Google tells you if your site is mobile-friendly.

If it’s not, I recommend finding a new WordPress theme (we of course recommend the Total WordPress theme because it’s just that – the total package including responsive, RTL ready and SEO friendly). Otherwise your search results will suffer.

The next step is to view your responsive WordPress site on a phone and tablet. Take a look at the interface and see if it has all the features you desire from a mobile app.

Sometimes you don’t need to pay extra money for a mobile app, especially since it requires customers to take the extra step of downloading an app.

Is There a Feature You Need That Can Be Done Better With a Mobile App?

There are plenty of mobile app features that you simply can’t duplicate with a mobile responsive website. For example, one of the most common features you see is a rewards program. Some companies link rewards to credit cards, while others make unique customer codes that can be scanned whenever at the register.

Another feature I’ve seen on mobile apps is a booking system. Most of the time on responsive websites the booking process turns into something far more complicated than it should be. For example, Chipotle created an app that lets people make their orders through the app, then they can skip the line when they arrive. I can’t imagine a responsive website providing the same features.

The big mobile app feature you can’t duplicate with a responsive WordPress site is the push notification. Not only that, but the push notification is generally one of the biggest moneymakers when it comes to mobile apps.

Would a Mobile App Benefit Your Customers?

Okay, so you’ve decided that a desired feature can only be done with a mobile app.

Now the question is: Will that feature actually help your customers?

With push notifications, are you going to send out valuable coupons or a bunch of advertisements that customers don’t care about?

Is the rewards program convenient and valuable enough for customers to consider downloading the mobile app and using it on a consistent basis?

Do You Have the Means to Market the App?

If you don’t get users to download your mobile app, there’s no reason to have one in the first place. I’ve seen several small retail businesses make impressive apps. I had a golf course client who made an app and posted a sign with the benefits of downloading in the pro shop.

The guy even had a QR code for quick scanning and downloading. The only problem was that some pro shop workers never mentioned the sign.

However, one worker explained the benefits of the app to every golfer. What was interesting was that we could cross reference the time in which people downloaded the app to when this particular employee was working. 90% of the downloads came from when that person manned the pro shop.

In short, you have to be ready with a plan to market your app.

Sometimes a WordPress site is built for a blog or online service that has users from all over the world. In that case you’re going to have a more digitally-focused marketing effort.

This might include:

  • Email marketing
  • Google Ads
  • Facebook posts
  • Blogging

However, local businesses with mobile apps don’t want users from across the globe. You’re only trying to convince your current and new customers to download the app.

This means that the majority of the app marketing relies on you and your employees. Email marketing, social media, and local-oriented ads are going to come in handy, but the following marketing areas are going to make or break the number of people downloading your app:

  • Trained employees who show people how to download the app
  • Some sort of signup bonus like a BOGO
  • A sign at the register with a QR code and a mention of your website (since many folks don’t know how to use QR codes)
  • A well thought out digital marketing plan

How to Turn Your WordPress Website into an App

With a plugin of course! The most common ways to convert current WordPress sites to mobile apps are MobiLoud and WordApp.

The only problem I have with these WordPress to app converters is that the results aren’t much different from that of a responsive website version. The converters seem to generate buttons and tabs that are mobile-friendly, but if you already have this in a responsive website, you’re basically making it more complicated for users, since they then have to go download the app from an app store.

However, that’s the bare-bones functionality of these conversion plugins.

MobiLoud, for example, gives you things like push notifications and additional app features, starting at $69 per month. The big question is whether or not the pricing is worthwhile, so it’s important for you to review which features you’re getting and take into consideration whether you’re going to make money on the app.

For example, the MobiLoud premium version might actually end up being a better option than one of the more advanced dedicated app builders below.

Why?

  • The starter package is $69 per month. That sounds steep for a small business or startup.
  • But most of the advanced app builders below aren’t going to save you much money.
  • And MobiLoud guarantees that you maintain the current branding of your WordPress site.
  • Then, with the $69 per month payment you receive push notifications.

It’ll take some testing, but the following hot dog stand scenario isn’t uncommon:

  • Your hot dog stand sells about 100 dogs during the lunch rush.
  • Each hot dog makes you a profit of $3.
  • That means you only need to get 23 more customers per month to justify the $69 per month.
  • Since push notifications can be sent out based on location during a certain time, 23 customers per month seems completely doable.

Therefore, you have to understand what the app is going to do for you, and whether or not those push notifications provide value to you and your customers.

That $69 per month might be unreasonable to a blog that’s only selling a handful of eBooks per month, so it completely depends on your business and the work you put into marketing.

More Advance App Builders With Awesome Tools

These options don’t convert your WordPress site. Instead, you start with templates and get far more features:

Should You Make an App to Complement Your WordPress Business?

Go through the list of questions in order to decide whether an app is right or not:

  • Does your responsive site already satisfy your mobile needs?
  • Is there a feature that can be done better with a mobile app?
  • Would the app make you money?
  • Would it benefit your customers?

After that, you should have your decision. Let us know if you’re planning on making an app for your WordPress business. And if you want more tips, checkout our guide on how to turn your WordPress website into an app.



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WordPress with PHP 7 – Why to Upgrade Your Server


PHP 7 has launched in Dec 2015 and even after a full year from initial release there are websites that are still running under older versions. PHP 7 is a major change for the better.  It is a much improved version of one of the most used scripting languages and the core foundation of WordPress.  In this article I am going to cover why is so important to upgrade to a hosting that properly provides support for it and why it would benefit your site.

Benefits of PHP 7 for WordPress

PHP 7 is on version 7.1.4 now but the core essentials still remains,  this are the most important aspects that changed from PHP 5.6 and older versions to 7

  • New Zend Engine now called PHP Next Generation (NG)
  • Important reduction in the memory usage
  • Abstract Syntax Tree
  • Consistent 64bit support
  • A good number of fatal errors now converts into exceptions
  • Better and more secured number generator
  • Anonymous clases
  • Compatibility with OpenSSL 1.0.2e onwards.

So, still don’t know what all that mumbo jumbo actually means?, let me explain all of that in detail.

Wait – What Happened to 6?!?! The development cycle for PHP 6 did exist but the former attempt never made it to the public (don’t worry – you didn’t somehow miss it). To prevent confusion it was decided 6 was going to be skipped. This served the purpose to further improve development of PHP 7 and launch a more polished version with much more features and benefits.

The New Zend Engine

For those of you who doesn’t know, Zend is not new to PHP because it was there since 1999.  Zend is the execution engine that does the actual interpretation of PHP language.  It was written in C and had several upgrades through time.  The version that PHP 5.x uses is called Zend Engine II and adds the extensible object model and performance enhancements compared to older versions but the new Zend Engine in PHP7, now called Next Generation is the core for the actual speed increase of PHP7.

Whenever you hear the phrase twice the speed and significant reduction of memory consumption of PHP7 you’ll know it’s actually Zend Next Generation improvements.

Next Generation achieves this by changing it’s behavior of operating with pointers (such us previous Zend Engine II) to operation with structures. This change reduces memory consumption, garbage collection and overall performance.  A more in-depth explanation recommended only to coding warriors is available on the PHP wiki.

PHP 7 Is Way Faster

The changes in Next Generation Zend Engine are the main responsible for the increase in speed , by reducing memory consumption they also reduced the time the scripting language takes to process the information and the result is that PHP 7 will need less servers to provide the same content. This is awesome for you because who doesn’t want to speed up WordPress.

This is a graph directly taken from the PHP PDF:

The number of request per second is a good measure of performance because it basically tells you how much users will be able to see your site at any given time based on your server and software.  The more requests the server can serve the faster your website will be.  PHP 7 is able to duplicate the performance of PHP 5.6 and directly compete with HHVM, another script language interpreter made by Facebook.

Why is faster?. Because it uses less CPU time to process each request, hence, it can double the amount of requests that can serve at any given time.

Improved Error Handling and 64bit Support

One of the most criticized things in PHP was the handling of errors. Why you may ask?, because previous to PHP7 a fatal error was something almost impossible to handle properly since it would not invoke any error handler and would halt script execution.

The improved PHP 7 error handling uses throwable exceptions this allow developers a much better handling mechanism to deal with errors that was previously unavailable. By creating exceptions developers are able to get much better information about the actual error and are able handle it properly.

Tip: it’s much easier to code now and less of a headache.

On the other hand the consistent 64-bit support means that PHP7 now allows 64bit integers and is supported in other platforms, like Microsoft Windows running natively at 64-bit.

PHP 7 Supports Anonymous Classes

There is a practice in all the major object oriented languages to use anonymous clases.  Java and C# have abundance of those.  Anonymous classes are not only very useful but properly coded can speed up code execution, adding anonymous classes was necessary for PHP7 to catch up with all the major object oriented languages.

Deprecated PHP Functions

There was major house keeping in PHP7 with deprecated functions. A deprecated function for those who don’t know is a part of code that is considered too old or unusable and calls for deprecation.  When a function is deprecated in PHP it no longer works.

The developers of PHP7 carefully considered a lot of functions that were no longer being used. It’s important to know that a deprecated function can and will potentially break your code. When you hear about compatibility issues with upgrading your WordPress to PHP7 this is the exact point where your website can brake.

The deprecated functions in PHP 7 is the single most important point to consider when upgrading your website to a hosting that provides PHP 7

Older plugins and themes calling those deprecated functions can and will stop functioning if they are running under PHP7.  That’s why you absolutely must upgrade all your plugins & theme prior to switching to a hosting that supports PHP7.

The removal of all that deprecated code is in part responsible for the performance of PHP7 which now runs in a far cleaner environment than PHP 5.x

What All This Means

PHP7 is faster and more lightweight, runs with less memory usage, executes twice the amount of code at any given time than PHP 5.x and it handle errors in a much cleaner way. This all translates into a faster website, better coding and a much better user experience.

If you care about performance on your site your first order of the day should be to upgrade all your plugins & theme and switch to a hosting that provides PHP7. And you’re in luck – most popular hosting companies offer PHP 7 for all of their plans (or they offer the upgrade). Here are a few PHP 7 compatible hosting companies we recommend:

Of course there are other factors that contribute to even more performance such as using nginx and hosting services that support some kind of webserver cache but we will discuss all of those topics in a later article. For now, if you have anything to add or any questions let us know in the comments below!



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What Is a Favicon? (And How to Add One to Your WordPress Website)


A favicon, which is short for ‘favorite icon’, can also be referred to as a site icon. If you look at your browser page now, there will more than likely be a number of favicons displayed. However, you may never have consciously noticed favicons, be aware of what they are or what they do. So what is a favicon and why does your WordPress website need one?

In this article, we are going to explain exactly what a favicon is and how it can benefit your business or blog. We will then look at how you can quickly and easily add one to your WordPress website.

What is a Favicon?

Favicons

A favicon is an icon that is displayed on a browser tab next to a website’s page title. Favicons can also be seen next to a website’s name in a list of bookmarked sites, as well as being used as app icons.

Favicons usually take the image of the site logo that they represent. However, they can also be an image that is linked to a site’s branding or style, if this is more suitable. Once a favicon is selected, it shouldn’t be changed, unless your business undergoes a re-brand. That way, your website viewers become familiar with your favicon and recognize it in a lineup of browser tabs.

The Importance of Using a Favicon

Favicons

Favicons are all about visually marketing to, and connecting with, your site visitors. Adding a favicon will enable your audience to subconsciously and instantly identify your WordPress website in a sea of apps or web pages.

This familiarity with your favicon will help your audience find you quickly and easily. It will also remind users of your site’s existence, resulting in an increase in traffic and returning visitor numbers. Lastly, a favicon will help your site stand out from your competition and establish your site as a reputable source.

As you can see, the benefits of using a favicon are huge. So let’s now find out how you can create a favicon and add it to your WordPress website…

Creating a Favicon

The first step in the favicon process is to create a suitable image. As mentioned, a favicon should ideally be the same image as your website’s logo, so visitors can immediately recognize it.

However, sometimes with complicated logos, this can result in an unclear or confusing favicon. In which case you will have to simplify your logo or use a different image. Make sure choose something that represents your business and obviously reflects your brand.

Designing or Editing a Favicon Image

Edit Image

Favicon images need to be square in shape and at least 512 x 512 pixels in dimension. Although images can be cropped in WordPress, I would advise editing your image beforehand using editing software.

If you are looking to design a new image from scratch, or your logo needs some serious adjustments, then it is best to use a professional editing program. Photoshop or GIMP are great options.

Using Canva

Canva

However, an easier solution, for those with less design experience, is to use Canva. This free graphic design tool website will enable you to easily edit an image and make it favicon-ready. Resize your logo, or change the color or transparency, to create a favicon image that will work for your site.

Once you are happy with the image you are going to use as your favicon, it needs to be saved in either a gif, png or jpeg format. You are now ready to upload your favicon to your WordPress website….

How to Add a Favicon to Your WordPress Website

Adding a site icon used to be best left to web developers and those with in-depth coding knowledge. However luckily, after the release of WordPress 4.3, adding a favicon became extremely easy and straightforward.

Appearance Customize

Open your WordPress dashboard and in the menu select ‘Appearance > Customize’.

Customizer

This will open your WordPress customizer on the front end of your website.

Site Identity

Select ‘Site Identity’. Here you will see displayed Site Title, Tagline, and Site Icon.

Site icon

Under ‘Site Icon’ you can add, change or remove your favicon. Click on ‘Select Image’.

Select Image

Your WordPress Media Library will now appear on your screen. Select the ‘Upload Files’ tab and then either drop your favicon image into the box, or select it from your computer.

Back in your Media Library, check your image is ticked and then click ‘Select’ in the bottom right-hand corner. WordPress will now ask you if you would like to crop your image. If you have already edited your image in an editing program, select ‘Skip Cropping’. Otherwise, crop away.

Save and Publish

In the customizer, under ‘Site Icon’, you will see your uploaded image. Select ‘Save and Publish’ at the top of the customizer and then refresh the page. You should now be able to view your favicon in your web page browser tab.

Example

If at some point you would like to change your favicon, under ‘Site Icon’ simply select ‘Change Image’. However, as mentioned earlier, this is not advised unless you are rebranding. If you continually change your favicon your audience won’t be able to identify which image represents your website when they are viewing their browser tabs or apps.

Other Ways of Adding a Favicon to Your WordPress Website

There are of course a number of other ways to add a favicon to your WordPress website. Let’s take a look at some different options…

Favicon Rotator

Favicon Rotator

Many people prefer to use plugins to add functionality to their site, instead of relying on a theme. Favicon Rotator is a WordPress plugin that is a great option if you are looking to add a favicon to your website.

Install the plugin to your WordPress website and then simply point and click to upload an image and add it as favicon. Favicon Rotator allows you to upload multiple favicons. It also automatically converts large images to smaller files, resulting in faster loading times and a generally better user experience. This is a straightforward plugin, and is free to download and use.

Uploading Through Your Theme’s Options Page

Total Theme Favicon Options

Many of the new themes come with numerous features and functionalities, making it quick and easy for people to set up new WordPress websites. Some of these themes now come with the option of adding a favicon for you. Check your theme’s Options page to see if this is a feature that it offers. For example, the Total WordPress theme includes options for your Favicon (and it’s various device sizes) in the built-in theme panel.

Using Code

If you are someone who prefers to code their website then you can upload your favicon image into your site’s root directory. Code then needs to be added to your header.php file. For more information on this process, as well as details on the size of the image and file type you need to save it in, see the WordPress support documentation.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, uploading a favicon to WordPress website is a very easy process. The benefits of having a favicon are impressive, a marketing tactic that will enable your users to identify your site just by spotting your image. So make it a priority to find a spare half hour in your day and set your site up with a favicon.

Have you got your favicon up and running yet? Please share how you got on in the comments below…



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Introduction to WordPress Themes and Plugins (Plus How to Install Them)


The core WordPress platform provides a decent range of options for personalizing your website. It also enables you to add to and edit your site’s code in any way you see fit. However, if you want true flexibility but don’t have the time or experience required to make changes by hand, you’ll need some additional tools.

In other words, you should check out the extensive world of WordPress themes and plugins. These are add-ons that enable you to customize how your site looks and functions, and there are thousands of them available. No matter what you want to do – manage a forum, build an online store, or completely change the design of your site – there’s a WordPress-specific tool out there that will help you accomplish the task with minimal fuss.

If you don’t know anything about themes and plugins yet, don’t worry. To help you out, we’ll explain what they are, where to find them, and how to begin using them to your advantage. Let’s start with the basics!

What Are WordPress Themes and Plugins?

The Total WordPress theme.

Total is an example of a WordPress theme that can help you customize the appearance of your site.

Before we discuss how to find and install themes and plugins, lets talk about what they are. After all, if you’re new to WordPress, you might never have heard these terms before.

In a nutshell, themes and plugins are individual pieces of software that function as add-ons to the core WordPress platform. You can install a theme or plugin to get access to additional features. A WordPress website needs a theme to exist, but it doesn’t need any plugins. (That said, the likelihood of you eschewing plugins is extremely remote.)

A theme is an add-on that controls your site’s appearance – what it looks like and how it’s laid out. Some themes are very simple and might only change basic things about your site’s design, such as colors and fonts. Many themes, however, offer a variety of new layouts and styles. Either way, you usually have the ability to customize your theme to suit your needs. You can find flexible themes that are adaptable to many situations (such as our very own Total), or you can look for a theme with options and layouts specific to the type of site you’re creating (such as a business theme or a wedding theme.)

If you want to change something about the way your site functions, however, you’ll need a plugin. The purpose of a plugin is to add new features or functionality to your site (or expand on what already exists). No matter what you want to do with your site, there’s almost certainly a plugin that can make it possible. Some enable simple changes, such as adding new widgets to your back end, while others give you access to entirely new features, such as a calendar or an online store. There are also plugins that can help you with practical tasks like ensuring your site’s security.

It’s impossible to describe all the different theme and plugin options out there. Now that you understand how these crucial tools work, however, let’s talk about how to find the ones you want.

Where to Find the Best WordPress Themes and Plugins

The WPExplorer plugin directory.

You can find many superb plugins for your site in our directory.

There are thousands of themes and plugins available online, and they come in many varieties – free and premium, simple and complex. You can often find the ones you need by conducting a simple search. However, since anyone who wants to can build a theme or plugin, it can be difficult to know which ones are reliable and won’t negatively impact your site.

That’s why it can be helpful to visit a directory where themes and plugins are listed, rated, and commented on. You can also go straight to the website of a reputable company that is known for creating dependable add-ons. Here is just a sampling of some excellent places to look for themes and plugins:

If you’re not sure where to start, we’d recommend checking out the official WordPress directories first – everything there is completely free, and you can view ratings from other users. Also, take a look at our previous posts on how to buy a theme and how to choose the best plugin for advice to guide you in your search.

How to Install WordPress Themes and Plugins

If you’re looking for add-ons from WordPress.org, you can install themes and plugins directly from the WordPress back end. Otherwise, you’ll first need to download the file you want and save it to your computer, then follow the relevant instructions below. The file should be zipped – don’t extract it!

Installing a WordPress Theme

To install a theme, first navigate to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress back end. Then, click on the Add New button at the top of the screen:

The Themes section of the WordPress back end.

On the next screen, click on the Upload Theme button and select Choose File. Navigate to the place where you saved the zipped theme file, and open it. You’ll be taken back to the Add Themes screen, where you can select Install Now:

The option to install a new theme.

The installer will take a moment to run, after which you’ll get a message telling you that the theme has been successfully installed. At this point you can preview the theme, or choose Activate to start using it right away:

A message stating that your theme was installed successfully.

That’s it! Your new theme is ready to go.

Installing a WordPress Plugin

Plugins are installed in essentially the same way as themes. Start by navigating to Plugins and choosing Add New at the top of the screen:

The Themes section of the WordPress back end.

On the next screen, click on the Upload Plugin button and select Choose File. Find and open the zipped plugin file on your computer, then click the Install Now button:

The option to install a new plugin.

After a moment, a message will display telling you if the plugin was installed successfully. At this point, simply click on Activate Plugin:

A message stating that your theme was installed successfully.

Your new plugin is now ready to use! Some plugins may require additional setup once activated – check the page you downloaded the plugin from or the developer’s website for more information if necessary.

Conclusion

The ready availability of themes and plugins is one of the most compelling reasons to use WordPress. The core platform is pretty fantastic on its own, but when you start including themes and plugins, you suddenly have access to nearly limitless options. No matter the type of site you want to create, the wider world of WordPress offers a tool to get the job done – most likely in a simple and affordable way.

To start taking advantage of WordPress themes and plugins, you’ll first want to check out a reliable directory. Some excellent options are WordPress.org itself, ThemeForest and CodeCanyon, and our own website. Make sure you know how to select the best theme and choose the right plugin for your needs. Then you can simply follow our directions above to install your new theme or plugin, and you’ll be all set!

Do you have any questions about how to get started with WordPress themes and plugins? Post your questions in the comments section below!



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