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Plugins That Help To Manage a WordPress Multisite


WordPress is today the most popular open source Content Management System. It’s also the reason that many bloggers find it easy to post content, and many businesses find it easy to create an online presence for themselves. So, what happens if you want to operate multiple blogs or websites, but find it tedious to manage all of them?

Your answer possibly lies in a WordPress multisite. Multisite is a WordPress feature that allows you to run a number of sites off a single WordPress installation. All the sites can be managed conveniently from a single dashboard by a Network Administrator.

Multisite Dashboard

The best example of a multisite is WordPress.com, a multisite which hosts millions of blogs. A multisite comes with its own set of pros and cons, and therefore, you should enable it on your website after much careful consideration. The Site Admins of the individual site cannot add/ alter plugins or themes, nor can they opt for a different hosting service provider. So you can see that easier management comes at the cost of reduced flexibility and independence for the individual sites.

That being said, it makes perfect sense for a number of sites that share common resources to enable multisite. If all individual sites share similar functionality and use near identical themes, plugins, custom applications and server configurations, multisite is the way to go. However, if the sites have hugely different needs, mutisite is not a good solution for the network.

By default, all users who are added to your network have subscriber level access. To change access levels and to manage many other functions in a multisite, plugins will come in handy.

The plugins are installed in the network dashboard and then activated for individual sites. These plugins not only make it easier to setup your multisite, they also help with the management of multisites. They enhance the performance and security of the network.

In this post, we’ll find out more about plugins that help in the day-to-day management of a multisite.

User Role Editor

The User Role Editor can be truly handy in a multisite, multi-user environment. With a few mouse clicks, you can create user roles with new capabilities or create custom roles and assign them to users. If your multisite is receiving contributions from multiple authors, each with different access levels, this plugin is for you.

User Role Editor

On installation, a new menu item User Role Editor appears on your Dashboard. From the drop down menu, click Add Role and create any role you want. You can also modify an existing role by changing permissions and updating the changes. To carry out these changes globally on the multisite, enable ‘Apply To All Sites’, before updating the changes.

Moreover, old roles that are no longer needed can be deleted. It’s also possible to assign multiple roles to a single user.

The plugin is available both in the free and Pro version. While the free plugin supports multisite, you’ll have to opt for the Pro version for advertisement free use. With the Pro version also comes the ability to manage multisites via Network Admin as well as one click synchronization of changes. Not only that, you can import / export user roles between sites, and restrict selected users from viewing posts and pages.

User Switching

How many times have you wanted to view your blog from the perspective of a different user? Say, as an author who writes for your blog. Or, do you want to check the access levels granted to a custom created user?

Normally, only the Network Administrator on a multisite can switch user accounts. With the User Switching plugin active on your website, users authorized to edit other users can also switch accounts, without needing to reset any passwords.

Plugins for WordPress Multisite : User Switching

This plugin allows you to simply click on a selected user’s link on the All Users page and navigate the website in the selected user’s role. You’re not actually logged in as that user, but you’ll have the same access levels that the user enjoys. This is a useful feature to Administrators who manage many sites or to developers who move between many test sites.

Multisite Language Switcher

Multisite Language Switcher supports content in multiple languages on your WordPress multisite. It’s a powerful plugin that helps translate posts, pages, categories and tags into multiple languages.

Plugins For WordPress Multisite : Language Switcher

Like any other plugin, the Network Administrator can activate this plugin across the entire network. Or, the site admin of each site can activate it only for that particular blog. You’ll need to configure the settings for each site independently.

Multisite Enhancements

Multisite Enhancements plugin adds many useful features to the network dashboard. The Network Administrator can view the themes / plugins active on each site right from the plugin / theme admin screens of the network. It’s not necessary to log into the individual sites to view active themes and plugins.

In addition, the plugin adds many convenient links on the network admin screen, including footer text to display currently used RAM and SQL. It adds a favicon in the network admin bar to identify individual blogs, as well as status to view the external URL or if the site has a no index status.

The plugin needs no configuration of settings or options, simply install and activate.

Multisite Plugin Manager

The plugin needs of each site in a multisite is likely to vary. In a multisite environment, it’s possible that some plugins are active on some sites and not on others. To manage these plugins across all the sites easily, activate the Multisite Plugin Manager.

Plugins for WordPress Multisite : Plugin manager

With a few clicks you can activate or deactivate plugins across multiple sites and set the permissions for all the plugins. Moreover, you can carry out many adjustments to plugins’ settings – select plugins that are to be automatically active on all blogs or restrict the access of any site to some plugins. As a network manager, you can override restrictions and assign special permissions to some sites to access plugins. You can also choose to hide the meta links and update messages for blogs.

This plugin is for you especially if you want to charge individual sites for the use of plugins. In combination with Pro Sites, you can control the access of plugins by individual sites and select the plugins from a drop down menu.

Some Popular Plugins That Are Compatible With Multisites

Most WordPress websites rely on plugins to carry out essential functions like security, backup or caching. However, when you search for appropriate plugins, you’ll find that not all plugins are compatible with multisites.
The plugins that follow are multisite compatible, so pick any that you like:

  • BackWPup: A number of free plugins are available for backing up a WordPress website, but the choice is whittled down while backing up a multisite. BackWPup is a no-frills, simple plugin that carries out backups efficiently. It can be activated network-wide, and there’s no one-click restore option. You can choose to store the backup version in an external storage facility like Amazon S3 and DropBox.
  • W3 Total Cache: Caching plugins enhances user experience by improving website speed. You can install W3 Total Cache on a multisite and activate it on a per site basis as well. For content heavy websites, it can lighten the burden on servers.
  • WP Security Audit Log: To keep track of user activity on your multisite in real time, look to WP Security Audit Log. In a multi-user setup, it can detect potential hackers or other break-ins, and prevent harm to your website. It detects changes in passwords or other user level changes, and any other suspicious activity on the network.
  • Yoast SEO: Yoast SEO is fully multisite compatible and helps perfect your SEO practices. It allows you to copy the settings from one blog to another by configuring options in the Network settings.
  • Disable Comments: Disable Comments is the plugin to activate if you want to stop comments over the entire website and even over the entire network in a multisite. It removes comment related fields from a number of places on your network.

To Sum Up

Plugins are great to add functions to your website. But not all plugins are compatible with multisites. Managing a multisite on a day-to-day basis is slightly more complex than managing a single standalone website.

The plugins  for WordPress multisites in this list combine well with a WordPress multisite and can make routine management easier for the Network Administrator as well as for individual Site Admins.



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Best WordPress Helpdesk Plugins to Manage Support


WordPress helpdesk plugins enable you to offer centralized and timely support therefore boosting user interaction and, ultimately, conversions. Getting more conversions means you’ll walk around with a smug look on your face like Simon Cowell, which is always a good thing.

In today’s post, we point you to the best WordPress helpdesk plugins available in the market, so you can add a fully functional support system to woo more customers. But even with the best WordPress helpdesk plugins, great support eventually boils down to one thing: availability.

You can have a helpdesk plugin forged in the fires of Mount Doom, but if you are unavailable to render support, it’s all useless. It’s just like getting stuck in the Sahara Desert with a Humvee that just ran out of gas. Yes, you have a high mobility vehicle but what’s the use? The searing desert heat, which in this case represents customer rage, will consume you.

Without further ado, let’s get down to business.

Premium WordPress Helpdesk Plugins

Let’s start with premium WordPress helpdesk plugins. All helpdesk plugins here are relatively cheap and easy to setup and use. Really, you should set up your support system in less than 5 minutes with any of the following plugins.

Catchers Helpdesk WordPress Plugin

wordpress helpdesk plugins catchers-helpdesk-and-support

Thanks to Marti, one of the guys behind this auspicious helpdesk plugin, I had a chance to test drive Catchers on one of my site. And between you and me, I was so impressed I now use it for one of my contact forms.

It’s incredibly easy to setup and use, which means you can provide amazing support before the next guy reads the rest of this post. You can easily customize your support forms to look exactly how you wish and place them wherever you desire using shortcodes. You can even have contact forms pop up to ensure readers don’t leave your pages.

Need more power? Note that Catchers Helpdesk plugin comes with custom fields that allow you to extend your forms whichever way you fancy, while Google reCaptcha keeps out the spammers.

WooCommerce Extension = Yay!

At the time of writing, Marti and company are working on a WooCommerce extension, which means you can look forward to all sorts of good things.

On top of that, you can assign tickets to different support reps, change ticket priority and organize said tickets into categories. Additionally, your readers can contact you via the contact form or email, and Catchers Helpdesk will convert all support emails to tickets that are easily retrievable via WordPress admin.

If your visitors ask the same question repeatedly, you can take advantage of saved replies to save time at all stages of the conversion funnel. That, and you have auto reply to keep visitors interested, and a fully customizable email footer that drives more engagement. To keep tabs on the team, you can use private notes that are only visible to your and your support agents.

If need be, you can easily export tickets to a CSV file for future reference and view visitor details using the customer card feature. This WordPress helpdesk plugin is relatively new in the market, but has a sterling rating of 5.00/5.00 already.

Get Catchers Helpdesk

Knowledge Base

wordpress helpdesk plugins knowledge-base

Perhaps you’d like to cut down on all those hours you spend dispensing customer support. Perhaps you’d like a more passive means of helping your visitors out. You’d like to lessen customer support emails and one-on-one telephone calls.

Of all WordPress helpdesk plugins we review here today, this bad boy wins big since it helps you to create not only a knowledge base, but also self-service customer support centers, product documentation, wiki, and extensive FAQs among others.

Knowledge Base is brought to you by PressApps, an elite author, and ships with amazing features such as drag-and-drop post reordering, live search, breadcrumbs, multiple page layouts, voting system, shortcodes, responsive design, custom link colors, multi-lingual support and so much more.

The knowledge base plugin has all the features you need and none of those that you don’t. It’s easy to configure and just works. Super easy to train my clients to use it, so much so that they are excited for how much time they will save by having a KB on their site. Awesome stuff! – RenegadeEmpire.

The Knowledge Base plugin has an above average rating of 3.77/5.00.

Get the Knowledge Base Plugin

AH Tickets

wordpress-helpdesk-plugins-ah-tickets

If there’s one thing that sold me on this WordPress helpdesk plugin is how easy it is to setup. No really, I am not kidding, and please don’t take my word for it. Just check out the AH Tickets installation video below. It’s just a minute long:

The second, third and fourth wins for yours truly must be the beautiful design, an impressive list of features and the outstanding buyer rating of 4.97/5.00. What features? You ask. AH Tickets underlying architecture finds strength in the Bootstrap framework, meaning it’s future-proof and responsive from the word go.

Still on the features train, AH Tickets boast of browser and system notifications, a fully customizable landing page, multi-lingual and RTL support, knowledge base, file attachments, an intuitive dashboard, Font Awesome icons, Google fonts, ratings, departments, multiple support agents, $12 bucks worth of plugins and so much more.

You can connect AH Tickets to Mailchimp to grow your mailing list and allow your visitors to login using their favorite social media account. This, indeed, is one of the greatest WordPress helpdesk plugins you can get your hands on.

Get AH Tickets

WordPress Chat X

wordpress-helpdesk-plugins-wordpress-chat-x

A best seller in the customer service domain, WordPress Chat X is the ultimate live chat plugin for WordPress. If you haven’t had the chance, please read how to add live chat to your WordPress site to understand why live chat is of vital importance as far as instantaneous support goes.

Back to WordPress Chat X, it’s one of those WordPress helpdesk plugins you must try. Before you go into fits, I gave this baby a test drive and here comes a few details to support my outlandish proclamation.

To start with, this plugin looks cute in the design department. Plus you can customize your chat widget to your heart’s content, what with unlimited colors and what not.

100 Active Chats, Offline Mode & Emojis

At any given time, 100 users can chat on your site, and if you’re offline, the chat widget morphs into a contact form visitors can use to send you messages. If you like, you can even initiate chat with any of your site visitors. And if you’re in good moods, spice up your chat sessions with emojis.

WordPress Chat X is fast and lightweight and supports WPML, SSL encryption for security, WordPress 4.6+ and PHP 7. On top of that, you can add your social links at end of chat or when your operators are offline. As far as installation goes, the only prerequisite is a free Firebase account. The chat session runs on Firebase but chat history is stored on your servers for record keeping.

WordPress Chat X is by Screets, an elite author, has a great rating of 4.53/5.00 and receives regular updates every other month. It’s a great tool for your customer support efforts.

Get WordPress Chat X

WooCommerce Support Ticket System

wordpress-helpdesk-plugins-woocommerce-support-system

Image Source: Envato

If you run an ecommerce website using WooCommerce, here’s a WordPress helpdesk plugin made just for you. Built with love by Vanquish, an elite author who has 20+ WooCommerce extensions under the belt, this support ticket system works as advertised.

WooCommerce Support Ticket System plays well with WordPress and WooCommerce offering you a solid solution to support order and user tickets. What I mean is a user can submit a ticket about any issue they’re facing on your site, or a support ticket specific to a particular order.

Streamline Your Workflow

Your visitors submit tickets via the frontend while shopping, and you manage all queries using a special backend dashboard. Nothing too technical, it has the same WooCommerce feel. After all, the plugin simply extends WooCommerce.

You can customize WooCommerce Support Ticket System to suit any design needs, and using shortcodes, you can port the plugin anywhere on your site. That, plus the plugin add tabs to user and admin pages making it easily accessible.

As far as support tickets go, you can assign tickets to different agents, retrieve a great deal of information about each ticket, edit/delete tickets, gather customer information and so much more.

Get the WooCommerce Support Ticket System

Free WordPress Helpdesk Plugins

If you’re a bootstrapping freak, on a tight budget, or simply want to test out WordPress helpdesk plugins without putting money down, below is a list of the best free WordPress helpdesk plugins at WordPress.org. If you don’t find your favorite, please say something in the comment section to keep the list growing. Deal? Great, let’s rock and roll.

Awesome Support

wordpress-helpdesk-plugins-awesome-support-plugin

Let’s kick off this second section with a WordPress helpdesk plugin that stays true to its name. Awesome Support is a strong contender among many other WordPress helpdesk plugins – both free and premium. It’s designed to soften your work as far as customer support goes.

I tried it out on your behalf and was I impressed or what? I know, it’s just a WordPress plugin, but I bet big money you’d change your mind if you knew what this plugin can do. Handcrafted to perfection by Julien Liabeuf, SiamKreative and the Awesome Support Team, this plugin covers all your bases.

Installing the thing is easy since it’s available for free at WordPress.org. This just means you can install it right from your WordPress dashboard. After installing, you can’t miss it, as the plugin adds easy to spot menu items that take you a step closer to your support goals. There aren’t many settings, so that you get confused. No. Nothing of the sort. Everything is clean to a fault.

Ready Page Templates & Shortcodes

By default, the plugin adds Submit Ticket and My Tickets pages, but you can add your support system to any page you fancy using a shortcode. The settings give you absolute control over how your support system looks and functions.

Your visitors can easily create support accounts (to submit tickets) and track their ticket history. The submit ticket form is straightforward and features the familiar visual editor as well as file attachments. You, on the other hand, can track all tickets, assign tickets, prioritize any ticket and gather information about your visitors among other things.

Other notable features include email notifications, a responsive design, restricted access, support for multiple products and departments, a slew of free and premium extensions, agent collaboration and custom fields just to mention a few.

Awesome Support is a true reflection of what WordPress helpdesk plugins should aim to achieve, and an incredible rating of 4.5/5.0 is proof enough.

Get Awesome Support for Free

WP Support Plus

wordpress-helpdesk-plugins-wp-support-plus

With over 8k active installs at the time of writing, and a horde of features that will make your head spin, this plugin is making big waves in the WordPress helpdesk plugins arena. Authored by Pradeep Makone, an active contributor at WordPress.org, WP Support Plus offers you a ticketing system with a twist.

Thanks to the underlying Ajax technology and a responsive grid, your visitors can submit tickets easily and quickly from any device. This plugin allows you to submit an unlimited number of support tickets either via the admin or frontend. On top of that, users needn’t register on your site to submit a ticket, which shortens the whole process. What about spam bots working your forms senseless? Worry not, this plugin comes with a credible anti-spam feature.

Custom Fields & CSS

At your disposal, you have custom fields and CSS to build your ticket forms however you want. After building, place your forms on any page or post using a shortcode. This plugin ships with email templates as well as canned replies for frequent questions. Additionally, you can prioritize, categorize and set the status of any ticket easily from within the admin dashboard.

The settings panel is bursting with the best of features meaning nothing is holding you back from creating a support experience that is out of this world. You can task this plugin with all kinds of support functions and it won’t break. It spurs well with a splendid rating of 4.7/5.0.

Get WP Support Plus for Free

WordPress Helpdesk Plugins Honorable Mentions

Can you believe the list ends here? Well, the above WordPress helpdesk plugins offer you all the tools you need to provide the kind of support that actually works for you and your site visitors. The premium plugins deliver quite a punch, but don’t let the free options fool you; they are amazing too. Below, is a couple of other WordPress helpdesk plugins & solutions worth checking out:

  • Zendesk, which allows you to convert your comment section into a support system among other things
  • Help Scout, which focuses on personalizing the support experience
  • Support Ticket System that ships with great search functionality
  • Casengo Live Chat that supports WhatsApp integration
  • bbPress because forums make for great support systems too

Final Words

These and other WordPress helpdesk plugins offer your customers the chance to initiate contact and get help whenever and wherever they are stuck on your site. The same plugins offer you the chance to help out your site visitors more efficiently since it’s easier to create, manage and track support tickets right from within your admin dashboard.

Bottom line: WordPress helpdesk plugins help you to improve user experience and boost conversions while saving time. Whether you choose premium or go with a free helpdesk plugin, just ensure you reply to support tickets on time or you will earn yourself some bad rep.

Which is your favorite WordPress helpdesk plugin? Let us know in the comments. Cheers!



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3 Ways to Discover Which WordPress Themes and Plugins Your Favorite Sites Use


There are more than 2.5 million WordPress websites out there, with 500 new sites being created every day. Yet many of these sites look so different from one another that you’d never guess they were running the same Content Management System (CMS). It seems incredible that website owners are able to accomplish such a feat.

The answer to this puzzle is simple, however. There are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins available – tools that give each new site the potential to become something unique. If you learn which of those themes and plugins your favorite websites have used to achieve their look and functionality, you can discover how to attain some of the same results they so impressively display.

In this article, we’ll recommend a selection of tools for discovering which themes and plugins your favorite sites utilize, and show you how each one works. We’ll be focusing largely on tools available within the hugely popular Chrome browser, but we’ll mention alternatives for other platforms along the way too. Let’s get started!

1. Search With a Web-Based Detector

The ScanWP homepage

ScanWP is a simple-to-use tool for WordPress theme and plugin detection.

The simplest way to peer behind the curtain of a website is to use a web-based detection tool. There are a lot of them, and most are free and easy to use. All you have to do is type in a URL, and the tool will do the rest.

Since we’re specifically focusing on WordPress websites, a good place to start is with ScanWP. It does an excellent job of providing key information about WordPress sites in a way that’s easy to understand. If you enter a web address into the search bar, you’ll get results that look like this:

Results of a ScanWP detection

You can see here that the WebGrowth Academy website was built using our Total theme. If you scroll down, you’ll also find that it uses the Visual Composer plugin. This tool won’t reveal every plugin a site is using, but it will show you one or two of the most common. It will also help you determine whether the website you’re looking at was actually built in WordPress. If it wasn’t, you’ll get a message informing you of that fact.

If you want greater detail about how a website was built, you can also try BuiltWith. It’s a similar tool that is a little more dense and technical in nature. However, it can show you information well beyond just themes and plugins – including widgets, hosting providers, and analytics software.

2. Install a Detection App

The ScanWP app homepage

ScanWP also has a browser extension app to make investigating WordPress sites quicker.

ScanWP and BuiltWith are simple yet powerful tools. However, they require you to visit an external website to find the information you want. It can be useful to have access to behind-the-scenes data while you’re still on the website in question, especially if you intend to investigate a lot of sites.

Fortunately, you can install an app that will integrate with your browser and provide an easy way to get some details on any site you visit. We’ll stick with ScanWP for now, since they offer a version of their tool as a browser extension. Simply install it in Chrome – it’s free, and should only take a minute.

Once it’s installed, you’ll see a new icon at the top right corner of your browser window. This icon will change depending on the CMS of the website you’re on. If you’re visiting a WordPress website, you’ll see the WordPress logo (a stylized ‘W’). Click on that icon, and you’ll see the same information we found before:

The ScanWP app tool open in a browser

If you’re interested in an alternative option that works for both WordPress and other CMSs, we also recommend Wappalyzer (which has a version for Firefox). Using one of these extensions means you’ll have insight into the themes and plugins your favorite sites are using whenever you browse the web.

3. Use a Browser Inspection Tool

A website with the browser inspection tool open

With Chrome’s browser inspection tool, you can easily see the code behind any website.

Maybe the above tools aren’t enough for you, however. They don’t show all the information about how a website was built, after all – for example, they’ll only display a few plugins, even if the site you’re looking at uses a dozen. If you want to go deeper, you can explore a site’s actual code for further clues.

In Chrome, you can do this by right-clicking anywhere on a website and selecting the Inspect option. This will open a panel in your browser that displays the website’s code. It’ll probably look overwhelming if you’ve never looked at site code before, but we’re just looking for one piece of information. Do a search within the code for “style.css”. You should only get one result, and it should be part of a link. If you examine the link closely, you’ll see the word “themes” followed by a slash and the name of the theme the site is using. In this case, we can again see that WebGrowth Academy is using the Total theme:

A website's style.css file highlighted in its code

It’s possible to do this in Firefox or Safari via a similar method. If you’re also curious about plugins, you’ll need to do a bit more technical work. However, you can often determine what plugins a website has installed using the browser inspection tool. This final method is certainly the most complex, but has the potential to reveal the greatest amount of information.

Conclusion

Building a WordPress website can seem like a big job at first, especially if you’re looking to create more than a simple blog. Thankfully, you don’t have to start from scratch. Learning what themes and plugins your favorite sites are using is a surefire way to jumpstart the process and provide you with options you’ve already seen in action.

There are plenty of ways to find out exactly what tools a WordPress website has installed, so you can learn from its developers’ decisions. Try using these three methods to inspect your favorite sites:

  1. Visit a web-based detector such as ScanWP or BuiltWith.
  2. Install a detection app like ScanWP’s browser extension or Wappalyzer.
  3. Use a browser inspection tool to examine the site’s code yourself.

Do you have any questions about investigating WordPress websites? Let us know in the comments section below!



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Which WordPress Widgets Should You Display in Your Sidebars?


Sidebars are important areas on your website that can often be overlooked or not used effectively. Designed correctly, your sidebars can help provide a great user experience, promote your business, generate leads, and help you increase your revenue.

There is no one set rule as to what widgets should be displayed in your sidebars. Instead, your sidebar content should be driven by your site goals. In this article, we will look at how to choose the right widgets for your site goals to optimize your sidebars. We will then look at a selection of the most important widgets, including displaying opt-in forms, social media links, and popular posts, amongst others.

By the time you finish this article, you should have a clear view of exactly what widgets you should display in your site’s sidebars.

Establish Your Site Goals

It’s important that you use every space of your sidebars to help your site convert against its goals. Therefore, the widgets you use in your sidebars should be directly related to the aims of your site.

It may be that you that you are trying to grow your email list or social media following. You might be looking to keep your audience on your site for longer, encourage them to read more of your blog, or become regular returning visitors. Or you may be wanting to sell products, services, or an online course or membership. Whatever the goals, your widgets should reflect them.

The order of your widgets is also important. The widgets linked to your most important goals should be given prominent positions at the top of a sidebar. Lower ranking goal focussed widgets should be pushed further down the page.

Make sure you don’t overload or clutter your sidebars. Get this wrong and you could end up losing visitors or at least confusing them. Think carefully about what you will add to your sidebar. Always make sure there is a reason behind each widget you’ve chosen.

So let’s have a look at some of the widgets that you should be using.

Display an ‘About Me’ Widget

About Me Widget

Whatever type of website you are running, an About Me widget is important. It helps visitors relate to your site and understand what you are trying to achieve with your business.

On my freelance writer portfolio site, I used the ‘Genesis – User Profile’ widget. This allowed me to add a title ‘About Me’, text about myself, as well as my gravatar image. A link at the bottom of my text also lets me link to an appropriate page, which could be your About page, your Contact page, or another relevant page that you would like your audience to visit.

If your theme doesn’t have a specific ‘About Me’ widget, a simple text widget will suffice. If you would like to display your gravatar, Jetpack provides a module called Extra Sidebar Widgets. One of these is the Gravatar Profile Widget. This widget enables you to add your gravatar to sidebars, as well as some of your gravatar profile data.

Add an Opt-in Form

Optin Widget

Collecting email addresses should be a goal for all sites, whatever your business. Being able to contact your audience after they have left your site is crucial. Obtaining visitor emails means you can continue to market your business to them, send newsletters, promote articles, products and services, and encourage them back to your site.

Adding an opt-in form to your sidebars is a great way to get your visitors to sign up to a monthly newsletter or general correspondence. Mostly, people won’t bother to look for an optin form, so displaying it in sidebars keeps it visible and makes it as easy as possible for your audience to sign up.

Bloom from Elegant Themes is a premium email optin plugin. It has six different ways to provide opt-in forms, but one of these options is to add widget area opt-in forms to your sidebars or footers. Bloom’s stylish and professional forms are perfect for catching your audience’s attention. This should help contribute to an increase in lead generation.

Promote Social Media

Social media is another key area that businesses should always be promoting. Sidebars are a good place to display follow buttons to help gain followers. You can also show a social media feed, or two, to show off what is going on on your social media channels.

Simple Follow Me Social Buttons Widget

Simple Follow Me

Simple Follow Me Social Buttons Widget is a free WordPress social media plugin that will allow you to add follow buttons to your sidebars. Adding this social media widget to your sidebars means that your follow buttons will be constantly visible, encouraging your visitors to follow you.

Feed Them Social

Feed Them Social

Feed Them Social is another social media plugin, but this time one that displays social media feeds. Create custom feeds for Facebook pages, groups, events, photo albums, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and more. These feeds can then be placed in sidebars to display what is happening on your social media channels.

Use a Popular or Related Posts Plugin

Related Posts

If you are looking to keep your visitors on your site for longer and explore your content then it is important to display a widget to help with that. Using a related posts or popular posts widget is a great way to give visitors a snapshot of what else is available on your site. Equally, if you have specific content that you are wanting to promote, then you can display that instead.

WordPress Popular Posts Plugin

WordPress Popular Posts

A widget displaying your most popular posts is an effective way to encourage your visitors to click onto another article. People like to follow the crowd, so if certain posts are perceived as being ‘popular’, this should help increase the click through rate.

WordPress Popular Posts is a free WordPress plugin that enables you to display your most popular posts in your sidebars. This highly customizable widget gives you numerous options over which settings and features you use, as well as providing statistics on your most viewed popular posts.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)

YARPP

If your site covers a wide range of interests and subjects, a popular posts plugin may not interest readers, as the articles displayed could be off topic and not specific to individuals tastes. In this case, displaying a related posts widget in your sidebars will be more appropriate.

A related posts plugin will show posts that are relevant to the article that is being read. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) is a free WordPress plugin. It relies on a powerful and unique algorithm that finds content across your site relevant to the post being viewed. Results are then displayed in a thumbnail or list format in your sidebar, to help grab your viewer’s attention and encourage them to keep reading.

Display a Google Map

If your business is a brick and mortar shop, restaurant, spa, or something else, then you need to tell your online audience where you are located. Make this easy for them by adding a map into your sidebars.

Google Maps Widget

The Google Maps Widget allows you to add a thumbnail map with a custom pin icons to your sidebars. There are also interactive and lightbox options, to help your map grab your visitors’ attention. This widget is the perfect way to show your customers where you are and increase traffic to your store.

Increase Your Sales

If you are looking to increase sales then use your sidebars to help you achieve this. Whether you are selling course membership, products on your site, or affiliate products, use your sidebars to encourage your audience to make a purchase.

Display your most popular products or specific ones you are trying to promote. Add a banner advertising a course or membership. Always make sure your audience can click through to help them quickly and easily find and purchase the item they are interested in.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are numerous widgets that you can add to your sidebars. Choose the ones specifically relevant to your site goals. Every widget displayed should be helping your site deliver the results you need.

What widgets are you going to add to your sidebars? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.



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Essential WordPress Plugins for Enhancing Twenty Seventeen


Twenty Seventeen is the default WordPress theme for this year. Whilst it is a great free WordPress theme, in this article we are going to recommend some plugins to help make the theme, and your site, even better.

Enhance Twenty Seventeen with a contact form and email optin form plugin. Use a page builder and slider plugin to help your WordPress website stand out from the crowd. Add security and backup plugins to keep your site safe and secure. And install Jetpack to deal with all the extra WordPress needs that may arise.

By the time you have finished reading, you’ll be ready to get started with Twenty Seventeen!

Why You Should Be Using Twenty Seventeen

2017 Theme

Twenty Seventeen, recently released with WordPress 4.7, is a modern and stylish theme. Created for not just blogs, but also businesses, this is a first of its kind for a default WordPress theme.

Sleek and Contemporary Design

Twenty Seventeen makes an impact for many reasons. Its design is one of them. Sleek and contemporary, this theme will wow visitors. A full page header image, which can also display video, will catch the attention of your audience. And featured images can be immersed within your homepage, producing a professional look and feel.

Easy to Use

Twenty Seventeen has never been easier to use, or more accessible to the masses. The live customizer enables you to customize your site, on the front end, watching your alterations as you make them. No more to saving and switching between tabs.

If you don’t know the name of an element you’d like to alter, simply click on the relevant pencil icon, known as a Visible Editable Shortcut, to open the customizer at the right place. It is also possible to add CSS in the customizer, making this versatile theme ideal for beginners and web developers alike.

Excellent for Businesses

In the past, default WordPress themes have been designed with blogs in mind. Twenty Seventeen sees a shift in direction, with a focus resting on business. This theme sees a static home page, perfect to promote your business and display key content. Multiple sections on the front page, along with widgets, a social menu, logo, and lots more, see all immediate business needs catered for.

So now you’ve seen some of the impressive features of Twenty Seventeen offers. But, as with all free themes, and many premium ones, there are a few essential plugins you should consider installing to help enhance its design and functionality.

Install Jetpack

Jetpack Plugin

Jetpack is a free plugin from WordPress, that contains a variety of modules to help enhance your website. Jetpack is a popular plugin, helped by its ease of use and the sheer range and number of modules it provides. Let’s have a look at some of the modules you should activate on Twenty Seventeen…

Photon

With beautiful large images being part of Twenty Seventeen’s appeal, it is important that this media focus doesn’t slow your site down. The Jetpack module Photon caches content from your site to the WordPress.com servers. Images are then loaded from the fast WordPress.com content delivery network, which in turn increases the speed of your site. And a fast site can only improve the user experience.

Site Stats

Monitoring your analytics is an essential part of growing a WordPress business, that many of us neglect. The module Site Stats displays important data within your WordPress dashboard. Stats are displayed in a way that is easy to understand and work with.

See how many people have visited your site, which pages and posts are most popular, and lots more. Although Site Stats doesn’t contain the in-depth reporting that Google Analytics does, the quick access to data and ease of comprehension, make it an extremely useful tool.

Publicize

Twenty Seventeen comes complete with a social menu bar, enabling viewers to quickly follow you, or share your content on social media. However, with social media being more important than ever, you will need more than just social share buttons to keep on top of the game.

Publicize enables your new articles to be automatically posted to your social media channels as you publish them. This helps not only keep your social media accounts active, but it also saves you much time and effort posting to numerous social media sites. The more social media you can automate the better!

As you can see, the functionality of Jetpack is impressive, and new modules are being constantly added. Premium security, backup and SEO modules, amongst others, are also offered. If you were to install only one plugin on Twenty Seventeen, with its extensive features catering for all areas of WordPress, Jetpack would be my choice.

Add a Contact Form with Ninja Forms

Ninja Forms

A contact form is an essential feature for any website, but especially a business site. Although Twenty Seventeen comes with a pre-set Contact Page, to add a contact form you will need to install a contact form plugin.

Ninja Forms is a free WordPress plugin that will enable you to add an effective and attractive contact form to your contact page. It’s advanced drag and drop form creator means forms are easy to create and you can customize forms to suit your site’s exact needs. Add-ons can also be purchased to extend the functionality of a form, including taking payments. A must have plugin, this form builder is a quick, yet powerful, enhancement to Twenty Seventeen.

Choose a Page Builder

Page Builder Site Origin

Bearing in mind that the Twenty Seventeen theme will be used to create thousands of websites, using a page builder to help differentiate your website is a good idea.

Page Builder by SiteOrigin is a free WordPress plugin that will help you design responsive page layouts. Its intuitive drag and drop interface will enable you to produce attractive and eye-catching pages, helping your site stand out from its competitors.

If you are looking for a more advanced tool, Beaver Builder is a premium page builder that will enable you to create beautiful and professional pages. Use one of its 30 customizable templates, saving you time and ensuring a sophisticated appearance. Easy to use, Beaver Builder will help you to craft your website design to your exact specifications.

Display Your Images with Meta Slider

Meta Slider

Twenty Seventeen, with its full page header image, will immediately appeal to designers and photographers that have portfolios to display. But if you want your pictures to make a strong impact on your audience then you should think about adding a slideshow feature.

Meta Slider is a free WordPress plugin that can display your images in a slider. Create a slideshow in a matter of minutes by simply dragging and dropping images you need. Choose from 4 different types of slideshow, add captions, and lots more. Add the Meta Slider Lightbox plugin to allow slides to open in a Lightbox format.

Use an Email Capture Tool

OptinForms

Generating leads should be a goal for all online businesses. Once you have collected an email, you can keep in contact with an individual. Use email to promote your products or services to your mailing list, and entice people back to your site with an eye on turning them into life long customers.

Another free WordPress plugin, Optin Forms allows you to create stunning forms to collect the emails of your readers. Choose from 5 customizable forms, alter them to suit your needs, then add to your posts or pages.

If you are looking to use pop-ups for email capture, then the premium plugin OptinMonster may be for you. Choose from multiple form types, from lightbox popups to slide-ins. Target forms at a particular audience, and track your analytics to see how successful your forms are at collecting email addresses. Although pricey, this plugin will ensure you see results.

Consider Security and Backups

Twenty Seventeen will have been subjected to stringent security reviews. However, it is still important that you take the security of your WordPress site seriously. Installing security and backup plugins is one of the most important jobs you can do and should be a top priority.

Wordfence WordPress Plugin

WordFence

Wordfence is a powerful free WordPress security plugin that will help keep your site safe and secure. It uses a firewall to protect your site and keeps you updated of any security breaches. So you can rest assured your site is in capable hands.

For the larger sites and online businesses out there, it may well be worth upgrading to Wordfence Pro, which offers real-time threat detection and top class support.

UpDraftPlus Backup Plugin

UpdraftPlus

Adding a backup plugin to your WordPress site should go hand in hand with installing a security plugin. No security plugin can guarantee your site is 100% safe, so by backing up you ensure that you have a copy of your site, whatever happens.

The plugin UpDraftPlus allows you to back up to the Cloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and numerous other places. Importantly, data can be restored with just a click of a button. Therefore, if your site is lost, it can be restored quickly and easily. This could help save your sales and lost customers.

A Pro version of UpDraftPlus is also available, and again maybe a sensible purchase for the larger sites out there. Extras offered with this service include site cloning and migration, automatic pre-scheduled backups, and lots more.

Final Thoughts

The plugins you install with Twenty Seventeen will mainly depend on the type of site you run and what functionalities you need. However, if you are looking to enhance your website, then using the WordPress plugins mentioned in this article as a starting point will mean you can’t go too far wrong.

Is there a WordPress plugin that you can’t manage without that we haven’t mentioned? Please share your thoughts on other essential plugins for Twenty Seventeen in the comments below…



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Jetpack Modules To Level Up Your WordPress Website


It’s hard to describe Jetpack – calling it a mere plugin would be doing it an injustice. Let’s just say that Jetpack is a bunch of plugins bundled into one. It adds many benefits that a WordPress.com account holder normally enjoys to your website. For a self hosted WordPress website, this is akin to buttering your toast on both sides – you have the flexibility of a WordPress.org install, and at the same time, you enjoy many of the benefits of a WordPress.com account for free, simply by activating Jetpack modules on your website. And, since the plugin is made by Automattic, you can expect it to be perfectly compatible with WordPress.

Currently, Jetpack offers more than 35 modules that greatly enhance the functionality of your WordPress. These cover security, traffic and SEO, creating beautiful content with images, and videos that can display on galleries and carousels. As a bonus, Jetpack can also improve site speed and save bandwidth (if you activate the Photon module). While most modules are free, you’d have to sign up for a WordPress.com account to use the plugin.

It’s not necessary for you to activate all the modules. You can activate just the ones that are needed for your site by visiting Settings under Jetpack.

These are the modules that I’d pick for my site,

Protect

The Protect module is one of many security features that come with Jetpack. WordPress users familiar with the Brute Protect plugin will recognize many of the functions that are now incorporated in the Jetpack plugin (Brute Protect has been acquired by Automattic).

This Jetpack module works by keeping track of the failed login attempts from any IP into any Jetpack powered website. Making use of this cloud-stored data, Jetpack blocks login attempts into your website from this malicious IP. The IPs are blocked for varying periods of time. This way, your website stays safe from break-in attempts. You can read more about protecting your site from break-ins in our earlier post. For more effective spam protection, you’ll need to activate Akismet.

Another reason you’ll be happy to activate Protect is because it gives you the option to whitelist your own IP. With this module activated, you can be sure that you’re not locked out of your own site.

To activate Protect: Jetpack > Settings > Protect

Photon

One surefire way to improve site speed is to use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to store static files like images, in remote servers. The Photon module uses the WordPress.com cloud to cache images from the posts and pages of your website. It can fetch, resize and serve up any .png, .gif or .jpg image.

For Photon to work on your website, it’s important that your server uploads the image within ten seconds, otherwise you risk being timed out and the image will appear broken.

To activate Photon: Jetpack > Settings > Photon

Tiled Galleries and Carousels

Create beautiful galleries and carousels with the Tiled Galleries and Carousels Jetpack modules active on your site. Galleries will appear in a tiled format that can be rectangular or square or as a circular grid. You can design these formats by creating a gallery in the normal way using the Add Media setting. But now you’ll find a new option “Tiles” which you can use to choose the layout option of the gallery.

The default width used for the images is 500px. However, if your theme specifies a content width, the images will resize to fit that specification. As these gallery images need to be processed further, they are served up from the WordPress.com cloud. This module will work, even if you’ve not enabled the Photon module.

If you activate the Carousel module, it instantly converts any gallery on your website into a full screen carousel. Besides, you can select a white or dark background for the carousel under options in Settings > Media.

Monitor

Monitor is one module I’d recommend to all users. Jetpack tests if your website remains accessible by pinging it every five minutes, once you activate this module. If the HTTP response is not good or if there are too many redirects, the plugin will tentatively mark your site as down. Subsequently, it’s pinged from three different geographical locations for confirmation. If all 3 checks fail, you’ll receive an intimation in your WordPress.com account.

An hour later, you’ll receive a second intimation, if your website is still down. And then you’ll be notified once the website is up and running again.

To activate Monitor: Jetpack > Settings > Monitor

Contact Form

A Contact Form is an important ingredient in many web pages, and Jetpack includes a module for this as well. Activating the module is a super easy way to add a contact form to any post or page on your website.

An Add Contact Form option appears in the Post / Page editor. Click on it, and a popup will open, which you can edit by adding, or reordering fields. If you wish, you can even style the form’s appearance using CSS and change the text that will appear in the Submit button.

And this how my Contact Form appears from the frontend – quite basic, but gets the job done.

For any response received on the form in the frontend, you’ll receive an intimation by email. You can view these mails conveniently on your WordPress Admin area, under the Feedback section. If you happen to be an Akismet subscriber, the responses will be filtered for spam as well.

To activate Contact Form: Jetpack > Settings > Contact Form

Related Posts

A neat way to keep visitors longer on your site is to suggest other posts that they may find interesting on your site. This is possible when you activate the Related Posts module.

This module scans your content for posts that are related to each other in a contextual manner. It picks out appropriate content that is likely to hold the reader’s interest and displays it beneath each post. All the backend work of pulling out related posts is carried out in the cloud, and so there’s no load on your site or server.

You can configure the display of the Related Posts by adjusting the settings to add a header or thumbnails. This module will locate related posts based on context or categories or tags. It will only display if there are atleast three posts that it can list.

To activate Related Posts: Jetpack > Settings > Related Posts

Enhanced Distribution

Enhanced Distribution is a module that can help to get better visibility for your content. Any content that is not restricted for viewing is automatically added to the WordPress firehose and becomes available for public viewing on WordPress.com.

What is firehose ? Well, companies and just about anybody interested in accessing information can view a stream of information that passes through WordPress.com. If it happens that they use the content from your blog to display on their websites, they must link back to your content. Activating this module can add readers to your blog.

To activate Enhanced Distribution: Jetpack > Settings > Enhanced Distribution

Publicize

Publishing your posts on social media can help to bring your content before the right audience. The Publicize module will automatically push content to the social media that you select.

To configure this module, visit Settings > Sharing and click the Connect button against the selected social media options. Once you login to the social accounts and authorize the connection, you’ll see these forums in the Post Editor near the Publish option. When you hit Publish, these posts automatically appear on selected social media.

The list of media options can be changed on a per post basis using the Edit button. Publicize also works for scheduled posts, they are automatically pushed to social media at the scheduled dates and times. The option works only for new posts and for Administrator, Editor and author roles. It can also be customized using a bit of code or additional plugins.

Widget Visibility

Widget Visibility module allows you to control the visibility of each of your widgets on different pages. You can set visibility so that a widget appears on particular pages and not on others. You can control this on the basis of 5 aspects – page type, category, tag, date, and author.

Each aspect works independently, and you cannot adjust visibility to apply to any particular combination of aspects, say pages belonging to a particular category and author.

Gravatar Hovercards

To convert your gravatar into some kind of online business card, enable the Gravatar hovercard. Information about you is then visible to others and they can find you more easily online.

When you activate this module, the hovercards appear when the mouse hovers over your gravatar.

Site Verification

In order to enable webmaster tools to verify your site, we normally add a “meta tag” or change the DNS entry. If you want Jetpack to do this for you, activate the Site Verification Module.

You’ll need to configure the settings for each service like Google, Bing or Pinterest. The instructions for configuring these services are provided here.

Last Words

Many users perceive Jetpack as bulky and as a plugin that slows down your site’s response time. Well, look at it this way – it’s carrying out the task of multiple plugins, it’s totally compatible with WordPress, is free (mostly) and you can activate only those modules that you need.



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Most Common Mistakes of WordPress Beginners


Maybe you are just starting your own blog, or maybe you are trying to build a website for your business by yourself. Either way, if you have a little experience and you found out about WordPress, you will make some mistakes. Everybody in your situation does them.

Mistakes are common for beginners, but also for more experienced users, or to put it in larger scale, for humans in general. Although the fact is that everybody prefers to avoid them (for obvious reasons). Since WordPress is already used by millions of users around the world, there are some common mistakes to learn from. Viktor from WebCreate.Me shared with us some of them:

1. WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

Choosing the wrong platform is number one mistake by a wide margin. WordPress.com is more suitable for the personal website. It’s free and easy to create. You don’t have to worry about server setup, backups, updates and other such things. On the other hand, WordPress.org requires to buy your own WordPress hosting and install WordPress on it. It gives you a full control over your website with an almost unlimited number of themes, WP plugins, and customization, but you have to download it and manage it yourself. If you start your blog with WordPress.org it saves you transfers down the road and it allows you to make money off your blog immediately. But you can read more about all the pros and cons in our WordPress.org vs WordPress.com guide.

2. Relying on unknown developers

You can find thousands of premium and free themes or plugins online. No matter how good some of them look, you should always go with an established, WordPress-approved developer. Some of them may cost you a few dollars, but you’re paying for security, support, usability and search engine rankings among other things. Going all out on free things from unknown developers may cost you not just your time, but also money later.

3. Spending money left and right

Although it’s not always the best for you to go with free things, you should have a vision what you really need for your website. All the options out there might be overwhelming, but all you need to get you started is the domain name and web hosting. You might want to invest into your design, but things like branded emails, 5 years’ worth of registration and SSL among others might be a little bit too much to invest in right from a get-go. If you need to pay for some plugins, make sure you really need them. Having unnecessary plugins will have an effect not just on your wallet, but also clutter up your WordPress installation.

4. Not having a backup

Most hosting companies are doing automatic backups for you and might even restore your site for free, but nothing in the world of technology is 100%, so you should always keep your own copy. It’s not even that complicated. All you have to do is to set up a schedule for a backup and you will be set. There is a whole list of free & premium backup plugins available for you, though our personal favorite is VaultPress. Installing a good backup platform is crucial for you, so pick one accordingly.

5. Using default URL structure

Neither users nor search engines are thrilled about seeing web pages, which look something like yourpage.com/?p=23. Users will less likely click on it because they see nothing behind that link and search engines are looking for keywords also inside the URLs. That’s why you should go to your WordPress dashboard and under Settings > Permalinks change your permalinks settings from “Plain” to “Post name.” You will be still able to change your link in the editor, but it will look better for users and you will boost your search engine rankings as well by default.

6. Not updating default Favicon

A favicon might seem just like a little icon of your blog in a browser window, but it’s also how your visitors recognize you among other tabs they have opened. It’s your identity card and you should pay attention to building your brand. You will look more professional and there are many free favicon generators online, which can generate it for you. If you want to go with something more advanced, think about using marketplaces like Fiverr to get a cheap design.

Here is a simple guide how to change your favicon, if you already have one ready to use.

7. Forgetting about your security

Some of you might be laughing right now, but this is one of the most common mistakes. Using login with both username and password “Admin” is very dangerous since it will be the first try for anybody trying to get to your website and that makes you an easy target. You should absolutely avoid “admin” as a login or password. You are always given the option to change your password during installation and you should do it right then because you might forget about it later. A strong password doesn’t guarantee absolute security, but it builds the first line of defense against unwanted guests.

But don’t stop with just a strong password, there are many other easy security steps you can take to keep your WordPress website extra secure. You can add Malware scanning, brute force protection, hidden wp files an more. For even more tips have a look at all of our WordPress security articles.

8. Ignoring updates

If you are using .org version of WordPress, you will need to manage updates by yourself. WordPress notifies users when their site is up for and update, but we all know that feeling when we are updating our systems and hoping for the best. Although if your site is coded properly, it will take only one click in most cases and there will be nothing to be afraid of. You should still back up all your content before an update.

JetPack plugin is free and offers many great features and setting automatic updates is one of them.

9. Forgetting about SEO

WordPress offers you to stop search engine bots from indexing your sites, which is a good thing to do, while you are still developing your website. Although many bloggers forgot to change that setting once their blog was live and their site never got indexed by search engines.

If you think that installing default WordPress SEO plugin will sort you out, you are doing another beginner mistake. You should still update your meta settings. SEO is one of the most powerful ways to drive traffic to your website. Yoast SEO is a very effective plugin that will help you get more visitors from search engines.

10. Not having contact form

This might seem like a minor issue in the beginning, but as your site grows, your readers will try to encounter with you. You can often get valuable questions, suggestions or just encouraging words. Again, just like many other things, JetPack can sort that out for you as well. It comes with a free and easy to user contact form. Or you could give Contact Form 7 a try. There is also a GravityForms, which is used by almost every professional building custom websites (including WPExplorer!).

Wrapping Up

There you have it – 10 very common missteps most WordPress beginners make. Now that you’re aware of theme, hopefully you can keep from making them when starting up your WordPress blog. But don’t stop learning now – checkout our blog for even more WordPress tips and tricks that you can use to become a WordPress guru!

Have any other questions? Or more tips for beginners? Leave us a note below!



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How to Promote Your Premium WordPress Theme


So, you’ve done that. You created a unique WordPress theme and now want to get the reward you deserve. But you know that themes competition is never relenting in WordPress space. It’s a gold rush. A winding road. The Wild West. And other more or less poetic words. However, they are very true for the situation in a world of premium WordPress themes.

Your theme can be a real breakthrough for WordPress, but it it won’t matter unless people know about it. Building a theme is just the beginning. Promotion is more exhausting. That’s why we’ve prepared a short guide on how to master all the tricky aspects of promoting your premium WordPress theme, even with limited budget.

Before surfing through, keep in mind these key principles of building a strong brand around your premium WordPress theme:

  1. Don’t only sell, build credibility.
  2. The half success of your promotion is communication (reaching out to bloggers, forum discussions, dealing with support requests).
  3. Strive to simplicity and honesty in product presentation.

Build a Smart Landing Page

Start with a landing page

No matter if you have a dedicated domain name for it or it’s a part of your main website, the following tips will come in handy for both.

It’s important to know how customers think and what helps them make decisions. When creating a landing page for your WordPress theme, try to bear in mind the most widely used customer behavior model once acronymed AIDA: Awareness (or Attention), Interest, Desire and Action. This is a basic proven formula for creating an effective landing page. It implies that your task is to grab and hold website visitor’s attention, make maximum clear what problem your theme solves, which “pain” you cure.

“Happy people are not buying anything. Selling something you should provide treatment for their pain.”

When prospects are interested and have a desire to learn more about the product you offer or even want to buy it, direct their actions with a noticeable call-to-action button like “Details”, “Get now”, “Download Theme” (for freemium versions).

For example, here is a landing page of Give – a WordPress plugin with more than twenty thousand installations from .org directory. It clearly presents AIDA model:

AIDA

So, we have an understanding of the psychological model. Now, let’s see what physical blocks/elements are essential for your landing page structure:

1. Your unique offering, which solves a real problem.

It generally includes: Title – keep it simple without tons of abstract “awesome”. Remember Mark Twain’s On Writing advice? “When you catch an adjective, kill it.” In our case we can rephrase it – when you catch not meaningful adjective – kill it. Subtitle – a bit more essential details of what exactly is unique about your theme.

If you are failing to create something exceptional for your landing page headlines, Brad Smith got a couple of fruitful ideas:

headlines for landing page

2. Image of your theme (“hero image”).

This should be highly professional and creative. If possible, try to involve someone who has an eye for design. Moreover, this image should resonate with the meaning of description (title/subtitle), so the site visitors feel they are provided with trustful information. For example, if you say “pixel-perfect” design, it’s not very clever to show a blurry screenshot of the theme.

For example, here is how a landing page of one premium WordPress Theme best seller is presented:

premium wordpress theme example

3. Benefits of your theme.

A list with short sentences each containing a proper benefit why your theme is different, what particular tasks it’s able to perform, how it will simplify user’s life. Take a look at another part of the same landing page:

Key benefits

4. Social proof.

Tell visitor that they will get such a cool WordPress theme as hundreds of other “happy customers”. And these should be real customers. If you are just starting and don’t have such a huge audience, you may show how many likes from different social networks you managed to gather. Put some customer testimonials or embed tweets to prove your expertise. Positive product reviews is one of the top psychological aspects that make people trust you. Another great marketing technique of social proof is featuring logos of popular partners who work with you. To continue with another element of the same landing page:

Social proof

5. Call-to-action.

This is literally your main purpose – help visitors understand that your theme is worth at least a detailed look and make them click on your call-to-action button. Call-to-action element of the landing page actually deserves one more detailed article, but let’s try to describe how it’s used in a “new school marketing approach” for landing pages.

Quickly, according to this approach, your landing page call-to-action element should not be intended to sell. Instead, it should be a so-called lead magnet. It means, you propose the visitors something free and valuable in exchange for their contact information (generally, email address). The main task on this step is to create a solid user base and maximize the number of targeted leads for whom you can market all your premium products over time.

Great example of lead magnets for promoting your premium WordPress theme is a free trial option – visitors register a trial account providing you with a valid email address. This kind of lead magnet performs 2 important functions: you increase user’s trust to your product and get user’s contact details (more on this topic in the second part of the article).

Another good idea, you probably know that, is offering a “light” version of a theme with limited options (don’t forget to try to submit it to .org directory as well to get more publicity). Also, you can offer a discount for the first purchase or simply show a theme demo.

So, your call-to-action instead of “buy” is transforming to “free 3-day trial”, “theme demo”, “download free version” or anything of a kind. You already noticed these buttons:

call-to-action button

All in all, it should look highly professional in terms of visual attractiveness and user-centric, namely, without any over-complexity and without ambiguity.

Next, you lead magnet naturally follows prospects to an actual key product – a premium theme. If users are satisfied with what they get during a test-drive, they are more likely to pay for a theme, with peace in mind.

On the next steps, you can multiply the offering with additional products or services like useful plugins, theme installation, etc. And when you have a database of users, you can build your email marketing strategy easier reaching out to more users.

When it looks like you’ve done it all wisely, there is one more fun thing to do. Marketers across the web advise to take a so-called 5-second test – a method for capturing first user’s impressions of your landing page. Invite someone not deeply involved and ask to check your landing page during 5 seconds. If the offering is quite clear for them, you’ve done a really good job. Though the method is really effective, I would not be so drastic about 5 seconds – giving a couple more seconds should be also fine. However, you should not be afraid of experiments and use A/B testing to see when your landing page converts better.

Create a Demo Presentation of Your Theme

build demo for wordpress product

As it was mentioned, a theme live demo (or/and free trial option) is a highly conversion-boosting element of your landing page. You can actually create any or both without a need to code and to tinker with in-house solution. You can try to use a ready-made WordPress plugin like MotoPress Demo Builder plugin, it’s much less time and resources-consuming solution for this task.

This plugin works on WordPress multisite network and let your prospects see the value of your theme on a frontend demo and (optionally) test your Premium WordPress theme in a true-to-life environment.

demo builder for wordpress

Here is a quick guide on how to build a theme demo with this plugin:

  1. Install WordPress Multisite network.
  2. Enable Network setup menu, install and enable the network.
  3. In order to create a new demo site for your WordPress theme, go to Network Admin > My sites > Add new > Select ID of your theme from the drop-down menu.
  4. Configure the main settings of your demo website.
  5. If you plan to give users temporary access to the theme backend to test the theme functionality, you’ll need to enable registration and set a registration form for users (sandboxes).

Disable registration

Of course, if you plan to provide users with demo accounts, you’ll have to apply more settings. The plugin is very flexible and gives you full control over the demo site: you may set sandbox expiration date, user role, select whether and when the sandbox should be automatically cleaned up, restrict access to specific pages, edit user and admin email templates, export sandbox data, etc.

Moreover, thanks to MailChimp integration and cross-promotion admin toolbar, the plugin can help you boost your marketing possibilities along the way.

MailChimp

In general, the plugin solves 3 main issues, which usually exist with manually created access to demo site:

  1. Demo users won’t make a mess on your demo website as everyone is provided with an isolated account (sandbox). Users can make any changes without fear to override the changes of other users.
  2. You don’t have to clean up demo accounts manually.
  3. You have no limitations when setting demo account options.

The prospects are always willing to play around with your theme for free, because no financial risk is involved. If they like the bare essentials of your theme, they’ll be ready and happy to pay for a premium product. Currently the plugin costs only $21, which is a small investment considering the huge potential that the MotoPress Demo builder has to improve your conversion rates.

Marketing Basics

marketing basics

If you are limited in budget, you probably manage everything from development to support of your premium WordPress theme yourself. It gives ground for assuming that marketing your theme is also your job. And while development and support are rather time-consuming aspects, promotion requires a little bit more creativity and constant ideas generating. Stockpiles of ideas. But you have one great privilege in this case – in-depth knowledge about your product. This is what can help you communicate its value through marketing channels much more effectively without rookie mistakes.

Okay, let’s see what proven marketing strategies can help you promote a Premium WordPress theme.

Free and paid guest posts

Both are good. Write as much as you can or ask people to share a word about your creation on external resources. Paid posts are great for a full-scale theme review, where you are free to buzz about your theme and its advantages only.

Free guest posts are also acceptable on popular niche resources, but they usually require to tell a story, share experience and knowledge, show some backstage of your product development. Namely, do something more than just try to sell your theme. The more personal story you tell, the more chances to get user’s trust.

Update your own blog also regularly as it’s one of the main authority building tools. Don’t let updates info appear in a changelog only (people don’t care about changelog). On contrary, main updates look better in a new blog post, where all significance is described in details. Moreover, try to occasionally write another kind of posts – educational tutorials on how to get the most of your theme, etc.

Video tutorials

As well as theme documentation is important, video tutorials are also hugely helpful for the majority of users. Mainly, they love to see your theme in action – how it’s customizable on the backend and how to make any tweak. They are also a great source for increasing your search engine rankings through video channels like Youtube. Make sure that description of each video contains a direct link to the front page of your website or to particular product.

Social media

It goes without saying that social media is a huge source of traffic. When promoting your Premium WordPress theme, it may be a bit difficult to post something really alluring for visitors and not only sell yourself. So try to be creative and prolific to be one step ahead of your competitors – show examples how the theme can be customized, show examples of real life websites that use your theme, tell about theme updates and what they mean, announce a kind of contest, a poll, create discussion, add some funny content, etc.

From SEO standpoint, always add relative hashtags to your posts. If the theme is a freemium solution, don’t forget about #free #WordPress #theme tags as well. Also, make sure that each social media profile has a link to your website, so the visitors can find all your products without searching through posts. Following others and telling about your product, offering cross-promotion can also help you spread the word about what you do.

Join relevant forums and groups

Create a discussion, post questions, ask for honest feedback about your theme. It’s a hard work to keep your finger on the pulse of all relative conversations, be it a Facebook post or blog article, but it’s hard to overestimate significance of such interaction.

Conclusions

Building marketing strategies around your premium WordPress theme is not an easy pursuit. The market is growing, new technologies appear, small theme shop owners are looking for more creative ways of promotion. However, it’s important to understand that promotion doesn’t start with paid ads. Yes, theme quality is the key, but theme promotion is the main supporting point and a long process. It starts with building a smart landing page, good communication skills, hard work, creativity, gaining trust. So, grab all the tips we listed and let them simplify your life.

Do you have more tips or experience to share? Speak your mind in the comments section below. We’d love to know what you think!



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20+ Best Ad Management Plugins for WordPress in 2017


Today we’re going to look at some of the best ad-management plugins for WordPress.  Ads help you make money from your website. That’s a no-brainer. However, not all bloggers prefer to display Google Ads in their website. Some prefer selling ad spaces in their site, while others go for sponsored posts.

Whatever the case, the following plugins can help. SO let’s not was any more of your monetization time and get right to it! Here are our favorite ad management plugins for 2017 (in no particular order):

AdSense Plugin WP QUADS (Free or €49+)

AdSense Plugin is probably the simplest integration of Google AdSense in your WordPress site. With the free version of the plugin, you can display ads in multiple regions in your WordPress site including:

  • Sidebar widgets
  • Beginning, middle and end of post
  • After the “more” tag,
  • After images in posts

To display the ad, simply paste the Google AdSense code snippet in the widget. You can also insert ads between any paragraphs in a post using the <!–Ads1–> <!–Ads2–> snippets.

Fun fact: This plugin is a reboot of the famous Quick AdSense plugin, which was last updated four years ago and still has over 1,000,000 active installations.

The premium version of the plugin WP QUADS Pro includes additional cool features such as:

  • AMP Ads that displays ads in AMP versions of your pages (check out our guide on getting started with AMP in WordPress)
  • Responsive Ads – so that the ads look pixel-perfect in phones, tablets and desktops.
  • Visibility Conditions – which enables your to selectively display ads in either mobile, tablet or desktop, or a combination of them.

Pricing starts at 49 EUR per for a single-site license and comes with a 30-day refund window, making it a good choice for affiliate marketers and bloggers alike.

WordPress Ad Widget (Free)

WordPress Ad Widget s a seriously simple plugin that enables you to display both Google Ads and custom ads in your WordPress site. If you were to sell ad-spots in your site, you could offer a variety of options to your customers. How? With over 55 ad-formats you can advertise Facebook pages, Instagram profiles and many more.

Sam Pro (Free Edition)

The Sam Pro Free Edition displays ads with banner rotation. Which means that the plugin cherry-picks an ad from a bunch of ads and displays them in your site. The cherry-picking is however, based on a flexible logic which calculates ad weight (or priority) and predefined restrictions. With predefined restrictions, you can selectively display ads in particular pages, posts, categories, custom post types, etc. You can also schedule the and limit the display of ads based on number of impressions of clicks.

The premium add-ons include pop-ups and fly-in ads, and geo-targeting. Personally, I would not use pop-up ads or fly-ins unless it’s a newsletter signup box, preferably with a free e-book or similar offer.

AdRotate (Free)

AdRotate makes ad management easy. You can display your own adverts or from third party networks such as Google AdSense, DoubleClick, etc. AdRotate enables periodic scheduling of ads and accurately calculates clicks/impressions and displays the top performing ads in your site.

The premium version includes cool features such as geo-targeting, ad-blocker detection and others tools which enable you to easily sell and manage multiple ad campaigns. Pricing starts at 29 EUR for a single site license and comes with a premium support.

WP Bannerize Pro (Free)

If most of your custom advertising is done via non-Adobe Flash banners, WP Bannerize Pro might be your answer. The plugin creates a custom post type called “Banners”. This enables you to create banners like you would create a post or a page.

To create a banner, you first upload/import the banner image and select if you want to track the impressions and CTR and then publish the banner. Once done, a banner shortcode is generated. Now you can display the banner in any post, page or widgetized area using the shortcode.

Additional features include geo-targeting, IP restrictions, role-based ad targeting, and a fully stacked analytics dashboard.

WP Advertize It (Free)

WP Advertize It is your standard ad management plugin that enables you to display third-party ads from Google AdSense, as well as self-served ads. You can choose from over 10 places to display your ads, including sidebar widgets. Moreover, the plugin also enables you to disable ads in particular post types, tags, IP addresses, post authors, etc.

Advanced Ads (Free / €29)

Advanced Ads is your go-to ad-management plugin with tons of useful features ranging from basic ad creation, to displaying third-party ads, to geo-targeted, highly customizable ad-network. With Advanced Ads, you can build, display, configure, filter and target ads based on your visitors.

A full description for the free features in available in the plugin’s WordPress repository page – I suggest you give it a quick read before moving to the next plugin on this list.

Advanced Ads also has a range of premium add-ons available such as Selling Ads, which helps you sell ad-spots in your site. The premium version allows essential features such as advanced aj-injection, innovative ad-placement areas such as side header, or floating ads and many more.

Pricing for a premium copy of the plugin start at €29 EUR for Advanced Ads Pro (single site license) or €69 EUR for the Advanced Ads Bundle, which includes all add-ons and future updates.

AWPCP – Classifieds Plugin (Free)

Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin is your classic plugin designed to run a feature-rich online classifieds page from your WordPress website. Classifieds can be made searchable by, state, country, username, or keyword. On top of this, you can display ads from Google AdSense. Take a look at the full list of features for running your WordPress-powered classifieds page.

A number of premium modules such as Authorize.net and PayPal payment gateway integration, campaign manager and coupons module, amongst others can come in very handy for running a rich classifieds website.

Advanced Advertising System (Free or $29+)

Advanced Advertising System  is a relatively new plugin with 1,000+ active installations. The plugin supports multiple ad-spots, ad-rotation and campaign scheduling and budget threshold, amongst other features. You can sell ads based on CPM, CPC and CPP. The premium version of the plugin supports filterable campaigns, an AJAX loader, advanced scheduling and beautiful charts in analytics and statistics section.

WP PRO Advertising System – All In One Ad Manager ($29)

WP PRO Advertising System is one of the most popular premium WordPress advertising plugins in CodeCanyon clocking over 5,500 sales till date. It has 18 predefined layout options, campaign manager, banner creator and advanced analytics and reporting. You can display background ads, popup ads, fly-in ads, responsive ads and display ads in your MailChimp newsletters. Moreover, this plugin also detects and prevents adblockers. The plugin supports third-party integration such as as WooCommerce and BuySellAds via paid add-ons.

Ad Inserter (Free)

The great thing about Ad Inserter is that it enables you to insert ads at any point in your post. The free version of the plugin allows you to insert up to 16 code blocks (read ad blocks) and supports conditional display logic, i.e. you can filter out post types, tags, categories and viewports from displaying your ads.

And guess what? Ad Inserter is officially endorsed by Amazon to add Native Shopping Ads to WordPress posts. Ad Inserter Pro starts at $20 (for a double site license) which enables you to display geo-targeted ads and supports IP blacklisting, amongst other useful features.

WP-Insert (Free)

WP-Insert is by far, one of the best free ad-management plugins out there. Similar to most plugins in this category, WP-Insert supports multiple ad-networks such as Google AdSense, Clickbank, etc. However, unlike other plugins, it offers free geo-targeting, which means that you can display AdSense ads to visitors from US and Clickbank ads to UK visitors. Other cool features includes Google Analytics integration, displaying of legal notices, ad split-testing and dynamic ad-placement in the middle of any article.

Corner Ad (Free)

Corner Ad is a simple ad-management plugin that displays an ad in the top left (or right) your WordPress site. It’s designed to be minimally invasive in order to prevent a bad user experience. When a user hovers over the ad, it flips open and displays the ad in the full viewport. As soon as the mouse is removed, the ad returns to its former self. You can use this plugin to display important announcements, upcoming promotions or run a “secret-sale”.

Meks Easy Ads Widget (Free)

Meks Easy Ads Widget is a simple plugin that enables you to display unlimited ads in a widget. You can select limit number of ads per view, rotate ads and randomize the ad display order. You can also define your own custom size or choose from a number of predefined (and standardized) ad sizes.

Google AdSense (Free)

Google AdSense by BestWebSoft is another entry in the pro-AdSense plugin party with the ability to directly import ads from your AdSense account and displaying them in multiple regions of your site, including before/after posts, pages and sidebar widgets.

Ads Pro Plugin – Multi-Purpose WordPress Advertising Manager ($37)

Ads Pro Plugin – Multi-Purpose WordPress Advertising Manager is the second most sold ad-management WordPress plugin in CodeCanyon with over 2,600 sales. Simply put, it helps manage your ads in your WordPress site. The plugin supports filterable ads based on categories, tags and devices. It can be configured to display ads only after visitors have spent a particular amount of time on the site and restrict the number of times ads are shown to a user per session. Finally it has geo-targeted ads with 20 different display styles that can be placed over 25 different placements.

In case you wanted to create a self-serving ad-platform, the plugin allows you to sell three different billing models – CPC (cost per click), CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) and CPD (cost per day). Supported payment gateways include Stripe, PayPal, WooCommerce, and Bank Transfer.

Aparg SmartAd – WordPress Ad Management Plugin ($30)

Aparg SmartAd is another strong contender in the ad-management plugin space. Noteable features include 75+ popup and embed animations, 25 ad placement regions, and 5 supported ad types including image, video, Flash, code and iFrame. Similar to most plugins, this supports ad-rotation and advanced filtering options based on tags, categories, etc. Additionally, it also supports filtering based on language. (Supported multilingual plugins include WPML and qTranslate).

The plugin also supports three campaign types – background ads, popup ads and embed ads. And it ships with an advanced stats dashboard. The PDF export feature comes pretty handy when sharing reports with your ad-spot buyers. You can schedule ads and configure auto-suspension of ads based on date, views and clicks.

AdPlugg (Free or $10+)

AdPlugg is a relatively new plugin that integrates the AdPlugg ad-management service into WordPress. Think of AdPlugg as an online SaaS ad-management platform. You can configure and schedule multiple ads, setup ad and banner rotation, track clicks and other stats -for all your sites – from a centralized dashboard. If you own multiple websites (running on WordPress or other content management solutions), AdPlugg can display ads in those platforms too via their respective plugins!

The plugin is free till 100,000 impressions per month and supports only image ads. Paid plans start at $10/month and supports multiple ad-types including video, interstitial, third-party ads (Google AdSense, etc.) and more.

Advanced Tools

The following tools solve very specific challenges, that appear for very specific marketing campaigns.

WordPress Dynamic Keyword Insertion ($21)

If you’re running AdWords campaigns with Dynamic Keywords then this one is for you. For those of you who don’t know what that is, Google AdWords lets you replace specific portions of your ad’s text with the search keyword used.

For example, let’s say you’re running an ad with the keywords leather iphone cases. If someone searches for red leather iphone cases, your ad would show up if you’ve kept your ad in medium match. Now, with Dynamic Keyword Insertion, Google would modify your ad by adding or replacing the ad’s copy, with the searched keyword. In our example, the word red would be dynamically inserted in the ad’s text.

Imagine the same thing with your landing page. If a visitor arrives at your landing page from a specific search keyword, the WordPress Dynamic Keyword Insertion plugin would change the landing page copy dynamically to include the same keyword.

How can this be used in Ad Management?

If you’re selling an CPA based ads in your site, getting hyper-targeted clicks from Google AdWords improve your chances of conversion.

Adverts Detector Ultimate for WordPress ($12)

Simply put, the Adverts Detector Ultimate plugin enables you to show or hide content on your site depending on where the user came from. Detectable sources include search engines such as Google and Yandex; ad-networks such as Google Ads and Yandex Ads; and social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, etc.

Now with this plugin, you can show a different page for your Facebook fans and another for your Pinterest followers.

Honourable Mentions

Following are three free ad-management plugins we feel are “just right”. They’re built to solve one purpose, and they do it well. Our primary reason to place them under honourable mentions is: (a) they were last updated over a year ago and (b) they have a high active installations count at the time of writing this article.

  • WP125 – A free plugin with 40,000 active installations that displays only 125×125 px ads, tracks clicks and supports ad expiry. I think it’s the implicit simplicity that makes this plugin so popular even if it was last updated over a year ago.
  • AdInjection – Currently at 30,000+ active installations, this plugin displays or “injects” ads into multiple regions of a post or page. It supports ad-rotation, A/B testing and has filterable options including IP address, referrer and post age. However, this plugin was last updated over a year ago.
  • Insert Post Ads – A very simple yet effective plugin from the WPBeginner team, it simply inserts your Google AdSense ads in between paragraphs in your posts and pages.

Conclusion

Ads are one of the simplest ways to monetize your website. Selling advertisement spaces in your site is great way to amplify your earnings and has a lot of benefits. Here are my top three reasons to love the business model:

  • Selling ad spaces gives you the power to choose which ads to show in your site. This gives you the freedom to control your site’s user experience.
  • For example, if you run a blog on fashion or makeup tips, you can show ads for products that are directly related to your website/business. This can potentially improve the click-through-rate of the ads placed in your site.
  • The more targeted your website, the higher clicks (and conversions) your ads receive. Your ad buyers are happy, you keep the user experience intact and end up making a ton of money from the deal.

Similar to selling ad spaces, other forms of subtle advertisement include sponsored posts and product recommendations in your blog’s articles. Ethically, never sponsor a product you have not tried/tested personally. That way you run the risk of betraying your reader’s trust. And with that note, let’s wrap this party up!

What’s your favourite ad-management plugin? Did we miss out on any awesome plugins? Let us know in the comments below.



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How to Create a Stunning Wedding Website with WordPress


While many online services enable you to create a personalized website for your wedding, they typically have plenty of restrictions in terms of design and functionality. Furthermore, some of these services can be quite pricey.

This is your big day. Your wedding website design shouldn’t be limited. You should be able to create a website that is as big, bold and beautiful as your wedding!

WordPress offers you practically unlimited customization features, and if you’re familiar with the platform, it can be an excellent option. On top of that, there are lots of free or low cost tools and resources, which makes for a very affordable option.

This article will offer a step-by-step guide to creating a beautiful and functional wedding website using WordPress. We’ll cover everything from setting up the Content Management System (CMS), to choosing a theme, and adding both content and functionality.

Step 1: Choose a Web Host and Install WordPress

The first step is to choose a host for your site. There are lots of great WordPress hosting options available, offering services for any range of prices. Something to bear in mind is that you’ll probably only run your wedding website for a limited time. Some hosts offer steep discounts if you pay upfront for a set period, which could save you some serious money.

Bluehost Shared Hosting Promo

We happen to have a special deal through Bluehost. Just click our link for shared hosting and you’ll pay as little as $2.95 per month plus you’ll get your domain name free (for the first year) when you signup.

Bluehost Free Domain

When you follow the prompts to sign up for your hosting account you’ll need to choose a domain name. This will depend on what’s available, but choose a name that will be easy for you (and friends and family) to remember. A name such as jackandjillswedding .com or theclarkewedding .com would be perfect.

Bluehost 1-Click Install WordPress

Once your host and domain are sorted, you can go ahead and install WordPress. With Bluehost (and many other shared hosting providers), this is a simple one-click process.

Locate the “One-Click Installs” section when you log into your Bluehost account and select the WordPress option. Then choose your domain name you select for your wedding website. Next you should see a prompt to add a site title (like “Jack & Jill’s Wedding, or whatever you want to call your event), create an admin username (use your name to make it easy), an admin password (write this down – you’ll need it to log into your WordPress website in a minute) and your email address. Then just check the box to agree to the terms and install WordPress. Bluehost does all the hard work for you! But don’t worry – they also offer plenty of support if your run into any bumps.

Main WordPress Login Screen

Now that your site is ready you can login to start creating your actual website! Just to to your domain name but add /wp-admin to the end of the URL. This will direct you to your WordPress login screen. Use the admin username and the password you created when setting up your Bluehost account to login. This should take you to your WordPress dashboard where you’ll install a theme, plugins and add all of your posts and pages about your upcoming nuptials.

Step 2: Select a Wedding WordPress Theme

With your website ready, step two is to choose a theme that sets the stage for your wedding. Your theme will determine the overall aesthetics of your website and, depending on your pick, it might also offer some added functionalities. For example, some dedicated wedding themes come with guest book and countdown timer features.

There are thousand of WordPress themes to choose from (including free options from WordPress.org as well as premium options from websites like Themeforest and Creative Market) to choose from to get you started. Furthermore, we have our own roundup of wedding WordPress themes that we think are pretty nifty. Alternatively, if you’re familiar with multipurpose solutions – such as Total – you might consider keeping it, and simply adding some wedding features (check step number five for more info).

If you’re looking for specific wedding theme suggestions, here are our three top picks.

Wedding Bride Free WordPress Theme

Wedding Bride Free WordPress Theme

Wedding Bride is a clean and simple single page wedding theme that is quick and easy to setup. The set layout means all you have to do is add your own pictures and story – that’s it. You can have a beautiful wedding website up in no time at all. This theme doesn’t have a lot of the extras you might find in premium options, but those can be added as needed using plugins, which we’ll cover later.

Total Drag & Drop Premium WordPress Theme

Total Drag & Drop Premium WordPress Theme

Total is a multipurpose theme with a drag & drop page builder that makes creating any type of website possible. This also makes any layout, color combination and design style possible thanks to the super flexible page builder elements and theme Customizer options. Total includes premium sliders for adding your engagement photos, milestones for share the number of days you’ve been together or the number of kisses shared over the years, contact form support so you can easily add an RSVP module, parallax and video backgrounds plus hundreds of color & font options among many other features. It’s for sure our top pick if you’re looking for a premium theme.

WeddingEngine Premium WordPress Theme

Wedding Engine's homepage

If you like classical stylings, you’ll love the beautiful design of WeddingEngine. Its ornate borders, and elegant compositions will make your website effortlessly charming. This theme comes with lots of features to help you craft the perfect wedding site including a countdown timer, RSVP module, image slider, timeline feature, and guestbook. It also offers a front end editor, which enables you to tweak your designs quickly.

Step 3: Install Your Theme

Once you’ve selected a theme you’ll need to install it. Thankfully WordPress makes this super easy. We’ll show you using the Total theme as an example, but it’s a similar process no matter which theme you choose.

Download WordPress Theme

If you purchased a premium theme you’ll first need to download the installable WordPress theme files. Most marketplaces make this very easy and clearly label these. Simply log into your account, go to your downloads page and locate the theme you purchased. Then download the “Installable WordPress file only” option. If you don’t have this option on your marketplace you may need to unzip the file after it downloads to locate the “theme only” file.

Upload A WordPress Theme

Next go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance > Themes > Add New. Now, if you wanted to use a free theme from WordPress.org you can install the theme directly from here, just click to install the one you want. To upload your own premium theme click on the “Upload Theme” button at the top of the screen, then select the installable theme file your downloaded earlier to install.

Once you’re theme is installed click to activate your theme! Now for the fun part – adding all the details about your wedding, you and your partner and of course making your wedding website the most beautiful website possible.

Step 4: Set Up & Customize Your Wedding Website’s Pages

Your wedding website can include as few or as many pages as you want. Typically, it wedding website feature at least some of the following:

  • Our story: Here, you can tell guests about anything from how you met to your proposal story.
  • Venue: Include helpful details such as location, and directions.
  • Accommodation: Out of town guests will appreciate a list of nearby places where they can stay.
  • Guestbook: A guestbook enables people to post notes and best wishes ahead of the big day.
  • Gift registry: You can sidestep awkward interactions by adding gift registry details to your site.
  • RSVP: If you want to forgo traditional mailed RSVPs or provide an alternative, you can do so through your website.
  • Photo gallery: You can add your own wedding pictures or let guests post theirs.
  • Blog: If you enjoy writing, you can blog about anything from wedding prep to your life as a couple.

It’s your wedding site, and you have free rein to do whatever you want with it. Whether your style is traditional, modern, or something else entirely, WordPress provides you with a lot of flexibility.

Depending on the theme you chose your setup might be quick simple. Most free themes feature a simple page template where you can type in your information and upload images according to the pre-set layout. However, if you went with a premium theme you’re sure to have many more options.

Building & Customizing Pages with a Page Builder

If you decided to use a premium theme like Total you’ll have the option to import a demo to get started (like the single page Married or the more  traditional multi-page Wedding demo), or to build your pages from scratch. Total uses the Visual Composer page builder. It’s an intuitive front-end live builder that you can use to insert content blocks, make changes (colors, fonts, images, etc) and then drag and drop them into place. Just be sure to save your changes when you’re done!

Wedding Theme Page Builder

The advantage of using a theme with a builder is that you can create the exact pages you need or want for your wedding website. Templates are great and certainly easy, but with a page builder you don’t need to know CSS or PHP or any other coding language to make changes. It’s a great solution for a DIY bride or groom! All you need is a free afternoon and a cup of coffee – we’re sure you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

Step 5: Add Functionality to Your Wedding Site Using Plugins

With most of your pages ready to go you might need to add a few more features to your website before sending our the link to your loved ones. This is where WordPress plugins come in.

Plugins are software add-ons that extend WordPress’s core functionality. While most of the above pages can be set up without the need for them, you may want to enhance your site’s design using a few. WordPress offers a plethora of free and premium plugins to choose from and here are some suggestions that work great for wedding websites.

1. Slider Pro Premium WordPress Slider Plugin

Slider Pro's homepage

Many themes come with built-in slider options, but if yours doesn’t, you may need a plugin solution. Sliders are an excellent way to display multiple images without scaling issues. Plus, you can apply interesting transitions that result in unique slideshows for your visitors. The Slider Pro plugin is very popular thanks to its ease-of-use and advanced functionality.

2. jCountdown Premium WordPress Countdown Timer Plugin

The jCoutdown preview page

Countdown timers are a popular feature in wedding websites since they can let everyone know how close the big day is. jCountdown is a straightforward countdown plugin that enables you to place timers anywhere on your site using shortcodes.

3. Basic Google Maps Placemarks Free Mapping Plugin

The Basic Google Maps Placemarks title image from WordPress.org

When providing your guests with the location of and directions to your venue, a map can can come in handy. Basic Google Maps Placemarks is a free plugin that enables you to embed a Google Map on your wedding site. If your event involves multiple locations, you can add several markers on the same map, and even customize their icons.

4. Gwolle Guestbook Free WordPress Plugin

The Gwolle Guestbook title image from WordPress.org

Finally, Gwolle Guestbook is a handy free plugin that makes it easy to integrate a guestbook into your site. It provides an easy-to-use form that your guests can fill out, displays a (customizable) list of messages, and sends you a notification every time someone makes an entry.

Conclusion

A dedicated website can help you plan your wedding, collect memories, and keep family and friends involved at every stage of the proceedings. However, creating the perfect site can be rather overwhelming under normal circumstances – triply so when it comes to weddings.

Thankfully WordPress provides all the tools you need to create a gorgeous and functional wedding website with little fuss. We’ve even outlined the entire process in four short steps so you can get started right away. Let’s recap them:

  1. Choose a host and install WordPress.
  2. Select the perfect theme.
  3. Install said theme.
  4. Create (and customize) the pages you’ll need.
  5. Add functionality using plugins.

Which pages do you think every wedding website should include? Let us know in the comments section below!



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