WP Plugin Review: Testimonials and Making Photos Great Again

What makes a website pop? Well, that’s easy: photos! Of course, adding photos to every post can be quite a chore so here are a few plugins that can help you.

Another thing that will make your site pop, especially if you use it to attract clients, are testimonials. Don’t forget to add one and read on for a bonus tip about testimonials below.

testimonials plugin

Advanced Testimonials

Every good site needs testimonials. After all, who else will brag about your work but yourself? Kidding aside, I find that most clients and buyers just want the assurance that someone else bought from you and liked your work, so even a simple testimonial will work.

To make that job easier, you can use this plugin and have all your testimonials in one place. Creating a testimonial is just like making a post, with the feature image becoming the testimonial giver’s head shot and the body as the feedback. Don’t forget to add the name and designation, very important!

When displaying the testimonials, all you need is to add a shortcode in whatever content you want it to show up in. The slider will appear and you can also customize the columns, styles and filtering of which elements you want to see.

Overall, I think it’s a simple solution for adding and recycling testimonials in a variety of your site’s pages. One tip: also add testimonials to your checkout and thank you pages. I’ve discovered this really improves conversion rates and trust in your site.

unique uploaded media names

Unique Uploaded Media Name

One issue I’ve always encountered in multi-author WordPress blogs is everyone uploading different images with the same name. It even happens when I’m just updating an image, like for example when cropping it to focus on a key part of the image. What the site does is it still shows the previous image even if you’ve deleted and replaced the old one, which can be a minor annoyance (or even a major hassle if you need to redo a lot of the links).

For one of my sites, I had to code up a solution for this but luckily, regular WordPress owners can just install the plugin up top.

It works in the background and appends a unique string to each media upload. This takes care of all the duplicate image names and works even when adding the same exact image. If you’ve ever had multiple authors quarrel over image names and overwriting other people’s photos, this should put a stop to that quick.

wordpress plugin to embed facebook photos

HMAK Facebook Photos

I’ve talked about importing social content in a previous post and how it can really make your content updating work easier. Here’s another plugin along the same lines. And while what it does is very simple, you’ll need some elbow grease to set it up.

Thankfully, the plugin author added a few guides inside the plugin itself. Setting up a Facebook app is required for these types of plugins, so make sure you follow how to get one. And yes, you might need to set up a Facebook page if you don’t have one yet.

Once you’ve added the app secret and ID,  all you need to do is click on the FB Photos button in the content formatting menu then insert your photo or album ID. Don’t worry, the author also added a guide to help you get that ID number.

The photos will automatically show up in your post and it’s also auto-updated whenever you add new pictures, in the case of albums.

This plugin is actually an ingenious solution to another issue many small sites have: disk space. If you have tons of photos but not much storage space with your host, you can just throw all those images on Facebook and embed it into your site, complete with captions.

wp plugin show featured image

CC-Featured-Image-Column

Another simple problem solved, this time making it easy to check what featured image was used by each post. To be honest, I’m confused why this isn’t built into WordPress yet since posts definitely need a featured image to attract readers on social media.

You usually want to check whether you’ve used a given image for a post already so this is an easy way to do that. But the better use case is actually easily identifying which posts don’t have Featured Images. I’m pretty sure that a few of us have forgotten to add a feature image for our newest article, only to realize it once we’ve shared the post on Facebook or Twitter.

Simple and fast solution to a problem we never thought we had.

 

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WP Plugin Review: Style Your Forms, Let Users Rate Posts, and Find Lost Shortcodes

I’m still puzzled why WordPress doesn’t have form creation functionality built in. Despite that, I’m thankful that many plugin devs have stepped up to the challenge, offering free but very functional forms for us to use.

But one thing that we still have to wrestle with often is making the form match your theme. Who here has had problems making checkboxes the right size across all browsers? (raises hand)

This week, I’ve discovered a couple of interesting plugins that extend the design functionality of a couple of well-loved form builders. Check them out below. I also have a highly-recommended plugin in the mix, so be sure to check that out.

Styler for Ninja Form

Styler for Ninja Forms

Like its namesake, Ninja Forms is one of those plugins that work under the radar but provide a very useful service to your site: making forms that work. The simple interface is also great since I know how challenging creating a form in WordPress can be for non-devs.

While Ninja Forms does have its own form designer add-on, you can also design the forms if you have a bit of CSS know-how under your belt. But for those who don’t have coding experience, you can now use Styler for Ninja Forms and just use the built-in Customizer to design your forms (for free, too!).

WP Plugin Review: live preview while building Form

Contact Form 7 Live Preview

Another form visualization plugin, this time I discovered this through one of my groups. Switching tabs every time I tweak a form isn’t fun, so having a live preview in the spirit of WordPress would be nice.

When you’re editing your form, the live preview is just below it. The great thing is it uses your theme’s styling so you’ll see a form just as it will appear in the front end. You can even check your validation and success message which is kind of neat.

Lastly, got to give props to Angus Russell for providing hands-on support to this plugin when I reported a bug. Always appreciate it when the developer of a plugin takes time to immediately update it to fix user problems.

Of course, you need to use Contact Form 7 for this to work.

WordPress Plugin Review: Generate Child Theme

Generate Child Theme

If you’re like me and want your site to look just the way you want it, you’ve probably tweaked your site too far once or twice, breaking some parts or even deleting something you didn’t want to delete.

The simple solution is to use the new Draft function to preview your site before implementing your changes. But if you have bigger plans in mind, a simple draft might not cut it. If you want to code in new functions or edit the stylesheet directly, the safe way to do it is by creating a child theme of your current active theme.

But tinkering with your server isn’t for everyone, so this plugin will effortlessly clone any of your site’s themes into a child theme, allowing you to make changes without fear of breaking your site.

Plugin Review: rate my post

Rate my Post

I’m a big fan of making basic sites more interactive. And that goes double if that interactivity also lets you improve your site.

This plugin helps you in both of those areas, giving readers an easy way to give feedback by leaving star ratings in one tap. On top of that, you can also ask for actual feedback via a form that pops up when they give 2 stars or less. Just have a thick skin and take it constructively. 😀 Just make sure your site can send emails okay (a perennial problem of WP, sadly).

But the better half of that is that users can also be prompted to follow you on social media after they leave their rating. And you can enable it for all pages or all posts, so no need to insert the shortcode one by one.

If you want to be better at making content while adding some stickiness to your site, I highly recommend adding this plugin. You can even rate my own post below this article!

Plugin Review: shortcodes finder

Shortcodes Finder

Shortcodes have been one of the defining characteristics of WordPress. Add a code, and you instantly get some great content for your post, nice! But since every plugin dev loves to insert their own code, you’ll soon be scratching your head trying to find the right shortcode for the job. It’s there, you just can’t find it.

That’s one problem this plugin solves. It lists down all the shortcodes you’ve ever used, and even sorts it by the post or page where you placed it. And the kicker is you can actually test the shortcode before adding it to your page, which helps you troubleshoot problems with the variables. You can also test shortcodes you haven’t used before, including the built-in ones in WordPress.

 

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WP Plugin Review: Import Social to WP, Fix Image Cropping, and More

I’m starting a new series here where I review some of the newest plugins I’ve found in the WordPress directory. Now while these plugins are quite new and might break, I did test them so they should work fine with your site.

Some add really cool features to your site while others fix long time annoyances. Check them out below!

WP Plugin Review: Social Importer

WP Social Importer

I have to be honest, this plugin is great! You can update your blog by just posting on your Facebook Page, Instagram account or Twitter feed. This plugin grabs everything else you need including the picture, link and content.

Or if you still want to keep blogging, you can use your Facebook posts as extra content for it, for example when you’re posting on the go.

All you’ll need is to create a Facebook app. Don’t worry if that sounds too technical for you, the plugin will point you to an easy-to-follow tutorial. I’ve tried it myself and it works quite smoothly after you’ve set it up, letting you choose which posts to import and how to import them (you can save them as drafts first).

Take a look at it if you post often on social media or just want an easier way to update your blog.

disable WordPress registration page

Disable Registration Page

Here’s a simple solution to an age-old headache in WordPress. If your site has been around for any amount of time, you’ll have your fair share of spam registrations.

Why bots keep on registering accounts with dummy emails but not confirming them is beyond me. What I do know is that these spam users make it harder for me to look up true users in my site, and they also clog up my database with useless metadata.

One solution is to just turn off regular registration via the Settings page but this often turns off the ability to register even for legitimate users. This plugin, on the other hand, only disables the built-in registration page of WordPress. You can continue to happily use any other registration method like other plugins or even creating accounts on your own, if you’re just a small site.

If you’re concerned about hackers getting into your site through dummy accounts, just use this simple plugin. All you need to do is to install it and you can go about your other business without worries.

crop thumbnail with SmartCrop plugin

SmartCrop

One of the annoyances when uploading images to posts is how WordPress always creates funny thumbnails because it merely relies on centering the image and cropping that to get your thumbnail image. Of course, we’ve long adjusted to this little quirk of WordPress but I think it’s high time we’ve found a solution to this.

Thankfully, popular WordPress dev Viper007Bond, maker of the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin, created an automatic solution for us. Just upload your images as usual and when you need the thumbnail, you’ll get one that’s centered on the most interesting part of the image, whether it’s off the side or not.

It’s a great addition to archive pages which use thumbnails when listing posts, making them a bit more interesting. I haven’t tested it with Woocommerce shops but I think this would be an excellent addition to those types of ecommerce sites as well.

Tilt Photo Hover Effect

So how this works is you get a button on your Edit Post screen and you can insert a photo while adding a few visual effects to it. While I would have preferred a more visual settings screen, it does the work of adding crazy hover effects to your included photos. I guess it uses CSS3 transformations and animations to achieve the effects?

But it is a really eye-catching way to make your photos interactive, letting visitors change the angle of the photo when hovering over it. It might be something to grab the attention of your visitors though honestly, I’m still trying to figure out how I could use this. It’s a cool effect, nonetheless.

By the way, if you have a plugin that you think would help other WordPress users and it’s in the public WordPress directory, let me know! I’m always looking for new plugins to try out and share.

PS: Did you know that the plugin cards above were automatically generated by WordPress? All I did was paste the link and you get a nice way to display your plugins. Neat, right?

 

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