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.


Create Content Offers: Autogenerate Content and Collect Emails Easily

What do WordPress site owners really need? I thought about this a lot when I was trying to figure out my first plugin idea. And the thing that came to mind was actually quite simple: they want more engagement.

Previously, creating lots of content was the best way to get more engagement. It might still be. After all, we always go back to our favorite sites because we expect some fresh content waiting for us there.

But creating content is hard and you need to create regularly just to catch people’s attention. At the same time, more and more people are creating content so standing out is getting more difficult.

This kind of content is the passive type though, one where people just sit down and scroll. Maybe they give a like or heart, but the interaction stops there.

What I propose is instead of making passive content, create active content instead. It’s content that people will use and maybe even use often.

active content

Create Something They Will Use Instead

Engagement is all about interaction. The events we remember the most are ones where we were part of the action. So what we need to do is add some interaction in our content.

One of the ways to do that with your existing content is with a simple checklist. Since I personally find guides and lists fascinating, one thing I thought most of them lacked was a handy way to tick off each item on the list. It would help me check off which of the steps I’ve done and what else I need to do.

Say you’re following a guide on how to increase your dopamine levels (that’s the feel-good chemical our body produces to make us productive). You can read the article, say “huh, you learn something new everyday” then immediately forget about it after a minute or so.

If there was a checklist with the article, you could go through each item and discover what else you need to do to boost your dopamine. Maybe you’ll try the rest out later, just to complete the list. It’s a simple interaction but this makes the content way more useful versus a vanilla “how to” article.

So I thought: why not make it easy for WordPress folks to create this checklist? Maybe even build the checklist automatically, just install the plugin and boom! Instant content!

So my plugin Create Content Offers was born.

content offer

What’s a Content Offer?

I guess your next question is: what’s a “content offer“? In the most basic sense, a content offer is something you give to your readers in exchange for something, usually an email. For my initial plugin version, the checklist would be the content offer, automatically generated from the headings of your article.

So we’ve solved the first engagement hurdle but it’s better if you can pull the reader back for future posts. So I also added a way for you not just to create a checklist, but to collect emails before you show it to your readers.

You can add them to your mailing list and send them new posts, subscribe them to your newsletter, or send interesting offers later on.

So to sum it up, this plugin:

  • Creates a content offer automatically for you. It builds a checklist out of your existing blog post’s headings. If there’s enough interest, I might also add ways to automatically generate PDFs, spreadsheets, and more.
  • Collects emails in exchange for access to the checklist. You can view this list at the admin part of your WordPress site.
  • Gives you the ability to customize the text and buttons in the form. You can do this while editing the post where you want to add the checklist.

But the other thing I want to figure out is if this plugin would actually be useful to WordPress site owners out there. So I’m releasing the beta version of the plugin here so you can test it out. And yep, it’s free!

Download the Create Content Offers plugin here!

To install the plugin:

  1. Grab the plugin zipped file from the download link above.
  2. In the admin area of your WordPress site, tap on Plugins in the menu at the left.
  3. At the top of the page, tap on Add New, then tap on Upload Plugin, also found at the top of the page.
  4. Tap on the Browse… button and find the zipped file you just download. Tap on Install Now once you’ve added the file.
  5. Wait for the upload to finish and then tap on Activate Plugin.

To add a checklist to a post:

  1. Choose an existing post that has some headings already. That means some of the text is formatted as Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.
  2. Tap the checkbox beside Show Checklist in Post.
  3. If you don’t use Heading 1 in your post, you can choose which heading type will be turned into a checklist. I use Heading 2 myself.
  4. Tap on the Update button and then go to the live blog post to see how it looks. You can always edit the text included later if you don’t want the defaults.
  5. You can see the emails you’ve collected in your Dashboard or when visiting the Content Offer Emails page in your admin menu.

Was this plugin easy to use? Did it help you in any way? Post a comment below with your feedback, email me or send me a message. In particular, I’d like to know:

  1. What’s the #1 feature you need that’s missing in the plugin?
  2. What bugs have you encountered while using the plugin?

Thanks and I hope you can help me improve this plugin so I can help you get more subscribers!