Category: WordPress Tips.

views-imgRecently, I was introduced to a new plugin that I simply cannot live without as part of my WordPress development toolbox. I enjoy creating WordPress websites and blogs for clients, but what makes them unique and pleasing to the eye is something that comes from the client and what THEY want, not what I want. I do have some say-so in how I believe the client should lay out their website or blog, but ultimately, it’s up to the client in how they want their website to look, to flow and whether or not it’s suited to drive traffic to it. 

So what’s the plugin called? It’s the ‘Views’ plugin and it’s exactly what every WordPress developer or website designer needs to have when they are creating websites for clients. I highly recommend purchasing a copy of it.

In short, the Views plugin allows you to display content any way you want, regardless of the WordPress theme you decide to use on a website. As a matter of fact, you can build a complete website just by using the Views plugin. That’s just how good it is. This really opens up how some themes can be unflexible, but with the addition of adding views, you can expand the possibility of how you want elements to display on your site.

Let me show you just a couple of examples of how I was able to customize three pages on a recent client website I designed.

Below is an example of a blog summary page, but notice it only has one blog post on it, showing as an excerpt with a ‘read more’ link to the full blog, but also notice there is an hyperlinked button image that takes you to a blog archives page. But the blog archives page is two columns of blog titles that you can click on and get to the full article for each title. This is not standard for any blog directory where you assign a page to show your blog posts on. These are “views” I set up within the Views plugin and it allows me to embed the “view” into a regular page, so it shows exactly how the clients wants it to show.

blog-summary

blog-directory-links

Another example is how I was able to display the client testimonials on a page. Each testimonial is a blog post, but so that they do not show up in the recent posts, I made sure the testimonials category I created is not visible on the website, but just on the Testimonials page (screenshot below). Then in the “view” I set up, I created the testimonial posts, in two columns, so they only showed an excerpt with a read more link to the rest of the testimonial. Again, this is not standard with the theme the client chose for their website. Now there are ways to dig into the functions code of a WP theme, but unless you are an expert developer and you know what you’re doing, I suggest using the Views plugin and it takes out all the guess-work for you. 

testimonials-two-column

Note: I’m not an affiliate of the Views plugin, but just a happy end user of the product! This plugin got me out of a jam when my client requested special layouts for her website.

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quiz-pluginToday’s WordPress Wednesday topic is on the Top Four Quiz plugins for WordPress users. Have you ever been on the hunt for creating and managing a quiz or test for students or clients in your business? Instead of having to search for these kinds of plugins for a WordPress (self-hosted) site, I have provided a comprehensive list of the plugins below for you.

1. WatuPro Plugin

The WatuPro plugin will allow you to create multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank questions. Because you can use the default WordPress editor for this plugin, you can be creative as you like, even adding images and videos to your questions. It has a free lite version or you can get the “pro” or commercial version for $47.00.

  • You can create questions that have one or more multiple choice answers.
  • You can create different point levels for different questions in your test.
  • You can also award certificates for a successful completion of the test or quiz.

Here are a couple of screenshots of the plugin in action.

creating-questions

A quiz in action…

question-types

 

2. mTouch Quiz Plugin

The mTouch Quiz plugin was developed to be run on mobile devices so the big difference with their format is the big buttons that you can tap onto, making it easy to slide from one question to the next. It’s a free plugin, but for upgrades, there is a fee involved.

Here is an additional list of features provided by the developer of the plugin:

  • specify hints based on answer selection
  • give a detailed explanation of the solution
  • choose multiple correct answers
  • specify when the correct answers are displayed
  • specify if a question may be attempted only once or many times
  • specify point values for each question
  • include customized start and finish screens

 You can also be creative with the setup of the questions as it too uses the WordPress default editor for creating your questions.

A screenshot of the plugin below.

mtough-answering-questions

 

3. WP Survey & Quiz Tool

 The WP Survey & Quiz Tool plugin not only provides quizzes and surveys, but it also allows you to set up polls too. It’s a free plugin.

Here’s a good size list of their features to consider:

  • Unlimited number of quizzes.
  • Unlimited number of sections for quizzes.
  • Auto marking for quizzes with all multiple choice questions.
  • Ability to limit quizzes to one submission per IP address.
  • Ability to send customized notification emails.
  • Ability to send notification emails to a single email address, multiple email addresses or a group of WordPress users.
  • Ability to have notification emails only be sent if the user got a certain score.
  • Ability to have quizzes taken by registered WordPress members only.
  • Ability to have quizzes and surveys with or without contact forms.
  • Ability to have custom contact forms.
  • Ability to export and import quizzes.
  • Ability to have PDF certifications.

Here’s a screenshot of how the WP Survey & Quiz Tool looks like in action.

wp-survey-and-quiz-tool-quiz-results

 

Note: In order to insert a quiz into a post or a page, you must apply a shortcode. This is how it would look:

[wpsqt name=”Quiz Name” type=”quiz”]

For example, a quiz inserted into a page or post would look like this:

[wpsqt name=”Famous Inventors” type=”quiz”]

4. WPQuiz

The WPQuiz plugin is a very simple and easy-to-use plugin that’s great for an easy quiz without all the “bells and whistles”. It’s a free plugin as well.

You can insert your quizzes into pages and posts using a shortcode.

The shortcode would be, for example:  [wpquiz id=2]  

Here’s a screenshot of the plugin in action.

wpquiz-quiz-results

 

If you have tested or used a quiz plugin yourself, please feel free to share the name of the plugin and the experience you had with working with it, whether it be a good or bad experience. You can leave your comment at the bottom of this blog post.

Until tomorrow (Day 9 of The Ultimate Blog Challenge)!

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014! I’m starting off January 1 with a full month of blog articles and it just so happens that it lands on my favorite themed day of the week called “WordPress Wednesday”. I am participating in the January Ultimate Blog Challenge once again so you will see blog posts coming from me for the next 30 days. As a fellow blogger (or blog reader), I encourage you to start off your blogging and blog marketing efforts by participating in some kind of challenge to jump-start your blog content generation. The more content you post and share, the better your chances of improving your SEO and the increase of traffic to your blog or website.

hangoutpluginimgcropSince it’s “WordPress Wednesday”, I want to share with you a dynamic and really cool WordPress plugin called the Hangout Plugin. If you have a WordPress site and you want to start hosting free or paid webinars for your business this year, then this is the must-have plugin you need installed on your site. (If you are not familiar with what a Google Hangout is, it’s a Google+ feature that allows you to host video calls for free.) Here’s why:

Five Reasons Why You Need the Google Hangout Plugin

  1. You can host webinars WITHOUT the expensive monthly fees – if you have previously subscribed to webinar platforms like GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar, then you pay way too much, especially if you do not host webinars on a regular basis. You can host an UNLIMITED number of webinars and invite as many participants as you want!
  2. You can host webinars directly on your own WordPress site and build your brand to give your business reputation a huge boost.
  3. Installation and configuration of the plugin is super-simple and you will be able to host a webinar in less than 10 minutes.
  4. You can easily collect registrations and opt-ins that can be integrated into your current email marketing platform. This will be a huge boost for your list-building efforts.
  5. You will have the convenience of sending reminders, follow-up emails and broadcast messages right from your dashboard.

I will be hosting a large amount of webinars this year, so I know I will be putting this plugin to good use. It’s well worth the $47.00 I spent. Later on this month, I will provide a quick training video and I will provide my own review of it in more detail.

If you have already purchased and you have been using this plugin, then feel free to share your experiences with it in the comments box at the bottom of this blog post.

Until tomorrow! (Day 2 of The Ultimate Blog Challenge)!

buddy-460For this edition of WordPress Wednesday, I want to share with you a great membership plugin called BuddyPress. Perhaps if you have been using WordPress for a number of years, you’ve heard of the term, BuddyPress, because it sounds so much like WordPress. I had heard about it back a couple of years ago, but I never took the time to research and use the plugin until recently. I don’t believe most novice WordPress users realize it exists. To me, it’s the best-kept secret when you want to build a membership community. Did I mention it’s a free plugin? Granted it does not have the multi-level privacy or drip-campaign that WP Wishlist or Digital Access Pass, but you can get a lot of functionality for free.

BuddyPress was built to bring people together in a social community. Just like WordPress, it a open source project. It works great for people wanting to connect and communicate that have similar interests. That is why I highly recommend it for creating a membership community, whether it be a free membership or a paid membership.

Here is an example of how I use the BuddyPress membership community for bringing together WordPress training students. You can click on the screenshot below and it will take you to my BP WordPress student member site.

buddypress-site-thumb

Here are just a few of the features that you can get from using the BuddyPress plugin:

  • Multiple activity streams with a single-stream view
  • Unlimited user groups with custom public or private access to these groups
  • Multi-site blogging capability
  • Friend connection functionality (much like Facebook)
  • Discussion forum module for each group set up
  • Extended profile module available
  • Private messaging to friends

And below are a few resource links to visit and do your homework on using BuddyPress if you choose to build or host a membership site. Note: There are some themes that are BuddyPress-compatible. The Builder themes by iThemes.com is one example of compatibility. Another theme set that is compatible with BuddyPress is Headway Themes.

BUDDYPRESS THEME RESOURCE SITES

http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/search.php/page/2?q=buddypress

http://buddypress.org/extend/themes/

http://wplift.com/free-commercial-buddypress-themes/

http://premium.wpmudev.org/buddypress-themes/

http://www.buddyboss.com/live-demo/

BUDDYPRESS PLUGINS & ADD-ON PLUGINS

BuddyPress Plugin

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/buddypress/ 

BuddyPress Group Documents

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/buddypress-group-documents/

BuddyPress Album

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bp-album/

BuddyPress Group Email Subscription

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/buddypress-group-email-subscription/

Invite Anyone

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/invite-anyone/

Welcome Pack

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/welcome-pack/

If you have any questions or comments you want to add about using BuddyPress, please feel free to leave one in the Reply box below. I’m happy to answer back. Or if you are interested in having me build your BuddyPress membership site, you can check out my design build plan HERE.

Until tomorrow…

Warmly,

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For the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge (Day 31), I have the privilege of sharing with you a guest blog post from a wonderful VA colleague and friend that I met while being on this challenge.

Shawn SnyderRead on what Shawn Snyder of SRS Virtual Assistant had to share when “The Day My WordPress Site Was Hacked”. Then be sure you take her advice in protecting your own WordPress site.

hackedIt was Monday morning and I was on a call with a dozen others who are my peers. Each of us helps the small business owner with their businesses in one way or the other. It was at the end of the call and we were each sharing our websites and going over how to make little improvements here and there. Time was running out and there was just enough time for one more website review, I volunteered. As my site was coming up for all to see suddenly the screen turned a maroon red with an outline of a security officer with his hand stretched out and the words of “Don’t precede malware danger.” There was more, but I was too horrified to remember exactly what it said. I was concerned about my website that I had spent hours on being ruined plus humiliated that the people on the call had seen me so vulnerable.

Protect Yourself

My first step isn’t one you have to take, but it helped me. I had a good old fashion pity party. I cried and railed against the evil hackers (that where probably 13 and smarter then me.) And then I did what I should have done before I even started my website. And here is where I want you to start as well. Learn how to protect yourself before you get hacked. The beautiful thing about WordPress and why so many of us recommend it is because it is so easy to learn. Unfortunately, that can also be a detriment to the health of our sites. We have to learn how to add a security fence around our site.

Keep Updated

Here are some things I learned the week of coming back from being hacked. It can and will probably happen to you. I had gone five years on the internet without being hacked and got lazy. I had several domains being hosted together. I didn’t keep them all updated with the newest plug-ins and themes. There is such a thing called cross contamination of sites that share a hosting spot. And if your site has outdated items on it that becomes an opening for hackers and then it just spreads. I had a backup plug-in but when I went to check to see how to get the site back it didn’t cover all of the different areas of the website. It was worth the amount of money I paid for it. Zero.

Keep Informed

I was scared and didn’t know what I was going to do. I don’t know code how was I going to wade through lines upon lines of code finding the problems. I went looking for people who could clean my site and it was expensive. By this time I was frustrated and angry at myself. How could I let this happen to all the work I have done. And what was I going to do now. I remembered a year ago I went to a conference in Atlanta and meet a woman who worked helping other small business owners keep their WordPress sites safe. I contacted her on Facebook and was directed to a site called safewp.com. They give out weekly WordPress security reports, best WordPress security practices and best of all a weekly webinar which was going to run that night.

The webinar was on a plug-in called Wordfence Security. This WordPress plug-in is by Mark Maunder and to me it was nectar from the gods. This plug-in scans your site and looks for trojans, malware and viruses. It repairs themes and plug-ins. It shows the changes in the files that where infected, it scans for malware, it shows which traffic is human and which is crawlers.

There are two versions the free and paid members. I have the free version and that night after I loaded Wordfence onto my site I was blown away. It showed that I had 13 malware problems. But I am jumping ahead of the story.

After you have Wordfence activated, you will go down to the options setting. You put in your email and the API key you get. Scroll down to the alerts section, you can go with the default, Regina from safewp.com showed us some great alternatives as well.

There is a scan schedule, but that is only available for paid members. I can tell you I have ran the scan every night before I go to bed since I got all the issues fixed. It is such a comforting site to see a green prompt at the end of the scan. There is a country blocking area for paid members where you can block off whole countries from having access to your website.

There is a blocked IP address section as well. You can manually block IP’s, there is a section of IP’s that are locked out from the login and IP’s who were recently throttled for accessing the site to frequently. You also have the capability of clearing the IP’s.

The next setting is the live traffic setting. This is so interesting it lists all hits, and then it breaks it down into humans, registered users, crawlers, Google crawlers, pages not found, logins and logouts, top consumers and top 404s.

The next setting is the scan setting. This is where it goes over all the sections you checked in the options setting. It has a scan summary, a scan detailed activity and an issues section. The issues section is where I got my bad news of 13 malware problems. It tells you the issue and gives you several different things to do. My issues where many but thankfully it was an easy to fix problem that came from one outdated plug-in. I deactivated the plug in and the malware problem is gone.

So, that is my story of when my WordPress site got hacked. I hope you are able to learn from me and never get your site attacked or hacked. Each night, I run the scan on Wordfence and go to sleep with the green message telling me I have no security issues on my site.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question below for Shawn and I’ll be sure she receives your reply.

Until tomorrow… 🙂

Warmly,

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